The Shot That Will Be Heard Round The Halls Of Congress
The Shot That Will Be Heard Round The Halls Of Congress
Sun, 02/25/2024 - 08:45
Published:2/25/2024 8:01:56 AM
Authored by Gerrick Wilkins via RealClear Wire,
Upwards of 80% of Americans favor term limits, yet entrenched politicians in Congress – and the lobbyists who need them to advance their special interests – have found ways of quashing them time after time. As the years roll by, cynics might say that the Republic has survived. Sure, the United States of America continues on, but honest observers must concede that with the absence of a true citizen legislature, the standing of its citizens – that’s you – is eroding.
The American people have become like puppeteers whose increasingly lifeless puppet has been detached, little by little, from the strings connecting it to our control.
America’s great middle class – once the envy of the world – has steadily shrunk over the past 50 years. The special interests who fund incumbents are looking out for everybody but us. And so we get higher taxes, lower incomes, and bigger government. The same dynamic has also played out in the political sphere, with a larger and more bureaucratic government weakening personal liberty.
The terrorist threat and crime wave that have breached our collapsed Southern border are more indications of the erosion of the American way of life. So, in addition to the well-reported opioid crisis in America, something that rightly concerns all of us, there is another plague in the land – politicians addicted to being in office – the subject of my new book on the need for term limits, “Unshackling Democracy.”
Whether the onus of high taxes or the decline in decent jobs is your top priority, or your right and duty to pass on your traditional values to your children, you should be very concerned that the cords by which “we the people” control our government continue to get more and more threadbare. Congressional reform is, therefore, the fundamental correction that will make all our other priorities achievable.
It is fitting that Alabama be the place from which this reform is launched – not because we are the first state alphabetically but because this is the place where trust in the people has recently been breached. Congressman Gary Palmer publicly pledged to limit his term in office to ten years, a period of time which is due to expire in a few months. Although a decade in office already exceeds the six-year timeframe that term-limit proponents have long embraced, seeking to make life in Washington a career and violating a public pledge are two powerful reasons for sixth-district voters to fire the shot that will be heard all around the halls of Congress that Alabama is a state that respects constitutional principle and will lead the push to reform the Congress of the United States.
If elected to serve the people of this district – and my pledge to serve the people rather than serve my career interests is defined in part by my commitment to serve a maximum of three terms – I pledge to work to end careerism in Congress in the following ways.
First, foremost, and most difficult, we must introduce an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to impose term limits on members of Congress. Only by limiting U.S. senators to two six-year terms and members of the U.S. House of Representatives to three two-year terms can we tip the balance of power back to “we the people” and away from the economy-killing and government-expanding laws that entrenched politicians support at the behest of special interests.
Second, we must disallow shenanigans that enable politicians to profit at the public expense. Just as insider trading is illegal on Wall Street, it should certainly be forbidden in Washington. During the 2020 elections, 302 members of Congress accepted campaign donations from pharmaceutical companies totaling $14 million. Pfizer, which developed one of the COVID-19 vaccines and therefore had a vested interest in the outcome of congressional legislation, donated to 228 members through its PAC. Scandalously, 48 members of Congress invested in Pfizer.
By enacting tough rules requiring members of Congress to place their personal investment capital in a blind trust, we can stop them from benefiting from legislation they support or oppose. The current system creates too many opportunities for politicians to personally gain from their votes, blinding them to the best interests of the constituents who voted them into office to serve the public.
Third, we must stop Congress from exempting itself from the laws it imposes on the public at large. Members of Congress need to eat their own cooking. If Obamacare is such a terrific healthcare system, then members of Congress should not be gifted with premium contributions that are illegal on the Obamacare exchanges.
Among the numerous other rule changes on my agenda: requiring members of Congress to join the same pension system as all other federal employees; barring ex-members from becoming lobbyists for 10 years after serving in Congress; and blocking family members of current officeholders from lobbying or serving on foreign corporate boards.
The key to all of this is to reattach those strings to the marionettes of Congress to rods firmly held by the people. When Americans vote for tough, common-sense policies and get mutual backscratching and broken promises from those to whom they gave their trust, our democracy is in danger of dying. Congressional reform is the only way to imbue it with life once more. It’s a fact of human nature that the standing of private citizens will only rise when politicians once again fear the electorate. The time to accomplish this is now. Our democracy is hanging by a thread.
Gerrick Wilkins is a Republican candidate for Alabama’s 6th Congressional District and author of the just-released “Unshackling Democracy” (RealClear Publishing).
Poll Shows Biden Border Policy Has Backfired With Latinos
Poll Shows Biden Border Policy Has Backfired With Latinos
Sat, 02/10/2024 - 17:30
Published:2/10/2024 5:31:07 PM
Authored by Bill King via RealClear Wire,
A poll by the University of Houston was released last week on the prospects for the March primary elections and the November general election in Texas. The poll unsurprisingly projected that Biden and Trump were headed to another showdown in November, and that Trump was leading Biden in that rematch by 9% in Texas. However, what I suspect the Biden campaign team found shocking was that Biden was losing to Trump with Latino voters by a 47-41 margin. Only 55% of Latino Democratic primary voters said they were committed to vote for Biden. The other 45% were undecided.
I have watched for years as pundits and political consultants from both parties, who were mostly white, have made assumptions about how Latino voters felt about issues and how they would likely vote. The near universal mistake these consultants and pundits have made for years was that immigration was the paramount issue for the Latino community and that they wanted more liberal immigration laws. Both assumptions were wrong.
First, there is no monolithic “Latino community.” Those of Mexican American heritage are the predominant group but there are also Americans from every other country in Central and South America. And they all have very different perspectives on just about every aspect of life, and especially on politics.
Even among those whose families originally immigrated from Mexico there are vast differences. I have a Latino friend who is a sixth-generation Texan. He joked with me one day that he didn’t know he was a “minority” until he went to college. I can assure you that his views on immigration are very different than a recent immigrant from Mexico who is trying to get the other family members into the country.
Also, immigration is hardly the only issue that Latinos are concerned about. I had dinner with some members of the Texas House of Representatives a couple of years ago about the prospect of starting a new party in Texas. The group was evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. All but one of the Democrat members were Latino.
I went around the room asking each one why they were dissatisfied with their existing party affiliation. One of the Latino members told me that his family were devout Catholics and opposed to abortion. He was tired of his party “looking down” on him because of his faith. Another said, “Defund the police my a#$, half my family works in law enforcement.” Another shared that his family was in the oilfield service business, and he was worried that Biden’s green energy agenda was going to hurt their family’s business and the economy of the area he represented. Immigration never came up during the dinner.
In a recent UT poll, 71% of Latinos supported “tightening U.S. border security and providing Border Patrol with increased technology, infrastructure, and personnel.” That was not far behind whites at 85% and African Americans at 81%. It seems clear that Biden’s lax border policies are hurting him in Texas across every demographic group, including Latinos.
But there is nuance in the polling. While Latinos generally feel about the same as their non-Latino neighbors regarding the state of the border, their views on other immigration issues vary significantly. For example, only 29% support the immediate deportation of immigrants here illegally, with 41% strongly opposed. That compares to 51% of whites who support immediate deportation. Similarly, 68% of Latinos support a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants compared to 56% of whites. 61% of Latinos support harsher penalties for employers who hire workers here illegally compared to 82% of whites. Latinos also support a continuation of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, often referred to as Dreamers) at significantly higher levels than whites.
All of this suggests that a majority of Latinos, and at least a significant plurality of the rest of Americans, want the government to control the border but at the same time want a more rational system to process new immigrants and those who are already here. Biden could thread the needle on immigration but for some inexplicable reason has persisted in his lax border policies.
I do not subscribe to the theory that the president’s intention was to bring new Democratic voters into the country or the even nuttier “white replacement” conspiracy theories. Those of us who have worked in elections know that trying to register and get non-citizens to the polls is virtually impossible, at least at any scale that could affect the outcome of an election. When a third of American citizens are still not voting in presidential elections, it is much easier to get qualified voters to the polls. By the way, most of those who do not vote would likely favor Democratic candidates. Also, many of the Latino immigrants coming into the country have views on many issues, such as abortion, that are at odds with the Democratic platform.
