JBS CEO Art Thompson's weekly video news update for November 14-21, 2011.
Scientists are questioning a $433-million government contract for an experimental smallpox drug (ST-246) awarded to Siga Technologies by the Obama administration. Siga, a New York-based pharmaceutical company specializing in disease-causing pathogens, was given a contract in May through a "sole-source" procurement: It was the only company asked to submit a proposal, while the government reportedly blocked other companies from bidding after Siga nearly lost the contract a year ago.
The Los Angeles Times reported over the weekend that administration officials used deceitful measures to secure the contract, as Siga’s controlling shareholder is one of the world’s wealthiest men and a prominent Democratic Party donor. Interviews, email correspondence, and various documents revealed that the Obama administration replaced the project’s lead negotiator after Siga complained that contracting specialists at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) repelled its financial demands.
The objectivity of judges is an essential component of the American constitutional system. When Elena Kagan was Solicitor General of the United States, she and Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe had e-mail exchanges, which were obtained by Judicial Watch under the Freedom of Information Act, that suggest that she could not be impartial in ruling on Barack Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act because she has taken a position for the bill.
Tribe is a "liberal" professor who has written in the New York Times in defense of ObamaCare, has argued numerous cases before the Supreme Court, and was working for the Obama administration's Department of Justice at the time of the e-mail exchange. The Media Research Council and Judicial Watch filed the Freedom of Information Act request on May 25, 2010, which was before Kagan’s Senate confirmation hearings for a position on the Supreme Court. That e-mail correspondence makes it clear that then-Solicitor General Kagan and Tribe had contacted each other about ObamaCare as early as March 21, 2010 and that Kagan likely has been a cheerleader for ObamaCare. The e-mails' title refers to the upcoming vote on ObamaCare and says, "Fingers and toes crossed today." In the e-mails Kagan says about the probable passage of ObamaCare: "I hear they have the votes, Larry!! Simply amazing."
The e-mail correspondence trail, which was finally released on November 10, 2011, after the Department of Justice had been sued in federal district court for the District of Columbia on November 23, 2010, a year before the documents were released, shows more than just an e-mail trail between Kagan and Tribe.
“It’s about jobs,” said then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in February 2010. “In its life [healthcare reform] will create 4 million jobs, 400,000 jobs almost immediately.” Tell that to the roughly 1,000 employees of Stryker Corporation who will be losing their jobs as a direct result of a medical-device fee included in ObamaCare.
According to a Reuters report, on November 10 the Kalamazoo, Michigan-based maker of replacement hips and surgical devices announced that it would be “implement[ing] focused workforce reductions of approximately 5% of its global workforce and other restructuring activities that are anticipated to reduce annual pre-tax operating costs by over $100 million beginning in 2013.” Stryker specifically stated that these actions are being undertaken “to provide efficiencies and realign resources in advance of the new Medical Device Excise Tax scheduled to begin in 2013” and otherwise to strengthen its position in a difficult economic climate.
The Medical Device Excise Tax, which was estimated to generate $20 billion in revenue for the federal government, is a 2.3-percent tax on the total revenues of a company manufacturing medical devices. Since the tax “will be levied … regardless of whether a company generates a profit,” DailyMarkets.com’s Mark Perry observes, “many companies will owe more in taxes than they generate from their operations. The result will be devastating to innovation, patient care and job creation.”
No matter how many times you beat back a Federal power grab, it is almost impossible to kill the monster. Like the most terrifying villain in the worst horror movie you’ve ever seen, it keeps coming back to life and threatening the townspeople.
Consider the efforts by the Food and Drug Administration to make it impossible for you to buy the vitamins you want. The FDA first tried to make many supplements illegal in the early 1990s. But its overzealous persecution of vitamin makers (I was one of them) caused millions of consumers to demand that Congress block the FDA.
As a result, in 1994 Congress passed the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA). While the law was far from perfect (what federal legislation ever is?), it did protect the right to take the supplements of our choice. The only way the FDA could intrude was if it could prove a supplement was unsafe. I don’t know of a single case in which that happened. So for 17 years, those of us who take vitamins to protect our health were safe from government meddlers.
Unfortunately, there was a dangerous loophole in that 1994 law. While supplements that existed at the time were protected by law, the FDA was given the authority to regulate any new ingredients that were introduced after Oct. 15, 1994.
In a 2-1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held that the individual mandate of ObamaCare is constitutional. Writing for the majority, Senior Judge Laurence Silberman, a Reagan appointee, affirmed that by enacting the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, specifically the provision mandating that everyone purchase qualifying health insurance, Congress did not exceed the authority ceded to it by the states in the Constitution.
Ohio voters overwhelmingly rejected health insurance mandates that represent the cornerstone of “ObamaCare,” with two thirds of the electorate voting in favor of a state constitutional amendment prohibiting mandatory participation in any health-care schemes. The ballot initiative was driven forward by a broad coalition including Tea Party groups, conservative activists, and others.
In the post-9/11 world, we are told, security takes precedence over everything else. The Bill of Rights must give way so that the government can search our persons and belongings practically at will. Common sense must yield to ridiculous rules about how many ounces of shampoo we can take on an airplane. Now, according to a ProPublica report on airport X-ray scanners, even our health must take a back seat to the government’s security fetish.
In an effort to curb rising healthcare costs, states are limiting Medicaid hospital coverage for the poor to as few as 10 days a year. State governments claim the move is necessary to balance their meager budgets which have been battered by the economic downturn and the end to federal stimulus funding that helped keep their Medicaid programs afloat. Hospital executives and advocates for the impoverished adamantly oppose the measure, as it will place limits on medical care, bear more costs to hospitals, and inflate charges for privately insured patients.
Some states will be instituting more stringent restrictions than others, as Arizona plans to limit Medicaid recipients to 25 days of coverage while Hawaii plans to slash coverage to a mere 10 days a year, the fewest of any other state. The restrictions will not include children, the elderly, disabled, pregnant women, and those receiving cancer treatment.
America’s Health Insurance Plans, a trade association for the health insurance industry, says private insurers generally do not limit hospital coverage. Rosemary Blackmon, executive vice president of the Alabama Hospital Association, said that "for the most part hospitals do what they can" to treat Medicaid patients despite government limits. Likewise, Arizona hospitals will not discharge or refuse treatment to Medicaid patients who need care, asserted Peter Wertheim, spokesman for the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association, so "hospitals will get stuck with the bill."
As Tea Party supporters cast about for an alternative to the flip-flopping Mitt Romney (and his long history of political liberalism), an increasing number are turning their eyes back to a face from the political past: former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
But is Newt Gingrich the new "anti-Romney," or is he simply another Mitt Romney? Despite Gingrich's masterful performance of conservative rhetoric during presidential debates, Tea Party supporters may find Gingrich's record surprisingly liberal and comparable to Romney's record. Conservative opposition to Mitt Romney has focused upon two major issues, Romney's initiation of an individual health care mandate in Massachusetts — which served as the model for Obamacare — and Romney's support for the Wall Street bailouts under the Bush/Obama TARP program.
Gingrich's Support of the Individual Mandate and Federal Health Care
Newt Gingrich has campaigned on a pledge to repeal Obamacare, but he also has a long history of supporting the same government healthcare mandates in Romneycare and Obamacare. In campaign videos, Gingrich insists that “I am completely opposed to the Obamacare mandate on individuals. I fought it for two and a half years at the Center for Health Transformation."
But in a May 15, 2011 interview on NBC's Meet the Press with host David Gregory, Gingrich admitted he has long sought an individual mandate by government: