It’s all good martinis today! Join Jim and Greg as they welcome news that the Oregon governor’s race is a toss-up thanks to a former Democrat running as an independent. They also celebrate news that the strong hiring numbers we’ve seen in the wake of the pandemic are overwhelmingly powered by Republican-led states. And they discuss why it was long past time for Brian Stelter to be shown the door at CNN after constantly turning a program designed to objectively evaluate the media into a cheerleading session for the left.
Join Jim and Greg as they break down the monumental U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning the Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey decisions that had declared a constitutional right to an abortion. They welcome the ruling as being correct from a constitutional perspective and for the good it will do in saving lives. They also note that not much immediately changes on abortion law and that the 50 states will now determine how they each approach the issue.
In addition, they point out the Homeland Security warning about widespread violence as a result of the ruling, and Jim highlights how the decision of a justice who strongly supported abortion contributed significantly to Friday’s verdict.
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Join Jim and Greg as they discuss eye-opening numbers of Americans fleeing deep blue states and heading for places with more freedom. They also unload on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for threatening major fines for not giving out vaccines soon enough and vowing even bigger penalties for giving vaccines to groups who shouldn’t be getting them yet. And they roll their eyes at yet another Kamala Harris story about herself that seems impossible to believe.
Join Jim and Greg as they celebrate Republicans doing much better than expected at the state legislative level just in time for redistricting. They also discuss the ongoing controversies in multiple swing states and how the vote counting is creating a lot of mistrust in the integrity of the vote. And they look at the updated Georgia numbers, which suggest two U.S. Senate races are headed to runoffs and the results could well determine the majority.
The debate over the federal response to the coronavirus threat has been raging for weeks but what goes into a response of this scope? How do the different agencies coordinate, how do the feds collaborate with the states, and how does the private sector partner with the government so seamlessly?
Galen Institute President Grace-Marie Turner addresses these questions and more in this interview with Radio America’s Greg Corombos.
Coronavirus fears have the markets badly spooked and some Americans wondering how it may impact their daily lives in the weeks to come.
But as the Trump administration prepares to deal with the issue, what can we reasonably expect our government to do in a situation like this and what is beyond its control? How aggressive should it be in pressing China for accurate data? How tough is it for the feds to keep tabs on what 50 state government are doing? And how much responsibility lies with us as citizens?
Galen Institute President Grace-Marie Turner addresses all of these questions with Greg Corombos and she also flatly rejects media suggestions that coronavirus is proof that we need government-run health care. In fact, she says it proves just the opposite.
In the second part of our interview with American Commitment President Phil Kerpen, we examine why Republicans failed to coalesce around a health care reform bill despite controlling the House, Senate, and White House and having seven years to prepare.
Kerpen explains how close Republicans came on multiple occasions and why they landed on the best approach when it was too late.
Grassroots activists and state officials are making another push to “repeal and replace” Obamacare, and a leading figure in the effort believes there is a 50-50 chance it can get passed before the midterm elections.
“Health reform is not dead,” said Galen Institute President Grace-Marie Turner, who has been working with other activists to revive the effort ever since the Senate failed to advance legislation last summer. They plan to hold a press conference outlining their reform principles this coming week.
“Next Wednesday afternoon, here in Washington, with a number of governors, state legislators and others,” she said.
Turner says this new approach builds upon a last-minute effort by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Bill Cassidy, R-La., that would move much of the authority to make health care policy out of Washington.
“It’s based upon the chassis of Graham-Cassidy with block grants to the states but with a lot of refinements that make this a much better bill,” said Turner. “We need to move resources and authority back to the states to heal their health insurance markets that have been broken by Obamacare.”
What would her preferred legislation actually look like?
“Basically we’re saying this money that’s currently going to insurance companies, dumping more and more money into Medicaid, these sort of open-ended entitlements. Let us turn those into a block grant and distribute that money among the different states and give them more flexibility in how they spend that money in order to provide better choices for health insurance and lower costs,” said Turner.
Turner says there would still be federal subsidies associated with the plan to help people afford private, commercially available health insurance. There would also be funds for patients facing chronic illness or major events like organ transplants.
She adds that the individual market was badly hurt by Obamacare, despite endless promises to the contrary.
“We actually have no more people covered in the individual market today than we did before Obamacare passed. We spent all this money. We have turned our health care system upside down and no [additional[ people have private health insurance.
“Yes, there are more people covered (overall), but the great majority of them are on Medicaid which, as we know, is a terrible program for people,” said Turner, noting Medicaid patients have a terrible time finding primary physicians who will see them and certain specialists are also almost impossible to get.”
