CNN on Monday published a report made possible by troves of internal documents provided by a Chinese health care whistleblower proving that the CCP published misleading data on the coronavirus, downplaying caseload and death count. What’s amazing about this revelation is not that President Xi Jinping countenanced lying to the world, but that CNN published the expose in the first place.
For nearly a year, CNN — along with every member of the liberal media chorus — has leveled accusations of racism and fear-mongering against President Trump. Why? Because Mr. Trump had the temerity to name China as the source of COVID-19 and, worse, its coverup. It has since been pointed out, much to CNN’s embarrassment, that the network acted as something of a “useful idiot” for the Chinese Communist Party. In story after story, tweet after tweet, the network and its writers appear to have simply parroted CCP talking points about the virus and its containment without the slightest degree of skepticism.
It is certainly good news that CNN has finally seen the light. But it is also curious that the television channel’s eureka moment occurred after it called the presidential election for Joe Biden. One has to wonder why CNN chose to run this story now.
There is no doubt that the CCP’s cover-up of the initial COVID-19 outbreak and spread will eventually be known. But as the nation comes to grips with the long-term fallout of American job loss, mental health decline, drug and opioid addiction increase, and primary and secondary education loss, Washington is going to be forced to act.
The question is, what can be done? Should sanctions against China be imposed, perhaps in coordination with other countries? Or if that’s too aggressive a move, should the U.S. focus on additional military support of Japan and South Korea? And the rest of the world is in play. If China is starting to make inroads in Africa and Latin America, isn’t it in U.S. interests to stay competitive?
China is directly responsible for what is now approaching a total of 300,000 American deaths and 1.5 million people dead globally. If the world does nothing, if America prematurely puts the pandemic in the rearview, mirror, the CCP will have learned a valuable lesson. Namely, it’s possible to do almost anything in this world (just ask the Uighurs) and get away with it.
The American legacy media, for its part, can right its wrongs by trying to adopt a more critical stance toward China. In past times, this would be called honest journalism.
In the wake of every election, people try to twist what happened to fit their narrative. This year was no different.
Do voters really want compromise? All the smart people in Washington have hurried to tell us that the split results mean that the people want compromise and cooperation. That is certainly one interpretation. Here’s another: The voters voted for divided government specifically because they are distrustful of giving one party too much power and don’t really want the federal government to do too much.
Which explanation sounds more likely?
Was turnout the highest ever? Did it help mostly the Democrats? No and no.
A little bit more than 156 million people voted, which puts turnout around 65% or 66% of the voting-eligible population (compared to 2016 at 59.2% or 2012 at 54.9%). That’s a lot, the most it has been since 1908 (65.4%).
But it might be important to note that turnout isn’t necessarily the mark of a healthy democracy. In the United States, the two elections with the highest turnout were also the most troubled and led to the most suboptimal outcomes — 1860 (81.2%) and 1876 (81.8%).
The extra turnout this year didn’t seem to make a lot of difference to either side. If anything, it probably helped the Republicans slightly. Partisan identification was evenly split between Democrats (37%) and Republicans (36%). That is closer than usual, as Republicans typically trail by a few points. In 2008, the spread was plus-7 points for Democrats. In 2012, it was plus-6 points for Democrats. In 2016, it was plus-3 points for Democrats.
Did President Trump do historically well among non-Whites? Not really.
Despite what you may have read, Mr. Trump didn’t perform better than any Republican candidate in the last 60 years among non-Whites. He got 26% of that population. In 2004, then-President Bush received a higher percentage with 28%.
While Mr. Bush’s showing among non-White voters was driven primarily by Cuban-Americans in Florida and by Mexican-Americans in Texas who had previously voted for him, Mr. Trump did better among non-White voters in more areas. In places as disparate as the Rio Grande Valley and New York City, Hispanics drifted toward Mr. Trump in greater percentages.
In 2016, Mr. Trump lost the nation’s majority-Hispanic counties by a combined 20 points. In 2020, that margin narrowed to 12 points.
Are the Republicans winning elections by harvesting increasingly larger percentages of an increasingly shrinking pool of White voters? Nope.
In 2012, Republican candidate Mitt Romney got 59% of White voters. In 2016, Mr. Trump got 57%. This year, he won 58%. That’s a pretty weak trend line.
