Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Two More Trump Nightmares Ready For Confirmation-- Pruitt And Price


The confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education last night was a real blow to the Resistance. She's venal and unqualified and she has a toxic agenda that seeks to destroy public education. But Trump has even worse nominees still waiting to be confirmed. After just one Democrat, Joe Manchin, broke ranks and voted with every fucking Republican for cloture, Jeff Sessions as Attorney General is a fait accompli. Labor Secretary-designee Puzder is so mired in corruption that he may never even make it to a full hearing and one gets the feeling he may wish Trump would let him off the hook.

That leaves two especially odious characters, Scott Pruitt for EPA and Tom Price, the monster tasked with destroying the American health care system-- first Obamacare, then Medicaid and finally Medicare. The Republicans actually want to abolish the EPA altogether. As Raul Grijalva reminded his supporters this week, "If you were born after 1970, you have never lived in the U.S. without the protections and standards of the Environmental Protection Agency." Like me, Raul was born before 1970 and wrote that he's "seen what happens when corporations have free reign to pollute our air, water and public lands at the expense of our environment and public health." He doesn't want to see that again, ergo- his alarm about Scott Pruitt (who is being sued himself right now for denying public access to polluter emails).
Pruitt-- Trump's pick to lead the EPA-- has bragged about suing, trashing, and manipulating the agency he's now supposed to lead. Pruitt regularly sued to block nearly every pollution and climate change regulation and he has lied about his deep ties to fossil fuel industry executives.

And now Republicans in Congress have introduced legislation to do away with the Environmental Protection Agency altogether. The EPA is under attack and we need to stand together to fight back.

So much of what we take for granted is directly related to the work of the EPA-- like having clean drinking water or breathing air free from pollution. Before the creation of the EPA, air and water pollution was a pervasive problem in this country, causing serious health risks for millions of Americans.

Without environmental protections in place, corporations will once again have the freedom to dump harmful chemicals in our water supply and pump dangerous pollutants into our air.

That's why I am so concerned by the Trump administration's plans to repeal the EPA's Clean Power Plan, a historic and important policy to reduce carbon pollution and address climate change. Trump has also threatened to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement and open federal lands to oil and gas drilling... Defending our progress over the next four years is going to be hard work. But if we come together to stand up for our values and our environment, our children and grandchildren will be able to enjoy the clean water, air and land they deserve.
The Republican Senate (+ Joe Manchin), in confirming Pruitt, is going to make that just all that much harder. He sounds like a complete horror, right? Tom Price is probably even worse! And he'll be confirmed too-- even though it isn't likely he'll get a single Democratic vote. Even too horrible for Manchin, McCaskill, Donnelly or Heitkamp!

In an OpEd for the NY Times David Leonhardt took Price's nomination apart, dubbing the corrupt right-wing screwball Dr. Personal Enrichment. He pointed out that statistics and surveys show that the most highly paid sector of medical doctors, orthopedists-- like Price-- "suffer from a professional culture that does not live up to medicine’s highest ideals. Too many orthopedists are rich and think it’s an injustice that they’re not richer. This culture helped shape Dr. Tom Price, the orthopedic surgeon and Georgia congressman who is Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of health and human services." Anyone who's followed Price's career well knows it's been entirely based on rapaciousness and unadulterated greed and selfishness.
Price had a thriving practice near Atlanta before being elected to Congress in 2004. His estimated net worth of more than $10 million (and possibly a lot more) makes him one of the House’s wealthier members.

Yet he hasn’t been content to make money in the standard ways. He has also pushed, and crossed, ethical boundaries. Again and again, Price has mingled his power as a congressman with his desire to make money.

So far, the nominee receiving the most attention is Betsy DeVos, Trump’s choice for education secretary, and she definitely deserves scrutiny. Still, I think Democrats have made a mistake focusing so much on her rather than on Price. He could do more damage-- and his transgressions are worse than those that have defeated prior nominees.

Last March, Price announced his opposition to a sensible Medicare proposal to limit the money doctors could make from drugs they prescribe their patients. The proposal was meant to reduce doctors’ financial incentives to prescribe expensive drugs. (And, yes, if you’re bothered that your doctor has any stake in choosing one drug over another, you should be.)

