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Boom: Best Economic Optimism in 16 years, 50% ‘Better Off’ Under President Trump

Economy-Jobs Report

“Public optimism in their personal economy has hit a 16-year high under President Trump, according to a new survey. Some 69 percent told Gallup that they expect their personal finances to be even better next year,” Paul Bedard reports for the Washington Examiner.

“What’s more, the survey company said that 50 percent believe they are ‘better off’ than just a year ago when the current economic surge was kicking in. . . Gallup said that is the first time the level has reach 50 percent since 2007.”

pmuw-epimkudabju-0t9cq.png“Americans’ optimism about their personal finances has climbed to levels not seen in more than 16 years, with 69 percent now saying they expect to be financially better off ‘at this time next year,'” said Gallup.

The highlights:

  • 69 percent expect their financial situation to improve over the next year.
  • Optimism about finances over the next year is almost at a record-high level.
  • 50 percent say they are in better shape financially than a year ago.

The president has been touting the economy and stock market recently, and Republicans are urging him to continue with policies like deregulation that can continue to feed growth.


While partisanship colors the view of Democrats and Republicans on their level of optimism, both expressed confidence in the future.

“For both Republicans and Democrats, results are more positive over the same time spans for the question asking about financial expectations for the coming year. Though Republicans’ expectations rose after Trump took office and Democrats became less optimistic, majorities from both parties said they expected to be better off in the coming year in both the pre-Trump-election polls and the post-Trump-inauguration ones,” said Gallup.

‘Impartial’ fact-checkers are revealing their partisanship against Trump

In the New York Post, David Harsanyi writes that “impartial” fact-checkers are revealing their blatant partisanship against President Trump. “With a veneer of impartiality, fact-checkers often engage in a uniquely dishonest style of partisanship. And State of Union coverage gave us an abundance of examples of how they do it.”

Hyper-precision fact-checking that creates the impression that a Republican is misleading the public: For this, take Politico’s insinuation that Donald Trump was lying to the public about abuse of women at the border. During the State of the Union, Trump claimed: “one in three women is sexually assaulted on the long journey north.” This contention is only “partly true,” according to Politico, because a “2017 report by Doctors Without Borders” found that only 31 percent of female migrants and 17 percent of male migrants said they had been actually abused while traveling through Mexico.

Whether Doctors Without Borders’ scary statistic is accurate is one thing. Trump, however, was being called out for asserting that “one in every three” illegal immigrants has been abused attempting to cross the border rather than “33.333 percent of women” — probably a rounding error in the poll. It is almost surely the case that every past president and every politician has used “one-third” or “one-half” rather than a specific fraction, and walked away without being fact-checked.

Fact-checking subjective political assertions: The New York Times provided a masterclass in bad-faith fact-checking by taking political contentions offered by the president and subjecting them to a supposed impartial test of accuracy. In his speech, Trump called the illegal border crossing “an urgent national crisis.” The New York Times says “this is false.” Why? Because illegal border crossings have been declining for two decades, they say. Customs and Border Protection agents, they go on to explain, had arrested around 50,000 people trying to illegally cross the southwestern border each of the last three months, which was only half of the arrests they had made in comparable months in the mid-2000s.

Even if those numbers are correct, there is no way to fact-check urgency. After all, a lessening crisis doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t a pressing one. We’ve seen a steep decline in gun violence over the past 30 years. Would the New York Times ever “fact-check” a Democrat who argued that gun violence was an “urgent crisis” of public safety? Of course not. But this fluctuating standard allows journalists to “fact-check” any subjective political contention they desire.

If I claim that socialism is the greatest threat to American freedom and prosperity, I may well be right. I may have a lot of historical and economic evidence to back up my assertion. You can argue that I’m wrong. You can lay out statistics that attempt to prove me wrong. You can call me crazy. But you can’t produce an unbiased “fact-check” establishing that my opinion is conclusively false. You’re just writing an op-ed piece.

Partisan talking point masquerading as a fact check: “FACT CHECK: President Trump praised the record number of women in Congress, but that’s almost entirely because of Democrats, not Trump’s party,” NPR tweeted, correcting the record on a statement that the president never made.

Here’s what Trump said: “And exactly one century after Congress passed the Constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote, we also have more women serving in Congress than at any time before. That’s great. Very great. And congratulations. That’s great.”

You can’t produce an unbiased ‘fact-check’ establishing that my opinion is conclusively false. You’re just writing an op-ed piece.

Trump was offering his rundown on the state of the union, not the Republican Party. It’s true that presidents take credit for all the good things that happen under their watch. Trump is no exception. In this rare case, however, Trump didn’t even take credit for electing the female politicians. In fact, he congratulated them after they broke out into cheers over his comment. Some people have argued that NPR’s piece was providing context to the president’s comment. Perhaps. Still, their nitpicking created the impression that somehow Trump had misled the public. He did not.

