Sunday, October 28, 2018

The Divisiveness in America today:  How much is Harry Reid to blame?

The extreme polarization of American politics in America today has been  blamed on many things.  Democrat politicians blame it on a "racist" President Trump and say they are just trying to protect fairness and justice for all, but particularly for illegal immigrants.  Such brainlessness need not detain us however.  Their constant shrieks of blame are just a poor mask for their complete absence of constructive and realistic policy.

But it's not so long ago that there was a degree of bipartisanship in America.  Ronald Reagan, for instance, got his remarkable reforms through a Democrat-dominated Congress.  And bipartisanship was valued. It was so valued that it was entrenched in the rules of the Senate.  The filibuster rule meant that a President's nominees to the courts had to muster 60 senate votes to pass as distinct from a simple majority of 50.  So judges had to be pretty centrist -- however that was conceived at the time.  Basically, both sides of politics had to agree to a significant extent in order to get anything done.

But impatience  is at the very heart of Leftism -- An impatience with the world as it is and an urgency to change it.  And in 2013 the Democrat leader of the Senate, Harry Reid, pushed through a vote to abolish the filibuster in order to get some of Obama's appeal court nominees through -- over the top of Republican opposition.  Obama nominated extremist judges who had no respect for the law and thus made bipartisanship impossible.

Harry acknowledge that he was loading the gun with ammunition that future Republican majorities might use to Democrat disadvantage, but Leftists live almost wholly in the present so Harry said that was OK by him.  He was warned multiple times of what the future effect of his actions might be but he still went ahead.  And his Senate caucus went ahead with him.  More background here

Reid did have one element of caution, however.  He broke the filibuster for lower court nominees only.  He knew how dangerous a Republican Supreme Court could be to his party so left the filibuster just alive enough to block nominations to SCOTUS.

But once he had put a hole in the dam, it was easy for the rest of of the dam to be breached.  And so it was.  When Mitch McConnell was pushing Trump's SCOTUS nominees through, the Democrats used the filibuster to block Judge Gorsuch.  So McConnell used his majority to abolish the last of the filibuster and got Gorsuch through.  And after Gorsuch there came the dreadfully abused Kavanaugh -- also pushed through in the absence of the filibuster despite a quite incredible cacophany of abuse from the Donks.

Without Harry Reid's attack on the filibuster rule, the Donks could easily have blocked both judges -- and conservatives have been cackling about that ever since.  They now love the now retired brainless Harry.  There have been many "Thank you"s to Harry after Gorsuch and Kavanaugh got through confirmation. I wouldn't be surprised if on some social occasions Republicans have drank toasts to Harry

But the point is that both new judges are very conservative and their very membership of the court has snatched away from the Donks their alternative legislature.  Up until recently, they could get lots through the courts that they could not get through Congress.  They got got through such huge agenda items as homosexual marriage, universal abortion, the barring of Christian observance in the schools and "affirmative action".  All those were legalized through SCOTUS only.  The people did not get a vote on any of it.  That is now gone and it went through their own Donk folly.  No wonder they are half crazed. A large part of their world has fallen apart.  And it is all because of Harry Reid.

Their access to sympathetic courts once kept them happy -- or as happy as they are capable of being.  So that allowed them to be magnanimous to Republicans on some occasions and to some degree.  They could afford to be a bit magnanimous in Congress because the main game was not there.  It was the courts that would enforce their agenda.

But the basic point is that the filibuster demanded and got a degree of bipartisanship if either party was to get anything done.  That is gone and Harry did it.  All restraints are now off.  He clearly had no inking of how great would be the damage he did both to his own party and to the American constitution, broadly conceived


Trump outlines new plan to lower Medicare drug  prices, end 'rigged' system

Once again he objects to Americans being treated differently

President Donald Trump outlined a plan Thursday he said would allow Medicare to lower drug prices for its Part B coverage and end this "rigged system" that allows other countries to pay less than the U.S. for the same drugs.