Are the smart people any smarter about women? The conversation among pundits prior to the election was all about how women, especially White, college-educated women, were abandoning Mr. Trump in droves. The facts tell a slightly different story.
Mr. Trump actually increased his percentage of the vote among women — from 41% in 2016 to 42% this year. Back in 2012, 44% of the women voted for Mr. Romney. In 2008, 43% of the women voted for Sen. John McCain. Again, the trend line is pretty weak.
How about White women? In 2016, Mr. Trump received 43% of their vote, while this year, he got 44%. White college-educated women? In 2016, Mr. Trump got 44% of the vote of White, college educated women; this year, he got 45%.
Were third parties important this year? Absolutely.
In 2016, third parties received about 6.5 million votes, and depending on how one thinks about it, cost Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton the election.
In 2020, the absence of meaningful third-party challengers may have cost Mr. Trump the election.
This election, votes for third parties dropped to just 2.4 million. While the total drop is relevant, the more salient results occurred in the five states that switched from Mr. Trump to Joseph R. Biden. In Pennsylvania, for example, there were 190,000 votes for third-party candidates in 2016. In 2020, there were about 79,000. The difference — 111,000 — was larger than Mr. Biden’s winning margin of 82,000. The story is the same in Georgia, Wisconsin, Arizona and Michigan (assuming those states all wind up certifying the expected results).
So, Mr. Trump didn’t lose because he cratered among women, or people of color, or college-educated people, or tall people, or short people.
It may have been simply because third parties failed to make a material appearance.
• Michael McKenna, a columnist for The Washington Times, is the president of MWR Strategies. He was most recently a deputy assistant to the president and deputy director of the Office of Legislative Affairs at the White House.
Whenever President-elect Joe Biden makes a rare public appearance and is out of the immediate control of his team it increases my suspicions that he is not physically, and above all mentally, up to the job he is about to take over.
Last week, Mr. Biden fractured his foot and now must wear a walking boot for several weeks while it heals. The Biden staff claims the fracture occurred while he played with his dog, Major. They also want us to know the German Shepherd is a rescue dog, which is a joke waiting to be told, full of irony. Who will “rescue” Mr. Biden from himself?
The press pool was denied access and not allowed to take pictures of Mr. Biden after he visited an orthopedist and was given the boot (no pun intended). This caused even Andrea Mitchell on liberal MSNBC to complain that the Biden team wasn’t being transparent about his injury. On Tuesday, he finally allowed photographers to take pictures of his boot.
Contributing to the narrative that Mr. Biden is slipping (pun intended) was on display when he attempted to quote from the Bible. Mr. Biden, who self-describes as a practicing Roman Catholic, “referred to the authors of Biblical Psalms as “palmists.’” Twice. When President Trump quoted a passage of Scripture during a speech at Liberty University, the press widely mocked him for referring to “two Corinthians” instead of “Second Corinthians.” It prompted a joke that began “two Corinthians walk into a bar.” There was no similar mocking of Mr. Biden for his “palmists” mispronunciation.
This is no laughing matter. A president of the United States needs to be physically fit and mentally aware to address every challenge, especially those that might come from foreign governments.
Throughout the campaign Mr. Biden has engaged in numerous malapropisms, slurred words, mispronouncing words and misidentifying people (he called his wife his sister, after all) to raise serious concerns. Yes, George W. Bush and other presidents have, on occasion, stumbled over the English language, but this seems different. The website pjmedia.com has a list of 22 incidents and the list is not exhaustive.
There is nothing about this that should arouse partisanship. Past presidents have had health issues they and their staffs tried to hide from the public. Most notable was John F. Kennedy’s back problems and his Addison’s disease and the drugs to control his pain prescribed by his physician and withheld from the public.
However one voted in the recent election, none should wish any president ill. But if Mr. Biden does suffer from mental impairment and struggles as he does to articulate even the most basic thoughts, including an inability to put together sentences that make sense, even when reading a teleprompter, this is — or should be — cause for concern.
The major media, which have constantly lambasted President Trump for actions real and imagined, must not apply a different standard to Mr. Biden, but likely will if recent softball questions asked of him are any indication. The greatest power of the media is the power to ignore and suppress information.
