Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Can Democratic Senators Keep Price And Mnuchin From Being Confirmed?


For the whole span of his political career, Tom Price, a mealy-mouthed hypocrite and slick, practised liar, has used his office to enrich himself. Yesterday, writing for the Wall Street Journal, James Grimaldi dug a little deeper into the sweetheart deals that make Price look like one of the worst of Trump's swampy cabinet picks. He has consistently attempted top cover up his unethical and criminal behavior and is entirely unfit for office.
Rep. Tom Price got a privileged offer to buy a biomedical stock at a discount, the company’s officials said, contrary to his congressional testimony this month.

The Georgia Republican tapped by President Donald Trump to be secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services testified in his Senate confirmation hearings on Jan. 18 and 24 that the discounted shares he bought in Innate Immunotherapeutics Ltd. , an Australian medical biotechnology company, “were available to every single individual that was an investor at the time.”

In fact, the cabinet nominee was one of fewer than 20 U.S. investors who were invited last year to buy discounted shares of the company-- an opportunity that, for Mr. Price, arose from an invitation from a company director and fellow congressmen.

The shares were discounted 12% off the traded price in mid-June only for investors who participated in a private placement arranged to raise money to complete a clinical trial. The company’s shares have tripled since the offering.

...[Crooked Trumpist Congressman Chris] Collins and Price said they have publicly disclosed their trades as required under the 2012 Stop Trading On Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, which aims to prevent members from using political insider information to make stock gains. Democrats have called for the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate Mr. Price’s trades under the STOCK Act.

Both congressmen have played key roles writing health-care legislation, including the 21st Century Cures Act, sprawling legislation that included major provisions regarding the Food and Drug Administration’s regulation of drugs and devices. Mr. Collins wrote legislation that would have permitted the FDA to speed up trials for new drugs.

Mr. Collins, a member of the health panel of the Energy and Commerce Committee, acknowledged provisions of that legislation could eventually affect Innate Immuno, along with all drug companies.

Mr. Price has traded more than $300,000 in shares of health-related companies since 2012, while on the House Ways and Means Committee’s subcommittee on health and while writing and voting on health-care legislation that could affect the shares of those stocks, according to an analysis by The Wall Street Journal. He plans to divest his health-care and other corporate stockholdings within 90 days of his confirmation, he said in a letter to the Office of Government Ethics before his confirmation hearings.
There are sleazy patterns emerging, not just when you look at the totality of Price's career, but when you examine the careers of all of Trump's cabinet nominations. Like Trump himself, they have benefited by playing fast and loose with ethical considerations, with rules and with laws. Trump's Commerce Secretary nominee, Wilbur Ross, for example, enriched himself by running shoddy mining operations and ignoring demands from the state and federal governments about dangerous situations in his mines that eventually caused a dozen tragic and unnecessary deaths at his Sago Mine in West Virginia. (Upshur County, where Ross destroyed so many lives and so many families with his psychotic greed, is the heart of Trump country, a county with catastrophic opioid addiction and a 76-19% margin of victory last November for Trump over Clinton. Now they can think about Trump's pick of Wilbur Ross when they're high on oxycontin and hydrocodone.)

