- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 7, 2003

Billion at a time

House Budget Committee Chairman Jim Nussle, Iowa Republican, insisted the fiscal 2004 budget resolution include instructions for each committee chairman to find at least 1 percent of savings in mandatory spending within their jurisdictions.

Three committees — Armed Service, Resources, and Science — failed to provide reports. (Their penance is pending.)

However, the remaining committees that followed directions identified $85 billion to $100 billion over 10 years in waste, fraud, and abuse — some of the biggest savings coming from Medicare.

Tom Schatz, with Citizens Against Government Waste, calls Mr. Nussle’s initiative an excellent first step, although more needs to be done to chip away at the $480 billion deficit.

Mediscare

Medicare-reform legislation now in conference assumes that, if given the green light, insurers will eagerly offer policies that cover seniors’ prescription-drug costs only.

But at this week’s Heritage Foundation briefing on Medicare reform, Robert Laszewski, a leading expert on health policy, told Hill staffers that he’s yet to find one insurer that has any intention of offering drugs-only coverage for seniors.

Political animals

A stray-animals advocacy group in Washington was surprised to be victimized this week by one of their own.

“Dear Caring Friend,” said a posting on the group’s Web site. “Retired General Wesley Clark, a brand new presidential candidate … called for an independent review of the [Bush] administration’s ‘possible manipulation of intelligence,’ including information used to justify war with Iraq and the possible leak of the name of a covert CIA agent.”

The animal advocate went on to post that war in Iraq “put Americans in danger and may be criminal.”

The group’s reaction?

“People on the list get very politically involved on local animal topics, but not nationally,” says one member, who assures us “the writer has been banned from the list for violating list rules against off-topic posting.”

Still, the posting remains in the site’s archives.

Keep it private

The No. 1-rated Fox News Channel isn’t such a bastion of conservatism that it hasn’t become one of the first news agencies to offer “same-sex” spousal and domestic-partner health benefits to employees.

“Some important changes have been made to our benefit plan,” Fox News staff was told in writing this week, mainly a Fox Medical Plan addition providing physical exams for an employee’s “same-sex domestic partner.”

Meanwhile, the homosexual-rights wing of the Democratic Party is sore at President Bush because he’s proclaimed “Marriage Protection Week,” yet “refused for three years to proclaim ‘Gay and Lesbian Pride Month’ which the Clinton administration used to recognize.”

Mr. Bush says he hasn’t reissued Mr. Clinton’s homosexual-pride proclamation because he does not believe in politicizing people’s private lives.

Better times

That was Lisa Moody, widowed in 1993 when then-husband and White House Deputy Counsel Vince Foster committed suicide in a Northern Virginia park, dining at Billy Martin’s Tavern in Georgetown with husband James M. Moody, an Arkansas judge appointed by President Clinton. Mrs. Moody married the U.S. district judge two years after Mr. Foster’s death.

Librarians are in

Given that First Lady Laura Bush is a librarian, getting appointed to the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science has become an honor.

Locally, Allison Druin of Maryland has been nominated by President Bush to fill the remainder of a five-year term on the commission, as has Patricia M. Hines of Alexandria and South Carolina — wife of Washington political consultant Richard Hines.

Ride the Reading

Washington resident Peter Barton will compete for $15,140 — the amount of money in a standard Monopoly game — as well as the opportunity to represent the United States in the 2004 World Monopoly Championship.

First, Mr. Barton has to beat 47 other U.S. Monopoly finalists later this month in Atlantic City, the city that inspired the Monopoly game. He and the other players will travel to Atlantic City by train — dubbed Reading Railroad.

John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.


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