There are those who believe that Mr. Biden is only a placeholder for Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, whom it is speculated many on the left would prefer as president. Refusing to be transparent about the president-elect’s mental and physical health can only lend credence to that theory.
• Cal Thomas, a nationally syndicated columnist, is the author of “America’s Expiration Date: The Fall of Empires, Superpowers and the United States” (HarperCollins/Zondervan, January 2020).
For four years, the United Nations has been constrained by the Donald Trump administration’s America First, U.N. not at all policies.
That’s all about to change.
And nobody knows it better than the very socialist secretary-general of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, whose glee at the departure of Trump and soon-to-be elevation of U.N.-loving Joe Biden is evident in the flurry of messages recently posted on Twitter, almost all aimed at pressing the ripeness of ramping climate change and sustainable development policy.
First, the nod at Biden.
“@antonioguterres spoke to @JoeBiden to extend his personal congratulations to the president-elect. Guterres underscored the essential role played by the enduring close co-operation between the US & the #UN,” @UN Spokesperson tweeted.
Then, the read-between-the-lines. Under Trump, that “enduring close co-operation” was strained; Trump pulled America from the disastrous Paris agreement, for example, as well as from funding obligations for other U.N. programs. The United Nations detested him. Now here comes Biden, with a vow to undo.
“Today,” Biden tweeted on Nov. 4, the day when America was officially withdrawn from the agreement, “the Trump administration officially left the Paris Climate Agreement. And in exactly 77 days, a Biden administration will rejoin it.”
And the United Nations, led by Guterres — the Guterres with a past that includes membership in the far-leftist Socialist Party — is giddy with the turn of White House events.
“@antonioguterres tells @Columbia students: the state of our planet is broken. We face a pandemic, a climate crisis and new setbacks to our work to achieve sustainable development,” the U.N. spokesperson tweeted, summarizing statements made by Guterres at Columbia.
Another: “Making peace with nature is the defining task of the 21st century. It must be the top, top priority for everyone, everywhere — @antonioguterres #WorldLeadersForum.”
Another: “It is time to flick the ‘green switch.’ We have a chance to not simply reset the world economy but to transform it — @antonioguterres #WorldLeadersForum.”
Another: “I fully believe that 2021 can be a new kind of leap year — the year of a quantum leap towards carbon neutrality — @antonioguterres #WorldLeadersForum.”
The goal comes with a steep price.
Another: “I appeal to developed countries to fulfill their long-standing promise to provide $100 billion dollars annually to support developing countries in reaching our shared climate goals — @antonioguterres #WorldLeadersForum.”
And here’s the platform by which the United Nations plans its massive overhaul of the world’s economy: COVID-19.
Another: “This is a moment of truth for people and planet alike. #COVID19 and climate have brought us to a threshold. We cannot go back to the old normal of inequality, injustice and heedless dominion over the Earth — @antonioguterrer #WorldLeadersForum.”
It’s a harbinger of things to come.
So America, beware. What’s good for the U.N. goose is rarely good for sovereign U.S.
Trump knew that. Trump lived that. Trump governed on that.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter, @ckchumley. Listen to her podcast “Bold and Blunt” by clicking HERE. And never miss her column; subscribe to her newsletter by clicking HERE.
If Joe Biden wants to succeed with his bipartisanship, get Republicans to cooperate, protect the nation from resurgences of the COVID-19 virus and help the economy roar back, here’s a plan: Do a major speech including giving President Trump credit for the vaccine’s Operation Warp Speed to develop and distribute it.
Mr. Trump deserves credit, because his (in this case) proper compulsiveness to get it done at record speed and pre-manufacture massive numbers of doses, merits credit from all sides.
Now, for the good of the nation, in this speech, forget the early denial is causing delays in prevention mechanisms like masks, not using the Defense Production Act for PPE’s, and blocking the CDC, FDA and OSHA from guidelines for transparency and protections in nursing homes and meat plants. This is a time to motivate the country, nearly half of which Gallup polling says will not accept the vaccine as of now.
Yet, NIH Director Francis Collins asserts the vaccine “can be trusted” and would save “hundreds of thousands of lives.” We can and must work together to allay virus fears and not play politics.
This is a time for Republicans and Democrats to come together for the health of the nation and the world.
