By Peter Roff • Newsweek
You wouldn’t know it from the way she’s being covered in most of the Washington media but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is a woman with a lot of problems. Instead of in-depth coverage of the ideological divisions in her caucus and the political challenges to her leadership, she gets stuff like this, from Politico:
“Using strategies she’s honed over decades, the speaker has managed to keep a sprawling freshman class in line — and on her side — despite breaking with them on issues ranging from impeachment to the ‘Green New Deal.’”
What Speakers John Boehner and Paul Ryan wouldn’t have done for that kind of coverage when they were in charge! When they were in charge, the dissenters drove the narrative. Now that the Queen Bee of Capitol Hill is back in charge, things have turned on their head.
The reason for this is simple according to Rich Galen, a former top communications aide to House Speaker Newt Gingrich and a well-respected commentator.
“The advantage – the GREAT advantage – that Pelosi has, which Newt nor any following GOP Speaker has had is the adoration of the national press corps. They REALLY want her to succeed. Nevertheless, Pelosi has some of the same issues to deal with that Newt did: Mainly a huge freshman class that think they invented Democracy,” Galen says.
He doesn’t think she’s lost control of her conference – not yet anyway – but the she’s not breaking records for party unity. She’s already lost the vote on two motions to recommit – a parliamentary device often used to slow the progress of legislation through the House – and continues to show signs of fatigue, something that has some speculating quietly and anonymously that the job may be too much for her.
That’s a reach. Even at 78 Pelosi still shows she has command of the political skills learned at her father’s knee – he was once mayor of Baltimore, Maryland – and from various members of the Burton family whose accomplishments in California Democratic politics are still considered legendary.
Still, Pelosi did herself no favors when late last week she suggested impeachment of President Donald Trump might be off the table. By suggesting it wasn’t worth the effort she gave the proverbial “finger” to Democratic donors and activists from coast to coast who worked so hard in 2018 to win back control of the U.S. House for the Democrats precisely for the purpose of driving Trump from office.
Some may say that it’s not such a big deal. The activist wing of the party is likely harder to mollify, even as Pelosi and others work to keep them in line. Consider what the reaction would have been among the GOP faithful if, after using the repeal of Obamacare as the whip hand to drive voters to the polls in 2010 to win back control of the House for John Boehner and the Republicans, the measure was never even brought to the floor for a vote.
“Impeaching Trump is probably the one substantive matter that is non-negotiable for House Democrats,” says Mike Franc, a former GOP congressional leadership staffer and now head of the Washington office of the Hoover Institution.
“Pelosi can get away with dismissing the New Green Deal (because it is purely aspirational and agenda-setting rather than substantive) but not this. My guess is that she suffers for this sin, mostly with the Democratic base.”
For Pelosi, now and moving forward, the tail is wagging the dog. She may be the political leader and the nation’s most important elected Democrat, but she has little to say, at least so far, about what the party’s agenda will be. She faces, Franc says, “a substantive revolution” in the way policy is made on Capitol Hill, akin to what happened after the Democratic landslide of 1974 and the 1994 Republican Contract with America.
The large class of Democratic freshmen, which includes Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes and her fellow traveling socialists, do not seem, Franc says, committed to a set of real and substantive policy changes so much as they are interested in “using their platforms as Members to advance a new and socialistic state of mind in traditional and social media.”
If that gives AOC and others control of the agenda, what does that mean for the suburban seats Democrats took from the GOP in 2018 because voters either thought the Republican agenda was too extreme or because they wanted to send a message to Trump?
Extremism on the left, which is what AOC and her fellow Green New Dealers are offering, is no better in these districts than extremism on the right. These moderate members could get lost in the undertow if Pelosi can’t stop the drift to the left, but she can’t stay in power if she does.
Nancy Pelosi has a lot of problems – and they’re just beginning to surface.
By Lance Morrow • Wall Street Journal
The Democratic National Committee will regret its decision to bar Fox News from hosting any of its 2020 presidential primary debates. Just as the game begins, the committee has planted the idea that the Democrats mean to run a rigged election—not a happy thought to encourage in view of the way the party’s leaders fiddled with the process in 2016 to favor Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders.
The Democrats consider Fox a propaganda arm of the Trump administration, but they have their own propaganda arms. Most of the mainstream media manifest a deep affinity for progressive Democrats and their agenda. To exclude Fox smacks of Soviet one-party theatrics.