The Senate, though, should turn down Price, not just because he's a dishonest, self-serving sleaze bag and liar but because his plans for American health care will be far more of a catastrophe for America than Wilbur Ross' neglect of his miners were for West Virginia. Yesterday the Economic Policy Institute issued a new report about the impacts of Price's plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The report provides a rough estimate of how the combination of tax cuts and spending cuts in the ACA repeal will affect employment in U.S. states.
ACA repeal would cut federal spending nationwide by roughly $109 billion in 2019 and taxes by roughly $70 billion in 2019.
The combination of tax cuts and spending cuts embedded in ACA repeal would reduce national job growth by almost 1.2 million in 2019, all else equal. That is because the spending cuts would hurt job growth more than the tax cuts would help it. The benefit cuts would come mostly out of the pockets of cash-constrained households that will be likely to significantly cut back their spending in response to lower disposable income, while the tax cuts would disproportionately go to high-income households who tend to save a significant portion of increases in disposable income.
The jobs that would be lost are not just health care jobs. Previous high-quality studies of the jobs gained through Medicaid expansions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) indicate that more than three-fourths of the jobs gained were not in the health care sector.
Every state would lose jobs. How significant this job loss is would be determined by the extent to which a state expanded spending (and thus how much spending it will lose), what portion of a state’s households fall in the groups getting the largest tax cuts (how much it will gain).
The top 15 job-losing states, as measured by jobs lost as a share of both the total employment and the share of residents under age 65, are Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia.
Monetary policy is unlikely to be able to provide an expansionary boost to economic activity anywhere near large enough to counteract the significant fiscal contraction posed by ACA repeal, even in 2019. Thus, any claims that any ACA job losses would be neutralized by countervailing Federal Reserve policy are unconvincing.
States can also be ranked by their relative income burden stemming from ACA repeal. This relative burden measure looks at gains stemming from tax cuts minus losses stemming from spending cuts, scaled to each state’s share of the under-65 population. This population is chosen as our scalar because the coverage expansions of the ACA were aimed entirely at the under-65 population (as the 65 and over population is covered by America’s large single-payer health system, Medicare). Generally, states that took up the ACA Medicaid expansion see a higher relative burden, as they have more to lose from repeal. Additionally, states with a low share of national top 1 percent households will also see a higher relative burden, as they will receive lower-than-average benefits from the tax cuts embedded in ACA repeal.
While states that never took up the Medicaid expansions that were part of ACA generally face a lower relative burden from repeal, it is important to note that these same states benefit disproportionately from the insurance premium and cost-sharing subsidies of the ACA. Overall, insurance premium and cost-sharing subsidies are roughly 0.4 percent of non-expansion states’ gross domestic product (GDP), while they are roughly 0.15 percent of GDP in expansion states.
Yesterday Senate committees voted in favor of confirming Rick Perry, 17-6, Ryan Zinke, 16-6, and Betsy DeVos, 12-11 (all Democrats voting NO), but the Senate Finance Committee couldn't vote on Mnuchin and Price because the Republicans couldn't muster a quorum-- all Democrats, citing lies from both nominees to the committee, boycotted the sessions. That was a great strategy from Sherrod Brown but how long will the Democrats stick with it?

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee used a procedural tactic-- courtesy of Mazie Hirono (D-HI)-- to delay a committee vote on Sessions' confirmation recommendation. Apparently, they'll be voting this morning instead. The arbitrary firing of Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, a woman of integrity and character, doesn't sit well with many who are very worried that Sessions will be a puppet-- and worse-- for a deranged and authoritarian president who has no respect-- in fact has nothing but contempt-- for the rule of law.

By the way, for those keeping track, Democratic senators who voted for Zinke: Ron Wyden (OR), Joe Manchin (WV), Martin Heinrich (NM), Catherine Cortez Masto (NV) and Angus King (ME). And voting with the GOP for Rick Perry were Debbie Stabenow (MI), Joe Manchin (WV), Catherine Cortez Masto (NV) and Angus King (ME).

The full Senate voted 93-6 to confirm Mitch McConnell's "wife," Elaine Chao as the Secretary of Education. McConnell didn't have the decency to recuse himself. The 6 Democrats who dissented were stalwart resisters Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Jeff Merkley plus 3 self-serving, untrustworthy symbolic resisters-- Chuck Schumer, Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand.

Amidst rumors that Andrew Puzder no longer wants to be Labor Secretary and is trying to get Trump to let him off the hook, the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee has postponed a vote on his ill-starred confirmation for the 4th time. (He hasn't filed his financial disclosure paperwork yet, prompting many to wonder what he and Trump are hiding when Puzder is already known as a complete scumbag who companies have thrived became of his serial violations of labor standards. His February 7th hearing was cancelled yesterday and no new date was set.

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At 6:13 AM, Anonymous Hone said...

The disgusting crap keeps on rolling. What are the chances the Dems will actually stop any of this? At least Schumer and Gillibrand did the right thing. I'll take it!

At 10:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As noted, the scummer nay was symbolic. In fact, all democraps on all committees could vote no and each would still pass to the full senate -- because Ds could not manage to win/keep the senate in an election against trump!!!

The fact that only some Ds vote nay on some noms is stark in its open proof of corruption, betrayal and/or stupidity.

At 10:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

WHEN mnuchin is confirmed, voters should all thank obamanation and the cali ag... because he should be in prison. The fact that he is not is due to both not prosecuting a slam-dunk fraud case for the sake of donations.

At 1:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Anon @ 10:51 AM:

Just for completeness sake, that is "the cali ag..." who is now in the senate and voting on M's nomination!?!

John Puma

At 12:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Next question?

At 12:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to be clear, my "No" was in reference to the title of the article and not Kamala Harris selling out the homeowners of America. She is now in the Senate and voting on Mnuchin, which is likely her reward from her corporate masters.

At 7:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

John, yes, that was the reference.


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