If Mr. Biden does give Mr. Trump credit, what can Mr. Trump do? Say, “See, Biden gave me credit?” Or “Don’t do it, because Biden said to?” Now, even President Trump can come aboard, in harmony on this point, and Republican anti-Biden forces could, too, on this issue, for the good of the country.
If he carries it out, Mr. Biden would be doing exactly what he called for in his campaign, bringing everyone together. As we move forward to distribution of the vaccine, the first Emergency Use Authorization, for Moderna’s two-dose vaccine, is expected in days. Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca’s authorizations could come shortly after.
The biggest worry about the vaccine is that enough people won’t take it to provide “herd immunity.” With the early data showing 90% to 95% effectiveness (and in some of the most severe cases, 100%), that would be a big mistake.
The way we get to herd immunity is through a vaccine because the population is protected from the virus instead of exposed to it.
The Mayo Clinic, in a white paper on “Herd Immunity and Covid 19,” said the greater the percent immune, “and the vaccine is an excellent way” to achieve it — the greater the herd immunity. Mayo uses the model of measles and says 94% is “herd immunity.”
It’s imperative to reach herd immunity through a vaccine because if enough people are immune, it becomes much harder for those who are not immune to catch the virus. Mr. Trump has been striving for COVID-19 herd immunity for months — and now both sides could make it actually happen, by their powerful bully pulpits.
Joe Biden says bipartisanship is needed in America. We believe he’s serious about it. He could mobilize it against the virus by a simple giving of credit as a way to motivate everyone to get the vaccine regardless of politics and protect themselves and the nation.
• Robert Weiner was a spokesman in the Clinton and George W. Bush White Houses. He was chief of staff of the House Aging Committee and Health Subcommittee, and senior aide to Reps. John Conyers, Charles Rangel, Claude Pepper and Ed Koch. Ben Lasky is senior policy analyst at Robert Weiner Associates and Solutions for Change.
“But even in a pandemic, the Constitution cannot be put away and forgotten.”
— Supreme Court of the United States, Nov. 25, 2020
When teaching law students about the Bill of Rights, professors often ask on the first day of class which is the first freedom protected by the First Amendment. The students invariably answer, “freedom of speech.” It is not. If the framers were trying to tell us which freedom is the first among equals, they did so by listing the religion clauses ahead of the freedom of speech.
The religion clauses prohibit the government from respecting the establishment of religion and from interfering with its free exercise.
This is not an academic issue. Recent events have demonstrated that the free exercise of religion is as threatened today as it was in 1791, when the First Amendment was ratified. Numerous state governors have targeted the free exercise of religion in their multifaceted assaults on personal liberty in the name of public safety. Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court put a stop to one of them.
Here is the backstory.
Andrew M. Cuomo is the governor of New York. He has been foremost among his gubernatorial colleagues in his ubiquitous television explanations of his various executive orders restricting personal liberty during the COVID–19 pandemic. He even won an Emmy for his hundreds of television appearances during which he educated the viewing public on his understanding of the science behind the pandemic.
He attempted to educate the public, as well, on his understanding of the U.S. Constitution. That understanding is wanting.
Mr. Cuomo established a color-coded system to indicate the severity of the COVID-19 infection rate by ZIP code. Red is the most severe and calls for limiting worship to 10 people per indoor venue. Orange is the next level, and it limits worshippers to 25.
Since the governor did not deem the right to worship as “essential,” even though he deemed campgrounds and bicycles, food and liquor shops to be essential, he imposed his 10- or 25-person limit on all houses of worship, irrespective of the size of the venue. He imposed no numerical limitations on essential venues.
Thus, a small mom and pop liquor store could be packed to the gills with customers, but a 400-seat synagogue or a 1,200-seat cathedral would still be limited to 10 or 25 people. This was such an interference with the free exercise of religion that the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, New York, and three Jewish congregations in New York City collectively sued the governor in federal court in Brooklyn. They lost. Last week, the Supreme Court interceded in a splendid 5-4 decision that defended religious liberty in the face of government efforts to sweep it aside.
The court recognized that the right to worship is fundamental — and has been the law of the land for many generations. Yet, its characterization as “fundamental” was a shot across the governor’s bow because, whatever he considers the freedom to worship to be, he ordered that it was not essential. The court held that by failing to characterize it as essential, while characterizing other choices as essential, Mr. Cuomo demonstrated a hostility to religion.