Fact-checking meant to obscure actual facts: The Washington Post’s fact-checking page offered a number of egregious examples of outright misinformation. In one of them, reporter Meg Kelly claimed that “Abortion legislation in New York wouldn’t do what Trump said.” There are a number of words in her post intimating that Trump lied about the New York and Virginia late-term abortion bills, but none of her words debunk Trump’s core contention. Ramesh Ponnuru has a good rundown here.

Here’s what Trump said: “Lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments before birth. These are living, feeling, beautiful, babies who will never get the chance to share their love and dreams with the world. And then, we had the case of the governor of Virginia where he stated he would execute a baby after birth.”

As I’ve noted before, the biggest clue that you’re about to read a deceptive fact check on the abortion issue is an author mentioning that “only” few abortions of viable babies take place. “Indeed,” Kelly writes, “only 1.3 percent of abortions — or about 8,500 a year — take place at or after 21 weeks, according to 2014 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Guttmacher Institute.” This number, as Ponnuru points out, is almost surely low. Whatever the case, Trump never claimed “most” abortions were post-20 weeks. Whether 8,500 or 15,000, thousands of viable babies are being aborted. No fact-checker would ever point out that only .0001 percent of legal gun owners commit crimes when talking about more firearm restrictions (and yes, that’s an approximation).

And yes, the president used a bit of rhetorical flourish to say that babies can be “ripped from the mother’s womb moments before birth” because, actually, they can be poisoned or dismembered in the mother’s womb moments before birth. Both the Virginia bill, which was tabled, and the New York law allow, just as Trump says (in his blunt language), for the termination of infants who survive the abortion procedure. Absolutely nothing in the Washington Post’s “fact check” debunks the president’s contention that in New York, and elsewhere, abortion on demand until crowning (and after) is now legal as long as the woman and a doctor decide that the baby is stressful in some way to the mother. How often it happens is up for debate. What the bill says is inarguable.

Fact-checking a truthful statement by demanding that Trump highlight information that has absolutely nothing to do with his contention: An astute reader points out this PBS fact-check of a Trump tweet from a couple of weeks ago. I’ve noticed this genre, as well. In it, the president points out that a reputable Marist/NPR/PBS Poll had shown that his approval rating among Latinos had risen to 50 percent, an increase of 19 percent over a year’s time. After confirming that, yes, Trump had been precise in his assertion regarding their poll, PBS spends around 700 words taking Trump to task for failing to highlight other negative information in the poll. Will this be a new standard for all politicians?

The state of American fact-checking is dreadfully misleading. There’s no reason for conservatives to give its authors the deference they seek.

Trump plan a big step forward in lowering drug costs

Trump plan a big step forward in lowering drug costs

In The Hill, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and health policy expert Joe DeSantis write that the Trump Administration’s plan to lower drug costs will “be a significant step toward fixing the health care system in America.” They explain that “not only will this plan save patients money at the pharmacy counter, it will begin to fix the broken economics of drug pricing that cause the huge increases in prices and out-of-pocket costs we have witnessed over the past decades.”

Current drug pricing structure is stuck in an escalating spiral of higher list prices (the sticker price of a drug) and decreasing transparency. The central dynamic fueling this vicious cycle is obvious: In this system, PBMs, whose job it is to negotiate drug discounts on behalf of payers such as insurers and large employers, benefit from higher list prices on drugs. This is precisely the opposite dynamic you would want if your goal is to lower prices.

The PBMs benefit from higher prices because they typically are paid based on how much money they can save their clients. In addition, they often negotiate additional rebates with the manufacturers that are largely invisible to the clients. The higher the list price of a drug, the steeper the discounts and rebates the PBMs can negotiate, and the more money they make.

This “spread model” of payment presents all sorts of problems. For example, it is usually the PBMs who choose which drugs are covered, and to what degree they are covered. Since they are paid more for negotiating bigger discounts, that means PBMs have an incentive to cover more expensive drugs with steeper discounts instead of cheaper drugs with smaller discounts.

In addition, the drug manufacturers understand the PBMs incentives, so they respond by constantly ratcheting up the list prices of drugs. This creates more negotiating space for both parties to make more money.

Of course, the savings from these discounts and rebates are ultimately supposed to be passed on to employers and patients in the form of lower insurance premiums. A significant portion of the savings might be — but there’s no way to tell.

The problem for patients is that the amount they pay out-of-pocket until they reach their annual deductible, and often even their co-insurance, is based on the list prices for the drugs rather than the discounted rates negotiated by the PBMs.

So, out-of-pocket costs for patients continue to increase, while companies in the prescription drug supply chain pad their bottom lines with the savings.

This is why the Trump administration’s proposed rule is so revolutionary. It would change federal anti-kickback statutes to prevent drug manufacturers from offering rebates and discounts to PBMs, Part D insurance plans, and Medicaid managed care organizations.

Meanwhile, the rule would create a safe harbor for discounts offered directly to patients. This would have the effect of guaranteeing that all savings are passed directly to patients in the form of lower out-of-pocket costs.