This New York Times story attempted to put a noble face on Biden’s immigration political disaster. But even these Biden-friendly reporters struggled to concoct a rational explanation for his border policies. I think the simpler explanation is that every time party control of the White House changes, the new president feels the need to reverse all of his predecessor’s policies, whether they were working or not. Which is why we get little to nothing done. Trump was obsessed with repealing Obamacare, notwithstanding that it was supported by a growing majority of Americans throughout his presidency and most analyses showed that it slowed the increase in healthcare costs.
Biden came to the White House with the same mindset. Had he simply admitted that some of Trump’s border policies were working and then pressed to pass some badly needed reforms to the immigration system, he would not be in the mess he is now. But as Thomas Paine insightfully observed, “A man under the tyranny of party spirit is the greatest slave upon the earth, for none but himself can deprive him of the freedom of thought.”
Where is Thomas Paine when we need him?
Bill King is a businessman and lawyer, and is a former opinion columnist and editorial board member at the Houston Chronicle. He has served in a number of appointed and elected positions, including mayor of his hometown. He writes on a wide range of public policy and political issues. Bill is the author of “Unapologetically Moderate.”
Americans Are Fighting For Control Of Federal Powers That Shouldn’t Exist
Americans Are Fighting For Control Of Federal Powers That Shouldn’t Exist
Sat, 01/20/2024 - 23:20
Published:1/20/2024 10:45:15 PM
By Brian McGlinchey via Stark Realities
It’s no secret that politics in the United States is growing increasingly acrimonious — to the point that a 2022 poll found 43% of Americans think a civil war is a least somewhat likely in the next decade.
But here’s what few people realize: The intensity of our division springs from a federal government operating far beyond the limits of the Constitution — fueling a fight for control over powers that were never supposed to exist at the national level.
To put it another way, if the federal government were confined to its actual granted authorities, federal elections would be of little interest to the general public, because the outcome would be largely irrelevant to their everyday lives.
America’s founders drafted the Constitution with great trepidation. Having just escaped British tyranny, the people of the separate states that would comprise the proposed union were wary of centralizing too much power at the federal level, and thus sowing the seeds of a new tyranny.
They therefore set out to create a federal government to which the states delegated only certain limited powers, with all other subjects of governance reserved to the states.
Those powers — only 18 of them — are listed, one by one, in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. They include such things as the power to raise armies, maintain a navy, declare war, borrow money, coin money, establish punishments for counterfeiters and pirates, set standards of weights and measures, secure patents and establish post offices.
Reassuring those who were considering the enormously consequential decision of whether to ratify the Constitution, James Madison wrote,
“The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. [Federal powers] will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce…The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects, which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties and properties of the people.”
To win over those would-be ratifiers who still feared the proposed federal government would undercut state sovereignty and infringe individual liberties, ten amendments were drafted — the Bill of Rights. The 10th Amendment codified Madison’s previous assurance about the division of authorities between the federal and state governments:
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
We arrive then at a hard fact: Today’s sprawling federal government, which involves itself in almost every aspect of daily American life, is almost entirely unconstitutional.
To rattle off just a random fistful of the federal government’s unauthorized undertakings and entities — brace yourself — there is zero constitutional authority for the Social Security, Medicare, federal drug prohibitions, the Small Business Administration, crop subsidies, the Department of Labor, automotive fuel efficiency standards, climate regulations, the Federal Reserve, union regulation, housing subsidies, the Department of Agriculture, workplace regulations, the Department of Education, federal student loans, the Food and Drug Administration, food stamps, unemployment insurance or light bulb regulations. Even that sampling doesn’t begin to fully account for the scope of the unsanctioned activity.
Don’t let your affinity for any of those enterprises short-circuit your intellectual honesty: Even if you view some of them as benign, that doesn’t render them constitutional. And if you’ve ever invoked the Constitution to spotlight a different kind of government overreach, it would be hypocritical to nod approvingly when it’s violated in ways where you deem the result beneficial.
So how did we get to this place where the intended relationship between federal and state powers has been completely inverted — with a federal government wielding powers that are now “numerous and indefinite” rather than being “few and defined”?
Much of the current state of affairs has been driven by the Supreme Court’s extreme and expansive interpretations of certain clauses of the Constitution. Among the most significant are the General Welfare and Commerce clauses.
The General Welfare Clause, found at the start of Article 1, Section 8, says:
The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States…
Embedded in a clause focused on the power to tax, the words “general welfare” were meant to ensure that Congress’s taxation and spending would be confined to purposes that were broadly beneficial, rather than catering to narrow or localized interests.
The clause’s language was copied from the Articles of Confederation, where, as Madison explained, “it was always understood as nothing more than a general caption to the specified powers.” Indeed, he said, it was copied for the very reason that its prior use and understanding would hopefully minimize the risk of it being misinterpreted as a grant of power.
It flies in the face of reason that the drafters of the Constitution would take pains to carefully list the Congress’s specific authorities, yet simultaneously say Congress could also do anything it thinks generally beneficial.
Countering those who sought to interpret the clause that way, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “To consider the…phrase…as giving a distinct and independent power to do any act they please, which might be for the good of the Union, would render all the preceding and subsequent enumerations of power completely useless.”
Clearly, based on context and history, those two words, general welfare, do not bestow an authority. Indeed, they’re present to limit an authority — the power to tax and spend.
The forces seeking to reshape the federal government by exploiting those two words were held at bay, but only for so long. In 1937, the Supreme Court used the imaginatively expansive interpretation of the General Welfare Clause to turn back a constitutional challenge to the Social Security Act — and to set a precedent that would fundamentally change the nature of our federal government.
That decision — Helvering v. Davis — came as the court was under intense institutional duress. Following a wave of high court decisions rightly striking down various pieces of New Deal legislation as unconstitutional, President Roosevelt — emboldened by his massive landslide reelection in 1936 — pushed a legislative scheme that would enable him to appoint as many as six more justices to the Supreme Court.
Whether to derail that plan or to merely cave to the overwhelming public opinion manifested in FDR’s jaw-dropping 523-8 electoral college landslide, the court — thanks in great part to swing-vote Justice Owen J. Roberts — began stamping its approval on New Deal legislation, with Helvering among the first.
Fittingly for a ruling that eviscerated limited government in America, Helvering’s very language had its own air of authoritarianism:
“Congress may spend money in aid of the ‘general welfare.’ There have been great statesmen in our history who have stood for other views. We will not resurrect the contest. It is now settled by decision.”
As if that proclamation didn’t do enough to demolish the concept of limited federal government, the court proceeded to amplify the damage. While acknowledging that determining what falls under “general welfare” requires discretion, the court declared, “the discretion…is not confided to the courts. The discretion belongs to Congress.” Thus, the court not only granted broad new power to Congress, but also limited the extent to which that power would be subject to checks and balances.
We don’t have to imagine how the “Father of the Constitution” would feel about the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the welfare clause. In 1792, Madison wrote, “The federal government has been hitherto limited to the specified powers…If not only the means, but the objects [purposes] are unlimited, the parchment had better be thrown into the fire at once.”
While the Welfare Clause has been abused to expand federal spending power, Commerce Clause abuse has unleashed sprawling federal regulatory power. As with the Welfare Clause, what was meant to curtail government intrusion into the lives of Americans has perversely been used to expand it.
The Commerce Clause gives Congress the power to “regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes.” The Supreme Court’s sham interpretation focuses on “among the several states.”
It’s important to consider that the Constitution was drafted to replace the Articles of Confederation. Among the woes that prompted that evolution was the imposition of tariffs by individual states against other states. The Commerce Clause was intended to enable a free trade zone within the union, by empowering Congress to bar interstate tariffs.
“It grew out of the abuse of the power by the importing States in taxing the non-importing,” wrote Madison, “and was intended as a negative and preventive provision against injustice among the States themselves, rather than as a power to be used for the positive purposes of the General Government.”
Those working to expand federal authority have argued that “commerce” doesn’t merely apply to trade, but also encompasses manufacturing and agriculture or even “all gainful activity.”
However, in the constitutional ratification debates, the word “commerce” uniformly and narrowly referred only to mercantile trade or exchange — not to manufacturing, agriculture or retail sales, much less to any gainful activity.