The journalists at CNN, MSNBC, the Washington Post and the New York Times and, broadly speaking, the elected officials and paid operatives of the Democratic Party—almost all of these people agree on the issues of the day: women’s rights, abortion, gay marriage and other LGBTQ issues, Black Lives Matter, gun control, immigration, the border wall, family separation at the U.S.-Mexican border, Russian collusion, Brett Kavanaugh’s fitness and so on. They agree, above all, in opposing and loathing Donald Trump.
MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” unfolds each weekday morning as a relentless, ritualized denunciation of Mr. Trump and all his works. With almost hilarious single-mindedness, the program’s repertory company addresses itself to the work of discrediting and—they hope—one day ousting the president.
It will be fatal to Democrats’ chances in 2020 to encourage the suspicion they won’t tolerate points of view that differ from progressive orthodoxy. Unbiased viewers know that Fox employs many credible journalists: Bret Baier, Martha McCallum and Chris Wallace, for example.
Anyway, Fox journalists asking the questions would only sharpen the debate and increase the candidates’ credibility. The ideologues at the DNC don’t grasp the virtue of competing ideas. Jacobins rarely do.
True, Sean Hannity whispers in Mr. Trump’s ear. That is probably a bad idea, but it has abundant historical precedent. The muckraking journalist Lincoln Steffens of McClure’s Magazine, author of “The Shame of the Cities,” met often with President Theodore Roosevelt to advise him on progressive policy.
Arthur Krock, Washington bureau chief and a columnist for the New York Times, was in the Kennedy family’s pocket for years. He wrote columns in the late 1930s pushing Joseph P. Kennedy, John F. Kennedy’s father, for president. The journalist had the sense to turn down the patriarch’s offer of a car one Christmas, considering the bribe too blatant. Krock used his influence on the Pulitzer board to engineer a 1957 prize for JFK’s “Profiles in Courage.”
Henry Luce, co-founder and editor in chief of Time Inc., regarded his magazines as the voices of the American superego. He liked to tell his countrymen what to think, and presidents how to act. Presidents feared Luce and his ability to teach and preach to tens of millions of American voters every week. Luce had an especially proprietary sense of President Dwight Eisenhower, whom his magazines backed in 1952. Intellectuals damned Luce and envied him his vast readership and almost unique influence upon the American popular mind. Phil Graham, publisher of the Washington Post, was an intimate adviser to Lyndon Johnson, notably at the 1960 Democratic convention, where LBJ sought the top spot on the ticket but settled for the second.
President Kennedy and Ben Bradlee, of Newsweek and later of the Washington Post, had a glamorous friendship that was close and, from a journalistic point of view, not quite ethical.
The DNC made a bad move. One or two of the declared Democratic candidates might distinguish themselves now by demanding that the committee reverse itself and invite Fox News—and its audience—back into the American electoral process.
By Michael Tanner • National Review
Outside the media and political circles that follow her every move, few probably noticed or cared when Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez pronounced capitalism “irredeemable.” But what are we to make of the refusal of former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper — supposedly the moderate in the Democratic field — to admit that he was a capitalist? Speaking on MSNBC’s Morning Joe last week, Hickenlooper turned aside several direct questions about whether he was a capitalist before allowing that “some aspects” of capitalism, like small business, “probably work.” And what about the fact that 77-year-old avowed socialist Bernie Sanders is in a statistical tie for the Democratic nomination?
Perhaps that’s because Democratic primary voters have a surprisingly favorable view of socialism. According to the latest Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll, Democrats prefer capitalism to socialism by the slimmest 51–49 percent margin. That’s a long way from President Obama, who just four years ago pointed out that “the free market is the greatest generator of wealth in history — it has lifted millions out of poverty.”
Of course there is ample reason to be suspicious of the combination of cronyism and government intervention that has replaced free-market capitalism in recent years. But this new affection for socialism represents a profound misreading of economics, history, and the human condition.
For most of recorded history, humankind was horribly, desperately poor. Then, about 300 years ago, human wealth suddenly began to increase exponentially. The reason for this sudden and wonderful change was the advent of modern free-market capitalism. And while those at the top of the income ladder undoubtedly saw major gains, those who benefited the most from this increase in wealth were those at the bottom.
