The Way Congress Is Handling Health Care Shows Why They Only Have A 17 Percent Approval Rating

The Senate health care bill was unveiled on Thursday, and it appears to be dead on arrival. At least four conservative senators say that they can’t vote for the current version because it doesn’t go far enough, while several moderate Republicans are expressing concerns that it goes too far in repealing popular Obamacare provisions. You can read the full text of the bill here. Since Democrats are going to be united in voting against any bill that the Republicans put forward, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can only lose two Republican votes if he wants something to pass. I don’t know how that is going to be possible, and so in the end we may be stuck with Obamacare for the foreseeable future and that would be a total disaster.
It is astounding to me that Republicans don’t want to pass the exact same clean Obamacare repeal bill that they got to Obama’s desk in 2016. If they got that same bill to Trump’s desk, he would sign it. Instead of trying to do everything at once, just repeal Obamacare and then start working on various pieces of the health care system one at a time.
According to Real Clear Politics, Congress currently has an average approval rating of just 17.6 percent. It is an institution that has failed the American people over and over again, and we are never going to move things in a positive direction in this country until we do something to clean up that cesspool of filth and corruption.
If we truly want to fix health care in this country, we need to rebuild the entire system from the ground up based on free market principles. But of course the bill that was just unveiled in the Senate simply tries to patch up the system we already have, and that ultimately won’t work…

This post was published at The Economic Collapse Blog on June 22nd, 2017.

McCain Institute Donors Look Disturbingly Similar To Clinton Foundation – Soros, Teneo, Saudia Arabia…

Last fall, we spent a fair amount of time reading through John Podesta’s emails, courtesy of Wikileaks, and grew increasingly astonished with each passing day at the number of apparent conflicts of interest created by the Clinton Foundation which seemed to be nothing more than a front created for the Clintons to peddle their influence around the world in return for staggering “charitable” donations.
Take, for example, our posts which questioned whether the CEO of Dow Chemical, Andrew Liveris, made very sizable contributions to the Clinton Foundation just so he could get an audience with then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to discuss his failed $9 billion joint venture with Kuwait. Here are a couple of posts which provide some background:
New Hillary Emails Expose Bill Pushing Meetings With Foundation Donors, Requests For “Diplomatic Passports” Did Foundation Donor Dow Chemical Seek Hillary “Favor” To Settle $9 Billion Lawsuit With Kuwait? Or, there was that time that Hillary was offered $12 million from Moroccan King Mohammed VI just to host her annual “Clinton Global Initiative” meeting in his country.
And don’t even get us started on Doug Band who spent years with the Clintons before starting his own “consulting” practice called Teneo (see: Doug Band Exposes Foundation’s “For-Profit Activity Of President Clinton (i.e., Bill Clinton, Inc.)“)
Now, an exclusive report on the “McCain Institute” published earlier today from the Daily Caller (DC) has us wondering who else in Congress might just be running miniature Clinton Foundation-ish organizations and enriching their personal families in the process.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 20, 2017.

The Housing Market Bubble Is Popping

As with all other highly manipulated data, the financial media has a blind bias toward the ‘bullish’ story attached to the housing market. Understandable, as the National Association of Realtors spends more on special interest interest lobbying in Congress than any other financial sector lobby interest, including Wall Street banks.
New home sales were down last month, according to the Census Bureau, 11.3% and missed Wall Street’s soothsayer estimates by a rural mile. Strange, that report, given that new homebuilder sentiment is bubbling along a record highs. Existing home sales were down 2.3%. You’ll note that the numbers reported by the Census Bureau and NAR are ‘SAAR’ – seasonally adjusted annualized rates. There is considerable room for data manipulation and regression model bias when a monthly data sample is ‘seasonally adjusted/manipulated’ and then annualized. You’ll also note that mortgage rates have dropped considerably from their December highs and May is one of the seasonally strongest months for home sales.
It’s becoming pretty clear to me that the housing market’s ‘Roman candle’ has lost its upward thrust and is poised to fall back to earth. I believe it could happen shockingly fast. Fannie Mae released its home purchase sentiment index, which FNM says is the most detailed of its kind.