Thomas Jefferson underscored the intended scope of the clause:
“The power given to Congress by the Constitution does not extend to the internal regulation of the commerce of a State, (that is to say of the commerce between citizen and citizen,) which remain exclusively with its own legislature; but to its external commerce only, that is to say, its commerce with another State, or with foreign nations, or with the Indian tribes.”
However, the Commerce Clause is now used to justify federal regulation of nearly every aspect of our existence, including activities that happen entirely within a single state. On this front, the Supreme Court did its greatest harm with its 1942 decision in Wickard v Filburn.
In a move that would leave founding farmers aghast, the federal government had fined Ohio farmer Roscoe Filburn for growing more wheat on his small farm than allowed by the Agriculture Adjustment Act of 1938.
Filburn wasn’t even growing the wheat for sale — only to feed his own family and animals, and for future planting. This clearly wasn’t commerce as meant by the Constitution’s authors and ratifiers, to say nothing of the fact that Filburn’s activity lacked any interstate character whatsoever.
That didn’t stop the Supreme Court from upholding the law on Commerce Clause grounds. The court creatively declared that, by choosing not to buy wheat in the marketplace, individuals like Filburn could collectively have a substantial effect on interstate commerce.
As Rand Paul wrote in a 2012 Supreme Court amicus filing, “Wickard stands for the sad proposition that Congress can prevent a man from feeding his family in his own home with food he grew himself.” Of course, it does far more than that, serving as a key precedent that subjects any activity to the federal government’s control and punishment. All that’s needed is a theoretical, tangential link to the economy — something every single aspect of life has to some degree.
We’d be far better off had the founding arrangement endured. The decentralization of power and governance reduces political discord and results in more people being governed in ways they find agreeable. If our federalism matched the constitutional design, we’d see citizens focusing most of their political energy on state and local governments — where they have far more meaningful representation compared to the federal legislature, which now has the average House member representing 761,000 people.
If state law, rather than federal law, were preeminent on the vast majority of topics, we’d also see sharper differentiations in what life is like in each of the 50 states. Americans would be presented with a more diverse selection of places to live, while enjoying the freedom to choose the one that best comports with their views on how things should be.
As it is, the Supreme Court-enabled concentration of power in Washington locks us all into a massive, winner-take-all steel-cage match, forcing us to fight over who gets to impose their philosophy on 332 million people across 3.8 million square miles of territory.
Even when the states comprising the union were far fewer in number and occupied far less territory, the prospect of centralized government was anathema to the likes of George Mason. At Virginia’s ratifying convention, he asked:
“Is it to be supposed that one national government will suit so extensive a country, embracing so many climates, and containing inhabitants so very different in manners, habits, and customs?”
How can we close the Pandora’s box the Supreme Court has opened? Though Helvering, Wickard and similar decisions are objectively outrageous, it’s hard to imagine the Supreme Court setting things right by overturning them.
There’s another long-shot avenue — amending the Constitution. Under Article V, a constitutional amendment convention must be convened if two-thirds (34) of the state legislatures call for one. Such a movement is already underway: As I previously covered, 19 states have now requested a convention, with one of the goals being to limit federal jurisdiction and power.
If we don’t bend the union back into proper shape, it will surely break under the pressure of intensifying discontent with concentrated power and one-size-fits-all governance. Barring a burst of constitutional-amendment momentum, expect the country’s simmering secession movements to grow far more substantial and numerous.
Stark Realities undermines official narratives, demolishes conventional wisdom and exposes fundamental myths across the political spectrum. Read more and subscribe at starkrealities.substack.com
VDH: The Hysterical Style In American Politics
VDH: The Hysterical Style In American Politics
Thu, 01/18/2024 - 17:00
Published:1/18/2024 4:17:14 PM
Authored by Victor Davis Hanson via American Greatness,
The post-Joe McCarthy era and the candidacy of Barry Goldwater once prompted liberal political scientist Richard Hofstadter to chronicle a supposedly long-standing right-wing “paranoid style” of conspiracy-fed extremism.
But far more common, especially in the 21st century, has been a left-wing, hysterical style of inventing scandals and manipulating perceived tensions for political advantage.
Or, in the immortal words of Barack Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, “Never let a serious crisis go to waste.”
The 2008 economic emergency crested on September 7, with the near collapse of the home mortgage industry.
Obama took office on January 20, 2009, more than four months after the meltdown. In that interim, the officials had finally restored financial confidence and plotted a course of economic recovery.
The Obama administration never stopped hyping the financial meltdown as if it had just occurred. That way, it rammed through Obamacare, massive deficit spending, and the vast expansion of the federal government.
All that stymied economic growth and recovery for years.
In 2016, Donald Trump was declared Hitler-like and an existential threat to democracy.
Amid this derangement syndrome, any means necessary to stop him were justified: the Russian collusion hoax, impeachment over a phone call, or the Hunter laptop disinformation farce.
Eventually, the left sought to normalize the once unthinkable: removing the leading presidential candidate from state ballots and indicting him in state and local courts.
Nothing was off limits—not forging a federal court document, calling for a military coup, rioting on Inauguration Day, or radically changing the way Americans voted in presidential elections.
In October 2017, allegations surfaced about serial sexual predation by liberal cinema icon Harvey Weinstein.
The #MeToo furor immediately followed.
At first, accusers properly outed dozens of mostly liberal celebrities, actors, authors, and CEOs for their prior and mostly covered-up sexual harassment and often assault.
But soon, the once legitimate movement had morphed into general hysteria.
Thousands of men (and women) were persecuted for alleged offenses, often sexual banter or rude repartee, committed decades prior.
#MeToo jumped the shark with the left-wing effort to take down conservative Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Would-be accusers surfaced from his high school days, 35 years earlier, but without any supporting evidence or witnesses for their wild, lurid charges.
#MeToo hysteria ended when too many liberal grandees were endangered.
Most dramatically, former Joe Biden senatorial aide Tara Reade came forward during the 2020 campaign cycle with charges that front-runner Joe Biden had once sexually assaulted her—and was trashed by the liberal media.
The outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States during the winter of 2020 prompted an even greater hysteria.
Without scientific evidence, federal health czars Anthony Fauci and Francis Collins were able to convince the Trump administration to shut down the economy in the country’s first national quarantine.
Suddenly, it became a thought crime to question the wisdom of six-foot social distancing, of mandatory mask wearing, of the Wuhan virology lab’s origin of the COVID virus, or of off-label use of prescription drugs.
Left-wing politicians and celebrities, from Hillary Clinton and Gavin Newsom to Jane Fonda, all blurted out the political advantages that the lockdowns offered—from recalibrating capitalism and health care to ensuring the 2020 defeat of Donald Trump.
The COVID hysteria magically ended when Joe Biden won the 2020 election. Suddenly, the lies about the bat or pangolin origins of the virus faded. The damage from the quarantines could no longer be repressed. And herd immunity gradually mitigated the epidemic.
The lockdown caused untold economic chaos, suicides, and health crises.
One result was the 120 days of looting, arson, death, destruction, and violence spawned by Antifa and Black Lives Matter in the aftermath of the tragic death of George Floyd while in police custody in May 2020.
Suddenly, a hysterical lie took hold: American police were waging war against black males.
The details around Floyd’s sudden death—he was in the act of committing a felony, resisting arrest, suffering from coronary artery disease and the after-effects of COVID, and being high on dangerous drugs—were off limits.
The riot toll reached $2 billion in property damage, over 35 deaths, and 1,500 injured law enforcement officers. A federal courthouse, a police precinct, and a historic church were torched.
Police forces were defunded.
Emboldened left-wing prosecutors nullified existing laws.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion commissars spread throughout American higher education as meritocracy came under assault.
Racial essentialism triumphed.
Racially segregated dorms, campus spaces, and graduations were normalized.
Everything from destroying the southern border to dropping SAT requirements for college admission followed.
Sometimes real, sometimes hyped crises lead to these contrived left-wing hysterias—like the January 6 violent “armed insurrection” or the “fascist” “ultra-MAGA” threat.
