Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said premiums for a so-called “benchmark” silver plan will drop by 2 percent in the 39 states served by the federal HealthCare.gov website.
REAL NEWS PRESIDENT TRUMP DOESN’T WANT YOU TO MISS
Confirm Brett Kavanaugh
–The Wall Street Journal
“Judge Kavanaugh was right to call the confirmation process a ‘disgrace’ in his passionate self-defense,” The Wall Street Journal editorial board writes. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s “allegation should have been vetted privately, in confidence, as she said she would have preferred. Instead ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein held it for six weeks and it was leaked—perhaps to cause precisely such a hearing circus.”
As for Judge Kavanaugh, his self-defense was as powerful and emotional as the moment demanded. If he was angry at times, imagine how you would feel if you were so accused and were innocent as he says he is. To deny the allegations as he did—invoking his children and parents and so many others who know him—and be lying would mean that he is a sociopath. If he were found to be lying, he would be impeached and probably prosecuted. Nothing in his long record in public life betrays the kind of behavior he is accused of against women.
Had he not been as forceful, his opponents would have said he looked guilty. Because he called the Democrats out for their character assassination, the critics now say he lacks the right temperament. The truth is that there is no answer, and no demeanor, that Brett Kavanaugh could offer that the left would credit. Their goal isn’t the truth. They want to destroy Judge Kavanaugh.
Senate Republicans should understand that these are the real political stakes. This nomination isn’t only about the fate of a single man whose reputation can be discarded like some tabloid celebrity. This is about the future of the Supreme Court and who will control the Senate.But as important, a rejection will bring dishonor to the Senate. It will validate the ambush and smear politics that Democrats are using. And it will turn Supreme Court nominations over to the justice of the social-media mob and the politics of accusation. It’s time for Senators to stand up and confirm Brett Kavanaugh.
Consumer Confidence Rises to Highest Level in 18 Years
“Consumer confidence rose in September, notching its highest level in about 18 years. The Conference Board’s index rose to 138.4 this month from 134.7 in August,” Fred Imbert reports. “Consumers’ assessment of current conditions remains extremely favorable, bolstered by a strong economy and robust job growth,” said Lynn Franco, the Conference Board’s director of economic indicators.
The Conference Board also said optimism about the short-term outlook improved considerably this month, with 27.6 percent of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months; that’s up from 24.4 percent in August.
Trump Addresses U.N. General Assembly: We Choose ‘Independence’ Over ‘Global Governance’
–The Washington Free Beacon
“President Donald Trump spoke about globalism and national sovereignty in a speech before the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday,” Jeffrey Cimmino writes. “I honor the right of every nation in this room to pursue its own customs, beliefs and traditions. The United States will not tell you how to live, work or worship. We only ask that you honor our sovereignty in return,” the President said.
The president added that Americans “reject the ideology of globalism and accept the ideology of patriotism.”
Trump called out Iran for its destabilizing activities in the Middle East, and its lack of respect for national sovereignty.
“Iran’s leaders sow chaos, death and disruption. They do not respect their neighbors, borders or the sovereign rights of nations. Instead, they plunder the nation’s resources to enrich themselves and to spread mayhem across the Middle East and far beyond,” he said.
Trump also defended his decision to bring the United States out of “the horrible 2015 Iran nuclear deal and re-impose nuclear sanctions.”
“The Iran deal was a windfall for Iran’s leaders,” he said. “In the year since the deal has been reached, the military budget grew nearly 40 percent. The dictatorship used the funds to build nuclear capable missiles, increase internal repression, finance terrorism and fund havoc and slaughter in Syria and Yemen.”
The president continued by calling for support to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
“We ask all nations to isolate Iran’s regime as long as its aggression continues and we ask all nations to support Iran’s people as they struggle to reclaim their religious and righteous destiny,” he said.
Trump’s speech also brought into sharp relief the difference between now and a year ago in terms of the U.S posture toward North Korea. Last year before the U.N., he threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea if the U.S. had to defend itself, and he dubbed its dictator Kim Jong Un “Little Rocket Man” for his belligerent rhetoric and illicit nuclear program.
Since then, Trump and Kim have met in Singapore, where they pledged to seek denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Trump has said he expects to have another summit with Kim soon, although international watchdogs have stated North Korea hasn’t backed off development of its nuclear program.
Trump touted the administration’s steps toward peace with North Korea and thanked member states for their assistance; part of getting North Korea to the table was an aggressive, global sanctions regime.