This post was published at Investment Research Dynamics on June 20, 2017.

Stockman Slams Trump Administration’s Budget Projections As “Fantasy”

David Stockman joined Bloomberg Markets to discuss President Donald Trump’s latest budget projections. After the White House and current Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney released various statements on the budget proposal viability conversations already began within the GOP and Congress.
When prompted by host David Gura over his thoughts, even reflecting on former Treasury Secretary Summers comments that the budget is ludicrously optimistic, David Stockman did not mince words speaking on Washington.


This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 15, 2017.

DIANE FEINSTEIN CALLS FOR AN INVESTIGATION OF LORETTA LYNCH’S CLINTON PROBE

Not much has come out of the James Comey testimony, except that the most egregious violation of federal law was the incident which took place between Comey and Loretta Lynch regarding Hillary Clinton’s email scandal. Now, top Democrat Diane Feinstein is calling for an investigation into possible illegal activities.
It’s actually a little surprising that this investigation demand is coming from a Democrat. Normally, the party members tow the line and balk those who look at corruption by their own. The top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee called for a congressional investigation into former Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe on Sunday. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) said she’s concerned by former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony Thursday that Lynch asked him to downplay his ‘investigation’ into the Democratic presidential nominee as merely a ‘matter.’

This post was published at The Daily Sheeple on JUNE 12, 2017.

THE SOUND OF SILENCE: 125 CONGRESS MEMBERS SILENT ABOUT SETH RICH

It’s not just the mainstream media that’s been quiet about the murder of Seth Rich. Members of Congress are remaining tight-lipped as well, leading more to believe that his death is not the bold conspiracy the left is painting it as.
WND reported that they recently asked 125 members of Congress to weigh in about the murder of DNC staffer, Seth Rich. All the while, the media is largely silent about his death while at the same time labeling anyone concerned as a ‘conspiracy theorist.’ But those slinging around the term should remember that it’s only a conspiracy until it’s proven as fact, and things will unravel sooner or later. Out of 125, only five members of Congress even replied to WND’s request for an interview and all five declined to participate. In fact, the only member of Congress who has even gone on the record about the slain DNC staffer is Representative Blake Farenthold, a Republican from Texas. Farenthold was then attacked by the mainstream media for speaking out.
That is a large group of powerful people remaining silent about the murder of one of their own. Yet those who question this whole narrative are the conspiracy theorists? Things are beginning to go south quickly for the DNC and democrats all over the country. The lies and corruption are finally coming to a head, and people are taking notice. Silence speaks often just as much as words do. Wouldn’t one think that the left-leaning media would want answers to the murder of one of their own? No wonder so many people are questioning Rich’s murder. Those who even mention it are attacked and those who try to cover it are those who should be on the murdered man’s side.

This post was published at The Daily Sheeple on JUNE 5, 2017.

GOV’T TURNS ON COMEY AND ASSANGE, MCCAIN UPSET, IT ALL TIES TOGETHER

Republican Senator John McCain is rather perturbed that president Donald Trump fired FBI director, James Comey. His disappointment, though, is hard to understand considering the turn on Comey by the government as of late.
Republicans, by and large, had a lot of great things to say about James Comey when he chose to look into Hillary Clinton’s email scandal during the presidential election last year. Oddly, the political right also seemed to really love WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange for releasing the ‘Podesta emails’ which showed corruption withing the DNC and Hillary’s campaign team, themselves. So why the dramatic turn?
After yesterday’s announcement that Comey had been fired by Trump at the suggestion of Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, McCain said he is ‘disappointed’ with President Trump’s decision. ‘While the President has the legal authority to remove the Director of the FBI, I am disappointed in the President’s decision to remove James Comey from office,’ McCain said in a statement. McCain argued that such a move reinforces his calls for a special congressional panel to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. Trump said he fired Comey over the handling of Hillary’s email scandal. But there is probably a whole lot more to it than that. Because WikiLeaks has confirmed that Russia was not the source of the leaked Podesta emails, the source of the Russian hacking, it appears that this is all likely intertwined. But finding the glue to stick this all together has proven difficult.

