Archive

Archive for February, 2020
February 28th, 2020 at 11:12 am
“Money in Politics for Me, but Not for Thee” — More Leftist Hypocrisy

In this week’s Liberty Update, we highlight the ironic absurdity of the “authentic” label constantly applied to 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, as his long career exposes him as perhaps the least authentic candidate of all.  His behavior simply doesn’t match his professed beliefs, including on so-called “campaign finance reform” laws (which violate Americans’ First Amendment rights).

In that vein, The Washington Post today highlights how the powerful Service Employees International Union (SEIU), perhaps the most powerful labor union of all, plans on spending a whopping $150 million – a record amount – to elect Democrats in November:

The Service Employees International Union plans to spend $150 million this year to get out the vote for Democrats in November, its largest political investment ever.

The union will deploy canvassers across more than 40 states, but its efforts will mainly focus on turning out infrequent voters from the African American and Latino communities across the eight battleground states of Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

SEIU President Mary Kay Henry previewed the strategy to defeat President Trump during an extended interview in her office off DuPont Circle in Washington.  The union, which represents 2 million members, has opted not to endorse in the presidential primary, at least for now, but to focus instead on building a massive field operation to help whoever emerges from the convention this summer, as well as Democrats down the ballot.”

Wait…  A DuPont Circle office?  Pretty posh for an organization pretending to represent the interests of working-class members.  And if things are as bad for American workers today as the SEIU and leftists constantly claim despite all of the evidence to the contrary, why are they redirecting $150 million from dues paid by their own members toward nakedly partisan political purposes?

And more broadly, aren’t leftists the ones constantly claiming that we must “get money out of politics?”  Any chance that any of the Democratic candidates who stand to benefit from this will call them out and practice what they preach?

Don’t risk suffocation by holding your breath.

February 24th, 2020 at 4:44 pm
Sen. McSally Must Avoid the Trap of Counterproductive Prescription Drug Legislation
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Senator Martha McSally (R – Arizona) has broadly proven herself a stalwart ally of conservatives, libertarians and the Trump Administration in her brief tenure on Capitol Hill.  A former U.S. Air Force A-10 pilot, her votes have confirmed President Trump’s phenomenal array of judicial nominees and advanced his economic agenda to bring us arguably the greatest economic conditions in history.

She must be careful, however, to avoid potentially catastrophic missteps on the issue of healthcare and prescription drugs.

Specifically, Sen. McSally has introduced legislation and supported other Senate Finance Committee proposals that would introduce drug price controls from socialist foreign healthcare systems to the U.S., empower the Department of Health and Human  Services (HHS) to directly and bureaucratically negotiate pharmaceutical prices, allow importation of potentially dangerous drugs from foreign countries and introduce components that would erode our world-leading patent system.

It’s not by accident that the U.S. accounts for over two-thirds of all new lifesaving and life-improving pharmaceuticals introduced to the world – it’s the direct result of our strong patent protections here, and our more market-oriented approach.  In contrast, foreign nations that have introduced the principles contained in some of Sen. McSally’s legislation and bills that she supports inevitably suffer shortages, as even the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) has acknowledged:

Every time one country demands a lower price, it leads to lower price reference used by other countries.  Such price controls, combined with the threat of market lockout or intellectual property infringement, prevent drug companies from charging market rates for their products, while delaying the availability of new cures to patients living in countries implementing those policies.

Of all new cancer drugs developed worldwide between 2011 and 2018, 96% were available to American consumers. Meanwhile, only 56% of those drugs became available in the Canda, 50% in Japan and just 11% in Greece, as just three examples. Patients in nations imposing drug price controls simply don’t receive access to new pharmaceuticals as quickly as Americans, if they ever receive them at all.

Senator McSally mustn’t sacrifice her conservative principles on behalf of prescription drug legislation that will make matters worse for American consumers, not better.  She should withdraw her proposed bill and renounce the Senate Finance Committee’s proposal, and instead support more market-based solutions that have proven effective not only with pharmaceuticals, but across all economic realms.

