Robert Reich: The $3.5T Bill Corporate America Is Terrified Of

Once again Robert Reich explains economic impacts on citizens that the rich fight tooth and nail against (4:40)

As you may already know, three “moderate” Democrats voted against the drug pricing portion of the legislation that would have allowed Medicare to negotiate drug prices. This was once a feature of Medicare before Republicans took it away in 2006. 

Jim Newell at slate.com explains the situation. In case you needed any reminder about how powerful lobbyists in general are and especially those from Big Pharma:

Democrats had a neat plan for their health care agenda. As part of the $3.5 trillion spending bill they’re putting together as I type, they would finally, after years and years of pledges to do so, pass legislation to cut the costs of prescription drugs. This would have two wonderful benefits for the Democrats. First, the obvious: They would fulfill a campaign promise to cut the costs of prescription drugs. Fulfilling popular promises is good! Second, the Medicare drug negotiations—price negotiations between the government and pharmaceutical companies— would save the government hundreds of billions of dollars that Democrats could then use to pay for the rest of their health agenda: covering new services under Medicare, bringing the ACA’s Medicaid expansion to all 50 states, and making permanent the improvements Democrats made to Obamacare’s insurance exchanges in their COVID relief bill earlier this year.

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This week, the Energy and Commerce Committee met to discuss drug pricing. The legislation that House Democrats wanted to pass has an aggressive mechanism for making sure drug manufacturers complied with negotiated prices. And if they didn’t, the government would slap the companies with an escalating tax that would ultimately reach 95 percent of sales. The criticism from pharmaceutical companies, then, was that this wasn’t much of a negotiation at all, but instead the government setting rates at gunpoint. They further explained, as they often do, that these funds would severely hamper pharmaceutical innovation.

Their lobbying efforts got somewhere. Three moderate members of the committee—California Rep. Scott Peters, Oregon Rep. Kurt Schrader, and New York Rep. Kathleen Rice—announced that even though they had voted for this idea in 2019, they had since changed their minds, and now had grave concerns about pharmaceutical innovation. (It is also worth noting that Peters, in particular, has accumulated sizable donations from the pharmaceutical industry this year.)

The three members held strong, and all three voted against the drug-pricing proposal in a Wednesday committee vote. That was just enough to create a tie, and the drug-pricing plan failed to advance. PhRMA, the pharmaceutical lobby, crowed in a statement afterward that “the House markups on health care demonstrate there are real concerns with Speaker Pelosi’s extreme drug pricing plan and those concerns are shared by thoughtful lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.” (And themselves, they left out.)

I also want to note that while the big scary number for the infrastructure bill of $3.5 trillion is being pushed in all the headlines, the actual bill calls for the cost to be spread over 10 years. 

That would be $350 Billion per year. Still a sizable sum, but it pales in comparison to the Defense budget proposal of $753 Billion. It also pales in comparison to what we wasted in Iraq and Afghanistan which are not covered by the defense budget. Wars are extras. 

And it is nowhere near the Trump tax cuts of 2017 that cost us nearly $5.5 trillion over 10 years while creating little to nothing in economic return.  

Cost of wars pic.

One of the best things about the Democratic infrastructure plan is that create huge economic returns for all Americans, something that wars and tax cuts do not do.

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Sunday Funday: Hispanic Heritage Month Edition

Pay Attention: The next 6:11 will confuse and enlighten at the same time.

Who doesn’t like a taco? Food is of course just one of the many things that Hispanic culture has added to the incredible crazy quilt that is America. From food to art to business leadership to simply being a good neighbor, Hispanic culture is deeply woven into the American fabric.

We happen to live in city in Iowa that is one of, if not the only, minority majority cities in Iowa. Know what? It runs just like any other American city. Unlike many smaller towns in Iowa, we continue to prosper, although the pandemic has hit us really hard.  

I must diverge here to say we were really sorry to hear of the passing of comedian Norm McDonald. He was a unique comedian. I would describe him as a kind of a bad boy who could come up with some of the most off-the-wall lines ever. He will be missed.

We will include some Hispanic history in today’s questions:

A) What national treasure trees are in danger as wildfires continue to rage across California?

B) A judge’s decision to allow mask mandates in Iowa schools has led to some wild meetings for what governmental groups in Iowa?