In her groundbreaking book Bourgeois Equality, Deirdre McCloskey points out that in the era before modern free-market capitalism, great civilizations, such as Periclean Greece or Song Dynasty China, sometimes saw a temporary doubling of national income per capita. Such gains were considered extraordinary. But compare that to the fact that since 1800, developed countries like Sweden or Japan have seen a 3,200 percent growth in per capita income. And with that growth came all sorts of associated benefits, including longer life expectancies, a better-educated citizenry, expanded civil and political rights, and reduced poverty. Studies measuring inequality over time against indexes of economic freedom (adjusted to exclude exogenous factors such as educational levels, climate, agricultural share of employment, and so forth) show a small but statistically significant reduction in inequality in countries with high economic-freedom scores.
What has been true worldwide has been true for the United States as well. Consider that by most measures nearly all Americans were poor at the start of the last century. Indeed, if we use a definition corresponding to today’s poverty measures, 60 to 80 percent of the U.S. population was poor at the start of the 20th century. Today, while some people undoubtedly continue to struggle, deep material poverty has been nearly eradicated.
It is free-market capitalism that is at the heart of this prosperity.
Nor is the debate about capitalism vs. socialism merely a question of economics. Strip away all the bells and whistles and there are only two ways to organize society: markets or command and control. Markets are fundamentally about choice and voluntary exchange. Command and control is about, well, command and control — that is, force. Advocates of socialism presume that this power will be exercised by wise philosopher-economist-kings who can magically determine precisely what wages should be, how much a product should sell for, and what consumers want (or should want). History shows that, instead, those powers are exercised by fallible human beings who not only get economic decisions wrong but cannot resist spreading their new power into non-economic areas of our lives.
Donald Trump, with his continuing calls for government intervention in the economy, is hardly the best person to make the case against Democrats and socialism. He is, in fact, emblematic of the cronyism that has come to taint capitalism in the minds of many. But his message may still find a receptive audience.
The same Harvard/Harris poll cited above showed voters overall preferring capitalism by a 65–35 percent margin. Voters outside the Democratic-primary base are far less enamored of socialism. Even many of those choosing socialism probably don’t really mean it, seeing “socialism” as simply shorthand for a more generous welfare state.
In particular, an anti-capitalist, pro-socialist message will be a very hard sell in the crucial suburbs that have begun swinging Democratic in the last few elections. Voters in those areas are repelled by Trump’s rhetoric and Republican social conservatism but remain capitalists.
There’s no doubt that Trump remains vulnerable, but so long as Democrats continue their lurch to the left, his reelection prospects will look up.
By Tyler O’Neil • PJ Media
On Tuesday morning, Patrick Moore, a founding member of the environmentalist organization Greenpeace, slammed climate alarmists for promoting a fake emergency. President Donald Trump tweeted Moore’s remarks shortly after he made them.
“In fact, the whole climate crisis as they call it is not only fake news, it’s fake science. There is no climate crisis,” Moore, author of the book Confessions of a Greenpeace Drop-Out: The Making of a Sensible Environmentalist, told “Fox & Friends” Tuesday morning.
“There is weather and climate all around the world. And, in fact, carbon dioxide is the main building block of all life,” Moore said. “That’s where the carbon comes from in carbon-based life, which is all life on land and in the sea. And not only that, a little bit of warming would not be a bad thing for myself being a Canadian and the people in Russia wouldn’t mind a little couple of degrees warmer either.”
The Greenpeace founding member did not deny that climate change is real, but he insisted that it is not a crisis.
“Yes, of course, climate change is real. It’s been happening since the beginning of time. But it’s not dangerous and it’s not made by people,” Moore insisted.
What is climate change, if it’s not a man-made imminent crisis? “Climate change is a perfectly natural phenomenon and this modern warm period actually began about 300 years ago when Little Ice Age began to come to an end,” he explained. “There is nothing to be afraid of.”
As for the alarmists, “that’s all they are doing is instilling fear. Most of the scientists who are saying it’s a crisis are on perpetual government grants.”
Yet there is a fundamental contradiction between their claims, Moore insisted. “On one hand they say the science is settled and people like myself should just shut up because they know what’s right. On the other hand, they seem to keep studying it forever as if there is something new to find out. And those two things are completely contradictory,” he said.
The Greenpeace founding member even argued that “carbon dioxide is actually a benefit to the world.” He promoted the CO2 Coalition, which believes “that carbon dioxide is entirely beneficial to both the environment, to agriculture and forestry and to the climate of the Earth.”
