â€œItâ€™s the Boss,â€ Barvetta Singletary whispered away from her mouthpiece when we walked in the room. Thatâ€™s how people in his office refer to Jim Clyburnâ€”either as the Whip, or the Boss.
Kristie Greco, his Communications Director, quickly ushered me back out into the hallway.
â€œThe Whip is back in South Carolina today, but he has Barvetta on the phone to talk about something. Healthcare, probably,â€ she guessed.
It was a good guess.
A lot of people wonder what happened to healthcare. Not Barvetta Singletary. She carries it around with her in a big white binder.
â€œI should have better biceps,â€ Singletary joked when she finished her call.
As Clyburnâ€™s Policy Director, a health policy specialist, and a trained nurse, Singletary is partly responsible for crafting the bill that the Whip will bring to Obamaâ€™s February 25 bi-partisan meeting with members from both houses of Congress. Like the Presidentâ€™s proposal, the binder that Singletary has been lugging around is modeled after the Senateâ€™s previous bill, without some of the things â€œthat the public is obviously not happy with.â€
One of these thingsâ€”also scuttled by Obamaâ€™s proposalâ€”is the generally unpopular â€œCadillacâ€ tax on fancy insurance policies. â€œBut the major areas are very similar in that we want to improve insurance for those who currently have it,â€ she said. â€œCompanies wonâ€™t be able to rescind coverage-â€
Singletaryâ€™s cell-phone rang. I took the opportunity to look down at the binder.