C) Why does Hispanic Heritage Month start in the middle of the month on September 15? 

D) Which Democratic senator says he will not vote for the $3.5T infrastructure bill?

E) In France, 3000 health care workers have been suspended from their jobs for what reason?

F) Simone Biles and other top American gymnasts testified before the Senate Judiciary committee concerning what group’s failure in the Larry Nassar sexual abuse case?

G) In Iowa, a first cut at redistricting has what 3 of Iowa’s 4 most populous counties in the first district?

H) What state has begun rationing health care due to the huge amount of Covid patients that have overrun their hospitals?

I) Did Iowa’s 3 major universities (U of I, Iowa State and NIU) report a rise or a drop in enrollment this year?

J) About how many US citizens claim some Hispanic Heritage? (+ or – 5 million)

K) What major ally of the US has a national election tomorrow (September 20th)?

L) What other major ally of the US has a national election a week from today (September 26th)?

M) Thanks to 3 no votes from “moderate” Democrats a House committee failed to pass a bill that would allow Medicare to do what?

N) Cigarette manufacturer Phillip Morris has aroused strong reaction for their purchase of a company which makes what lung associated product?

O) There was a gubernatorial recall in California Tuesday? What was the difference between the winner and the all the others?

P) “My cousin in Trinidad won’t get the vaccine cuz his friend got it & became impotent. His testicles became swollen.” Thus began a tweet on the effects of covid vaccines by who?

Q) What country fired two ballistic missiles toward the East Sea on Wednesday?

R) The Atlanta zoo reported an outbreak of covid-19 among what animal group this week?

S) General Mark Milley, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff reportedly talked to what country to allay fears that Trump may launch a war against them?

T) SpaceX launched a manned rocket Wednesday. What made this orbital flight historical?

Brett Kavanaugh’s  appointment to SCOTUS was sponsored by The Federalist Society

Chris Wray head of the FBI is a member of The Federalist Society

The FBI received 4.500 tips on Brett Kavanaugh’s behavior

The FBI declined to investigate these allegations

Any Questions? – Jay Rouse 

Answers:

A) Giant Sequoias

B) School Boards 

C)  Sept. 15 was chosen because it’s the anniversary of the independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Also, Mexico’s independence date is Sept. 16 and Chile’s is Sept. 18.

D) Joe Manchin

E) They failed to get covid vaccination by the Sept. 15 deadline

F) The FBI

G) Linn, Johson and Scott counties

H) Idaho

I) a drop

J) 62 million, so 57 to 67 million

K) Canada

L) Germany (can you believe I almost typed West Germany?)

M) negotiate drug prices

N) Asthma inhalers. The deal has brought strong reactions from the medical community

O) Newsom 64%, everybody else 36%

P) Nicki Minaj, whoever she is

Q) North Korea

R) Gorillas – 18 of 20 were infected

S) China

T) Those manning the rocket. ship were all civilians for the first time ever.

Anti-vax conservative radio hosts are the first-ever Willingly Endangered Species. – John Fugelsang

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“We Have A Way To End This Pandemic”

NOTE: Not Safe For Work {NSFW}

This woman is really good with numbers. Using those numbers, she spells out why being unvaccinated is, frankly, almost a death wish

One number that she didn’t mention is that since the beginning we have had (per world-o-meters) 684,000 deaths. That is one covid death for every 500 Americans:

684,000 X 500 = 342,000,000 (or slightly more than the US population).

1 in 500 and going up all the time!

Currently the daily average number of deaths is about 1500. But they are no longer dying from the pool of all Americans but almost totally from the pool of the non-vaccinated. This pool includes children under 12 who are not eligible to be vaccinated yet, plus those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. I would not include those who refuse to be vaccinated for religious reasons.

So if you take 1500/ day from a pool of @160 million that is one death in 106,666 per day. In a year that comes to one death by covid for every 292 unvaccinated Americans. (1500 X 365 /160,000,000). Remember that this number includes people who currently can’t be vaccinated through no fault of their own.

According to Wikipedia the US has sustained 666,481 combat war deaths in her history. As of Thursday morning we have 685,000 Covid deaths in approximately 20 months.

