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Democrats Complain Starr Is Too Partisan

THE week opened Aug. 9 with a Democratic chorus protesting appointment of Kenneth Starr as the Whitewater independent counsel, on grounds he is too partisan. The Clinton loyalists had little hope of persuading Mr. Starr to give up the job but wanted to expose his partisan record as he begins his investigation.

In various roles throughout the Reagan and Bush administrations, Starr was barred from any direct campaign activities. But he quickly renewed his activism after leaving government with the changing of administrations in January 1993. On May 21, Starr wrote a $1,000 check to GOP House candidate Tom Davis, bringing to $5,475 his total contributions to Republican candidates over the past 18 months.

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And on May 24, Starr debated White House counsel Lloyd Cutler on PBS's ``MacNeil-Lehrer NewsHour,'' criticizing President Clinton's first line of defense in a sexual harassment suit filed by a former Arkansas state worker, that sitting presidents cannot be sued. ``The question that comes to mind is whether Kenneth Starr, based on past actions, is too partisan a Republican to do a fair job,'' said House Deputy Whip Bill Richardson, (D) of New Mexico. ``Is he the only individual we can find to fill this position?'' Mitchell warns on filibuster

REPUBLICANS would pay a ``huge political price'' if they carry out a threatened filibuster to block health care reform legislation, Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell said Aug. 9.

After decades of fitful starts and failed attempts at national health insurance, the Senate opened debate on a Democratic bill designed to cover at least 95 percent of Americans by the turn of the century. To stop the momentum now, Senator Mitchell said, would not be politically wise.

Sen. Phil Gramm (R) of Texas invoked the threat of a filibuster Aug. 8, saying ``no amount of finger-pointing ... will stop me from opposing something that is an anathema to everything I believe is right for America.''

Democratic leaders remained intent on pushing a plan crafted by Mitchell and a companion bill in the House through Congress this month. The Mitchell plan would overhaul insurance rules and help millions of Americans buy private insurance and require employers with fewer than 500 workers to offer wide choices of health plans.

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