If Patrick Moore believes in carbon dioxide as a benefit to the climate, how could he have helped found Greenpeace? He argued that it was the organization that changed from its original mission, not him.
“I was one of the founders doing a Ph.D. in the late ’60s, early ’70s in ecology. I was radicalized by the Cold War and the threat of all-out nuclear war and the emerging consciousness of the environment and we did a lot of good things,” he recalled. “We stopped nuclear testing in Alaska. We have stopped it in the South Pacific. We saved the whales. And we stopped a lot of toxic waste being put into the ocean. And the air.”
“But, by the mid-’80s we had gained a lot of notoriety and we were bringing in a lot of money and we were hijacked by the extreme Left who basically took Greenpeace from a science-based organization to an organization based on sensationalism, misinformation, and fear,” Moore insisted.
The Greenpeace founding member echoed an argument he made against the Green New Deal on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” Monday evening.
Moore said he opposed the climate plan proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) “because it would be basically the end of civilization if 85 percent of the world’s and also 85 percent of the U.S.’s energy — in the form of coal, oil, and natural gas — were phased out over the next few years. Like, ten years. We do not have anything to replace them with.”
Nuclear reactors might be able to meet those needs, “but that isn’t going to happen because the greens are against nuclear, and they’re even against hydroelectric dams, which at least is renewable. But they don’t support that either, so basically, they are opposed to approximately 98.5 percent of all the electricity that we are using and nearly 100 percent of all the vehicle and transportation and ships and plans energy that we are using.”
Moore argued that the biggest problem with phasing out fossil fuels entirely would be mass starvation in the cities. Transporting food from farms to cities “requires large trucks, and there’s not going to be any electric tracks any time soon hauling 40 tons of food into the supermarkets where the people in the cities probably think it originates in the supermarket. But it does not.”
The Ocasio-Cortez ‘Green New Deal’ Is Even Shoddier and More Absurd Than You Thought
Without fossil fuels and the trucks that run on them, food could not travel from the farms to the center of New York or to Manhattan, where AOC is from,” he said. Without trucks, “the people there will begin to starve. … Half the population will die in a very short period of time.”
On “Fox & Friends,” Patrick Moore was even blunter. “The fact is you cannot do agriculture for eight billion people — produce the food for eight billion people — without fossil fuels as far as we know it. We don’t have an alternative, especially for transportation. Which is over 90 percent dependent on fossil fuels,” he said.
Burning fossil fuels may even have a positive impact on the environment, the Greenpeace founding member argued.
“The fact is 85 percent of the world’s energy is from fossil fuels. And the carbon dioxide being emitted from burning it was actually taken out of the atmosphere and the oceans millions of years ago and stored in sediments,” Moore said. “We are now releasing it back into the atmosphere where it can fertilize the life on Earth.”
“Carbon dioxide and water are the two main constituents of all life. Carbohydrates and, of course, fossil fuels are hydrocarbons just missing the oxygen. When you burn them, the oxygen is recombined with carbon to form the carbon dioxide. People need to learn more about the chemistry,” he quipped.
“This is fake science and driving a very dangerous movement on the energy front,” Moore repeated.
President Donald Trump tweeted about Moore’s interview, citing the “Fake Science” line in particular.
“Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace: ‘The whole climate crisis is not only Fake News, it’s Fake Science. There is no climate crisis, there’s weather and climate all around the world, and in fact carbon dioxide is the main building block of all life,'” Trump tweeted, adding “Wow!”
Greenpeace disputed the claim that Patrick Moore is a co-founder of the organization.
“Patrick Moore was not a co-founder of Greenpeace. He does not represent Greenpeace. He is a paid lobbyist, not an independent source. His statements about @AOC & the #GreenNewDeal have nothing to do with our positions.”
Moore was heavily involved in the early years of Greenpeace. While he did not help found the original organization, the “Don’t Make a Wave Committee,” he joined the crew of the vessel Phyllis Cormack, which later took on the name “Greenpeace.” The organization took its name from that vessel.
Patrick Moore is not listed among the founders of Greenpeace on the website, but he clearly had an early leading role in the organization.
In 2011, the Wall Street Journal dubbed Moore a “founding member” of the organization. PJ Media has adopted this description.