These numbers are incredibly scary. The scariest part of all is that since the vaccines were introduce for the public in February most of these deaths have been preventable. Yet there is a core of about 25% that refuse to get vaccinated for the worst reasons. Probably every one of them has been vaccinated for a variety of diseases such as polio, mumps and small pox. 

The reason they refuse to get the Covid vaccine that has been proven 1) safe and 2) effective is because of Republican leadership that from day 1 has worked against defeating this disease. They have done so to make the economy tank in a strategy to regain power. At election time most Americans vote their pocketbooks. If the economy is tanking, then the party on power gets blasted.

But it appears that most Americans are now smarter than Republicans give them credit for. Most Americans are putting the blame directly where it should be for the pandemic: on Trump, the Republican Party and their followers.

And ironically in their very cynical strategy to get voted back into power, Republican are killing their own voters at a rate of about 1500 a day. With midterms a little over 400 days away, Republicans may be killing as many as 600,000 of their own voters thought the country. That is about 1400 per congressional district on average. That is more than the 6 votes Mariannette Miller-Meeks won by in Iowa’s 2nd district.

Maybe President Biden, being the good American that he is, can help Republicans to stop killing their own before then.

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Today: Treasonous Insurrection Part 2

In case you missed it, today is the followup to the January 6th treasonous insurrection. No one seems to to have any idea what to expect. Congress made a prudent move and took this weekend off. If we have groups that break down barriers again looking for government officials to sacrifice, they might have to look pretty far.

As stories from the January 6th insurrection continue to trickle out, one figure continues to look more and more pathetic. That is of course former (thank the gods) VP Mike Pence who did everything he could think of to subvert the constitution. He even turned to Republican intellectual heavyweight, fellow Indianan and also former VP Dan Quayle for some tips on how to steal the election for Trump.

Even as Pence was trying to steal the election for Trump, Trump himself rejected Pence’s showings of fealty. If Pence couldn’t steal one little election, then what good was he? So somehow Trump or somebody let it be known that Pence was expendable and a crude gallows was built supposedly for Pence to go out in style.

Ah, memories. Will today’s version include Republicans looking to thin their own herd and add it to the Covid pandemic as a way to keep the troops loyal or else.

Unlike the first go round, let us hope there are some arrests made including those hiding away from the action while directing the melee, like Trump did last time.

Protesting against government over reach and bad policies is one of the most civic things a citizen can do. Attempting to overthrow a duly elected government is one of the most dastardly. It must be met with force and the instigators must be punished.

That includes these little quasi-insurrections that are now becoming features of local school board meetings recently. As school boards are meeting to implement sensible mandatory masking policies in schools a rabid minority are disrupting open meetings and attempting to impose their will on the duly elected officials. 

In case you missed the story of the Council Bluffs school board meeting from last Tuesday, a group of rabid anti-maskers tried to take over the school board during the meeting:  

“One man, who emphasized that the board was elected, yelled for the board to “get out of our seats.”

Sowing chaos in government is an old tactic of those who are looking to impose their very narrow and rigid philosophy on the majority. It is not an accident that these tactics are being encouraged by Republican leadership across the country.

If you missed it, a similar situation took place in San Diego, California where anti-maskers declared themselves to be the new school board of the Poway School District:

 The anti-maskers decided ending the meeting meant school board members had vacated their seats, so they “brought in a constitutionalist” to verify this meant they could elect a new board “by quorum,” then made themselves the new school board, with a swearing-in ceremony and everything. Tragically, no sashes or crowns were involved.

Video from inside the attempted overthrow of the Poway USD is extremely concerning. They were trespassing telling… https://t.co/EfgFr2WDhh

— The Activated Podcast (@The Activated Podcast)1631373134.0

The trespassers then told the actual school board members in the building that they were trespassing and would have to leave, saying that they had just lost their jobs.

In the video, you can see proud “new school board president” Derek Greco talking about how the whole thing went down:

GRECO: Hey, good evening everybody, had a pretty interesting night here at the Poway Unified School District Board Meeting, of which they were only allowing select people that they chose to enter the meeting tonight, which is not legit or legal, you can’t just decide who’s allowed in and who’s not.

So we entered the building peacefully, we refused to leave, and we demanded accountability from the Poway Unified School District Board.

