The Note

"Looking ahead to negotiations after the July Fourth recess, Democrats fear President Bush will tip the talks in the House's favor and that added to the bitterness of Tuesday's losses for labor, which fears that changes will have the unintended consequence of encouraging companies to drop drug coverage for their retirees."

One of the more extraordinary features of the legislative battle to expand Medicare's prescription drugs entitlement is the degree to which GOP stalwarts had to aggressively lobbying their own colleagues to convince them that the bill wouldn't do what some liberal Democrats hoped it would do: persuade more and more private employers to drop their own benefit coverage and rely on a government plan.

The Los Angeles Times's Hook Notes: "Bush planned to meet as soon as today with restive House Republicans to build support for the measure that would provide a prescription drug benefit under Medicare. Many conservatives say the push for Medicare reform does not go far enough to curb costs in the financially troubled program and give the private sector a bigger role in delivering medical care to seniors." LINK

Still, The Washington Times ' Amy Fagan reports that House conservatives are so concerned about the bill, expected to come to the floor tomorrow, that some are considering joining with Democrats to defeat the measure. LINK

USA Today 's Jill Lawrence looks at the side effects a successful bill could have for Democrats.

"Democrats once viewed their crusade for prescription-drug benefits as the path to electoral salvation. But now, with just such a landmark expansion of Medicare speeding through Congress, the issue looks more like a trap." LINK Lawrence takes Note of where the DLC comes down on prescription drugs:

"Bruce Reed, president of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, says passage could help both parties: 'Bush will increase the number of his domestic achievements to two, and Democrats won't delude themselves into thinking they can win the next election on an issue that hasn't won them the last three.'"

California recall:

The Washington Post 's Rene Sanchez does a fine job of bringing readers up to date on all things recall including the spinning of the signature submissions from both sides. LINK "Leaders of the recall effort called the latest total a clear sign of the movement's momentum. Several hundred thousand more voter signatures already have been collected, they say, but were not sent to state officials in time to meet the most recent reporting deadline because the campaign had not yet verified their authenticity." "We're very confident we'll make it,'' said David Gilliard, who is managing a recall group called Rescue California. "There's so much voter anger out there. Every week we're seeing more of it."

"But opponents of the recall scoffed at the latest tally, saying it shows that organizers are having difficulty attracting the support they need from voters, with little time to spare. 'This is just another indication that the recall hype doesn't match the evidence,' said Carroll Wills, a spokesman for a group known as Taxpayers Against the Governor's Recall."

The New York Times ' John Broder writes up the effort to recall Gray Davis in the context of the state's $38 billion budget crisis. LINK "Sacramento is in a state of near-perfect political meltdown."

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