Otherwise, the progressive movement cannot enact its unpopular agendas. So it must scare the people silly and gin up chaos to destroy its perceived enemies—any crisis it can.
Trump says he will never stop trying to repeal Obamacare. California would feel the biggest impact
California gets more than $30 billion a year, more than any other state, to insure millions of people under Obamacare.
Published:12/27/2023 6:03:09 AM
Thousands Of Doctors Take Legal Action Against Transgender Mandate
Thousands Of Doctors Take Legal Action Against Transgender Mandate
Thu, 12/21/2023 - 17:00
Published:12/21/2023 4:21:15 PM
Authored by Jacob Burg via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),
A group of 3,000 doctors and medical professionals is suing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) over a mandate that broadens the term "sex" in federal civil rights statutes to include "gender identity" and "sexual orientation."
The group argues that the rule, among other things, forces physicians who see Medicaid patients or receive federal funding to provide "gender-affirming" care to children who want to transition to the opposite sex. This includes prescribing hormone treatments and puberty blockers and performing surgery such as removing girls' breasts.
The doctors challenging the rule say it will force them to provide that kind of treatment, even if they think it's medically wrong for the patient or if it goes against their religious beliefs. That makes it unconstitutional, they say.
As such, the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed a lawsuit on behalf of the American College of Pediatricians, an adolescent care obstetrics and gynecology doctor, and Catholic Medical Associates.
The lawsuit, filed on Aug. 26, 2021, asks the court to block HHS from penalizing doctors for refusing to provide gender-altering treatments to children for any reason.
The case initially was dismissed by a lower court when the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a motion claiming that it would honor doctors' constitutional right to refuse such treatments.
However, ADF attorney Chris Schandevel said his clients worry that a dismissed case could mean DOJ officials could reverse the department's stance at any time. So he's seeking an injunction to specifically prevent HHS or any other federal agency from disciplining doctors who refuse to give children such treatments for any reason.
The 6th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati heard oral arguments on the case on Dec. 6. The appellate court has jurisdiction over federal appeals from cases originating in Kentucky, Michigan, Tennessee, and Ohio.
The court's decision could take up to three months. If denied, plaintiffs could seek review from the U.S. Supreme Court.
By Order of the President
The HHS mandate in May 2021 followed an executive order issued four months earlier by President Joe Biden. The order expanded the interpretation of "sex" beyond a person's biology, to include a person's declared "gender identity" or "sexual orientation."
"Every person should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear, no matter who they are or whom they love," President Biden's order states. "Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports.
"Adults should be able to earn a living and pursue a vocation knowing that they will not be fired, demoted, or mistreated because of whom they go home to or because how they dress does not conform to sex-based stereotypes. People should be able to access healthcare and secure a roof over their heads without being subjected to sex discrimination. All persons should receive equal treatment under the law, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation."
Federal agencies indicated that this interpretation would extend into discrimination clauses in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). And that could require doctors to provide treatment to children and adults who identify as transgender and want to undergo a "transition" to a new gender identity, Mr. Schandevel said.
The mandate could apply to any health care providers who receive federal money, such as those accepting patients on Medicaid or with ACA health insurance coverage, also known as Obamacare.
This "gender-affirming" care would extend to pediatric services and potentially bring about disciplinary action for physicians refusing for any reason to provide that care to children, Mr. Schandevel said.
The DOJ filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit on July 19, 2022, claiming that the HHS hasn't mandated that health care providers "perform all kinds of gender transition services, even providers who have religious objections" and that the lawsuit begins on a "false premise" by suggesting that such a mandate exists.
HHS attorneys assert in the motion that their interpretation of President Biden's executive order means "sex discrimination extends to gender-identity discrimination."
But, they write, this doesn't indicate that doctors opposed to providing gender-altering treatments "fall within the scope of unlawful gender-identity discrimination, and HHS has consistently affirmed that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and other religious defenses may be raised, on a case-by-case basis, to a charge of discrimination."
But for Mr. Schandevel and the doctors he represents, that's not enough.
"Outside of the courtroom, in their public statements, the administration has given every indication that they plan to enforce this gender-identity mandate as broadly as possible," he said.
"They have given every indication that they plan to come after doctors, like our doctors, that we're representing in this case."
Mr. Schandevel cites a notice dated March 2, 2022, from the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) that invites patients and parents to file complaints with the OCR if they feel they have been denied "gender-affirming" care.
"As a law enforcement agency, OCR is investigating and, where appropriate, enforcing Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act cases involving discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in accordance with all applicable law," the notice reads.
"This means that if people believe they have been discriminated against in a health program or activity that receives financial assistance from HHS, they can file a complaint."
Mr. Schandevel said that doctors who ADF represents shouldn't have to just take the DOJ at its word and just hope that it won't violate the doctors’ rights.
“We should be able to get a court to say that their rights are protected," He said.
"Our doctors have every reason to fear that if they say no, that they're not going to [perform a sex-change operation] that the federal government is going to try to take away their federal funding based on that conscientious practice of medicine."
Pediatricians represented by Mr. Schandevel are wary of "gender-affirming" care for children for reasons beyond personal convictions, he said.
Dr. Quentin Van Meter, a pediatrician and pediatric endocrinologist with five decades of experience, said he read "the broad medical literature across the spectrum on the subject” and came to a decision that he can live with his code of medical ethics.
Dr. Van Meter contended that the research used to validate pediatric gender-altering treatments is often "cherry-picked"—researchers make conclusions that don't support the data collected.
Proponents of helping children try to alter their gender identity argue that access to such childhood procedures lowers the rate of suicide among minors who identify as transgender.
They often cite a 2020 study, published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, that purportedly establishes that link.
A 2019 study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry studied the same phenomenon—the alleged lowered risks of suicide for children receiving "gender-affirming" care.
In that study's conclusions, researchers argued that children receiving gender-altering procedures have much higher levels of anxiety and mood disorders before treatment than other children. They wrote that these procedures, such as hormone blockers or surgery, lowered the need for anxiety and mood care once the child received treatment affirming a new gender.
However, that study drew ire from other researchers, who sent letters to the journal's editors challenging the statistical methodology employed in the study.
"Upon request, the authors reanalyzed the data," according to a correction published by the American Journal of Psychiatry on Aug. 1, 2020. "The results demonstrated no advantage of surgery in relation to subsequent mood or anxiety disorder-related health care visits or prescriptions or hospitalizations following suicide attempts in that comparison."
Dr. Van Meter said he believes that "the scientific validity of what they're basing their treatment protocol on is based on so little valid science that it must cease and desist immediately."
The Swedish Approach
Dr. Van Meter also pointed to recent changes to the official position of the governments of Sweden and Norway on the issue.
Sweden, which has had broad tolerance for the LGBT community, recently reversed its previous official position on "gender-affirming" care for minors through its National Board of Health and Welfare (NBHW), saying "the risks outweigh the benefits at this point."
"Uncertain science and newly acquired knowledge means that the National Board of Health and Welfare now recommends restraint when it comes to hormone treatment," a translation of the NBHW announcement reads.
Read the rest here...
If You Didn’t Like The First Term, Just Wait For The Second
If You Didn’t Like The First Term, Just Wait For The Second
Sun, 12/10/2023 - 20:30
Published:12/10/2023 8:39:37 PM
Authored by Ron Faucheux via RealClear Wire,
Second presidential terms are like half-chewed gum – the zest and flavor are gone. Hence the phrase “second-term curse.” We’ve had 17 presidents who were elected and reelected. History shows us that the second act usually falls short.
Why is this? For starters, popular mandates tend to dissipate over time, and public familiarity tends to curdle into boredom or contempt. Second terms often lack purpose and are tarnished by missteps, scandals, and hubris. Usually, the best presidential appointments are made in the first term.
If either Joe Biden or Donald Trump is nominated, no matter which one wins the general election, we’re in for a second term in January 2025. Sharply negative views have already accumulated around both men; neither would have the benefit of a truly fresh start.
While Trump’s second term would be nonconsecutive, the first since Grover Cleveland’s, it would still fit within the second-term paradigm, especially if he uses it to exact revenge on his enemies, as some pundits predict.