And the Board vacated their seats tonight. We then brought in a constitutionalist, who, uh, we held a quorum, and we voted in a new Board. You are looking at the new President of the Poway Unified School District apparently.

The hostile presence at governmental functions and political function has been a major strategy of Republicans since the Teabaggers were riled up into existence over some slight to them back in 2010. This is just another incarnation. Republican leaders and their dupes are using these people like puppets. This is how democracies end.

If tomorrow Republican leaders decided that killing their own voters was a bad idea, then the anti-maskers would become pro-maskers overnight and would be showing up at functions to demand masking mandates.

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Zach Wahls: Legislature Should Approve First Maps

Zach Wahls

Zach Wahls is the Iowa Senate Democratic Leader. These are his remarks regarding the first redistricting maps that came out yesterday.  Follow Iowa Senate Democrats on Facebook and Twitter

“As we have said since Day 1, Iowans deserve a fair redistricting process, without interference from politicians, and without partisan amendments.

“The Legislature should approve Plan 1 during the October 5 special session if it meets all the legal and constitutional requirements.”

Review the maps here: www.legis.iowa.gov/legislators/redistricting

Speak out at next week’s virtual public hearings: https://www.legis.iowa.gov/committees/publicHearings

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Freshman Miller-Meeks’ Partisan Antics Growing Tiresome Already In IA-02

IA-02 may be somewhat conservative, especially in the rural areas but constituents are used to having a real congressman, Dave Loebsack, who served as a Democrat in a bipartisan manner for seven terms.  Seems like MMM’s partisan antics are wearing thin already out there in the district as reflected in this scathing editorial by the Ottumwa Courier. 

ottumwacourier.com/opinion/editorials/our-view-miller-meeks-and-her-irresponsible-tweets/article.html

Mariannette Miller-Meeks can, and must, do better.

The freshman Republican that represents Iowa’s second congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives has done some good things in her short tenure. But, particularly recently, has shown a concerning detachment from facts and reality — and now a refusal to apologize for it.

On Sunday night she retweeted a story from the website Delaware Ohio News. It’s a satire website, meaning its content is made up. It doesn’t hide this fact; the site even has posted a legal statement to make clear that all stories are “satire, fiction, fake, not real.”

The headline of this completely fake, made-up news story read, “Biden Orders VA To Withhold Health Benefits From Unvaccinated Veterans.” Miller-Meeks’ retweet comment was “If true, this is insane!”

In a statement provided to some media outlets, Miller-Meeks was dismissive and deflected:

“I retweeted a story about President Biden requiring the VA to withhold benefits from unvaccinated veterans, saying ‘if true, this is insane.’ The story and website is obviously satire and makes a powerful point. President Biden’s executive orders about COVID-19 have been classic examples of government overreach and these days the unbelievable has become reality.

“With Americans trapped in Afghanistan, a immigration crisis on the southern border, and an unconstitutional overreach by President Biden to mandate COVID-19 vaccines, the media surely has more important things to cover than satirical tweets.”

That brings a couple of obvious follow-up questions. What powerful point could a fake story possibly make? How is a congresswoman promoting fake, satirical news as though it could be real, not of legitimate newsworthiness?

Her team wouldn’t respond beyond their initial statement.

The tweet remains up two days later. There has been no apology or clarification other than to some members of the press. Clearly it has caused confusion among some of her constituents, some of which seem to believe the story is true.

Sunday’s Tweet was far from her first offense. Miller-Meeks — an eye doctor and not an expert on vaccines or infectious disease — has promoted natural immunity as being supreme to COVID-19 vaccinations. There isn’t enough information to make that statement, and currently, peer-reviewed studies point to vaccinations offering better immunity. Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study that showed a vaccination against COVID-19 offered more protection than previous infection. This means two things: those who have had COVID should still get vaccinated, and those who haven’t gotten COVID should get vaccinated.

In July, she tweeted that children “don’t transmit virus to adults or other children.” She appeared on a Fox Business show with a similar message. We know that statement is patently false. Last week, children accounted for a third of new cases in Iowa.