In addition, the rule changes the way PBMs can be paid by insurers providing plans in Medicare Part D. The new rules would have the effect of requiring fixed fees for their services, instead of the spread model that incentivizes higher list prices.

Criticism of the proposed rule points out that by preventing insurers and PBMs from receiving discounts and rebates, the reduced savings would lead to higher premiums. However, the increase in Part D premiums is projected to be only around $5 per month, according to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). At the same time, patients’ costs could be reduced by as much as 30 percent, which is the average amount drugs are currently discounted from the list price. For many expensive drugs, the reduction could be much higher.

The proposed rule would only impact drugs sold as part of Medicare Part D and Medicaid. HHS lacks the authority to apply this change to the entire drug purchasing system. That would require an act of Congress — which is exactly where Republicans have a significant political opportunity.

This year, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) should work to pass legislation that would apply the proposed changes in Part D to all drug purchasing. Similar legislation should be introduced in the House, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) should be challenged to schedule a vote on it. This would put her in a tough spot.

Requiring that all drug discounts be passed directly to patients would be a popular idea that should be easy for elected officials to understand and explain to voters. If she refuses to allow a vote on the bill, Pelosi will have to explain why she is preventing such a sensible reform. If she allows the vote, it gives Republicans a clear win on drug pricing to run on in 2020.

Beyond politics, it would be the right thing to do. This action takes away a major incentive that drug companies cite to defend list price increases. It would save patients money and — unlike the Democrats’ expensive big-government schemes — the reform tackles the root cause of escalating prescription drug costs without sacrificing the incentive system responsible for America leading the world in creating cures and treatments.

It would be a significant step toward fixing the health care system in America.


Last week, “President Trump unveiled a new White House initiative — the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative,” Christopher Barron writes in The Daily Caller. Spearheaded by Ivanka Trump, this first-ever government-wide initiative of its kind “aims to help 50 million women in developing countries realize their economic potential.” Barron adds that it’s also a positive step toward an “America First” foreign policy—and it’s the right time for initiatives like W-GDP that “spread American values of liberty and freedom to every corner of the globe.”

While all of these are critical efforts, it is the last silo — working to eliminate the legal, regular and cultural barriers to women – that is the most important, and could set the tone for a more value-based approach to foreign policy.

In an op-ed announcing the initiative, Ivanka Trump noted:

Research suggests that the more women are excluded from full participation in a country’s economy, the likelier it is that the country will be involved in conflict and respond to a threat with immediate violence. When women are free to thrive, they bring national stability, as well as more jobs and economic growth.

Indeed, the research Ivanka refers to — a World Bank study — showed more broadly that, “Countries with low human rights standards, including low standards regarding gender equality, are more likely to have militarized and violent interstate disputes.”

The treatment of women in many parts of the world is abysmal and wholly incompatible with American values or even the most basic sense of human rights. Systemic and legal oppression of women includes allowing husbands in some countries to legally restrict their wives from working. In many countries, women are legally prevented from inheriting land and are unable to open a bank account without permission.

The Trump initiative is a welcome effort aimed at beginning to remove some of the regulatory and legal roadblocks to women’s economic rights.

It shouldn’t end with women’s rights either. One of our most valuable exports is our values and for too long our foreign policy and our tax dollars failed to reflect those values.

Far too many countries fail to respect basic human rights for women, gays and religious minorities — and it’s not just our enemies.

Seven of the top 10 recipients of U.S. foreign aid dollars make it a crime to simply be gay or lesbian. Indeed, in parts of Nigeria, which receives more than $400 million in taxpayer financed foreign aid, an individual can be sentenced to death for being gay.

Egypt, who is the second largest recipient of US foreign aid – to the tune of $1.39 billion, frequently makes headlines for cracking down on gay individuals. Just last month, an Egyptian broadcaster was jailed for simply interviewing a gay man. In October 2017, 33 people were arrested after a gay pride flag was displayed at a pop concert.

Too many of our so-called allies are also guilty of oppressing religious minorities. A 2018 State Department release stated:

In far too many places around the globe, people continue to be persecuted, unjustly prosecuted, or imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief. Today, a number of governments infringe upon individuals’ ability to adopt, change, or renounce their religion or belief, worship in accordance with their religion or beliefs, or be free from coercion to practice a particular religion or belief.

On the list of “governments that have engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom” was U.S. ally Saudi Arabia and placed on the watch list for “severe violations of religious freedom” was erstwhile ally Pakistan (the recipient of $837 million in U.S. foreign aid).

President Trump has been right to eschew the failed Bush-Obama foreign policy that risked putting brave young men and women in harm’s way without a sufficient nexus to American interests. His America first foreign policy has begun to reverse decades of endless wars and to bring American soldiers home.

We do not need boots on the ground, or to risk American lives, to have a foreign policy rooted in American values. We need more initiatives like the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative that will seek spread American values of liberty and freedom to every corner of the globe. Where and how we spend American tax dollars should always be a reflection of who we are and what values we hold.

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