Either Biden or Trump would start a second term as a lame duck and may have to battle impeachment, probably for things done in the first term. Old cuts and scars will deepen alongside new wounds. Trump will have criminal trials on his docket and may try to pardon himself, which could launch a long, bruising court fight. Biden will likely face investigations into a range of matters, including his son’s business dealings.
During Thomas Jefferson’s first four years, he doubled the size of our young nation with the Louisiana Purchase, the shrewdest real estate deal in history. The Embargo Act, which devastated a fragile economy, came in his second term.
Grover Cleveland’s first term ushered in good government reforms. He opposed the spoils system, created the Interstate Commerce Commission, and modernized the Navy. Although he won the popular vote for reelection, he lost the Electoral College vote. Four years later, he won a second, nonconsecutive term, which was overwhelmed by two economic depressions and numerous labor strikes.
Woodrow Wilson’s first term was marked by the passage of significant economic reforms. His second was dominated by World War I, which he promised to avoid, and the attempted ratification of his beloved League of Nations, which he fumbled. He also suffered a severe stroke, incapacitating him during the last 16 months of his presidency.
Franklin Roosevelt took on the Great Depression during his first four years. Social Security, immense public works, bank deposit insurance, labor laws, securities regulation, and rural electrification became realities. His second term started with the botched attempt to “pack” the Supreme Court, followed by another economic downturn and a clumsy bid to purge the Democratic Party of New Deal skeptics. Of Roosevelt’s four terms, his mistake-prone second, most historians agree, was least impressive. His third was consumed by World War II, and the fourth lasted less than three months.
Richard Nixon’s top foreign policy achievements occurred during his first term. His second term was engulfed by Watergate, and that led to an inglorious resignation.
Ronald Reagan’s course correction for America happened mostly during his first term: renewing national confidence, reducing taxes and spending, fighting inflation, building up the military, and breaking the PATCO strike. While his second term set the stage for the collapse of the Soviet Union, it was distracted by the Iran-Contra affair.
Bill Clinton’s first term set into motion economic policies that would carry his presidency. This provided second term cushion – although a big chunk was squandered on the Monica Lewinsky scandal and impeachment.
George W. Bush’s first four years were momentous: responding to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, launching wars in Afghanistan and Iran, and passing big tax cuts. It was in his second term when the bungling of Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath wrecked his administration’s reputation for competence, and that, in turn, poisoned perceptions of his war management.
In his first term, Barack Obama passed Obamacare and major economic stimulus programs. Osama bin Laden was also captured and killed. His second term focused on fixing Obamacare and trying to sell a range of policies, domestic and foreign, that never won much public confidence.
If either Biden or Trump wins, we’ll have a second-term presidency. As The Old Philosopher, Eddie Lawrence, might have said, “Something else to look forward to, hey Bunkie?”
Ron Faucheux is a nonpartisan political analyst. He publishes LunchtimePolitics.com, a public opinion newsletter, and is the author of “Running for Office,” a tell-all book for political candidates.
On Obamacare repeal, Trump gives Biden a 2024 political shiv for fresh attacks
Obamacare repeal is an ‘oldie-but-goodie’ campaign issue for Democrats as the ex-president tackles a topic that has hurt him badly once before.
Published:12/8/2023 4:22:44 AM
Did ObamaCare 'Work'?
Did ObamaCare 'Work'?
Thu, 12/07/2023 - 13:45
Published:12/7/2023 12:53:31 PM
Via Political Calculations blog,
The Affordable Care Act was signed into law in 2010. It was slowly implemented, going into full effect in 2014. One of the main goals of the law was to make health insurance more affordable for Americans, but has it worked?
One way to answer that question is to see how much Americans are paying for health insurance since the ACA became law and to compare that how much American households would otherwise have paid if the preceding trend for health insurance costs remained in place.
We can make comparison using data from the U.S. Census Bureau's annual Consumer Expenditure (CEX) Survey. The CEX has reported how much an average "consumer unit", which roughly corresponds to an American household, has paid for health insurance in each year from 1984 through 2022. It compares those data points with the trend based on the actual expenditures for health insurance from 2000 through 2010. Here's the chart:
Compared to the pre-Affordable Care Act trend from 2000 through 2010, Americans household consumers paid 35% more on average for health insurance in 2022 than they would otherwise have paid based on the trend for these costs from 2000 through 2010.
How does that compare with the household consumers' other major health care expenditures? The chart is adapted from an older version and narrows in on the period from 2008 through 2022 to track the change in the average expenditures per American consumer unit for several health care expenditure categories. These categories include health insurance, medical services, drugs, and medical supplies.
Through 2022, what American household consumers pay for drugs and medical supplies has changed very little, with medical supplies within $95 and drugs within $133 of their cost in 2008.
Expenditures for medical services has seen more growth over time. In 2013, the year before the Affordable Care Act took full effect, Americans paid just $69 more for medical services than they did in 2008. By 2019, that increased to $257, which then dipped to $137 in the pandemic year of 2020. What American consumer households pay for medical services has risen rapidly since, as of 2022 they reached $457 more than they paid in 2008.
But what Americans pay for health insurance has relentlessly risen in all but one year (2017). In 2013, just before the Affordable Care Act became fully operational, Americans paid $576 more for health insurance than they did in 2008. That jumpd immediately to $1,215 in 2014, and has since risen to be $2,190 more than what American consumer units paid for health insurance in 2008.
2022 is the most recent year for which we have figures available. The Census Bureau will collect the data for 2023 in March 2024 and will crunch the numbers for several months before reporting it all sometime in September 2024.
[ZH:... thanks Barack! Mission Accomplished?]
Time to Revive the Debate Over Obamacare
Big media outlets, including The New York Times and The Washington Post, last week called out former President Donald Trump for slamming Obamacare, opining that... Read More
The post Time to Revive the Debate Over Obamacare appeared first on The Daily Signal.
Published:12/7/2023 11:57:56 AM
Biden Admits 'Only In Election To Beat Trump' As Former President Promises Not To Be A Dictator "Except On Day One"
Biden Admits 'Only In Election To Beat Trump' As Former President Promises Not To Be A Dictator "Except On Day One"
Wed, 12/06/2023 - 14:40
Published:12/6/2023 2:04:40 PM
Amid an avalanche of not-at-all-coordinated hit-pieces all focused on the word "Dictator", former President Trump appeared to play right into the hands of the narrative-writers with his comments overnight - albeit completely removed from context (just like "good people on both sides"... except the nazis!)
Dark scenarios about what could happen if Trump wins in 2024 have appeared in the space of a few days in major US media outlets that include The Washington Post, The New York Times and the Atlantic.
Grim predictions also came from no lesser Trump-hater than Liz Cheney, who said that the country is "sleepwalking into dictatorship" and that she is weighing a third-party presidential run of her own to try to stop him.
Are you afraid yet?
Trump's campaign responded by pointing out that "this is nothing more than another version of the media’s failed and false Russia collusion hoax," referring to The Atlantic's project to devote their January/February issue to analyzing what a second Trump term would mean for immigration, civil rights, the Justice Department, climate and more.
And then, during an interview with Sean Hannity Tuesday, Donald Trump himself told the crowd that if he wins another term as President he will not use his powers for retribution against political enemies, but added the caveat “except for day one”.
As Modenerny.news' Steve Watson details, Hannity asked Trump “To be clear, do you in any way have any plans whatsoever if reelected president to abuse power, to break the law to use the government to go after people?”
“You mean like they’re using right now?” Trump responded.
Hannity elaborated “the media has been focused on this and attacking you under no circumstances,” adding “You are promising America tonight you would never abuse power as retribution against anybody?”
“Except for day one,” Trump replied, adding “I want to close the border and I want to drill, drill, drill.”
“That is not retribution,” Hannity interjected before Trump jumped back in stating ” I’m going to be — I love this guy. You are not going to be a dictator, are you? I said no, no other than day one. We’re closing the border and we’re drilling, drilling, drilling. Other than that, I’m not a dictator.”
Of course, the left's media operatives were ready to rewrite those words to match their narrative as the Biden/Harris campaign immediately send out a press release stating that Trump has promised to be a dictator on day one:
* * *
Which followed comments by President Biden, echoing his views from 2016, saying at a Boston campaign event that he wasn't sure if he'd be running for a second term if Donald Trump weren't in the race.
