Lower Cape activists form ‘Indivisible’ group by Lee Roscoe. Published April 7th by the Cape Codder.
Bill # H.R. 1627
Bill Name: Small Business Assistance Act
Legislature – Federal
House – House
Sponsors – Rep. Jack Bergman (R–MI)(with 22 co-sponsors, including Rep. Keating)
Where is it now? House – Judiciary Committee, referred to subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security
Stakeholders – Businesses nationwide which rely on the H2B visa program for seasonal workers.
Why do we care? On March 16, 2017, the government announced that the H2B Visa cap had been met for summer workers. HR 1627 would exempt returning workers from this cap.
How does it meet our stated objective? Congress will be voting on the “Returning Workers Exemption” (RWE) (Section 2 of HR 1627) within the next few weeks. If the bill is not passed, it will hurt not just the Cape Cod economy but temporary jobs nationwide.
Local Impact? Cape Cod businesses who rely on H2B visa workers will be negatively impacted, which could mean the loss the Americans’s jobs, too.
Possible Action: Call/write/text Congressman Keating to thank him for co-sponsoring this legislation. Not in his district? Call/write/text your Representative and Senators to implore them to get this bill passed. NOW.
Bill # H.R. 781 (S 264)
Bill Name: Free Speech Fairness Act
Legislature – Federal
House – House & Senate
Sponsors – Rep Scalise (R–LA)(with 53 cosponsors)
Senate Sponsor – Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) Co-Sponsors (3): Sen Rand Paul, Ted Cruz & Roy Blunt
Where is it now? House – Ways & Means Comm., Kevin Brady, (R-TX), Chair
Senate – Finance Comm, Orrin Hatch, (R-UT) Chair
Stakeholders – All 501(c)(3) organizations, e.g. religious, charitable, large foundations
Why do we care? This bill would eliminate the “Johnson Amendment” which prevents tax-exempt orgs from endorsing political campaigns.
The Johnson Amendment is narrowly tailored to restrict charitable organizations’ ability to engage in direct political activity. It does not restrict their free speech or capacity to participate in public policy. Charitable organizations remain able to advocate around mission-driven issues that impact our communities and our nation.
Trump has sworn to “totally destroy” this Amendment.
This would allow groups to put forward a faith driven political platform; it would make religious orgs as well as large charitable foundations able to act in the same manner as SuperPacs do now. Although the bill says that the orgs expenses must be minimal, interpretation of this stipulation is suspect.
How does it meet our stated objective? If this bill passes, a progressive initiative will be even more difficult.
“Charitable organizations are among the most trusted entities in the United States,” said Allison Grayson, director of policy development and analysis at Independent Sector. “That public trust demands that 501(c)(3) public charities remain above the political fray, advocating and informing policymakers but not engaging in partisan political activity.”
“Charities and religious organizations are rightly insulated from partisan manipulation under current law,” said Emily Peterson-Cassin, Bright Lines Project coordinator at Public Citizen. “Politicizing the charitable sector would harm the community trust that those organizations have worked over decades to build.”
Local Impact? Impact will be nation wide. Most Americans agree this is a terrible idea.
Possible Action: Call/Write Committee Chairmen; your Representative, asking about their potential vote.
Chronic illness is difficult to deal with, and it is important to make sure drugs for chronic conditions are affordable for people who need them. A recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that more than three-quarters of Americans believe that prescription drug costs are unreasonable. Another Kaiser survey found that one-fourth of people who take prescription drugs are having trouble affording their medication, and nearly 10 percent admit to delaying or foregoing prescription drugs due to cost.
Americans who rely on prescription drugs can expect no help from the Trump administration. In fact, after meeting with big pharma execs and lobbyists in January, President Trump backed off a pledge to enable Medicare to negotiate bulk discounts in prescription drug prices, instead opting for lower taxes and fewer regulations to somehow magically lower prices. This flip-flop is hardly surprising, given the power of big pharm lobbyists in Washington. The top three recipients of funds awarded by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are drug companies: #1 Merck ($811,944,624), #2 Pfizer ($502,359,743), #3 GlaxoSmithKline ($368,400,268). The total is about $1.7 billion! In addition, HHS Secretary Tom Price opposes price negotiations with big pharma. Not coincidentally, he took $165,000 in campaign contributions from companies and individuals in the pharmaceuticals industry last year.