This post was published at The Daily Sheeple on MAY 10, 2017.

Trump’s Threats to Break Up Banks Aren’t Scaring Wall Street Yet

Despite President Donald Trump’s repeated assertions that he might support breaking up big banks, Wall Street isn’t worried. Yet.
The calm is fueled by signals from administration aides in private meetings with industry executives to discuss rolling back financial rules, a Trump priority. While not making any assurances, the officials aren’t harping on the issue, according to people who have participated in or been briefed on the discussions. In fact, the topic of reviving Glass-Steagall, the 1933 law separating investment and commercial banking, rarely comes up.
Just last month, Trump’s top economic adviser Gary Cohn eased the concerns of at least two bank chief executives officers who called him after he spoke approvingly of Glass-Steagall in a meeting with senators, people familiar with the matter said. Neither Cohn nor the Treasury Department’s Craig Phillips made a case for splitting up banks when they met recently with an important financial lobbying group, said some attendees.
There is also a sense in the industry that lawmakers have little appetite to take on another controversial legislative fight, especially one that would anger big donors. Republicans, who control both houses of Congress, are particularly loath to support such a dramatic reshaping of the banking system.

This post was published at bloomberg

TAXPAYERS FUND LAWYERS TO DEFEND HIGHLY PAID FEDERAL MANAGERS UNDER FIRE

Taxpayers are forced to cover much of the costs of defense attorneys for highly-paid federal managers facing termination or criminal charges, thanks to a cozy deal engineered in part by a law firm whose lobbyists helped draft and gain passage of legislation requiring it, The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group (TheDCNF) has found.
Lobbyists for the Washington, D. C., law firm Shaw, Bransford & Roth (Roth) – which earns its money representing federal employees who are being disciplined – ‘proposed’ and secured passage of the obscure bill Congress passed in 1996, according to the website of a group connected to the firm. That bill requires taxpayers to pay for legal insurance for management-level employees.
Roth lawyer Anthony Vergnetti then left the firm to launch the Federal Employee Defense Services (FEDS), just such a legal insurance business that, Vergnetti acknowledges, primarily steers clients to Roth when they have insurance claims, and profits off their premiums when they don’t.
Roth got its legislative sway by operating through the Senior Executives Association (SEA), which is ostensibly an organic group representing managers, but which is actually founded and run by the law firm’s partners and employees, as TheDCNF showed last year. SEA collects dues from members and pays lobbyists from Roth to conduct legislative advocacy, according to lobbying disclosures.

This post was published at The Daily Sheeple on APRIL 17, 2017.

Prognostication: Here It Comes

I claim no special power here, nor any inside information. This is simply arithmetic coupled with logic. I’ll give you a “decision tree” sort of format with the critical points outlined.
Note that if you’re going to mitigate any of what I see coming around the bend you need to do it right damn now, not wait. By the time you get to those critical points it’s too late. For many people it’s already too late, but if you’re not in that batch then you need to make your lifestyle changes today.
I am operating on the premise that the rank corruption that I outlined in the Ticker here will not be addressed. It will not be addressed for the same reason the 17th Amendment will be cited as the reason the American political experiment failed when the book on America is finally closed, as that Amendment permanently removed the ability of the States to call a hard-stop on any expansion of Federal Power they did not consent to. That was designed in to our government by the founders and it was removed intentionally by the 17th Amendment. That balance of power can never be restored absent a Revolution because to do so The Senate would have to literally vote themselves out of a job at a supermajority level which they will never do and there is no means to compel them to do so.
For the same reason the 30-year trend in Medicare and Medicaid spending will not be stopped. It may be tinkered with around the edges but it won’t be stopped because to stop it without literally throwing people into the street and letting them die you have to break the medical monopolies and in doing so you will inevitably (1) destroy the graft machine that drives a huge part of DC and at least half of the jobs inside the Beltway, along with the asset values they support, (2) create an immediate and deep (15% of GDP, but temporary) recession on purpose which neither Congress or Trump will ever voluntarily initiate as it would cause a guaranteed 70% stock market crash along with the immediate detonation of about 1/3rd of all in-debt corporations in the United States and (3) expose the outrageous theft of trillions of dollars from taxpayers over the last several decades to fund the medical scam machine at all levels.

