Rep. Deborah Pryce, chairman of the House Republican Conference, has flooded the offices of her GOP colleagues with e-mails urging them to make speeches boasting of how many seniors are signing up for Medicare prescription drug subsides before the May 16 deadline. Democrats have claimed that President Bush's plan is so complicated that confused senior citizens are not signing up.
Last Wednesday alone, five Republican House members -- Sue Myrick of North Carolina, Melissa Hart of Pennsylvania, Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, Gresham Barrett of South Carolina and Thelma Drake of Virginia -- made short floor speeches congratulating seniors for participating in the new program. Two Georgia congressmen, Phil Gingrey and Nathan Deal, gave longer speeches on the same subject.
Not joining in are some libertarian/conservative members of the Republican Study Committee who don't believe in celebrating public participation in a new federal entitlement.
Freshman Rep. John Barrow of Georgia, the lone Democrat who broke party lines Wednesday and voted to bring the Republican tax bill to the House floor, is a prime GOP target in a year when trends in the polls support the Democrats.
Barrow in 2004 defeated Rep. Max Burns, 52 percent to 48 percent -- one of only two districts where an incumbent Republican House member lost that year. The district, which includes parts of Savannah and Augusta, was made slightly more Republican in a 2005 redistricting.
Barrow was one of 15 Democrats who voted for the tax bill on final passage. Also backing it was Rep. Harold Ford, Democratic candidate for an open Senate seat from Tennessee. Ford was the only member of the Congressional Black Caucus to vote for the bill. A fellow caucus member, Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, described the bill as driving "millions of our citizens into financial despair."
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