To help lower the skyrocketing costs of drugs, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Bob Casey (D-Penn), and Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Md) and Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) have introduced companion bills in the Senate and House to allow U.S. citizens to buy safe, low-cost drugs from Canada and other countries. The Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act (S 469, HR 1245) directs the HHS secretary to begin allowing the importation of affordable and safe drugs from Canada and other countries by wholesale distributors, pharmacies, and individuals within two years. “In Canada and other major countries, the same medications, manufactured by the same companies, in the same factories are available for a fraction of the price compared to the United States. In 2014, Americans spent $1,112 per person on prescription drugs while Canadians spent $772 and Danes spent $325. While five major drug manufacturers made more than $50 billion in profits in 2015, nearly 1 in 5 American adults could not afford the medicine they were prescribed,” the lawmakers explained in a press release.
Ready to ACT? Call or write: House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Greg Walden (R-Ore.), House Health Subcommittee Chair Joseph Pitts (R-Pa.), and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) to push the committee to take up the two bills.
Bill: H.R. 1245 and S 469– Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act
Federal Legislature – House & Senate
Sponsor: Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) (House), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (Senate)
Where is it now? House Committee on Energy and Commerce
Stake holders: All residents of our 50 states who hold a valid prescription.
Why do we care? The top three recipients of funds awarded by the federal government through the Department of Health and Human Services are drug companies: #1 Merck ($811,944,624.), #2 Pfizer ($502,359,743.), #3 GlaxoSmithKline ($368,400,268) Total is about $1.7 billion! In addition, Tom Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services, opposes price negotiations with big pharmaceutical companies. He is under the influence of pharmaceutical lobbyists who received $244,095,383 in 2016 alone. (https://www.opensecrets.org/)
Illness is difficult to deal with and it is important to make sure high cost drugs for chronic conditions are affordable for people who need them. This bill aims to allow competition from foreign drug sellers to give us access to better and cheaper life-saving drugs.
In a 2015 health care poll, The Kaiser Family Foundation reported that 76% of Americans chose reducing the cost of drugs for the chronically ill as their top priority. The second most popular choice was government action to lower prescription drug prices.
How does it meet our stated objective? ACA continues to offer affordable health care to all who need it. President #45 put it out to the Democrats that he would need their help to fix it since AHCA was pulled before it could go to a vote. We never know the truth of his statements but if our elected officials get behind this bill, there would be more competition among drug companies and prescriptions could become more affordable for all and the big pharmaceutical companies could be forced to stop price fixing.
Local Impact: The cost of living on Cape Cod runs as high as 54% above the national average as reported by the Barnstable County Department of Human Services.
Cape Cod has a large elderly population living on pensions and social security. The high cost of prescriptions lowers their standard of living and makes them sicker if they can’t afford the drugs they need.
A 2013 report found 19,538 people on Cape Cod live at or below the federal poverty level. Many young families must rely on assistance and subsidies to receive medical prescriptions.
Possible Action: Continue to track this bill. Call your local representatives to support the bill. Call Tom Price at the Department of Health and Human Services: Phone Number: 202-690-7000
http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/1/31/14453740/trump-medicare-prescription-drugs “New drugs are generally covered by patent monopolies, so drug companies have a lot of pricing power; other companies can’t produce the same drug without paying royalties, so there’s little competition. But most countries use their nationalized health care systems to negotiate a good deal on drug prices. Manufacturing pills is cheap, so it’s usually still profitable for a company to sell medicine at a pretty steep discount.”
http://time.com/money/4462919/prescription-drug-prices-too-high/Five Reasons Prescription Drugs are So High in the U.S. (August 23, 2016)
- Drug manufacturers in the U.S. set their own prices, and that’s not the norm elsewhere in the world.