This post was published at Market-Ticker on 2017-04-17.

This Is What Has Kept More Tomahawks From Falling On Syria: ‘The Russians Appear to Be Using Leverage That May Damage The President’

One of the reasons that Syria is ‘on hold’ is that the Russians are now leveraging the President with the connections formed in his campaign prior to the election. Paul Manafort, onetime manager of President Trump’s campaign apparently has received payments from a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine. An article covering it entitled Manafort firm received Ukraine ledger payout by Jack Gillum, Chad Day, and Jeff Horwitz was released on Thursday by the Associated Press.
The bad news is that the ledger is substantiated by records booked by Manafort’s consulting firm in the U. S., already under a corruption investigation by the FBI with even more overlap. Apparently, the FBI and Congress are investigating Manafort’s activities with Russia and possible ties to Vladimir Putin regarding the President’s campaign. These activities which could have included payoffs allegedly occurred in 2016.
But a distinct pattern is observable here. Tillerson is still ‘on the attack,’ today demanding that Russia oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad…and the President in the meantime has announced we wouldn’t be sending troops into Syria. Perhaps he is hesitant, as (if they have such evidence) Russia would certainly not shirk from releasing information that could be damaging to the President. At this stage, the threat of such a release appears to be keeping things in check: we haven’t launched another Tomahawk strike yet.

This post was published at shtfplan on April 14th, 2017.

Judge Napolitano Returns On Fox News, Stands By Claim Brits Spied On Trump

Fox News’ legal analyst Andrew “Judge” Napolitano returned to the air on Wednesday morning, nine days after the network benched him when President Donald Trump cited the Fox talking head as the source of claims that Barack Obama used British intelligence to wiretap him. Napolitano refused to change his story saying he stood by his claim about spying on President Donald Trump that got him benched by the network on March 21 for an indefinite period.
‘I stand by my statement on surveillance,’ Napolitano told Bill Hemmer.
According to Deadline, Napolitano was there to talk about a Fox News report that the FBI allegedly wired a staffer of former Illinois Congressman Aaron Schock, who has been charged with fraud and corruption. But first, Hemmer asked Napolitano about that Obama/Brit intel wiretap claim he first made on Fox & Friends. Napolitano said that was his story and he was sticking to it.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Mar 29, 2017.

Senator Hints That Trump May Resign: ‘I Think He Is Going To Get Himself Out’

It’s no secret that there is a concerted effort underway to do everything possible to remove President Donald Trump from office.
From Russian ties to business conflicts of interests, both Democrats and Republicans are actively working to find chinks in the President’s armor.
But for those with hope of change in their hearts, Democrat Senator Diane Feinstein says there is a possibility that Trump will eventually remove himself from office by filing his own resignation.
Speaking to a crowd during a town hall-style Questions and Answers session, Feinstein was asked how Congress is going to deal with Trump’s alleged illegal activities:
Journalist: We don’t know what’s happening but we know that he is breaking laws every day, he’s making money at Mar-a-lago, he’s getting copyrights in China, he has obvious dealings with Russia, the Dakota pipeline… there’s some many things that he’s doing that are unconstitutional… how are we going to get him out?
Feinstein: We have a lot of people looking at this… Technical people… I think he’s going to get himself out… I think sending sons to another country to make a financial deal for his company and then have that covered with government expenses… I think those government expenses should not be allowed.. we are working on a bill that will deal with conflict of interest… it’s difficult…

This post was published at shtfplan on March 18th, 2017.