We get that Miller-Meeks is not a supporter of President Joe Biden. Clearly, he will make mistakes much like any president, and there will be plenty of policy differences. Whether vaccinations should be mandated by the government is certainly a topic ripe for debate. However, before she turns to hyper-partisanship, we remind her she lost her first three runs at Congress, and only won her fourth attempt by six votes.

Our message to Miller-Meeks is simple: Listen to the experts on COVID-19, and stick to the truth.

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President Biden On Climate Change: It’s Time To Act

Biden’s statement on climate change yesterday.

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Zero Republican Support For Voting Rights


Preserving the integrity of our elections is the most important issue at this moment.  No progress can be made on climate or anything else if Republicans are allowed to lock in power. Democrats will have to go it alone to preserve voting rights and guarantee the future of our democracy.  Follow Marc Elias’ website Democracy Docket.

Before the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013, voting rights were something Democrats and Republicans could agree on. Even when voting rights skeptics Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush were in the White House, the parties were able to come to a compromise and reauthorize the Voting Rights Act twice with massive bipartisan support.

But when the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act came before the U.S. House this August, not a single Republican voted in favor.

In my new piece, “On Voting Rights, There Are No Moderates in the GOP,” I highlight what’s changed and why no Republicans in the House or Senate are willing to acknowledge the need to restore the Voting Rights Act or otherwise expand access to voting. As a result, there will either be a law protecting the right to vote passed with only Democratic votes or no law at all.

On voting rights, it’s time for Democrats to make peace with the fact that they will need to take decisive action alone. History will remember their bravery when they do.

Read “On Voting Rights, There Are No Moderates in the GOP” on Democracy Docket now.

Marc

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Al Franken Interviews Sheldon Whitehouse

A great discussion on how the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence isn’t conservative. It’s corporatist.

And Al is going on tour.

Get tickets to see Al during his 15-city “The Only Former U.S. Senator Currently on Tour” Tour at https://alfranken.com/appearances.
Subscribe to The Al Franken Podcast on: Apple Podcasts:
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U of Arkansas Finds Possible Cause Of Long Covid

Thanks to the ineptitude or rather the desire by the previous president and a group of Republican governors (including Reynolds) our nation was bequeathed a massive pandemic. With the pandemic came massive misinformation and a large core group of true believers who seem to be willing to die or be maimed for life to prove their political interpretation of the Covid pandemic is true.

In that vein many have remained unvaccinated. Many of those have gotten infected and died. But as before vaccinations were available, many have been infected and survived. Unfortunately those that survived have often been left with hangover problems known as Long Covid.

In a release Thursday researchers at the UAMS (U of Arkansas Medical School is my guess) have identified a possible cause for long-lasting symptoms for COVID-19 patients. From the thv11 website we get this report:    

According to the findings, there is an antibody that appears weeks after the initial infection and “attacks and disrupts a key regulator of the immune system.”

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“Everything that we’ve found is consistent with this antibody as the instigator of long COVID, so it’s an exciting development that merits further study,” said John Arthur, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chief of the Division of Nephrology at the UAMS College of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine.

In a press release, UAMS said the antibody causes problems for the immune system by attacking an enzyme the body’s response to COVID-19. The “attacking antibody” interferes with the enzyme’s work.

Researchers found that 81% of blood samples taken from patients with a history of COVID-19 in Arkansas and Oklahoma had the antibody that attacked the enzyme. They tested for the antibody in 67 patients who were infected with the virus and 13 with no history of infection.

“If we show that the whole hypothesis is right, that this interference of ACE2 really does cause long COVID, then it opens up many potential treatments,” Arthur said. “If our next steps confirm that this antibody is the cause of long COVID symptoms, there are medications that should work to treat them. If we get to that phase of research, the next step would be to test these drugs and hopefully relieve people of the symptoms they’re having.”

This is an amazing discovery in the short but horrendous history of Covid-19. While many groups have done all they can to aid the spreading of the virus, science continues to make amazing discoveries in fighting the pandemic. 

One of my greatest fears has been that children who are too young to be vaxxed will get Covid in unmasked schools and then suffer lifelong debilitating effects from it. While this is not a cure yet, it looks like a big step in finding that cure.

If only we could stop the disinformation and get the whole country unified in attacking the virus we could make great strides in defeating it. 

As Lincoln noted a century and a half ago “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”

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