She says legislation grounded in the ideas she is pushing would open many more doors for patients.
“People need the option of private coverage, quality coverage, that gives them not only access to coverage, but actually access to care,” said Turner.
But will activism among the grassroots and the state level get Congress to take up this issue so close to Election Day?
“We believe the Senate is going to take our recommendations seriously and hopefully we’ll be able to move this forward. We think there are a lot of forces that are going to bring them back to health reform this summer, even though they’d really like to do something else,” said Turner.
Turner is also buoyed by the news that the Senate will remain in session for most of August and is confident Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will bring the issue to the floor if he knows there are 50 votes to pass it. Republicans would once again need to approve the reconciliation process for the debate since there is no chance of getting 60 votes for the legislation.
We think it won’t be very hard to get it through the House. The Senate is really where the focus will be over the next several weeks,” said Turner.
“I’m pretty optimistic. I’d give it a 50-50 chance, which is a lot more than most people on Capitol Hill would give it,” she said.
Reports of Republicans giving up on repealing and replacing Obamacare are greatly exaggerated, according to Galen Institute President Grace-Marie Turner, who is not only confident the GOP will address the issue again this year but is part of the team trying to make it happen.
Republicans have achieved a few wins on the health care front over the past year, namely the repeal of the individual mandate in the tax legislation, the repeal of the Independent Payment Advisory Board in a spending bill, and the end of cost-sharing reduction payments to insurance companies through executive action from President Trump.
When Republicans tried but failed to restore funding for the cost-sharing reduction payments in exchange for removing burdensome regulations from the individual health insurance market in the recent omnibus bill, many feared the GOP was giving up on addressing health care in a meaningful way this year.
Turner says that’s not the case. First of all, she says the failure of Republicans to restore the subsidies to insurers was a major blessing.
“The measures that they were considering as part of the omnibus spending bill were really just papering over the problems. And with Obamacare, they were ready to throw tens of billions more dollars into this black hole of Obamacare. It was not going to fix anything,” said Turner.
But Turner also insists Republicans are ramping up for another legislative push to dismantle Obamacare this year.
“Congress is going to have to come back to a full repeal and replace measure and we have been working every week since October to refine this legislation at the behest of the Senate. (Former) Sen. Rick Santorum has really been the energy behind this effort,” said Turner, who also explained the other players in the effort.
“Heritage Foundation, Ethics and Public Policy Center, the American Enterprise Institute, a lot of state-based think tanks and a lot of experts from around the country have been putting together a proposal that we believe cannot only get majority support in the Congress but majority support of the American people to fix this for good,” said Turner.
In 2017, the House of Representatives passed reform legislation but the Senate failed on several different bills. Republican Sens. Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and John McCain voted down all GOP bills. Since then, Republicans lost a Senate seat in Alabama and McCain has been home battling cancer. On most days, the GOP holds a 50-49 voting majority.
Turner says the focal point of this effort will look less like the bills that tanked last summer and more like the Graham-Cassidy bill that failed to advance in September. the sponsors were Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana. Cassidy is a longtime physician.
“That bill was based upon a different approach, a federalist approach to return money and power to the states to ultimately empower individuals to have more choice and more control over their health insurance,” said Turner.
“We’ve got to devolve power to the states and they need resources in addition to new flexibility to be able to provide people with the kind of policies they actually want to buy instead of what they’re forced to purchase. They would use the money to make sure that they purchase private coverage and that they have many more choices and that the coverage is more affordable,” said Turner.
She says Obamacare is a proven disaster and is only getting worse because more people are getting out of the system and leaving older and sicker people to deal with soaring premiums.
“Obamacare is becoming one big high risk pool. That means millions, probably tens of millions of people, are being shut out of health insurance. They need a different place to go. That’s what states can do. States can figure out how they can revive their individual and small group health insurance markets,” said Turner.
But Republicans have a problem besides finding a majority to support any legislation. The budget reconciliation rules that allowed them to attempt passage with a simple majority expired in September. Right now, they would need 60 votes to get anything done.
Turner is confident the Senate GOP leaders could ramp up support for another budget reconciliation rule, and she believes this time they would do it right. Turner says a big problem with the process last summer is how the rules were structured.
“They did it backwards last time. This time we’re going to do it the right way, starting with good policy and then create a vehicle to get that enacted,” she said.
So what happened last time?
“What they did is pass budget reconciliation instructions to create the pathway for the repeal and replace legislation they wanted to pass. And they had to fit it in to that channel and it didn’t really fit,” said Turner.