All Washington blames Putin and calls for investigations of Russian villainy: John Batchelor interviews Stephen F. Cohen

The character of events from week to week, and as discussed by both Batchelor and Cohen, is manifestly worsening. While the proxy wars are stabilizing to some little extent, we see the political wars in governments as fall out of the New Cold War in a constant state of escalation. Cohen notes a New York Times piece by Charles Blow that coined a name for what is happening as an ‘Era of Suspicion’ and the author considered this a positive thing for the country – where all the interest groups are being forced by the hate and fear campaign to align with the anti-Russian narrative whether it serves their interests or not. This past week Batchelor brings up the news about the Estonian Ambassador, Eerik Marmei and the Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pavlo Klimkin who spoke to a Senate subcommittee about Russia disrupting elections in Europe, and the danger of cyber warfare by Russia. Also mentioned were the Trump charges that Obama had his Trump Tower ‘bugged’. Cohen then launched into what the consequences of this new ‘Era of Suspicion’ and the professor describes how the pressure to conform has influenced all the politicos (Flynn debacle) and the masters of industry in the United States, who want to have business dealings with Russia, into remaining cautiously silent. These and other efforts are being used to isolate Trump and neuter or redirect any chance of dtente or even honest discussion of serious geopolitical events. It is working too – with Republicans also becoming divided. Some Republicans are looking at Vice President Pence for the president’s position.
Cohen also discusses the role of ‘expert consultants on Russia’ in the media and their efforts to vilify Putin and the Kremlin. All interviews using these people are factually untrue. The most egregious of these, for example, maintained that Putin was ‘deliriously happy that Washington was in complete chaos over Russian policies’. Batchelor exclaims that this is ‘complete rubbish’. It was also Batchelor’s opinion that it was serious that Trump did not mention Russia in his address to Congress. What this indicates is that dtente is getting much less likely. Cohen also mentions the resurrection of McCarthyism with a Committee of Un-American Activity being formed and concludes that disorder is the contrived tenure of modern Western diplomacy. In my opinion Trump has to decide whether folding to the will of his opposition will stop this campaign to remove him or will it show weakness that will lead to escalation. His reticence to talk about Russia may be testing the waters, or be showing weakness. Senator Graham, who talked with the president, seems to think the latter and the US will ‘push back’ against Russia. I think Trump is folding too.
The push back will see more support for NATO and perhaps more military help for Ukraine. Cohen discusses the quasi NATO presence now in Ukraine, and he also brings up a potential increase in US troop presence in Syria. He discusses the dangers of a combined military presence of US and Russian assets in Syria. Cohen then discusses the simple solution to ease the danger, and it really is simple. Disengagement. But Putin needs Washington (Trump) to cooperate. But Cohen now considers this as unlikely as he thinks Trump is folding to his opposition in Washington. In Ukraine the political and economic situation is worse and where President Poroshenko is having no control over the ukronazis – who are now embargoing coal imports from the Donbass. This hurts Kiev, but also illuminates the reality of a failing central government. A personal question: Will NATO continue to base troops there? It would mean contending with or working with nazis in a failed state environment? But would most of the West hear about it? That’s where we are, living behind a virtual information wall that George Orwell would immediately recognize.
From my point of view the Military Industrial Complex has shown no sense of danger in supporting a ‘confrontation for profit’ policy against Russia, and now the people of the West are effectively ‘walled off’ from learning about critical realities by a systemic corruption of the MSM. Washington is creating its own “Iron Curtain”. Not even discussions at the highest levels of Washington are tolerated unless they support the narrative. One wonders how long this can go on with the Military Industries dependent on tax dollars, and the financial sector and other interests looting the economy and destroying that same tax base. This becomes another reason to impose that ‘Era of Suspicion’ on the whole country; if one cannot advise or discuss an argument against war dangers (or government policies) without censure, then war becomes more inevitable in spite of the fundamentals that work against it. One could say, ‘unleash the dogs of war’ but first hugely increase the fiscal deficit.