"If Trump wasn't running, I'm not sure I'd be running," Biden told donors at a fundraiser.
"But we cannot let him win," Biden added.
During his speech, he also highlighted President Trump's continued calls to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
President Biden's visit to Boston was part of a weeklong fundraising tour in multiple states aimed at bolstering his campaign finances before the year's end.
In Boston, the president centered his message on the high stakes of the upcoming election, pointing out that President Trump has been transparent about his intentions if he were to win again. -Epoch Times
"Trump's not even hiding the ball anymore. He's telling us what he's going to do. He's making no bones about it," he said, citing Trump's previous statements about seeking "retribution" and his promise to root out the "vermin" in the country.
"He didn't even show up at my inauguration. I can't say I was disappointed, but he didn't even show up," Biden said, drawing laughter from the crowd.
With a year to go, this is just getting started!
Column: The GOP is back to attacking Obamacare, and making less sense than ever
Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley all want to repeal Obamacare. Their plan to replace it is not having any plan at all.
Published:12/5/2023 5:28:34 AM
Malone: The White House Is Controlled By The Medical-Industrial Complex
Malone: The White House Is Controlled By The Medical-Industrial Complex
Sun, 10/29/2023 - 23:30
Published:10/29/2023 11:02:14 PM
Authored by Robert Malone via Substack,
A bit of knowledge about "public health" can be a dangerous thing when financially conflicted partisans control the executive branch...
Last February, the serving White House (WH) Chief of Staff (COS) quietly resigned, and a new one was ushered in. But a comparison of the outgoing and incoming WH Chief of Staff demonstrates striking similarities. A careful reading of the bios of Biden’s two chief of staff picks reveals a disturbing trend. Both choices appear consistent with - first and foremost - the capture of both the “health”-related administrative state and the levers of the Biden administration itself by the pharmaceutical-medical industrial complex.
Why is this important? Because the WH Chief of Staff is the most critical political appointee of the President, and functionally serves as the head of the Executive Office of the President of the United States in addition to being a cabinet position. The position is widely considered the most important and powerful job in the Executive branch of the US Government, next to the sitting POTUS.
In the case of a feeble or incapacitated president, the WH Chief of Staff essentially acts in place of the President. Given the ascendency of the power of the Executive Branch and its permanent Administrative State bureaucracy over the judicial and legislative branches, this appointed position functionally runs the country.
The job entails:
“Selecting senior White House staffers and supervising their offices' activities;
Managing and designing the overall structure of the White House staff system;
Control the flow of people into the Oval Office;
Manage the flow of information to and decisions from the Resolute Desk (with the White House staff secretary);
Directing, managing and overseeing all policy development;
Protecting the political interests of the president;
Negotiating legislation and appropriating funds with United States Congress leaders, Cabinet secretaries, and extra-governmental political groups to implement the president's agenda; and
Advise on any and usually various issues set by the president.
The firing of senior staff members.” (wiki)
The Chief of Staff is essentially given the keys to the White House. This position clearly has much more power than the Vice-president, and yet the job is not only an unelected one, but it is also not confirmed by the Senate.
Why do I assert that Biden’s choices for WH COS demonstrate the functional capture of the White House by the pharmaceutical-medical industrial complex?
Biden’s first Chief of Staff was Ron Klain. He was Biden’s Chief of Staff when he was vice-president under Biden. During that time, he initially transitioned from managing the allocation of stimulus funds to becoming the Ebola response coordination under Obama. The Ebola response was an “all-hands” government effort, due to a case of Ebola actually occurring on American soil, and the risk that this particular variant might become able to infect via the respiratory tract (thanks to fearporn primarily promoted by Dr. Osterholm).
Prior to and after Obama’s presidency, Mr. Klain was the executive vice president for Revolution, an investment firm that invested in several healthcare companies, such as BrainScope, Everyday Health and Extend Health. “Extend Health” is now renamed “One Exchange” and is a leading provider of health care solutions for Medicare-eligible individuals.
After his time in the Obama White House, Klain also became an external advisor for the Skoll Foundation, whose website lists as a main strategic priority the strengthening of global health systems and presenting pandemics. He held this position until his selection to serve as WH Chief of Staff under Biden.
Ron Klain has worked at high levels in the Clinton, Obama and now Biden’s White House administration. His time in the White House has been punctuated by stints in the corporate world. Hence, he has see-sawed between government and industry, at the highest levels - leveraging both for power, influence and money. By serving in various White House administrations in unelected positions which do not need confirmation by the Senate, he has avoided having to publicly disclose conflicts of interest.
During his tenure in Biden’s White House, Klain pursued a vaccine-only strategy and directed White House messaging relating to this policy including that horrible White House statement saying the vaccinated have 'done the right thing' and the unvaccinated are 'looking at a winter of severe illness and death for you and your families'. Adding insult to injury, Klain is the one that asserted that 'The truth is the truth' - remember that as Chief of Staff, Klain was directly responsible for “Directing, managing and overseeing all policy development”.
The real “truth” of this whole situation is that the leadership of the Obama Ebola response team from 2014 was brought in to form the core of Biden’s White House operational management team, as documented in a November 2020 Politico article, just a week or two of Biden having “won” the election:
Klain is one of a number of people Biden has tapped for his administration whose views on battling a health crisis were shaped by what happened in 2014. At an event in Wilmington, Del. last week, Biden highlighted how his just-announced pick for Homeland Security secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, helped combat Ebola and Zika as part of the Obama administration. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, his pick for UN ambassador, “was our top State Department official in charge of Africa policy during the Ebola crisis,” Biden noted. And the former vice president praised Jake Sullivan, who served as his national security adviser during much of the Ebola outbreak, for “helping me develop our Covid-19 strategy”…
.But many of the public health, communication and government mobilization lessons Klain and his team learned then are not only applicable now; they’re also at the core of Biden’s plan for tackling the pandemic when he takes office in January.
Homeland Security Director Alejandro Mayorkas worked with Klain from 2001 to 2009 at the O’Melveny law firm. Which is interesting because this where Klain has now returned to the firm as a partner.
This is how one arm of the government has become completely captured by the pharmaceutical-medical industrial complex via prior “public health emergency” response teams. The clear fact is that the Biden White House was only interested in a vaccine solution, despite the established fact that public health research long ago determined that a vaccine for a rapidly evolving respiratory virus would never succeed. People in the White House must have known this but disregarded that knowledge because either 1) they were corrupted, 2) they were deep in the mass formation psychosis and group think, or 3) they functioned as incompetent useful tools for others.
I know that I personally spoke with Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s Chief of Staff in 2021 about these issues and had assurances that they would discuss the issues with a vaccine approach with the White House. That was the last I heard from them. This all leads me to believe that the resulting amazingly dysfunctional “public health” response was more about their own interests in making money and expanding political power than in developing an actual response that made sense.
My experience working in the Ebola response on 2014 re-enforced a very different lesson than that of the Biden White House COVID policies. That is that vaccines would never be the answer to an ongoing outbreak. That medical counter measures must include a response that listens to hands-on physicians tinkering to find medical counter measures. That the generic, FDA approved medicines that have worked in the past for early treatments will work in the future. They are the first line of defense. Furthermore, non-respiratory infectious diseases versus respiratory infectious diseases will be very different from each other, in terms of public health responses. And finally, that the US intelligence community is deeply embedded in the bureaucracy that sets “public health” policies, particularly during infectious disease outbreaks, and works hand-in-glove with Bill Gates, WHO leadership, US State Department, and the giants of the BioPharmaceutical industry. Ron Klain’s White House called for an all-of-government response focused on vaccines and that is what they got (all of government meaning DHS, HHS, DoD, Department of State and CIA/IC). This response was developed and operationalized for Klain by Jeff Zients, who was President Biden’s COVID czar. Which brings us to Klain’s replacement.
Let’s now focus our attention on the professional biography of the new Chief of Staff, Jeff Zients. Although Zients is purported to not have any “public health experience,” the truth is that he has spent his entire career milking the government out of money for his own medical-industrial complex investment funds. He has worked to continuously spin the revolving door between his businesses in the medical-industrial complex and the government- all to the benefit of public health, of course .