Stated differently, if having more than 10 or 25 people in a large synagogue or church is likely to harm public health, then why is having 500 people in a Walmart or folks packed like sardines in a liquor store not likely to impair public health?
Because the religion clauses are articulated in the First Amendment — and because the freedom to worship is a natural right — the government can only interfere with them by meeting a demanding jurisprudential test called strict scrutiny. This mandates that the government must have a compelling state interest it is attempting to serve by the least-restrictive means.
It also means that a fundamental right cannot be targeted when other rights that may or may not be fundamental are left to individual choices.
The Supreme Court’s ruling, which was released at 2:12 a.m., was a response to an emergency application. After the plaintiffs lost at the trial court, they asked the trial judge to enjoin the governor during the pendency of their appeal so their congregants could worship during the coming holidays. The court declined. Then the plaintiffs asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for a temporary injunction until that court could hear their appeal. It declined.
Then the plaintiffs threw their Hail Mary pass and asked the Supreme Court to enjoin Mr. Cuomo during the pendency of their appeal.
That pass ended up being a touchdown with no time left on the clock. The Supreme Court not only issued an injunction preventing the governor from limiting the number of worshippers at the religious venues that sued, but it did so in such sweeping, liberty-embracing language that will surely apply to all religious venues in the land.
Reading the court’s decision, and particularly the thoughtful and brilliant concurrence by Justice Neil Gorsuch — who wrote that “government is not free to disregard the First Amendment in times of crisis” — one can see that Mr. Cuomo lost this case because while he may understand the science, he does not understand the jurisprudence.
Freedom of religion is not the first freedom by mistake. It was the judgment of the framers that this freedom is as essential to human fulfillment as are any other free choices that free people make.
By failing to recognize that natural, historic and jurisprudential truism, Mr. Cuomo doomed his executive order to the ash bin of history.
• Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is a regular contributor to The Washington Times. He is the author of nine books on the U.S. Constitution.
A half-century ago, progressives used to push limitless free expression, blasting conservatives for their allegedly blinkered traditionalism. They boasted of obliterating once-normal boundaries in art, music and literature to allow nudity, profanity, sexuality and anti-American boilerplate.
The left is Victorian — increasingly puritanical, regressive and hypersensitive. Even totalitarian censorship and book-burning have weirdly become part of their by-any-means-necessary methods.
University of California-Berkeley professor Grace Lavery was so outraged by author Abigail Shrier’s latest book, “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters,” that she went beyond the usual calls to ban the book. Ms. Lavery advocated burning Ms. Shrier’s book.
“I DO encourage followers to steal Abigail Shrier’s book and burn it on a pyre,” Ms. Lavery tweeted last month.
Did the self-appointed liberal watchdog the American Civil Liberties Union step in to defend free expression?
No. One ACLU official poured gas on the book-burning fire.
“Stopping the circulation of this book and these ideas is 100% a hill I will die on,” tweeted Chase Strangio, the ACLU’s deputy director for transgender justice.
Note all of these melodramatic humanitarian verbs such as “steal,” “burn” and “die.”
Staffers at the Canadian branch of Penguin Random House recently confronted management over the company’s publication of libertarian Jordan Peterson’s new book “Beyond Order,” a sequel to his earlier best-seller “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos.”
What were their objections to the book? Mr. Peterson, who has criticized the notion of White privilege and contends that masculinity is under attack, was accused of “White supremacy,” “hate speech” and “transphobia.” These are simply our generation’s synonyms for their predecessors’ bogeyman labels “heretic,” “witch” and “communist.”
Amazon, Facebook, Google and Twitter are more refined in suppressing books, films, communications and ideas they don’t like — and don’t want others to like either.
Author Alex Berenson self-published a series of pamphlets on Amazon that offer a dissenting view about the efficacy of forced coronavirus lockdowns. Suddenly, Amazon blocked his most recent installment — at least until public pressure forced the multibillion-dollar company to relent.
Amazon did something similar to Hoover Institution senior fellow Shelby Steele, declining to stream his documentary “What Killed Michael Brown?” about the fatal 2014 shooting of Brown by police in Ferguson, Missouri, and race relations in America. Once again, public outrage forced the company to back down from what appears to be a systematic and ideologically driven effort to stop the dissemination of books and films that don’t advance the progressive/regressive cause.