February 14th, 2020 at 10:06 am
Image of the Day: Economy Even Better Than We Realized
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Americans already expressed record satisfaction on economic conditions in the U.S., over three years into President Trump’s tenure.  Turns out that things are even better than we initially realized, as employment data from the end of 2019 was just significantly updated:

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Even Better Than Initially Realized

Even Better Than First Realized

 

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February 4th, 2020 at 3:37 pm
Congressional Proposals Targeting Consumer Finance Lending Will Harm Lower-Income Americans They Claim to Protect
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This week, the House Financial Services Committee – headed by far-left Representative Maxine Waters (D – California) – holds a hearing on the issue of loan services to struggling American consumers, including legislation that would make matters worse in the name of claiming to help them, such as the so-called “Veterans and Consumers Fair Credit Act.”

On a superficial level, federal legislation regulating lending services and capping repayment rates may seem helpful to Americans struggling paycheck-to-paycheck.  But the real-world impact only eliminates a source of reliable, legal short-term loans to get them through temporary emergencies.

According to the Federal Reserve System’s Board of Governors in a study on the economic wellbeing of U.S. households in 2018, nearly 40% of American families don’t possess sufficient savings to cover even a $400 emergency expense. Incredibly, 51% of military service members live paycheck-to-paycheck.

In such circumstances, credit cards aren’t always a viable option for them, and a more traditional bank loan isn’t an option due to the small amount needed.  Whereas higher-income Americans with stronger credit history are able to borrow from banks, use assets they possess as leverage or use their savings amounts, those with lower credit scores and without sufficient savings cannot.  In fact according to the Fair Isaac Corporation, some 46% of consumers possess credit scores below 700, meaning that traditional bank loans aren’t possible for them.

In such circumstances, struggling Americans can access the money they need for the short-term via consumer finance loans.  But under the sorts of legislation contemplated by the House and pushed by leftists who think they know better, consumer finance lending will become less available.

And the unintended consequence will be more people seeking out illegal loansharks, suffering overdrafts, or simply being unable to cover their temporary costs.  As the World Bank found, such regulatory and legislative proposals lead to “increases in non-interest fees and commissions; reduced price transparency; lower number of institutions and reduced branch density; and adverse impacts on bank profitability, in addition to the lack of access for smaller and riskier borrowers.”

That’s not fair, nor does it help the people that such legislation claims to protect.  For that reason, all of our elected leaders should reject this chimerical effort, which would only serve to make consumer finance lending more difficult and more expensive.

February 3rd, 2020 at 4:46 pm
President Trump Should Again Reject Socialism, Including HHS’s Drug Price Control Proposal

During his 2019 State of the Union address, President Donald Trump confidently stated, “We will never be a socialist country.”  Today, however, his Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is pushing an International Pricing Index (IPI) proposal, a socialist policy idea that would peg what Medicare Part B pays for prescription drugs to prices in other developed countries. Simply stated, the IPI proposal would require the U.S. to adopt the price controls of foreign nations that have socialized medicine policies.

Here’s hoping that at this year’s SOTU, President Trump sticks to his guns and continues to reject socialist policies, including HHS’s destructive IPI proposal.

To understand how bad the IPI proposal is, consider this: Its two most vocal proponents in Congress are Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and self-proclaimed socialist Senator Bernie Sanders.

Speaker Pelosi’s proposed H.R. 3, among other things, applies the IPI rate-setting model to the U.S. drug market.  It’s noteworthy that the White House Council of Economic Advisors rightly says that, “the threat [H.R. 3] poses to continued medical innovation will harm American patients in ways that far outweigh any benefits.”  That’s because rate setting restricts access to life saving medicines.  For example, in many European counties, patients have to wait about a year, sometimes longer, to access new cancer medicines.  No patient should suffer that risk. In the U.S., in contrast, patients wait an average of only 3 months and have access to a far greater variety of medicines.

The IPI proposal would also diminish U.S. economic leadership in biopharma innovation.  That industry is an economic engine that supports 4 million U.S. jobs and invests billions of dollars in R&D in the United States – roughly $80 billion in 2018 alone.

Simply put, HHS’s misguided IPI proposal amounts to socialized medicine. If President Trump is true to his declaration at last year’s SOTU, he will banish it to the dustbin of history.