The Note

"This is likely to be of comfort to President Bush, whose re-election chances improve if the economic expansion strengthens and the unemployment rate, now at 6%, drops. The president's father blames Mr. Greenspan's slowness to cut rates in 1992 for costing his re-election. If the Fed does raise interest rates in the runup to next fall's election, it will likely be against the positive backdrop of steadily falling unemployment and strong economic growth, which will offset the negative impact of rising rates."

USA Today 's Barbara Hagenbaugh reports, "Taxpayers' refund checks will increase nearly 27% to an average $2,500 per family early next year, according to new forecasts from tax experts and economists, who say the windfalls will aid consumers, the economy and President Bush's re-election campaign." LINK

Big Casino budget politics:

The New York Times ' Robert Pear reports House and Senate negotiators have gotten "'bogged down'" on efforts to "revamp Medicare and provide prescription drug benefits to the elderly" and their work is now headed to the desks of Mr.'s Frist and Hastert, who will make the "final decisions" on the issues of competition, "limiting the growth of Medicare spending" and authorizing "new tax-preferred savings accounts for medical expenses." LINK

The Wall Street Journal 's David Rogers and Sarah Lueck report that big drug companies seem to have been successful in fighting off two of their biggest threats as the fight over Medicare has worn on: cheaper drugs from Canada and increased use of generic brands. The battle has been a bitter one, despite new predictions by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist that a bill can hit the floor by next week.

Paul Krugman examines the details of the Medicare prescription drug bill compromise and finds little he likes, calling the bill a "Trojan Horse" of which voters should be very, very wary. LINK

Republicans are considering significant concessions on Medicare proposals as they lobby for the conservative Democratic vote. LINK

The Washington Post's Milbank and Goldstein report on President Bush's Medicare full court press. LINK

Knight Ridder's Kuhnhenn and Hutcheson have the back-and-forth. LINK

USA Today 's Andrea Stone reports on the squabblin' too. LINK

Vicki Kemper reports the AARP is prepared to "empty its war chest" and "target congressional incumbents in the 2004 elections" if a compromise on a prescription drug benefit for Medicare is not reached. Ms. Kemper also includes Senator Daschle's disappointment with the AARP, yesterday's White House offensive, and the current status of negotiations.LINK

Senate Democrats continue to criticize the prescription drug compromise, now saying it would increase premiums, reports the AP's Mike Sherman. LINK

ABC News Vote 2003: On to Louisian:

Republican gubernatorial hopeful/media darling Bobby Jindal previews tomorrow's runoff contest and talks about jobs in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

With a "Cajun grandmother" running against the "dark-complexioned Rhodes scholar" son of Indian immigrants, the Washington Post 's Lee Hockstader asks: "What's a Bubba to do?" LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Scott Gold takes the irresistible "history in the making" angle in his Louisiana gubernatorial overview and declares the race still "not settled." LINK

A survey released yesterday by Marketing Research Institute of Pensacola, Fla., shows Jindal with 46 percent, and Blanco at 42 percent with 12 percent still undecided. LINK

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