Note the pattern here. Publishers and platforms are not arguing that these books and films are mediocre. After all, they had initially agreed to publish or disseminate all of them.
Their subsequent flips and flops arise from fundamentalist progressive pressure of the sort used by social media to de-platform and cancel unwelcome politics and ideology.
So the First Amendment of the once freest nation in the world is comatose. This time its enemies are not hooded Klansmen seeking to intimidate African-Americans or right-wing conspiracy theorists rooting out supposed communists.
No, the culprits are progressives and leftist elites in publishing, the media, Silicon Valley, academia, entertainment and government. They so lack confidence in the logic and persuasiveness of their own arguments that in fear they increasingly try to ban whatever bothers them.
The classic “To Kill a Mockingbird” and other books about racial issues were banned from the curriculum in the Burbank (California) Unified School District last month.
The left did not just oppose the nomination of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh; it sought to destroy his career and reputation through smears.
Professors at Stanford University hounded Hoover Institution fellow and public health expert Dr. Scott Atlas. His apparent crime was advising President Trump that lockdowns and quarantines might ultimately cause more damage than COVID-19 itself. Dr. Atlas resigned from his role as Mr. Trump’s coronavirus adviser earlier this week.
Efforts to censor, cancel, discredit or destroy the work of anyone with contrasting viewpoints are canonized by the wealthy, powerful left-wing elites and their institutions.
In Orwellian fashion, they have redefined being illiberal and vindictive as being woke, enlightened and progressive — and for the public good rather than their own interests.
How ironic that the kindred spirits of today’s progressives are not Socrates, Galileo and Harper Lee, but the Athenian mob, Joseph McCarthy and the Taliban.
Past and present, all of these zealots and character assassins cloaked their intolerance in the pretense that they were advancing truth — by destroying it.
• Victor Davis Hanson, a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, is the author, most recently, of “The Father of Us All: War and History, Ancient and Modern.” You can reach him by e-mailing authorvictorhanson.com.
Bashing drug companies, long a bipartisan pastime, reached a fever pitch when President Trump recently announced a new federal rule aimed at slashing the prices Medicare pays for some lifesaving medications.
Republicans and Democrats alike are stuck on the idea that the best way to reduce our nation’s health care bill is to impose price controls on drugs. Pharmaceutical companies make for convenient scapegoats. But they’re not to blame for runaway health care spending. In fact, new medications are among the most effective ways to rein health spending in.
The United States spent $335 billion on prescription drugs in 2018, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. That may sound like a lot. But it represents just 9% of the nation’s health bill, which totaled $3.6 trillion.
In fact, prescription drugs account for a smaller share of overall health spending in the United States than in other developed countries.
The majority of our health care dollars — 53%, or nearly $2 trillion — go to hospitals and doctors.
Drug spending is also growing more slowly than spending on hospital and physician care. Annual prescription drug spending was 2.5% in 2018. Hospital and physician spending increased 4.5% and 4.1%, respectively.
What’s more, a tiny share of Americans accounts for the bulk of prescription drug spending. In 2016, according to a study by the pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts, 0.3% of the U.S. population accounted for 20% of all spending on prescription medications. Some 83% of people in the study had annual drug costs of $1,000 or less — including the 32% who spent nothing.
Further, the value provided by a prescription drug often far surpasses its price. Consider Sovaldi, a hepatitis C medication developed by Gilead Sciences and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2013. Its initial cost was $84,000 for a 12-week course of treatment.
Sounds expensive, right? But Sovaldi actually cures many viral strains of hepatitis C. A one-time $84,000 expense could be much cheaper than the long-term costs associated with treating the condition, which can run in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and require a liver transplant. Thousands of people are currently waiting for donor livers.
Suddenly, Sovaldi looks like a good deal. It’s a money-saver as well as a life-saver. No wonder 60,000 Americans opted for it in the first 30 weeks it was available.
Prescription drugs also reduce overall health spending by empowering people to manage chronic conditions — and thereby avoid the need for costly acute care. One study found that over five years, a daily dose of statin for people at risk of cardiovascular disease reduced hospital admissions for vascular events by 20%.
That’s an argument for devoting more of our resources to prescription drugs, not less.