By Ximena Barreto • The Western Journal
To many Jewish Americans, the term “anti-Semitism” is synonymous with the hard-right of American politics. This includes, but is not limited to, the likes of neo-Nazis, alt-right, KluKlux Klan/David Duke and others. Since WWII, the American Jewish experience has been defined by three core philosophical movements: fighting against Anti-Semitism, Zionism and classical liberalism, including the equal rights movement.
Interestingly, in most measurable ways, Jews have been extremely successful in all three of these areas. However, in the year 2019 or 5779 (depending on which calendar you use), 70 years after the Holocaust, Jews in America are as vulnerable to anti-Semitism as well political and religious violence as they have ever been. Continue reading
By Ximena Barreto • The Western Journal
At long last, have you no sense of decency?” With those words, and in full view of the American people, Senate Legal Counsel Joseph Nye Welch proceeded to expose the reckless destruction of Joe McCarthy and the era of McCarthyism.
As Wisconsin’s junior senator, Joseph McCarthy cynically and recklessly exploited legitimate Cold War concerns over possible communist influence and infiltration of our institutions as his own personal cudgel. Over time, McCarthy came to accuse anyone who opposed him and his aggressive tactics of being a communist sympathizer. In doing so, the test he applied to identify communist and “enemies of the state” was one that only he could properly undertake and administer. Before it was over, hundreds of budding careers were ruined, livelihoods lost and reputations destroyed. Continue reading
By Rich Lowry • National Review
The same Democrats outraged by Donald Trump’s alleged offenses against the First Amendment passed, as their first priority, a speech-restricting bill opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Trump shouldn’t call the media “the enemy of the people” or inveigh against Jeff Bezos for owning the Washington Post, but Nancy Pelosi’s H.R. 1, which passed the House last week, is the true affront to the Constitution.
The wide-ranging legislation purports to reform campaign finance with a series of vague, sweeping measures that will act to chill speech when they don’t actively regulate or squelch it. H.R. 1 is called the For the People Act but would be more aptly titled the Be Careful What You Say, It Might Be Illegal Act.
Progressives can’t abide the notion that people in this country get together to spend money on advocacy outside the purview of the government — in other words, freely promote their favored causes as befits a free people living in a free country.
H.R. 1 cracks the whip. As the Institute for Free Speech points out, the current campaign-finance rules limit expenditures that expressly advocate for the election or defeat of a candidate, or refer to a candidate in public advertising shortly before an election. The idea is to have clear rules so groups can promote their views without fear of running afoul of federal regulations.
H.R. 1 blows this regime up. It seeks to regulate any speech at any time that “promotes or supports the candidate, or attacks or opposes an opponent of the candidate,” a fuzzy standard that could catch up all manner of nonelectoral messages (e.g., “Trump’s tariffs are a mistake,” or “Support Trump’s wall”).
H.R. 1 also widens the definition of coordination between a group and a candidate to encompass almost any communication. It’d still be permissible to discuss a candidate’s position on an issue, so long as there is no talk “regarding the candidate’s or committee’s campaign advertising, message, strategy, policy, polling, allocation of resources, fundraising, or other campaign activities.”
Even if a group doesn’t coordinate with a candidate under this loose standard, it could still be deemed to have coordinated if it were founded by someone who goes on to become a candidate; relies on the professional services of someone who also did work for a candidate; or is run by someone who had conversations about a campaign with the relative of a candidate.
On top of all this, H.R. 1 goes after the privacy of donors to advocacy organizations. It mandates the disclosure of the names and addresses of donors giving more than $10,000 to groups that engage in “campaign-related disbursements.” Given our toxic political environment, this would potentially subject the donors to harassment and abuse, and they might not even be aware of or support the communications in question.
Supporters of H.R. 1 say it is necessary to rein in super PACs, the frightening-sounding organizations that aren’t as unregulated as everyone believes (the Federal Election Commission gets reports of their expenditures and contributions). But, as the Institute for Free Speech notes, the bill affects a much broader array of “trade associations, unions, business groups, and advocacy organizations, such as Planned Parenthood and the National Right to Life Committee.”
Love them or hate them, these groups are part of the warp and woof of American public life, and they shouldn’t have to think twice before engaging in acts of persuasion that enrich and enliven our democracy, not corrupt it.
The Supreme Court has long put an emphasis on bright lines in its campaign-finance jurisprudence exactly to avoid a chilling effect on advocacy. It has said that laws must be “both easily understood and objectively determinable.” The campaign-finance provisions of H.R. 1 are neither.