“Since that meeting, we have already seen a number of encouraging measures that few could have imagined, only a short time ago,” he said. “The missiles and rockets are no longer flying in every direction. Nuclear testing has stopped. Some military facilities are already being dismantled. Our hostages have been released, and as promised, the remains of our fallen heroes are being returned home.”
Trump also said the U.S. would not return to the Human Rights Council without significant reforms and called on the nations of the world to resist socialism and the “misery” it brings, citing the Venezuela crisis and hardline, left-wing government of Nicolas Maduro.
Trump, at UN General Assembly, Signs Major Trade Deal with South Korea, Reveals Possible Kim Jong Un Meeting ‘Soon’
“President Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in signed a major agreement of Trump’s trade agenda Monday, on a busy day at the U.N. General Assembly,” Frank Miles reports. “This agreement will reduce bureaucracy and increase prosperity in both of our countries. Workers in South Korea and America will find new customers and new opportunities to expand and grow,” President Trump said,“Our teams will be working hard to ensure that the terms of the deal are fully implemented.”
He said U.S. automobiles, pharmaceuticals and agricultural products will gain better access to Korean markets.
“I think our farmers are going to be extremely happy. It was very limited as to what they could do and what they could send, and now it’s an open market,” Trump added. “That makes me feel very good. I love our farmers.”
Moon said companies from both countries will be able to do business under more stable conditions. The South Korean leader also said he hopes the revised agreement with the U.S. will help solidify their cooperation in other areas.
Moon said: “I’m hopeful that this will provide us with a platform, upon which our bilateral economic ties will be elevated to a higher level, in a freer, fairer and more mutually beneficial direction.”
During his appearance with Moon, Trump also raised hopes at the United Nations on Monday that a second meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un could happen soon, striking a conciliatory tone one year after he used his debut at the U.N. to deride the autocrat as “Little Rocket Man” and threaten to “totally destroy North Korea.”
Trump praised Kim as “very open” and “terrific,” despite the glacial pace of progress toward denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.
The softer tone toward the erstwhile pariah state of North Korea — once threatened with “fire and fury” — has been replaced by rosy optimism, with Trump reserving tough rhetoric for another potential nuclear aspirant and strategic foe: Iran.
“It was a different world,” Trump said Monday of his one-time moniker for the North Korean leader. “That was a dangerous time. This is one year later, a much different time.”
Trump also praised Egypt for doing an “outstanding job” in the fight against terrorism.
Trump told Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi on Monday that the fight is “not easy,” but his country is “at the forefront.”
El-Sissi replied that Egypt will be able to eliminate terrorism with Trump’s support. El-Sissi said it’s an obligation Trump has made clear.
Trump told el-Sissi, “We will work with you, and we will go all the way.”
Trump to UN: ‘We Commit to Fighting the Drug Epidemic Together’
“President Trump vowed Monday to work with the United Nations and its member countries to fight drug trafficking and addiction across the globe,” CBS News reports. “U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres applauded Mr. Trump for ‘focusing a global spotlight on the world drug problem,’ adding, ‘we have never needed it more.’”Sharing intelligence among member states, he said, will help the crackdown, and Guterres urged U.N. members to work together to deny safe haven to drug traffickers, pursue kingpins and dismantle their networks.
Despite campaign promises and a high-level focus on international drug trafficking, Mr. Trump has slashed the U.S. counter-narcotics budget by cutting back on personnel at the State Department and other agencies who fight the international drug trade.
“One of the clearest constraints imposed by these cuts is on our ability to counter global threats, including narcotics,” Brett Bruen, a former White House official who now teaches at Georgetown University, told CBS News.
The Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction noted that the U.S. has spent $8.6 billion to fight drug trafficking in Afghanistan since 2002, yet the country remains the world’s largest opium producer.
Opening the president’s week at the U.N. with the counter-narcotics event gave a positive start to his presence at the world body as it is one of the rare areas where the vast majority of U.N. members are on the same side as the United States.
The president voiced unusual support for the world body, telling the conference, “I’ve always said the United Nations has tremendous potential, and that potential is being met. Slowly but surely, it’s being met.”
Mr. Trump will address the General Assembly’s 193 member nations Tuesday morning and chair a Security Council meeting Wednesday, his first time wielding the U.N. gavel. Mr. Trump is also scheduled to hold one-on-one meetings with the leaders of South Korea, Egypt, France, Israel, Japan and the U.K.
“It’s sort of like speed dating,” Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said last week of the president’s schedule.