Zients comes from an extremely wealthy family, who played a pivotal role in “health care services” since the 1990s. His father is known to have “helped” outsource veteran’s healthcare services to private industry way back when.
Jeff Zients joined The Advisory Board Corp in 1992, where he helped “build a research company focused on “providing best practices research and host[ing] seminars for 2,500 health care industry members, including hospitals, insurers, pharmaceutical companies, and biotech firms.” The Advisory Board achieved astounding financial success and became one of the “pillars of Washington society”.
During the presidency of Barack Obama, Zients served as director of the National Economic Council from 2014 to 2017. He was also acting director of the Office of Management and Budget in 2010. He then led the emergency effort to fix Obama care after the troubled launch.
During his tenure as director of the National Economic Council, Zients’ investment firm, Portfolio Logic - founded in 2003, settled a a multimillion-dollar suit with the Justice Department over allegations that its subsidiary health care firm committed Medicare and Medicaid fraud. Portfolio Logic LLC was and is an investment firm initially focused on health care and business services. Portfolio Logic’s current valuation is around $182 million and it appears that Portfolio Logic is still privately held by Zients and his family, although information about Portfolio Logic has mostly been scrubbed from the Internet.
While leading the Obamacare (ACA) roll-out, Zients also had an ownership position in PSA Healthcare. Which the Obama White house determined was not a conflict of interest.
The “American Prospect” writes of Zients:
Zients was a leader in implementing many of the Obama administration’s most pro-corporate policies. Zients owes his entire public-policy career to his corporate worldview and connections, which have remained strikingly consistent for over a decade—exactly in keeping with his pre-government history.
In fact, a Fox News article documents that the Wikipedia page for Biden's chief of staff was scrubbed to hide many of his corporate past dealings. This includes deleting the details in 2020 relating to Zients’ positions at Bain & Company, Portfolio Logic and Facebook. Although his Wiki page now mentions that Zients was CEO of Cranemere up until his leave in 2020, it does not mention that Cranemere Healthcare Services works in the healthcare ecosystem. As he is apparently still on leave from Cranemere, one can assume that he will resume his 1.6 million US Dollar compensation package per year from Cranemere upon leaving the White House.
Jeffrey Zients’ is considered one of the wealthiest members of the Biden administration, and most of this money was inherited or made while working in the medical-industrial complex, which includes vast profits from the privatization of health-care and billing.
Zients was part of Biden’s transition team and then started working for the Biden WH as his COVID czar. During this period, he was considered a “special government employee,” and so could continue with his private sector employment and was exempted from filing the public financial disclosures that normal staff must complete. Again, Zients formulated the vaccine only public health policy, including the mandate policies. He alone spoke to major Airline CEOs to insist on vaccine mandates.
In January 2023, Zients became Biden’s Chief of Staff. Remember, that the position of Chief of Staff is the most important position next to the President. In this capacity, it appears that he has maintained the operational capture by the pharmaceutical-medical industrial complex of the executive branch of government initiated under Obama in the context of enacting and implementing the “Affordable Care Act”, ergo - the White House and President Biden.
As Biden has proven to be a fragile and weak president, many believe that this has allowed Zients to seize the reins of executive power. Zients past history predicts that he will use this to further his own financial interests, which clearly represent a significant financial conflict of interest.
The revolving door just doesn’t stop spinning, and it all seems to revolve most efficiently around Zients, the pharmaceutical-medical industrial complex and now future pandemic responses. Talk about the foxes in the hen house!
Do not get distracted, 2024 looms large.
* * *
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The Inflation Reduction Act: A Bidenomics Loser In 2024
The Inflation Reduction Act: A Bidenomics Loser In 2024
Fri, 10/27/2023 - 18:20
Published:10/27/2023 5:25:29 PM
Authored by Mark Merritt and Jon McHenry via American Greatness,
If history’s any indicator, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) could haunt Democrats in 2024 like the Affordable Care Act did in the 2010 and 2014 elections.
The most devastating line of those campaigns was: “My opponent voted for Obamacare, which cut $716 billion from Medicare.”
A new economic analysis reveals that the IRA has the same problem.
It too was funded at Medicare’s expense.
Until now this has been obscured by budget gimmicky. Former Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Holtz-Eakins’ organization, the American Action Forum, uncovers what happened.
In short, the IRA’s Medicare prescription drug reforms save the federal government $266 billion, but the savings are used to fund new climate spending, not reduce seniors’ pharmacy costs.
The analysis concludes that, “the Medicare savings are simply another means of financing the IRA’s $670 billion in clean energy tax credits and other spending on energy and the environment.”
While the law features some inexpensive new benefits, like a $2,000 cap on pharmacy out-of-pocket costs, these consume just a fraction of the savings from the prescription drug policies.
If all the savings had been used to improve Medicare, it would mean $40,000 more for each of the program’s 65 million enrollees. Instead, fewer than 10% of them will see any savings, usually less than $300. Just enough so the law’s backers can say it “reduces drug costs for seniors.”
The big winners from IRA policies like letting Medicare “negotiate” drug prices will be millions of younger, white-collar professionals who’ll get $7,500 credits for electric vehicles (EVs). For each senior who saves a few dollars at the pharmacy counter, six EV buyers will save thousands at the dealership.
This creates several problems next year for candidates who backed the law.
First, cutting Medicare is ballot box poison.
Eight-in-ten Americans – especially the voter-rich age group of 50-64 – fear for the program’s financial future.
Democrats got hammered in 2010 and 2014 for voting to use Medicare funds to pay for Obamacare. In 2012, progressives returned the favor with the infamous “throw granny off a cliff” ad campaign attacking GOP Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s Medicare proposals.
Second, candidates who backed the IRA have nowhere to hide in 2024.
Senators who voted for it will be on the ballot with President Biden in key battleground states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada, Ohio and Arizona. When the issue is raised in one state, candidates in all the others will have to respond, too.
Third, the law torpedoes the middle-class, “Bidenomics” message.
It’s tough to talk about growing the economy “from the middle out and the bottom up” when transferring wealth from Medicare seniors to EV buyers, who typically earn $150,000 a year. That’s twice the nation’s median household income.
Finally, taking savings from Medicare to fight climate change will make no sense outside the bubbles of climate activism and academia.
Most voters think rising sea levels pose far less of an “existential threat” than policies that put their health care at risk. Even those who are concerned about the environment see health care as a much higher priority. Furthermore, voters are notoriously stingy when asked to make real trade-offs for the cause.
This summer, voters in Sonoma, California – one of our wealthiest, bluest counties — rejected a quarter-cent tax hike to reduce local reliance on fossil fuels.
Imagine how a quarter-trillion-dollar Medicare cut will play next year in Erie and Kenosha.
Reaping What You Sow: The American Regime In Chaos
Reaping What You Sow: The American Regime In Chaos
Fri, 10/06/2023 - 18:25
Published:10/6/2023 5:30:40 PM
Authored by Tho Bishop via The Mises Institute,
The word “chaos” has been the buzzword this week in Washington, largely directed toward Rep. Matt Gaetz’s successful coup against former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy and the resulting void in Republican leadership. In an era where most outcomes in Washington are predictable, best illustrated by yet another kick-the-can-down-the-road continuing resolution on spending passed the preceding weekend, the first successful use of a motion to vacate the speakership in American history greatly shocked the system.
In hindsight, it should not have been. For more than a decade, there has been a constant tension between Republican voters and the priorities of its leadership. McCarthy similarly saw his previous two Republican predecessors resign from their positions after it was clear they lost the support of their conferences. Even Donald Trump, who maintains a strong hold on the Republican electorate, oversaw a government culpable for most of Red America’s frustrations with Washington: runaway spending, the devastation of covid tyranny, systemic corruption, and general impotency from the federal government in acting on conservative concerns from border security to the administrative state and the progressive capture of all levels of education.
Ironically, it was The CARES Act signed by Trump that provided $400 million in funding to help “fortify” the 2020 election.
