After a fun Presidents Day special, Jim and Greg are once serving up good, bad, and crazy martinis. Join them today as they celebrate Virginia Democrats failing to pass a ban on so-called “assault weapons,” suppressors, and magazines holding more than 12 rounds. They also dive into more offensive comments from former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, this time contending that people need a more gray matter to work in the information economy than in farming and that old people diagnosed with cancer shouldn’t receive treatment because it costs too much money. And they react to the criminal convictions for attorney Michael Avenatti and again scold the liberal media for turning Avenatti into the media just because he was an adversary of President Trump.
Finish your work week with Friday’s Three Martini Lunch. Join Jim and Greg as they applaud Attorney General Bill Barr for telling President Trump that his tweets on prosecutions and more make it hard to do his job and they discuss why Democrats are so determined to discredit Barr. They also welcome news that Bernie Sanders is not doing well among voters who have private health insurance and that New Hampshire might be winnable for Republicans for the first time in 20 years if Sanders is the Democratic nominee. And they get a kick out of the news that Michael Bloomberg has hired the same PR firm behind the Fyre Fest debacle, but Jim also dives into the significance of Bloomberg’s bottomless campaign war chest.
Lots of political oddities today as the presidential race shifts to Nevada, so settle in for your Thursday Three Martini Lunch. Join Jim and Greg as they get a big kick out of the large culinary workers union turning on the supposed candidate of the workers because they want to keep their health plan and Bernie Sanders wouldn’t let them do it under his plan. They also enjoy listening to MSNBC’s Chris Matthews fret that the Democrats could nominate Sanders or Michael Bloomberg when neither of them are actually Democrats. And they cringe as reports from Nevada emerge suggesting Democrats there are technologically unprepared for next week’s caucuses. Will it be a repeat of Iowa?
Back to the normal format today, but plenty of good Friday fodder awaits. Today, Jim and Greg are happy to see better-than-expected numbers in the October jobs report. They shred Elizabeth Warren’s ludicrous plan to pay for government-run health care, explaining why it’s a fiscal pipe dream and a health policy nightmare for everyone. And they roll their eyes as Katie Hill and all of her liberal and media apologists ignore the actual reason she is resigning from Congress today.
Republican struggled and failed to overhaul Obamacare. Many Democrats want the government to run health care entirely. But former Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn says health care costs would plummet and choices would flourish if we simply bring transparency to the system.
A longtime doctor before entering the political arena, Coburn says patients would benefit enormously from price transparency and knowing the results that other patients have had from various providers. He says all sides agree that health care costs consume 20 percent of the nation’s GDP, but he says there’s a much better way to address this than putting the government in charge of everything.
“We have multiple studies by reputable groups that said anywhere from $500 billion to a trillion dollars a years doesn’t help anybody get well and doesn’t prevent anybody from getting sick. So how do you fix that?
“You fix that with what was proposed by the Trump administration, calling first for price transparency for everybody in health care. Because once net prices are published, you’re going to have 100,000 people making apps to show people how to get the best deal.
“Once you have price transparency, then you’re going to have outcome transparency because what will happen is all the prices will settle down to the most competitive. Then the differentiating factor will be, ‘What are your outcomes? What’s your infection rate? What’s your major complication rate? What’s your average hospital stay for this? What’s your re-operation rate?'”
“All of a sudden we will start buying health care like we buy everything else in the country,” said Coburn.
The fight for transparency won’t be easy. Coburn says there are a lot of powerful entities who have incentive to keep the bloated system in place.
“Who’s opposed to that? All the hospitals, all the big insurers, all the drug companies, all the pharmacy benefit managers, and everybody else that’s a middle man in health care that sucks money out but doesn’t add value,” said Coburn.
But is this just theory or are these ideas actually working somewhere? Listen to the full podcast as Coburn explains how price and outcome transparency is proving wildly successful in his home state. He also explains why our education system is utterly failing the young people clamoring for government-run care.
Listen to “SCOTUS Smacks Down Unions, Protesters vs. Chao, Socialist Crushes Crowley” on Spreaker.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America hail the Supreme Court’s ruling that non-members of public sector unions do not have to pay dues. They also shudder as liberal protesters get up close to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. And they’re not going to miss New York Rep. Joe Crowley after his stunning defeat in a New York congressional primary, but the woman who defeated Crowley is an avowed socialist who wants to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement and pass single-payer health care.
Virginia Del. Nick Freitas is racing to the finish line ahead of the commonwealth’s June 12th U.S. Senate primary and says his message of individual liberty, smaller government, and thriving markets is resonating with voters.
Freitas got a major political boost in March when his passionate defense of the second amendment on the floor of the Virginia House of Delegates went viral.
“When 40 million people see something, that helps with your name ID,” said Freitas.
While recent polling is scarce in the GOP primary, the viral video is helping Freitas raise his profile against primary rivals Corey Stewart and E.W. Jackson, both of whom have run statewide before. Freitas has dwarfed his rivals in fundraising in recent months and he recently secured the National Rifle Association endorsement.