What H.R. 1 makes abundantly clear is that the foremost threat to the First Amendment are the people who believe that there is something untoward about unregulated political speech and seek to bring it under control.
Puzzled by the glaring differences between the well organized and prosperous neighboring new republic, the United States of America, and the chaos as well as the impoverishment of the just emerging states of Central and South America, Simon Bolivar remarked in his “Letter to a gentleman showing great interest in South America’s republican cause”, in 1815:
“As long as our compatriots do not acquire the talents and political virtues that have characterized our northern brothers, I greatly fear that our completely traditionalist systems, far from being favorable for us, will be our demise. Unfortunately, the requisite level of these characteristics seems to be far from us; and, to the contrary, we are dominated by the vices acquired under the direction of a nation like Spain, which has excelled only in cruelty, ambition, revenge and greed.”
In addition to being prophetic, Simon Bolivar’s words still point to the enduring political tragedy of Spanish- Hispanic America, namely that history have not just repeated itself in regular intervals throughout the 19th, the 20th, and in the first nineteen years of the 21st centuries across Central and South America, but that it has run in ruthless as well as inhuman circles around their curious colonial heritage.
Simon Bolivar was one of those personalities who played a crucial role in initiating and then leading the independence movements across the southern part of the American continent. Yet, in the independence struggles of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia, Bolivar’s vision of a multitude of independent republics unified under a pan-American umbrella with a single strong ruler ultimately failed to materialize. Born into the Caracas aristocracy, who lived and studied for an extended period of time in Europe, he embraced the philosophy of the French Enlightenment, especially the views of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Accordingly, Simon Bolivar subscribed to the idea of “general will”, and to the principle of the rule of the majority.
When he was elected the President of Venezuela on December 6, 1998, the late Hugo Chavez Frias turned Simon Bolivar’s vision to its head and established under the deceptive idea of “Bolivarian Revolution” an authoritarian form of government with a populist overtone. Moreover, influenced by Fidel Castro’s distributive socialism, he focused on using Venezuela’s considerable oil resources to buy up the good will of the poor. Finally, to oppress the upper and middle classes, Chavez integrated the military and the intelligence services into his authoritarian domestic rule.
Under the strange slogan of “Motherland, Socialism, or Death”, which he changed before his death to an even more macabre one “Motherland and Socialism. We will live, and we will come out victorious”, Chavez succeeded to transform Venezuela from a rich nation to a dirt poor country. In addition to running Venezuela to the ground, Chavez’s autocracy produced a Stalinist constitution, a subservient legislature, a supreme court completely beholden to his command, and a laughable electoral law. All this was neatly subsumed into the Marxist myth of class struggle. Everything that happened before Hugo Chavez, such as slavery, feudalism, colonialism, and capitalism, were necessary evils on the prescribed Marxist road to socialism, where the truly egalitarian society will be erected without poverty and backwardness. The blood sucking bourgeoisie and their equally despicable imperialist masters will be left on the ash heap of history. Naturally, these ideas of historical materialism called for a singular foreign policy direction, namely an unequivocal anti-USA strategy.
By Wesley J. Smith • National Review
bamacare failed. There is no denying it anymore. The supposed “signature achievement” of the 44th president isn’t just opposed by Republicans. The Affordable Care Act has now been jilted also by many Democrats, who, like so modern-day Lotharios, have abandoned their once-burning ardor for state insurance exchanges to pursue “single-payer” health care.
Some readers are yelling, “That was the plan all along!” Yes, but the stew is not fully cooked. I doubt President Obama and the Pelosi Congress of 2009 and 2010 planned for their party to move so radically this soon. Oh well. With burning hatred for everything Trump as the accelerant — and with polling popularity of Bernie Sanders’s “Medicare-for-all” legislation of last year serving as a justification — much of the Democratic party now unapologetically embraces outright socialized medicine.
The newly filed 120-page “Medicare for All Act of 2019,” authored by Pramila Jayapal (D, Wash.), already has 106 co-sponsors — nearly half of the Democratic caucus — and it seeks to yank America hard toward the port side of the political spectrum. The bill — which resembles Medicaid more than it does Medicare — would transform our entire health-care system into an iron-fisted centralized technocracy, with government bureaucrats and bioethicists controlling virtually every aspect of American health care from the delivery of medical treatment, to the payment of doctors, to even, perhaps, the building of hospitals. It would obliterate the health-insurance industry and legalize government seizure of pharmaceutical manufacturers’ patents if they refuse to yield to government drug-price controls.