Simply put, prescription drug costs aren’t a problem. They’re a bargain. Cutting-edge pharmaceuticals have been saving lives and actually helping keep a lid on our nation’s health bill for decades.
• Sally C. Pipes is president, CEO and Thomas W. Smith Fellow in Health Care Policy at the Pacific Research Institute. Her latest book is “False Premise, False Promise: The Disastrous Reality of Medicare for All” (Encounter 2020). Follow her on Twitter @sallypipes.
Tracktherecovery.org — a database ran by Harvard University — has continued to track the economic fallout since COVID-19 has spread across the United States. As of Nov. 16, a reported 47.1% of small businesses have failed to remain open in the District of Columbia. This number has been steadily increasing since July 4, at 36.1%.
The industry hit the hardest by the lockdowns enforced by Mayor Muriel Bowser remains leisure and hospitality, which has bottomed out by a 68.71% reduction. Miss Bowser has also kept her order for houses of worship at 50% capacity, depriving people of faith and putting pastors and church administrations into a corner.
As of Nov. 30, the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs ensured fitness gyms shut their doors, after several instances of owners fighting the lockdown orders. Anne Mahlum, founder and CEO of Solidcore Gyms, argued that customers have been to her establishments over 340,000 times since June and avoided any instances of COVID-19.
“We are confident we can continue to provide a safe, clean environment for our clients and coaches,” Ms. Mahlum said.
Still, her operation is being halted — or potentially shut down indefinitely — because of the bureaucracy’s love for telling people how to live their lives. For making promises that seldom come to fruition.
In nearby Bethesda, Hispanic owner Juan Carlos Castillo says he has fired 81% of his staff at Tierra Events, an event company. Asked if he could survive another government lockdown, Mr. Castillo said, “It’s tough, it’s tough. Probably not … It’s more like survival.”
It is small business owners, especially, that do not have the resources or means to perpetually stay open in the midst of lockdowns. In D.C., this is no joke. According to D.C. Policy Center, 69.11% of businesses have fewer than five employees in the area. Businesses with less than 50 employees account for “almost 60 percent of employees in retail-trade,” 47.41% in accommodation and food services, and 42% in arts and entertainment.
These three industries have been evidently wrecked economically, taking into account the data from the Harvard-funded study. Retail shops are being supplanted by Internet shopping, people are cooking more and restaurants are failing to stay open. D.C. theaters are still closed for in-person performances. Live musicians are barely making it, too, having to move to social media platforms to connect with people.
On Dec. 1, lawmakers finally agreed to unveil a $908 billion COVID-19 relief package. This bill will grant $160 billion to states and cities, while delivering $180 billion for unemployment benefits. The remaining allocation is set for small business relief, transportation-related relief, vaccine funding and health care provider relief.
It is about time the government coordinated to compensate small businesses to some degree, since tyrannically forcing owners to go on welfare. But where is the $1,200 stimulus package? Where has it been for months?
“If I am sent a Stand Alone Bill for Stimulus Checks ($1,200), they will go out to our great people IMMEDIATELY. I am ready to sign right now. Are you listening Nancy?” the president tweeted on Oct. 7 — demonstrating the degree to which House Speaker Pelosi put off any relief to ensure it would not benefit Mr. Trumps’ reelection chances.
Barring the COVID-19 relief bill, and the problematic element of the government failing to compensate people individually for stripping them of their livelihood, there is a greater issue here.
Lawmakers like Mayor Bowser, or Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, or California Gov. Gavin Newsom — to name a few — are playing God with people’s lives. Instead of allowing the American market economy to thrive, while also giving people personal choice, they and others fail to trust people to make pertinent decisions about their lives. They seek to re-compensate based on security, continually making us reliant on their decisions to get dinner on the table each night.
The economic data in D.C. is just one piece of the puzzle. Across the country, millions and millions of hardworking Americans are being led like sheep to the slaughter. In Maine, there has been a 39.4% small business loss; a 37% differential in Massachusetts, 38.7% in New Mexico — 37.2% in Connecticut.
It’s happening everywhere. And it comes down to whether our lawmakers (a) believe in us to be responsible and weigh the risks in life or (b) ceaselessly fondle with their Ivy League degrees, presuming the rest of us don’t have what it takes to use our brains.
I can fairly assume the latter is their interpretation of everyday Americans.