Stewart, who currently serves as chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, is known for his aggressive, confrontational style of politics. He says that approach will be necessary to defeat incumbent Sen. Tim Kaine in November. He also claims that his ability to win in a blue part of Virginia makes him the natural choice for a nominee.
Freitas strongly disputes that.
“Donald Trump does not need a cheap imitation of himself in order to win in Virginia. There’s only one Donald Trump. Let Trump be Trump. What the Republican Party needs in Virginia is someone who can go around and explain and advocate for the positive, substantive policies that have made people’s lives better,” said Freitas.
“He thinks it’s a divide and conquer campaign. I think it’s more of a divide and lose campaign. It’s unfortunate because there are good things about Corey Stewart and there are good things he’s done in Prince William County.
“But there’s other things he’s done there that have really given people pause. He’s voted to raise taxes several times in Prince William County, and there’s other things that people are just skeptical of,” said Freitas.
Freitas believes he has the ability to bring people together to get things done.
“We need to be able to unify Virginians around a central message and that message is we’re going to empower you, not government programs,” said Freitas.
Freitas also believes he separates himself from Stewart and Jackson in three critical ways, starting with his service as a Green Beret in Iraq.
“I’m the only combat veteran in the race, which means I understand a key component of the federal government, which is providing for national defense. I fought counter-terrorism, counter-insurgency and unconventional warfare. President Trump needs more people in the Senate that share his view that we are not the police force in the world but we need a strong military and I can provide that kind of advice,” said Freitas, who believes the U.S. does need to be a leader on the world stage but does not need to deploy the military unless absolutely necessary.
He also says his time in the Virginia House of Delegates sets him apart from Stewart and Jackson.
“I’m also the only candidate that’s served in the legislature. So I understand what it’s like to take an idea from concept all the way through the legislative process. I know how to effectively engage constituents in the process when there’s that critical vote in the subcommittee or full committee,” said Freitas.
Third, Freitas says his message distinguishes him from the rest of the field. He says his goal is not to gain power to reward friends and punish political foes but to return power to where it belongs.
“My goal is to get in a position where we can disperse power back where it belongs and that’s to the people, that’s to states, and that’s to localities. And then if we keep the federal government within its proper boundaries so it can do its intended jobs well instead of doing a hundred other jobs poorly,” said Freitas.
But what does that look like for a candidate who embraces major strains of both conservative and libertarian thought? Where does he come down those beliefs conflict?
On the role of the military, Freitas believes in having a strong military and using overwhelming force whenever force is absolutely necessary. He also wants to see Congress return to its constitutional role of authorizing war.
On cultural issues, Freitas says his deeply-held Christian beliefs inform him on the definition of marriage but he believes much of the political debate over it misses a key point.
“You’ve got some people wanting the government to define marriage one way. You’ve got other people who want that government to define marriage another way. And I’m sitting here going, ‘Why is the government defining marriage?’
“I understand why government has to handle civil contracts, but I certainly don’t understand why the government needs to be in the process of coercing people to accept a particular definition that they may not want to,” said Freitas.
Freitas did introduce religious freedom legislation that would protect conscience rights for Virginians.
“(Former Virginia Gov.) Terry McAuliffe had signed an executive order which essentially prevented any religious organizations that happened to hold the viewpoint that marriage is between one man and one woman from being able to team with the government to help hungry, sick, and addicted people. I said that was ridiculous,” said Freitas.
On abortion, Freitas says science and the law make it clear that unborn life deserves protection.
“At the moment of conception, we’re talking about life. If we use science to determine between human life and other forms of life, we find at the moment of conception we’re talking about human life.
From a legal perspective, I don’t think there’s any doubt that we’re also talking about innocent human life. So the question for me is does the government have an obligation to protect innocent human life? I think it clearly does,” said Freitas, who was born out of a crisis pregnancy.
“I don’t know what it’s like to be that young woman who finds herself pregnant and completely unprepared for it, but I do know what it’s like to be her son,” he said.
On fiscal matters, Freitas is appalled by the $1.3 trillion omnibus shepherded through Congress and signed into law – all by Republicans. He says Congress desperately needs transparency and open debate on what is worthy of taxpayer money. He also says Congress, like the Virginia government, fails to use common sense on spending issues.
“On the things that we agree on – that are legitimate functions of government – the military, law enforcement, public safety, certain things with transportation and others – great, let’s fund them. But let’s not hold those things hostage because certain congresspeople have different goodies that they’ve got to hand out to various constituents to help their re-election chances,” said Freitas.
Freitas says he’s also ready to tackle health care policy, especially after fighting against Gov. Ralph Northam’s efforts to enact Obamacare Medicaid expansion in Virginia. In addition to stating that medical care for Medicaid patients is not much different than it is for the uninsured, he says government intervening in health care is a guaranteed failure.