Here are some of the plan’s most destructive features:
It Would Drown the Country in Red Ink: True to its title, the bill promises comprehensive and encompassing “free” health care for everyone, including primary care, hospital and outpatient services, dental coverage, vision, audiology, women’s reproductive health services, long-term care, prescription drugs, mental-health and substance-abuse treatment, laboratory and diagnostic services, ambulatory services, the list goes on and on. Last year’s version of the plan authored by Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) — which didn’t include coverage for dental and long-term care — was estimated to add $32 trillion to the budget over ten years. It is also not irrelevant that the current Medicare — which is far more limited — is scheduled to go broke in 2028.
Yes, There Would be Rationing: The bill creates a Physician Practice Review Board “to assure quality, cost effectiveness, and fair reimbursements for physician-delivered items and services.” The term “cost-effectiveness” is code for rationing, which the law acknowledges by prohibiting the use of assessment methods of determining “any value or cost-effectiveness that discriminate against people with disabilities.”
Private Payment for Covered Health Services Would Effectively Be Banned: The bill requires that all covered medical services be provided without any out-of-pocket cost to patients. The only fee to which a doctor, hospital, or other service provider would be entitled would be that paid by the government. Kiss the health-insurance industry goodbye.
Doctors and Hospitals Would Become Government Contractors: The state would not, strictly speaking, employ doctors directly. But doctors would be coerced into becoming government contractors by the requirement that they sign a “participation agreement” to be eligible to receive payments from the government. The participation agreement forces medical professionals and institutions to:
Doctors who object to the provisions of a participation agreement would have little choice if they wanted to continue their careers, since they could be compensated for services only if they were deemed “qualified providers,” a status restricted to those who sign the agreement. (This is known in law as a “contract of adhesion,” meaning providers have no bargaining power or ability to negotiate terms.) If an individual provider’s agreement were revoked, he or she would be ineligible to be hired by a hospital or medical group, because their participation agreements require that they not employ any provider whose participation plan was “terminated for cause.”
Private-Pay Health Care Would Be Destroyed: What about doctors who wish to operate concierge practices, that is, accept cash directly from patients? Outside of the few non-covered fields such as cosmetic surgery, good luck! The doctor cannot have signed a participation agreement, since qualified providers “may not bill or enter into any private contract with any individual eligible for benefits under the Act for any item or service that is a benefit under this Act.” That means the doctor’s entire practice would have to be made up of people who opted not to be covered by the government, a very small pool of patients — the few very wealthy who could afford to foot their entire medical expenses out of their own pockets, and I suppose, “medical tourists” who travel to the U.S. for the purpose of obtaining treatment.
The Bill Seeks to Remove Profit in the Health-Care Sector: True to its socialist roots, the would eliminate profit in health care. Indeed, the bill states quite explicitly:
It is the sense of Congress that tens of millions of people in the United States do not receive healthcare services while billions of dollars that could be spent on providing health care are diverted to profit. There is a moral imperative to correct the massive deficiencies in our current health system and to eliminate profit from the provision of health care.
To enforce the “sense of Congress,” the bill forbids bureaucrats who determine the medical fees that will be paid to providers — which includes institutions as well as doctors and group practices — from taking into account the costs of “marketing” the “profit or net revenue of the provider, or increasing the profit or net revenue of the provider” or “incentive payments, bonuses, or other compensation based on patient utilization of items and services, or any financial measure applied with respect to the provider.” You think doctors have trouble receiving adequate compensation from Medicare and Medicaid now? Just you wait!
The Government Could Steal Pharmaceutical Patents: The bill requires the government to negotiate the price of medicines with drug companies. The bargaining power in that negotiation would — as with participation agreements — be all with the government. If a company refused to agree to the government’s price, the bill states, “The Secretary shall authorize the use of any patent,” by another company “for purposes of manufacturing such drug for sale under Medicare for All Program,” with compensation paid to the patent-owning company in an amount determined by the bureaucracy. How willing would pharmaceutical executives be to green-light the billions in investments required to develop new medicines knowing that the government could simply seize their patent and license another company to manufacture the drugs if they refused to sell it at a price the government demands?