This post was published at Audioboom

The Deep State Dystopia To Come

Long-time Congressional staffer Mike Lofgren refers to the murky agencies at work to ensure this planetary plan stays on track as the ‘deep state,’ in his book of the same name.
He writes that it includes key elements of the national security state, which ensure continuity of policy despite the superficial about-faces from one administration to the next. The deep state is effectively a warlike oligarchy, hell-bent on full spectrum dominance, driven by a lust for wealth and power, and anxious to inscribe its name in history. Specifically, Lofgren says, the deep state includes the Department of Defense, the State Department, the National Intelligence Agencies, Wall Street, the defense industry, and the energy consortium, among other major private players. They share common agendas, operate a revolving door of employees, and have a collective distaste for democracy, transparency, and regulation.
The deep state is the link between military interventions and trans-pacific trade deals, between sanctions and IMF loans. All of these tools, be they arms or loans or legal structures, serve a single purpose: the overarching control of world resources by a global community of corporate elites. One can also see how these three instruments of policy and power all do tremendous damage to a particular entity, the nation-state.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Mar 12, 2017.

TRUMPDOM: The Curious World of Trump’s Foreign Policy Explained

It is barely seven weeks since Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States. Perhaps too early to figure out the details of America’s foreign policy during his presidency. However, some broad contours of his policies are taking shape, which may provide pointers to what he is likely to do in the next four years.
These pointers are based partly on what Trump said during his election campaign and partly on what has happened since he became President. Actually, quite a lot has happened in the last seven weeks or so, including considerable turbulence in US domestic and foreign policy.
Before proceeding further, it may be useful to recall that Trump’s victory in the Nov. 2016 elections was unexpected. Most opinion polls and the mainstream media (MSM) predicted victory for Hillary Clinton, who was the candidate of the US Establishment and the ‘Deep State’ (DS), which includes the military-industrial complex, the intelligence agencies, the MSM, Wall Street, and the Jewish Lobby.
The DS is a permanent, unelected, group of institutions, lobbies, and individuals which wields enormous power from behind the scenes and continues to do so irrespective of who is the President and which party controls the US Congress. It is driven by the quest for money and power, among other things.
The present DS began taking shape almost thirty-five years ago when Jimmy Carter was President. There was a DS before that too, going back to the 1950s, which came into existence after the Second World War. However, it was much less powerful and entrenched than the present one. John F. Kennedy tried to defy it but did not succeed. Some believe he paid for it with his life.

This post was published at 21st Century Wire on MARCH 9, 2017.

Are Big Banks’ Dark Pools Behind the Run-Up in Bank Stock Prices?

The biggest banks on Wall Street, both foreign and domestic, have been repeatedly charged with rigging and colluding in markets from New York to London to Japan. Thus, it is natural to ask, have the big banks formed a cartel to rig the prices of their own stocks?
This time last year, Wall Street banks were in a slow, endless bleed. The Federal Reserve had raised interest rates for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis on December 16, 2015 with strong hints that more rate hikes would be coming in 2016. Bank stocks never do well in a rising interest rate environment because their dividend yield has to compete with rising yields on bonds. Money gravitates out of dividend paying stocks into bonds and/or into hard assets like real estate based on the view that it will appreciate from inflationary forces. This is classic market thinking 101.
Bizarrely, to explain the current run up in bank stock prices, market pundits are shoving their way onto business news shows to explain to the gullible public that bank stocks like rising interest rates because the banks will be able to charge more on loans. That rationale pales in comparison to the negative impact of outflows from stocks into bonds (if and when interest rates actually do materially rise) and the negative impact of banks taking higher reserves for loan losses because their already shaky loan clients can’t pay loans on time because of rising rates. That is also classic market thinking 101.
Big bank stocks also like calm and certainty – as does the stock market in general. At the risk of understatement, since Donald Trump took the Oath of Office on January 20, those qualities don’t readily come to mind in describing the state of the union.
Prior to the cravenly corrupt market rigging that led to the epic financial crash in 2008 (we’re talking about the rating agencies being paid by Wall Street to deliver triple-A ratings to junk mortgage securitizations and banks knowingly issuing mortgage pools in which they had inside knowledge that they would fail) the previous episode of that level of corruption occurred in the late 1920s and also led to an epic financial crash in 1929. The U. S. only avoided a Great Depression following 2008 because the Federal Reserve, on its own, secretly funneled $16 trillion in almost zero interest rate loans to Wall Street banks and their foreign cousins. (Because the Fed did this without the knowledge of Congress or the public, this was effectively another form of market rigging. Had the rest of us known this was happening, we also could have made easy bets on the direction of the stock market.)