“What’s so frustrating to me is that what wee clearly need in health care is more competition and more market forces, which always have a tendency to increase quality and drive down prices,”said Freitas, noting that the cost of vision correction surgery, such as Lasik, has dropped from $2,500 per eye to $500 per eye while the reliability of the procedure has improved drastically.
“Unfortunately, there are many, especially on the left, (for whom) the only solution they will accept is a government solution. The problem is government does the opposite of what we need. Government almost always causes prices to go up and quality to go down,” he said.
Republicans succeeded in repealing the individual mandate in the 2010 Affordable Care Act as part of the recent tax reform package, but a leading health care expert urges President Trump and members of Congress to do even more this year to bring financial relief to Americans saddled by high premiums and deductibles.
Galen Institute President Grace-Marie Turner has been on the front lines of the health care debate since before the Clinton administration attempted to give government a greater role in the sector in the 1990’s. A fierce critic of the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, Turner is relishing how the individual mandate was sent to the scrap heap starting in 2019.
“The lovely irony is that the least popular provision of Obamacare was repealed in the tax bill. It’s a bit of a touché to the Supreme Court,” said Turner, noting that the court upheld the individual mandate as constitutional only if it was considered a tax.
Beyond the political and legal drama, Turner says the mandate improved nothing and was a major burden on people.
“It was ineffective. It was not doing what it needed to do. Health insurance was so expensive that it was driving people away from policies. Even with the tax penalties, people still found it was cheaper to pay the penalties than to buy this expensive coverage,” said Turner.
“The people who were most effected by these penalties were people making less than $50,000 a year. It was backfiring from all perspectives,” said Turner.
As a result of the mandate being ineffective, Turner does not expect costs to rise noticeably when people can refuse to buy health coverage with no penalty next year.
As Congress was voting the tax bill into law, President Trump suggested in comments to reporters that ending the individual mandate was akin to repealing Obamacare.
“The individual mandate is being repealed. When the individual mandate is being repealed, that means Obamacare is being repealed because they get their money from the individual mandate,” said Trump on Dec. 20.
Turner says Trump is right to be excited over nixing one of the most burdensome aspects of Obamacare, but she says Trump and Republicans in Congress need to stay focused on even more health care policy changes.
“There’s still lots of things on the books. We’re spending hundreds of billions of dollars still on subsidies for people who may decide that they would rather purchase a different kind of coverage.
“All the rules and regulations are still on the books about the kind of coverage that we have to purchase, the expansion of Medicaid to the point where many states are finding they can’t begin to afford their share of the costs of Medicaid; all of that is still on the books,” said Turner.
And Turner know Trump is fully aware of this, as evidenced by his impending plan to offer expanded temporary health insurance. The Obama administration allowed only one-time, three-month temporary insurance policies for people between jobs or going through other transitions. The Trump plan will approve year-long policies that can be renewed year after year.
Trump is also expected to give the green light to association health plans through executive orders in the coming days. Turner say this will allow smaller companies that share a similar focus to band together so employees can be offered plans at competitive rates.
“Let’s say you’re a small contractor or you run a barber shop or a beauty parlor. You really can’t afford to compete with the big guys in offering good health insurance to your workers. But if you were able to aggregate your policy with a lot of other similar businesses, then you can get the economies of scale. You could get more choices for your employees,” said Turner.
She believes getting Washington bureaucrats out of health care also ought to be a top legislative priority.
“Give states a lot more authority in being able to approve the kind of health insurance policies that people want to buy, to allow the market to work to bring more players into the market. In many parts of the country, people are still only going to have a choice of only one plan. That’s not a choice,” said Turner.
Turner admits Republicans will be less motivated to address health reforms in 2018 since they repealed the mandate in the tax bill and want to avoid a repeat of of their Obamacare failures in 2017.
But she says that is not an option and voters will demand results.
“If Republicans don’t act, they are going to be on the defensive,” said Turner. “I believe the voters are going to insist they take action this year.”
She says Republicans have about six months to get these reforms through Congress and onto Trump’s desk, otherwise the improvements will not appear in premium forecasts just weeks before Election Day.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America welcome the political debate to come as more and more Democrats enthusiastically endorse full government control of our health care and point out Americans sour on the idea quickly when they learn even a little bit about what single-payer really means. They also kick back and watch the public implosion of Hillary Clinton, most recently featuring her refusal to offer “absolution” to women who didn’t vote for her and contending George Orwell’s message was to trust our government and media. And they react to College Park, Maryland, officials voting to allow illegal immigrants to vote in local elections.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America welcome Arizona Sen. John McCain back to Capitol Hill despite the grim diagnosis he received last week, and are happy that Republicans now have a full roster as the health care debate continues. They also bemoan President Trump’s continued use of Twitter to attack Attorney General Jeff Sessions for being “weak” in failing to investigate Hillary Clinton over her emails and alleged collusion with Ukraine during the 2016 campaign. And they analyze a surprising new Michigan poll showing rock star Kid Rock leading incumbent Sen. Debbie Stabenow.