In contrast, the Democratic Party has been the dominant federal force in achieving major policy wins. Obamacare was passed and then found to be unmovable. Enormous subsidies have been created to enrich loyal areas of support, including green energy sectors, Big Pharma companies, teachers’ unions, and a rainbow of various “minority empowerment” initiatives around the country. Even the military-industrial complex, once a reliable source of support for the GOP, has become a patron class of the American Left. A recent analysis of political donations from major sectors of the American economy illustrates the degree to which the most powerful interests in the United States view the Democratic Party as a better bet to forward their self-interests.
For those familiar with Murray Rothbard’s analysis of the Progressive Era, this would not be a surprise. As he illustrates, the success of progressive ideology resulted in the rise of cartelized trusts that benefited from the protection and support of state privileges. Protections on trade emboldened attempts to monopolize industries like sugar. The push for central banking was driven by large financial interests. The progressive capture of both American political parties led Rothbard to suggest that late nineteenth and early twentieth-century politics could best be understood as a clash between rival oligarch factions led by the Morgans and Rockefellers.
Yet, given the massive institutional advantages and relative unity enjoyed by the political left, the Democratic Party finds itself engulfed in chaos of its own, largely resulting from the consequences of its own political victories.
Violent crime is on the rise in deep-blue cities, highlighted this past week by the brutal killing of two left-wing activists in Philadelphia and New York who advocated for “criminal justice” reform that resulted in more criminals with violent records being released on the streets. In response, progressive advocacy groups have sought to further undermine private reactions to this loss of public safety, attacking attempts at private security solutions under their familiar complaints of “racism.”
Immigration, counted on as a powerful tool to ensure future political dominance for the Democratic Party, has also become a festering issue for Democrat politicians. As Republican state leaders responded to historic waves of border crossings with relocation programs to progressive “sanctuary cities,” areas like Chicago and New York are facing severe strains of public resources and growing hostility from residents. Meanwhile, left-wing cultural crusades have increasingly alienated nonwhite communities, resulting in situations like a Muslim-majority Michigan city council banning the transgender pride flag from government buildings.
In a remarkable pivot this week, the Biden administration this week expedited the construction of border walls in Texas, but the greatest threat to the regime’s stability, of course, is the economic system that has enriched the progressive political class at the expense of the productive sectors of the economy. The failure of the fiscally conservative Tea Party movement to capture enough political will to alter the trajectory of Washington spending has made a fiscal crisis inevitable, and that moment is quickly approaching. America’s debt clock currently rests at north of $33 trillion dollars and is due to pass the $34 trillion mark by the end of the month without factoring in the additional future costs of unfunded liabilities.
The greatest short-term threat to the regime’s stability is a threat few in Washington have yet to notice, the consequences of the Federal Reserve’s pivot away from its long role as a dutiful enabler of the Fed’s fiscal hedonism. As the recklessness of DC’s economic response to covid created an inflation shock even the carefully trained government statisticians couldn’t mask, the Fed has been forced to push interest rates well beyond its most aggressive projections. The true impacts of the hikes are just now starting to bear fruit. As the interest rates rise and rates for new debt insurances increase, the value of older bonds is being devastated.
This week US bond markets are hitting historic losses of over 40 percent. Total losses on the value of bonds are estimated to stand at over $1.6 trillion and growing. Similar dynamics fueled the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank this March and threatened more banks in the future. Moody’s recently downgraded 10 regional banks in August, with more expected.
The meltdown of US bonds threatens systemic insecurity in the financial system, threatening the balance sheets of insurance companies, pensions, and other nonbank institutions that sought security in the form of US bonds. The end of the era of low interest rates means that assumptions that guided the investment strategies of most of the world’s largest financial institutions were made with bad information. The size of the systemic risks to the system is currently unknowable, but the policy response to the great recession has sowed the seeds for the next financial crisis to be far larger.
Despite these seismic shocks happening in financial markets, the political class seems characteristically clueless. A few weeks ago, a Republican presidential debate featured no mention of the growing credit crisis. The Federal Reserve was not mentioned until the last twenty minutes and only superficially touched on by Vivek Ramaswamy and Ron DeSantis.
It would, however, be a mistake for Americans to confuse the cracks in the stability of the regime as a catalyst for its retreat. Weak regimes are particularly dangerous.
Just this week, it was released that the FBI had made explicit what was long implicit, now categorizing supporters of Donald Trump as a unique category for potential “extremism.”
The modern regime successfully used the cover of the War on Terror to arm itself with powerful tools and weaponize nominally private client actors. As its own policy victories have planted the seeds of social unrest, it should be expected that it will unveil new tools of harsh power. Already, the governments of Canada, the United Kingdom, and Europe have escalated attacks on alternative media platforms that give average citizens the ability to out their crimes.
The political class may be more concerned about delayed Ukraine funding than the financial crisis brewing at home, but the regime is prepared to do what it does best: violently preserve itself at the expense of everyone else.
Voters Will Reject Inflation Reduction Act's Assault On Medicare: Newt Gingrich
Voters Will Reject Inflation Reduction Act's Assault On Medicare: Newt Gingrich
Tue, 10/03/2023 - 14:00
Published:10/3/2023 1:27:20 PM
Op-ed authored by Newt Gingrich via RealClear Wire,
In the last few weeks, House Subcommittees have conducted important hearings on President Joe Biden’s implausibly named “Inflation Reduction Act” and its assault on Medicare.
The law is an assault on Medicare because it violates a core promise of the program – that in exchange for paying a special payroll tax your entire working life, the program will be there for you when you are older.
The law uses so-called savings from reduced spending on prescription drugs (more on that in a moment) to help pay for $500 billion in green energy and Obamacare subsidies.
This is a promise broken because the entire point of a dedicated payroll tax is that the funds are to be used for Medicare. The only way the IRA was able to accomplish the green energy and Obamacare spending without increasing overall government spending (which you can’t do if you are trying to claim the bill will reduce inflation) is to cut spending elsewhere. Analysis of the bill clearly shows that the offset spending comes out of Medicare.
The American people understand this is a violation of the promise of Medicare. Research we conducted at America’s New Majority Project revealed that 67 percent of Americans agree that any savings found in Medicare should be kept in Medicare. Most say those savings should be used to improve benefits. In addition, 59 percent say (correctly, it turns out) it is likely that programs which allow the government to reduce Medicare spending on prescription drugs would lead to the savings being spent elsewhere.
The White House and Democrats will claim that the IRA does not actually violate the promise of Medicare because seniors will still get the care they need despite the diversion of the funds. This is a falsehood, and Americans know it.
The IRA achieves its savings from Medicare through the imposition of price controls on drugs, which the White House and Democrats refer to as “negotiation.” In truth, the negotiation is Kabuki theatre. The process disrupts the highly successful private sector negotiation that is the foundation of Medicare Part D and enables government bureaucrats to set a take it or leave it price it is willing to pay for critical drugs.
Our research also revealed Americans understand the tradeoff between increased government control and doctor-patient autonomy. Sixty-five percent of voters say it is likely that price control programs such as those found in the Inflation Reduction Act would lead to more influence for lobbyists and less control by doctors and patients. Sixty-three percent say these programs would ultimately lead to seniors not receiving the medicines their doctors recommend.
Unsurprisingly, the American people are pretty smart. Multiple analyses have shown that the IRA’s plan to allow Medicare to set prescription drug prices will deter critical investments in new drug development. According to an analysis by Horizon Government Affairs, 24 drug companies have already announced they are cutting back on drug development due to the bill. It’s even possible that the plan could result in some currently available drugs being pulled from the market.
Clearly, there is a case to be made to the American people that the Inflation Reduction Act is bad medicine. Americans understand the principles behind the concerns about the impact of the program – and the facts are there to validate those concerns if we can make the people aware of them.
The hearings held so far are a good first step to educating the American people and exposing the IRA’s assault on Medicare. They should be reinforced by lawmakers in their communications with constituents to continue to make the case against the law – and highlight alternative solutions to make drugs more affordable for Americans that don’t endanger innovation and access.
Newt Gingrich was Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995-1999 and a candidate for president in 2012. He is Chairman of Gingrich 360, a consulting and multimedia production firm, some of whose clients are impacted by the Inflation Reduction Act. For more commentary from Newt Gingrich, visit Gingrich360.com. For more polling on this and other issues, visit AmericasNewMajorityProject.com.