“As one of my colleagues said, they just kept having to pull limbs off of it until it would fit through that process. At the end, nobody really liked the product. We’re doing this differently. We’re starting out by creating a product that we believe can work and that people will like and then they’ll write the budget reconciliation instructions around that,” said Turner.
Turner says the polls consistently show health care is the number one concern of voters and the GOP must make another push this summer.
“How can they go back to their voters and say, ‘Oh, sorry. We know we told you for four election cycles we were going to repeal and replace Obamacare but it was just too hard.’ They can’t do that,” said Turner.
President Trump scrapped the commission he created to investigate problems with alleged voter fraud on Wednesday, blaming state leaders for refusing to share data that could help to determine the extent of any problem.
However, Trump is now asking the Department of Homeland Security to pick up the investigation and urging Congress to pass a national Voter ID law.
“Despite substantial evidence of voter fraud, many states have refused to provide the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity with basic information relevant to its inquiry,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in a statement Wednesday.
“Rather than engage in endless legal battles at taxpayer expense, today President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order to dissolve the Commission, and he has asked the Department of Homeland Security to review its initial findings and determine next courses of action,” she added.
Hans von Spakovsky manages the Election Law Reform Initiative at the Heritage Foundation and served on the commission until its termination.
“I’m disappointed but I understand why President Trump did this. The commission has basically been unable to do its work for more than two months,” said von Spakovsky.
He says the inability of the commission to make progress is a result both of state officials refusing to cooperate and lawsuit-happy activists grinding the work of the panel to a halt.
“We have all these state election officials refusing to provide us with the data we need with state voter registration lists so we can do the research we need to do. Also, liberal progressive groups have filed about a dozen lawsuits to stop the commission from being able to operate. The staff of the commission is spending all their time in this frivolous litigation,” said von Spakovsky.
One of the most common arguments made by state officials in refusing to turn over voter registration lists is that the federal government has no business barging in and demanding states provide the information.
Von Spakovsky says that argument rings hollow given what states constantly do with the same information.
“The information we asked for is information that all of these states routinely sell to candidates and political parties. So why they think they shouldn’t give it to this commission looking at election integrity, I don’t really understand,” said von Spakovsky, who contends the federal government has every right to see the same records.
“The federal government is entitled to that information because those voter registration lists are what are used for federal elections, elections for Congress and the president. Obviously, the federal government has a right to that information,” said von Spakovsky.
Despite the dearth of records to study, von Spakovsky says the commission’s work shows there is clearly a problem.
“Some folks who got the voter registration lists – the same information we wanted – from 21 states that represent just 17 percent of the voters in the country, and yet they found more than 8,500 people who illegally voted in more than one state in [the 2016] election,” said von Spakovsky.
On Thursday, election officials in Virginia determined the outcome of a race for the House of Delegates that would also determine the majority in that chamber. The race was deadlocked after recounts and court challenges, and Republican David Yancey’s name was drawn out of a bowl, giving the GOP a 51-49 majority.
Von Spakovsky says that race may well have been impacted by illegal voting.
“That’s a legislative district in which a group that I’m associated with discovered that in just one town, Newport News, in the last few years they’ve removed a couple hundred non-citizens who had registered in that city and had voted almost 300 times in prior elections. So it’s very possible that particular race may have been decided by people who shouldn’t have been voting,” said von Spakovsky.
So what happens now? As Trump indicated, the issue will now be referred to the Department of Homeland Security. However, von Spakovsky says DHS is going to need a lot of help.
“They can’t look into this problem without the help and cooperation of the U.S. Justice Department. That’s going to take Jeff Sessions helping them too. It looks like it’s going to have to be private groups and others like myself still trying to look into this problem,” said von Spakovsky.
Trump has one other suggestion.
“As Americans, you need identification, sometimes in a very strong and accurate form, for almost everything you do…..except when it comes to the most important thing, VOTING for the people that run your country. Push hard for Voter Identification!” he tweeted Thursday morning.
Voter identification has been pushed in many states governed by Republicans, but the more liberal states want nothing to do with it. It’s unclear whether Trump is advocating for a national voter identification law, but von Spakovsky believes it would be constitutional.
“I agree with the president. Congress could impose an ID requirement for federal elections. If they did that, that would virtually guarantee ID for all elections because in most states the state and federal elections are held at the same time,” said von Spakovsky.
However, he does not believe there is nearly enough political will to get the idea through Congress.
“Politically, don’t think it’s possible because you would have huge fights between both Democrats and Republicans over this issue. There are some states that are moving forward with this. Iowa just put in an ID requirement, but there are other states that are adamantly opposed to it like New York and California, which are two of the largest states in the country,” said von Spakovsky.