One week after Price came out against the proposal, he bought stocks in six pharmaceutical companies that would benefit from its defeat, as Time Magazine reported. At the time, those same companies were lobbying Congress to block the change. They succeeded.

It’s a pattern, too. Price has put the interests of drug companies above those of taxpayers and patients-- and invested in those drug companies on the side.

Last year, he also bought shares in Zimmer Biomet, a maker of hip and knee implants. Six days later, according to CNN, he introduced a bill that would that have directly helped Zimmer.

In his defense, a spokesman for Price has said that his broker bought the Zimmer stock and Price didn’t find out until later. That’s certainly possible, but still not acceptable. Members of Congress bear responsibility for their personal stock transactions, period.

A third episode may be the worst. Price accepted a special offer from an Australian drug company to buy discounted shares, as the Wall Street Journal and Kaiser Health News reported.

He told the Senate that the offer was open to all investors, although fewer than 20 Americans actually received an invitation to buy at the discounted price. The stock has since jumped in value, and Price underreported the worth of his investment in his nomination filings. It was a “clerical error,” he says.

Even without any larger context, his actions are disqualifying. He’s repeatedly placed personal enrichment above the credibility of Congress. The behavior is substantially worse than giving money to an illegal immigrant (which defeated a George W. Bush nominee) or failing to pay nanny taxes (which scuttled a Bill Clinton nominee).

But of course there is a larger context. Price has devoted much of his political career opposing expansion of health insurance. His preferred replacement of Obamacare would reduce health care benefits for sicker, poorer and older Americans.

His views have a long history within the medical profession. For decades, doctors used their political clout to help block universal health insurance. They offered many rationales, but money was the main reason. Many doctors feared that a less laissez-faire health care system would reduce their pay.

It’s to the great credit of today’s doctors that they have moved their lobbying groups away from that position and helped extend insurance to some 20 million people. They understand that some principles matter more than a paycheck.

Or at least many of them do.

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At 6:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps Bernie is genuine. Maybe Liz is being genuine. But I truly believe that all the rest of the Democraps are posing here. I don't think any of them truly give a damn about who leads/destroys what as long as their corporate donors remain whole and keep donating. If manchin hadn't voted for cloture, any of the other 45 would have gladly. Their future 7 or 8 figure incomes depend on their willingness to do so.

Maybe my cynicism is slightly distorted... but not by much. And the sooner voters realize this and euthanize that cluster fuck of a party the sooner the left can maybe have a party that represents someone other than the .01% and the Nazis.

At 6:41 AM, Anonymous Hone said...

When some Americans say they are solid Republicans and proud of it, do they have any clue of the specifics their party stands for and the destructive plans and people they are pushing through Congress? Do they really want no EPA, no controls over drug safety, lousy public education, no Social Security or Medicare and corporate rule over people? How could anyone with a brain want any one this?

I just don't get it.

At 8:38 AM, Blogger Fiddlin Bill said...

Sounds like Anonymous has been reading Jill Stein's latest tweet. I call green troll.

At 9:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

FB, I don't do twitter so have no clue what Stein said. But I stand firm by my reading of the democraps. they've not proved me wrong in decades.

Hone, yes, they do actually want to destroy gummint. They equate living in an open sewer with corporate prosperity and, yeah, that's their mantra. Fuck everyone but vive le corporations.

And they LOOOOOOOOVE having a demagogic despot to 'pertekt and leed us/US frum the eevle of them fukkin libruls that ownly wanna lit n---ers fags and the rest roon are sewsyuhtee.'

You WON'T get it because you are a fully formed human being with the ability to think critically. Just like you won't understand why your 2-year-old wants to lick the outlets and eat dirt.

At 7:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sessions, worse by far than either of the shitstains in this article, was confirmed with manchin "crossing" to vote with the Rs.

I'm going to be pedantic here. Please don't mistake the near unanimity of the democraps (voting nay on sessions). As we've seen in spades since 2009, the democraps will look carefully at their whip count, make sure the money's people will be confirmed, then allow both rhetorical "resistance" and symbolic nays for members who still (feel the) need to wear the mask of a Democrat.

And lefty voters, ever the stupidest dumbfucktards on earth, will still believe that their senator or rep is an actual lefty.

manchin is from WV so he doesn't need to carry on that charade. WV voters are both dumbfucktards AND have no discernible lefty dna remaining.


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