Illegal Aliens Would Receive Free Health Care. Eligibility to receive benefits is not limited to citizens and aliens here legally. Rather, the bill reads: “Every individual who is a resident of the United States is entitled to benefits for health care services under this Act.” Illegal aliens living here are residents. Talk about a migration magnet. The only limitation on coverage for aliens is a provision that forbids eligibility to anyone traveling here “for the sole purpose of obtaining health care items and services provided under the program.” That’s much less than meets the eye. If an illegal alien traveled here to work, to escape violence, or to be with family, the exclusion clause would not apply. Further demonstrating the intent to cover those here illegally, enrollment in the program would be automatic “at the time of birth in the United States (or upon establishment of residence in the United States).” Residency could conceivably be established by a state driver’s license — now widely allowed illegal aliens — or even a utility bill. And get this: Unlike today’s Medicare identifier, the new Medicare Card would specifically not include a Social Security number, which many illegal aliens don’t possess.
Women Would Receive Free Abortion: Currently, the “Hyde Amendment” prohibits federal funding of abortion. That rare bit of culture-wars comity would be destroyed by the bill, which provides: “Any other provision of law in effect on the date of enactment of this Act restricting the use of Federal funds [i.e., Hyde] for any reproductive health service shall not apply to monies in the Trust Fund [the government entity that would be established to pay health-care costs].”
The Medicare for All Act of 2019 won’t become law while there is a Republican Senate and president. But the 107 co-sponsors in the House have put the country on notice. If the Democrats take over the government in 2021 as they — and some Never Trump Republicans — hope, by 2022, the United States health-care system will become a wholly controlled subsidiary of the United States government, bereft of liberty, increasingly sclerotic, managed by unelected bureaucrats churning out thousands of pages of onerous regulations, a centralized authoritarian mess from which the country’s health-care system would never recover.
By Jeffrey Cimmino • Washington Free Beacon
The Washington Post issued an editor’s note Thursday admitting inaccuracies in its initial reporting on a January incident involving Native American protesters, high school students from Covington, Ky., and a group known as Black Hebrew Israelites.
The note sweeps away the provocative details that turned the story into a phenomenon, including the accusation that Covington students prevented Native American activist Nathan Phillips from moving away.
“A Washington Post article first posted online on Jan. 19 reported on a Jan. 18 incident at the Lincoln Memorial,” the statement begins. “Subsequent reporting, a student’s statement and additional video allow for a more complete assessment of what occurred, either contradicting or failing to confirm accounts provided in that story — including that Native American activist Nathan Phillips was prevented by one student from moving on, that his group had been taunted by the students in the lead-up to the encounter, and that the students were trying to instigate a conflict.”
The editor’s note acknowledges that the high school student facing Phillips contradicted the latter’s account of the incident, and that “an investigation conducted for the Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School found the students’ accounts consistent with videos.” The statement adds that the Post reported on these subsequent developments.
The student at the center of this imbroglio, high school junior Nick Sandmann, filed a $250 million defamation lawsuit against the Post, and his attorneys claim the newspaper led a “mob of bullies which attacked, vilified & threatened” him.
In January, film emerged of Sandmann and a group of Covington Catholic high school students, many of whom were wearing “Make America Great Again” hats, appearing to taunt Phillips, a Native American and veteran, near the Lincoln Memorial. Initial reactions on social media condemned the mostly white students for seeming to mock Phillips.
Phillips initially claimed he saw the students taunting indigenous peoples near the memorial and tried to walk towards the monument before being blocked, but later said he stepped into the crowd to defuse tensions between the students and a nearby group of extremists known as Black Hebrew Israelites. Video showed Phillips banging his drum inches from Sandmann’s face, and Phillips claimed to feel threatened and blocked by the student.
Sandmann countered Phillips’ account, saying he was confused when Phillips approached him and was trying to calm down a tense situation. Sandmann added the students were engaging in school cheers before Phillips approached, in response to expletive-laden taunts being hurled at them by the Black Hebrew Israelites. Video released later shows this to have been the case.
Additional video revealed the students did not chant “Build the wall” or “Trump 2020” as Phillips claimed, and showed the students did not surround Phillips—he walked into their midst.
The Diocese of Covington announced earlier this month that an independent investigation exonerated the students and showed they “did not instigate the incident that occurred at the Lincoln Memorial.”
“In truth, taking everything into account, our students were placed in a situation that was at once bizarre and even threatening,” Bishop Roger Foys said. “Their reaction to the situation was, given the circumstances, expected and one might even say laudatory.”