- We allow “government-protected monopolies” for certain drugs, preventing generics from coming to market to reduce prices.
- The FDA takes a long time to approve generic drugs.
- Sometimes, state laws and other “well-intentioned” federal policies limit generics’ abilities to keep costs down.
- Drug prices aren’t really justified by Research &Development.
https://www.usaspending.gov USA spending.gov is the publicly accessible, searchable website mandated by the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 to give the American public access to information on how their tax dollars are spent.
- Joshua Green, Bloomberg News, October 8, 2015 “This Man Is the Most Dangerous Political Operative in America.”
- Neil Howe, Washington Post.com March 28, 2017 “Where did Steve Bannon get his worldview? From my book .”
- Neil Howe and William Strauss, The Fourth Turning, An American Prophecy, Broadway Books,1997
- Sun Tzu, The Art of War, 448. B.C. reprinted 2005
- Robert Draper, NYT Magazine, 4/2/2017, “Trump vs. Congress”
Who he is: Permanent Member, National Security Council, and Chief Strategist to President Donald J. Trump
Why it matters: In his position at the seat of power, Bannon is poised to carry out his beliefs in the necessity for destruction of the old order in order to usher in the new.
How he intends to do it: He tries to place unimportant but dramatic sounding information at the top of the news to sow confusion and to distract us, while quietly and as quickly as possible in the background, he is methodically carrying out actions such as canceling regulations from the Obama era, reducing the size of agencies such as the EPA and the Health & Human Services, and Education ,by firing and not replacing staff and by increasing the Defense Department at the expense of the State Department. This moves more power over international relations from the State Department to the Presidency, and centers more power over the Military in the presidency as well .In the end this would tend to develop a stronger, more authoritarian, militaristic and more isolationist government.
At the same time, with Bannon’s guidance, Trump consistently decries news from most trusted American sources as “fake news” in order to taint such sources as lies. Why?
The press is traditionally known as “The Fourth Estate,” i.e. the 4th branch of government in a democracy because without a free press you do not have a democracy. Without a free press, a dictatorship could conceivably control all three official branches.
What does our free press do? They are actually exposing Trump’s failures and his lies. During the 2016 election and beyond he has had some success in convincing a good chunk of the American public to believe in Fox news, Breitbart and various alt right sources rather than network news, the NYT, the New Yorker, the ‘Washington Post, the WSJ, and other traditional sources.
Where did he come from???
Steve Bannon grew up in a blue-collar working class family near the Naval Base in Norfolk, VA . He signed with the Navy out of college, spent 4 years at sea aboard a destroyer, then served as a navigator in the north Arabian Sea in the Iranian hostage crisis. Bannon became a special assistant to the chief of Naval Operations at the Pentagon, earned an MA in National Securities Studies at Georgetown at night. Navy photos show a dashing, fit young sailor hard to recognize in the Bannon of today with his unshaven appearance and sloppy attire.
After the Navy, and eager now to go to Wall Street, Bannon was advised to go first to Harvard Business School, so he did, working very hard, achieving honors, but he failed to get a summer job on Wall Street,. His fellow students told him he hadn’t come up through the right schools. But then, cleverly chatting with some Goldman Sachs executives outside a campus tent, Bannon made a hit, and got himself a permanent job at Goldman Sachs. In his Goldman Sachs years Bannon continued to be fit, well groomed and well dressed .
After several satisfying years at Goldman Sachs, Bannon eventually headed for Hollywood -he used his considerable financial skills to arrange banking for filmmakers, and fortunately was able to pick up ownership stakes himself in Seinfeld syndicated reruns, and then was off to make his own films, such as In the Face of Evil, a Reagan-venerating documentary.
Soon Bannon developed a relationship with kindred spirit Andrew Breitbart, who was modeling his website after the Drudge Report. After Breitbart’s sudden death, Bannon relaunched the website himself. He worked with others to discredit the Clintons with films such as Clinton Cash. Later his creative movie-making stood him in good stead when he had the chance “to create” a president in 2016.