Under the administration's proposal, the Department of Health and Human Services would permit Medicare to create a new payment model that would bring drug prices in line with what other nations pay.

HHS estimates $17 billion in program savings over five years, it said in a press release. The agency is trying to issue a formal rule early next year with the new payment model taking effect in 2020, HHS said.

"For decades, other countries have rigged the system so that American patients are charged much more ... for the exact same drug," Trump said in his speech at HHS headquarters in Washington.

"Americans pay more so that other countries can pay less," Trump said. "The government pays whatever price the drug companies ask ... not any more."

The SPDR S&P Pharmaceuticals index, which tracks drug stocks, was more than 2 percent higher early afternoon Thursday.

In May, Trump said it was time to end the "global freeloading once and for all," referring to how some countries set price controls and therefore pay less for drugs than Americans, while U.S. companies invest in research and drug development.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar released a report earlier in the day that said the U.S. pays 1.8 times more, and sometimes four times as much, for prescriptions covered by Medicare Part B than other nations.

"The United States will finally be able to confront one of the most unfair practices ... that drives up the cost of medicine," Trump said. "For decades other countries have rigged the system so that American patients are charged much more, and in some cases much, much more for the exact same drug," he said.

Overall, the prices for Part B drugs in America exceed the prices paid in countries with similar economic conditions. These higher prices mean that Medicare pays nearly TWICE as much as it would for the same or similar drugs in other countries. We can and must do better.

Medicare reimburses the list price of the drug plus 6 percent, so capping price increases could help lower the program's costs. Total Medicare drug spending reached $162 billion in 2015, according to data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

"Because @POTUS wants to end global freeloading, we compared prices for the most costly physician-administered drugs that are covered and paid for by Medicare Part B," Azar tweeted. The "prices for Part B drugs in America exceed the prices paid in countries with similar economic conditions."



Lame duck opportunity for GOP to cut spending, pass MERIT Act, build wall and Atlantic pipeline

By Robert Romano

Come what may in the November midterms, whether Republicans hold Congress or not, afterward there are a number of spending measures that remain to be enacted by Congress for Fiscal Year 2019.

So far, all Congress has finished and had signed into law by President Donald Trump are Defense, Labor, Education, Health and Human Services, Energy, Military Construction and Legislative Affairs.

That leaves Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, Commerce, Justice, Science, Financial Services and General Government, Homeland Security, State, Foreign Operations and Transportation, Housing and Urban Development.

Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning said the unfinished business gives Republicans an opportunity in November and December to enact the Trump agenda, including the wall and the President’s call for non-defense discretionary spending to be cut by 5 percent.

“Regardless of the outcome of the midterms, the lame duck session will present the GOP with a rare opportunity to pass legislation that limits the size and scope of government and hopefully implement President Trump’s call to cut spending by 5 percent,” Manning said.

That would amount to about $28 billion in savings, right there, if implemented, which, after the $779 billion deficit for FY 2018, would be welcomed by taxpayers.

Other agenda items that are definitely coming up is full funding for the southern border wall, which would need to be included in the Homeland Security funding bill, a key Trump and Republican campaign promise, and with the migrant caravan still headed for the border, one with some urgency.

Policy riders could also be tied to funding that limit government, for example, the MERIT Act by U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.) and Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), that would expedite the firing of federal employees. Similar reform was passed for the Department of Veterans Affairs after too many veterans died waiting for medical attention. Now, the same reforms need to be enacted across the board to all departments and agencies.

For the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which will transport natural gas across West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina, Congress could include a simple rider that allows the pipeline to cross the Appalachian Trail, avoiding costly and time-consuming lawsuits.

Also of interest, the Joint Select Committee on Solvency of Multiemployer Plans is expected to complete its work on a report to make recommendations for the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation and Congress to follow in addressing 114 out of the nation’s 1,400 multiemployer pension plans covering 1.3 million workers being underfunded by $36.4 billion.

This could be addressed now, or later. But chances are, Congress will address it.