According to prior economic data from the book “Corporate Flight: The Causes and Consequences of Economic Dislocation” by Barry Bluestone, Bennett Harrison and Lawrence Baker — there are an estimated 37,000 more fatalities each percentage-point rise in the unemployment rate. This data is a benchmark for understanding the link between being poor, going on welfare and, consequently, dying.
Putting small business owners on welfare in D.C. is a temporary fix. The government is putting a Band-Aid on a scathing wound. The reality is that this same wound will grow bloodier and bloodier until the selfish bureaucrats realize the antidote.
A beautiful thing called freedom.
• Gabe Kaminsky is a student at the University of Pittsburgh and can be reached at [email protected]
During National Family Caregivers Month, we give thanks for the essential role that caregivers play in ensuring the health and well-being of the estimated 53 million Americans today who care for someone who cannot care for themselves.
Almost 6 million of those caregivers support a military service member or veteran. Even more assist a veteran’s surviving spouse or child by answering a call that — like military service itself — is both hard and honorable. I know, I have proudly served in uniform and I humbly spent years holding the hands of veterans I love and helping to heal the hearts of those they loved.
The military caregiver’s journey was seldom known until the Commission on Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warriors, co-chaired by Sen. Bob Dole, was launched in 2007 to improve the recovery of wounded, ill and injured veterans. The resulting report also highlighted the role and plight of military caregivers, often forgotten and undervalued.
The joint Federal Recovery Care Coordination Program (FRCP) was one of the initial responses, built directly — if not perfectly — on the recommendations to improve the coordination of care by including caregivers in the development of a comprehensive plan and to recognize their own needs.
Attention to these needs also came from Congress, veteran service organizations and another Sen. Dole, who emerged to ensure that the voice of these caregivers had a megaphone through the Elizabeth Dole Foundation Hidden Heroes program.
In the last few years, the voices of veterans and their caregivers have not only been given new avenues for expression, but they have been amplified and incorporated into the basis of our Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) priority mission of customer service.
VA Secretary Robert Wilkie has said, “VA is not only listening to our Veterans, but to the voices of their families, caregivers and survivors.”
Caregivers have told us that to fulfill their role with some hope of success for their loved one, themselves and their family, they needed: immediate access to clear and accurate information; home health care assistance; respite support; training and peer support; legal aid and financial benefits; and monetary support for the services many had been unconditionally and freely offering for so long. The VA has responded by:
• Live answering over 463,000 calls 24/7 through the White House VA/Hotline to provide immediate information and expedite requests for assistance.
• Answering over 628,000 veteran and caregiver frequently asked questions and providing 330,000 referrals to clinical providers through a new VA 411 Contact Center.
• Collecting caregivers’ feedback on appointment waiting protocols through new COVID-19 VSignals surveys by offering the “I am here” feature for virtual check-ins.
• Offering the Annie Caregiver Text Support app so that caregivers can choose to receive stress management tips, self-care for veterans and motivational activities.
• Increasing the use of telehealth by 4,000% to improve caregiver home-based access to care and clinical outcomes for veterans most at risk.
• Delivering over 7,400 donated portals from Facebook to reduce veteran and caregiver isolation with the support from strategic partners.
• Communicating with veterans and caregivers about their specific care needs and services over 32 million times through tailored VEText messages during COVID.
• Training over 300+ VA health care providers on the involvement to caregivers in veteran patient care with the EDF Academy for Inclusive Care. • Reaching tens of millions of veterans and caregivers with news to use through the VA’s weekly VetResources newsletter.
• Establishing the first Veterans’ Families, Caregivers, and Survivors Federal Advisory Committee to help inform the VA’s expansion of the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers, which will assist eligible Vietnam-era veterans with caregivers.
• Offering 40,000+ hours of non-medical home care for more than 1,600 veterans and wounded warriors through a VA partnership with EDF and CareLinx
• Creating a new Center of Excellence for Veteran and Caregiver Research to investigate the impact of COVID-19 on all who receive and provide care.
We have come a long way since 2007. As one champion caregiver recently said, “VA has demonstrated a desire to listen, to care, to support and to learn from us but there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure Veterans caregivers are validated, included and supported in their role all across America.”
• Lynda C. Davis is the chief veteran experience officer of the Department of Veterans Affairs.