Both Breitbart and Bannon understood better than most that many voters are not as eager to learn the facts as they are to experience the excitement of absorbing ongoing drama.
During the 2016 presidential campaign Bannon acted behind the scenes to promote Trump’s America First policy, espousing what he calls “economic nationalism” which often performs more like “White Christian Nationalism” and anti-Muslimism because he promoted the necessity of closing the borders to provide safety from the dangers caused by “radical Islamic terrorists.”
During one Hillary Clinton-Donald Trump debate In the 2016 campaign, it was Bannon who was audacious enough to call upon his experience attacking the Clintons in the “90s by placing onstage three female witnesses to Bill Clinton’s sexual adventures.
His prospects for success or failure
From Neil Howe, co-author with William Strauss of The Fourth Turning
“I wrote that book with William Strauss back in 1997. Where did Steve Bannon get his worldview? From my book.”
Howe goes on: “It is true that Bannon is enthralled by it.”
Howe tells that he worked with him on Bannon’s documentary film Generation Zero that is based on Howe and Strauss’s theories in The Fourth Turning-ie. that history in America unfolds in a recurring cycle of four generation-long eras, with a time of crisis called The Fourth Turning. in which the old order is destroyed so the new order can emerge.
Howe also worked with Bannon on other films. He says he never told Bannon what to think but Howe does admit to providing Bannon with the insight that populism, nationalism and state-run authoritarianism would soon be on the rise here and around the world.
Howe insists that the book merely predicts a cyclical, rather than a linear or chaotic view of social time and that events TEND to recur in a cyclical order.
Howe finds that the reporting on the book has been” absurdly apocalyptic” and that the headlines this month have been alarming. e.g.:
‘Steve Bannon’s obsession with a dark theory of history should be worrisome.’ (Business Insider)
‘Steve Bannon Believes The Apocalypse is Coming and War Is Inevitable’ (the Huffington Post)
‘Steve Bannon Wants To Start World War III’ (The Nation).”
For us now, it worth understanding how Steve Bannon might want to implement the Fourth Turning cyclical theory of history.
Howe says, “The Fourth Turning is a ‘Crisis’ period when our institutional life is reconstructed from the ground up ,always in response to an urgent threat. If history fails to produce such a threat, Fourth Turning leaders will invariably find one, and may even fabricate one-to mobilize collective action.
Without being specific,, Bannon has stated his wish’ to tear it all down” so as to rebuild .He has shared his enthusiasm for the destruction of the old order so as to make room for the new. Specifically, Trump has certainly turned his cabinet upside down, asked for huge increases in the military budget, while reducing the budget of the State department. This, of course, creates a more hostile approach to other nations, and reduces the funds intended for better relations among nations. He has appointed to head the EPA an admitted foe of environmental regulations, and slashed their budget. He has appointed to the HCA an enemy of our health care law. To date Congress has admitted its failure to repeal the ACA and pulled the bill, a serious defeat for President Trump.
It has already come to pass that some of Trump’s attempted cancellations of Obama-era regulations may fail because of safeguards put in under the Obama administration precisely because they foresaw such problems should Trump come into office. There are protections built in and considerable support from the states, especially California, to preserve environmental safeguards.
Bannon is certainly very bright. and creative. But he is not immune to poor judgment . He likes to make bold moves, to take huge risks, which do not always pay off. Despite his deriding of news as fake, he showed his fear of the press by the firing of Flynn so quickly. He is really afraid of the MSM after all. It is not so easy to get rid of real news. The USA is still a democracy and still has a free press.
It has been suggested that Trump could be turned against Bannon, if he sees that others view him as Bannon’s puppet.
So, at the seat of power we have an impetuous narcissist who tweets carelessly, and hardly reads at all with a close adviser who is extremely articulate and well-read. Together they are facing many in their own Republican ranks who mistrust them and their motives. Trump/Bannon efforts have already failed on several counts. So all is not lost!
Of course we should keep careful track of the various House and Senate bills, and respond regularly to our Reps and Senators about them, and to contact the media, including letters to editors.