Trump Health Chief: Premiums to Drop for Popular ACA Plan
–The Associated Press
“Premiums for a popular type of ‘silver’ health plan under the Affordable Care Act will edge downward next year in most states, the Trump administration’s health chief announced Thursday,” Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar reports. “Azar’s numbers were in line with a broader independent analysis earlier this month by Avalere Health and The Associated Press, which found premiums and markets stabilizing nationwide.”
The number of marketplace insurers will grow for the first time since 2015, he added.
Azar’s numbers were in line with a broader independent analysis earlier this month by Avalere Health and The Associated Press, which found premiums and markets stabilizing nationwide. But his claim that the Trump administration deserves credit for “Obamacare’s” turnabout was quickly challenged.”The president who was supposedly trying to sabotage the Affordable Care Act has proven better at managing it than the president who wrote the law,” Azar bragged in his speech to a health policy group in Nashville. Azar cited regulatory actions to improve the inner workings of the ACA marketplaces and increase consumer choice among insurance plans that don’t comply with health law rules.
Reacting to Azar’s claims, Larry Levitt of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation said it’s likely that premiums for 2019 would have gone down even more but for other administration actions last year that roiled the markets.
Those included President Donald Trump’s abrupt cancellation of a major stream of payments to insurers — which triggered sharp 2018 premium increases. Also, Trump and congressional Republicans spent much of last year in a fruitless quest to repeal “Obamacare,” with the president repeatedly pronouncing it “dead.”
“The premium stability on tap for 2019 is primarily because insurers overshot with their premium increases for this year, reacting to an environment of tremendous uncertainty,” Levitt said.
Under the design of the ACA, premium increases automatically boost taxpayer-provided subsidies to consumers. Big premium increases last year allowed many insurers to return to profitability as subsidies flowed from federal coffers. The average total premium for an individual covered under the health law is now close to $600 a month.
In previous election years, health law premiums have provided plenty of material for Republican attack ads. That issue has been taken away this year by market stability. Instead the debate has shifted to Democratic charges that the Trump administration and Republicans want to undermine the ACA’s protections for people with pre-existing health conditions.
Azar’s speech also took aim at the “Medicare for All” national health plan sought by Sen. Bernie Sanders, saying it would undermine access for seniors and pile huge costs on taxpayers.
The Trump administration is stepping up its criticism of the Vermont senator’s plan as many Democratic candidates in the midterm elections voice support for his vision of a government-run health care system.
“The main thrust of ‘Medicare for All’ is giving you a new government plan and taking away your other choices,” Azar said.
How Trump Rescued Our Economy from Obama’s ‘New Normal’
–The Daily Signal
“It’s hard to believe that just two short years ago, our economy was limping along with no sign of a massive boom around the corner. Beyond any shadow of a doubt, the pivotal factor in the last two years has been President Donald Trump,” Michael Busler writes.
By the end of 2017, Trump had convinced Congress to cut income taxes for all Americans, including those who supply capital: high income-earners and corporations. Since April of this year, the economy has been booming at a rate of more than 4 percent.
That growth has driven down underemployment, increased the proportion of Americans in the labor force, increased the number of part-time employees finding full-time work, boosted wages, and reduced the unemployment rate overall.
This all will lead to ever higher incomes for families. The real median income is set to hit a record level by the end of 2018.
Some have said that most of the growth will affect the highest income-earners. Whatever benefit they are getting (and they are certainly getting a lot), the facts are plain and simple: Over 700 companies have boosted wages, given bonuses and other benefits to their employees because of tax reform.
As President John F. Kennedy said, “A rising tide will lift all boats.” It’s happening. Why would we try anything else?
“The real median income is set to hit a record level by the end of 2018.”
Nikki Haley: John Kerry’s Secret Talks with Iran are ‘Anti-American’
“U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley charged Wednesday that former Secretary of State John Kerry’s ongoing talks with Iran are ‘anti-American,’” as they undermine U.S. diplomacy, Pete Kasperowicz reports. “What Secretary Kerry did was not only disrespectful, it was hurtful to America,” Ambassador Haley said.
Kerry has admitted he stays in touch with Iran’s foreign minister, with whom he worked to secure the Iran nuclear deal that President Trump has rejected. Kerry has insisted he is not “coaching” Iran on how to deal with a Trump administration that they both oppose, but Trump has said Kerry’s meetings are “illegal” and aimed at hurting the American people.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said the meetings were “beyond inappropriate.”
Kerry defended himself by saying former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger continues to meet with his former counterparts overseas years after he left office. But Haley said Kissinger communicates to the Trump administration what he is doing, while Kerry does not.
“Secretary Kerry… we didn’t know that conversation happened. We didn’t know what he was doing,” she said.