This post was published at Wall Street On Parade By Pam Martens and Russ Marte.

Trump Slams “Astronomical” Drug Prices, Tells CEOs To “Get Prices Down”

In his latest close encounter with top US CEOs, President Donald Trump told drugmakers at a White House meeting Tuesday they were charging ‘astronomical’ prices and promised to get better bargains for government health programs, something even Bernie Sanders would agree with. He also said he would focus on finding ways to get new medicines to market faster.
‘The pricing has been astronomical,’ Trump said to CEOs of some of the world’s biggest drugmakers, who came to Washington after Trump’s criticism of the industry earlier this month sent drug and biotechnology stocks plunging. ‘You folks have done a very great job over the years but we have to get the prices down.’
At the meeting was Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America CEO Stephen Ubl, Merck & Co. CEO Ken Frazier, Eli Lilly & Co. CEO Dave Ricks, Celgene Corp. CEO Bob Hugin and others. They embraced Trump’s calls for lower taxes and fewer regulations. The gathering with drug CEOs came after Trump’s said on Jan. 12 that the industry was ‘getting away with murder’ and promised to act on drug prices. Since then, drugmakers have turned up their lobbying efforts with Congress as a potentially friendlier force that might counter Trump.
‘Some of the policies you’ve come out and suggested i think can help us do more — tax, regulations,’ said Lilly’s Ricks. Also at Tuesday’s White House meeting were Novartis AG CEO Joe Jimenez and Johnson & Johnson Worldwide Chairman of Pharmaceuticals Joaquin Duato.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jan 31, 2017.

“Exceptional” USA Only 18th In World For Transparency

After coming out of a 2016 Presidential election cycle in which one candidate was the subject of multiple federal investigations related to illegal pay-to-play activities as well as the illegal destruction of federal records subject to a Congressional subpoena, perhaps it shouldn’t be so shocking that the United States was ranked 18th on Transparency International’s 2016 “Corruption Perceptions Index.” But irrespective of our expectations, here is how the United States stacks up against other countries in terms of mass corruption of our publicly elected officials and the institutions they run.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jan 26, 2017.

The US Navy: A History of Waste and Corruption

The growth of US military power has rarely, if ever, been the result of legitimate concerns about defensive strategy, let alone about the national welfare. Instead, it’s more often a consequence of a waste, corruption, and imperial ambition that together have produced the modern military-industrial complex. This history receives some well-deserved attention in Paul Pedisich’s book Congress Buys a Navy: Politics, Economics, and the Rise of American Naval Power, 1881-1921, which offers an in-depth look at the history of Congressional involvement with the US Navy. I’ve written a more general review of the book for those interested (here), but in this post I want to focus on some of the economic implications of US naval history over these four decades.
The main emphasis of the book is on a series of Congressional battles over appropriations for the Navy, and how these disputes influenced its growth and change. This process, Pedisich argues, was not driven by strategic questions of national security, but by a wide range of political interests. Pedisich provides a wealth of information about Congressional voting blocs and committees, as well and the personal and professional ties between politicians, the Navy, and the war industries. These consisted most often of conventional rent-seeking: members of Congress wanted appropriations channelled to their own constituencies, and the Navy’s budget provided an excellent opportunity for those states that stood to gain from the Congressional spoils system (pp. 28-29, and throughout).

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on Jan 23, 2017.