In fact, these are all things likely to come up, and depending on how the midterms go, Republicans can address them in the lame duck, or take their chances in 2019 when, who knows, Nancy Pelosi might be Speaker. Midterms are usually not kind to the President’s party, and while the GOP holding onto the Senate seems likely, the fate of the House still hangs in the balance.

Depending on how things go in November, clearing the decks on the Trump and Republican agenda in Congress after the election might be the last full opportunity until 2021 the earliest. Something to keep in mind.



Obama Is 'Making Stuff Up' About The Trump Economic Boom

Growth: Economists expect the third-quarter GDP number — to be released this Friday — to be a strong one, in the range of 3.4%. Maybe that's why Barack Obama is running around this week trying to take credit for the economic boom. And he says President Trump has trouble with facts?

In a speech at a rally in Nevada, Obama claimed that the current economic boom has nothing to do with Trump's economic policies.

"By the time I left office," he said, "wages were rising, uninsurance rate was falling, poverty was falling. And that's what I handed off to the next guy. So when you hear all this talk about economic miracles right now, remember who started it."

Just the Facts?
Later in that same self-congratulatory speech, Obama said that "unlike some, I actually try to state facts. I believe in facts. I believe in a fact-based reality and a fact-based politics. I don't believe in just making stuff up."

So let's look at some of the facts about the economy that Obama handed off to Trump.

Despite what Obama now says, the economy was far from solid when he left office. In fact, it was in a slump.

GDP growth was decelerating throughout 2016. Household income was flat. The unemployment rate was flat. The stock market was flat.

And, "by 2016, wage growth began to taper off quickly," notes the American Action Forum's Ben Gitis.

Even The New York Times, which has been gamely trying to grant Obama credit for the current boom, now admits that 2016 was an "invisible recession."

"There was a sharp slowdown in business investment, caused by an interrelated weakening in emerging markets, a drop in the price of oil and other commodities, and a run-up in the value of the dollar," it explained.

Slow Growth Expected

By the end of 2016, pundits and economists were widely predicting a new era of slow economic growth. Why? Because for eight years under President Obama's leadership, the economy struggled to even top 2% annual growth. It never reached 3%. And every single year GDP growth missed the forecasts by Obama's own economists. So for Obama to claim that he handed Trump a thriving economy is 100% pure poppycock.

What's more, Obama and other liberal Democrats insisted in 2016 that if Trump were elected, he'd send the economy into a tailspin. Well, Trump was elected, and instead of faltering, the economy surged.

Since Trump took office, quarterly GDP growth has averaged 2.9%. Once the recession ended, the quarterly GDP growth averaged 2.2% under Obama.

Since Trump took office, the unemployment rate has been in a steady decline. Economic optimism — which languished for years — suddenly skyrocketed. The stock market took off. The U.S. reclaimed the No. 1 spot in global competitiveness. Family incomes reached all-time highs.

Engineering an Economic Boom

Not one of these trends was in place when Obama left office. So what exactly is Obama claiming? That his policies failed to kick in until after he left office? Talk about "making stuff up."

The fact is that as soon as Trump took office, he started reversing as many of Obama's economic policies as he possibly could.

Trump halted Obama's massively expensive new environmental regulations, and cut back old ones. He signed a massive tax reform bill that took the tax code in the opposite direction of Obama — toward lower rates and fewer loopholes. He signed a law partially dismantling Dodd-Frank, one of Obama's other big "achievements." He dialed back ObamaCare where he could.

In other words, Trump immediately embarked on a policy of tax cuts and deregulation that Obama has repeatedly insisted "never worked" to grow the economy. Yet here we are, with growth topping 4% last quarter, and likely to top 3% this quarter.

Here's a message for Obama: When it comes to today's economic boom, you didn't build that.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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1 comment:

ScienceABC123 said...

Obama never seems to remember what he's said in the past. Things like: "a 1% to 1.5% GDP is the new normal" or "there is no magic wand for the economy."