WASHINGTON -- Called on for advice by a group of conservative Republican House members, former Speaker Newt Gingrich suggested a coming political disaster on Medicare unless the GOP launches "an entirely new dialogue."
Gingrich's one-page summary to his former colleagues warned that the increased estimates of Medicare costs caused by President Bush's recently enacted legislation "are going to cause an explosion among fiscal conservatives and give the Kerry campaign new ammunition."
To counter this threat, Gingrich called for a "transformation" of heath care that would cut by $500 billion the estimated $5 trillion to be spent by the federal government over the next decade. He advocated "preventive care, early detection and best outcomes-based practices."
Former counterterrorism aide Richard Clarke called himself a registered Republican in criticizing President Bush, but his only listed political contributions during the two most recent election cycles have gone to former colleagues running as Democrats for Congress.
In 2002, Clarke contributed $2,000 to Steven Andreasen, who headed arms control policy in the Clinton administration's National Security Council (NSC) and was running for Congress in Minnesota. Andreasen was defeated by Republican Rep. Gil Gutknecht.
This year, Clarke has given $1,000 to Jamie Metzl, another Clinton-era NSC staffer. Metzl is running for the House seat from Missouri left vacant by the retirement of Democratic Rep. Karen McCarthy and so far has raised far more money than any other candidate.
CONFERRING WITH CLARKE
Prior to his testimony Wednesday before the independent 9/11 commission, Richard Clarke conferred privately with one of its Democratic members, according to commission sources.
These sources say Clarke huddled with Tim Roemer, a former Democratic congressman from Indiana. Roemer's subsequent questioning of Clarke contained a few barbs but consisted largely of open-ended questions giving the witness a chance to criticize President Bush. Roemer confirmed he had met "a couple of times with" Clarke, as he said he had with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and CIA Director George Tenet. "Nobody coaches Dick Clarke," Roemer added.
One reason why House Speaker Dennis Hastert unsuccessfully tried to curtail the commission's activities on schedule was the presence of Roemer, his former congressional colleague. Hastert regards Roemer as a partisan who attempts to project a bipartisan image.