INSIDE: THE BELTWAY - The main political message in the wave of lobbyist ads is that the election is nearing

Congressional recesses are good for its members, better for staff, best for lobbyists on the ’big issues,’ but terrible for the country.

Congressional recesses are good for its members, better for staff, best for lobbyists on the ’big issues,’ but terrible for the country.

Congressional recesses are good for its members, better for staff,

best for lobbyists on the ’big issues,’ but terrible for the

country.



The absence of movement on serious matters (right now, tax relief and

health care insurance reform) has opened the door for massive spending

on radio and TV issue advertising.



The theory of the powerful lobbies is that with Congressional members at

home, it is time to catch them with major advertising. So millions - and

in some cases, hundred of millions of dollars - are being spent to fight

Medicare reform. The ads seek to persuade Representatives and Senators

from districts and states where GOP seats are in danger, that Medicare

reform will drive up the cost of prescription medicine, drastically

reduce needed research and increase premiums.



This huge effort is taking place because some 20 Republicans are backing

a Democratic bill to include prescription drug coverage in Medicare and

- horror of horrors - to permit patients to sue their HMOs for

malpractice.



All the best tools of our trade are being used, for example in the

following TV ad: two Medicare patients are heard in a radio

conversation. In the spot, they alternately urge each other to see to it

doctors remain in charge and not allow ’bureaucrats’ to interfere when

it comes to prescriptions.



They also vigorously denounce ’greedy lawyers’ whose malpractice suits

would run up the cost of care.



The notion that trial lawyers always win large awards inherently libels

three groups: HMO officials and insurance executives who are assumed to

countenance malpractice; the doctors who commit the errors; and

insurance lawyers, who apparently lack the wit to turn back unwarranted

lawsuits.



But no one has complained about the ad campaign and - directly or

indirectly - these groups pay for it.



Predictably, the GOP/HMO/insurance industry sponsor for this campaign is

called the Committee for Better Medicare. True to form, its leaders who

fought Medicare’s creation more than 35 years ago, would like no

Medicare at all. How about the ’Committee to Abolish Medicare?’ What’s

the agree or disagree on that one?



Tax reduction is a more partisan issue and the PR spin more

predictable.



On the Republican side, there is a concession that most of the dollars

800 billion ’return’ to taxpayers will go to those in the top brackets

’because they pay the most.’ The Democrats counter with speeches and

op-eds declaring that this ’gift to the rich’ will gut education and

environmental protection, and endanger Social Security.



The hidden message in all this political PR? The election is only 14

months away.



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