Importation of Prescription Drugs: A Bad Idea
“Reimportation” of prescription drugs is back as an issue, but only because Democrats seek to distract from the effort to repeal and replace Obamcare, according to Politico. By importation we refer to the ability of American consumers to buy their prescription drugs from overseas rather than from domestic sources, and particularly to large-scale importation, such as US drug distributors sourcing their drugs from overseas.
There has always been some cross-border traffic on pharmaceuticals, as drug prices in Canada can be cheaper than in the US. But the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit, which came into effect in 2006, has significantly reduced this traffic by making prescription drugs available to seniors at more affordable prices.
There’s a reason why such importation is illegal today under most circumstances, and that’s because of safety. The rate of counterfeit drugs in other countries is staggering, and the only way to keep the counterfeit problem from infecting the US drug supply is through the rigorous inspection and supply-chain regime maintained by the FDA. And the FDA has repeatedly told Congress that it cannot guarantee the safety of drugs entering the US from other countries such as Canada, since it does not inspect those facilities. And when the FDA has been permitted to inspect overseas facilities, the results haven’t been encouraging, such as the extensive and discouraging history of the FDA with Indian pharmaceutical manufacturer Ranbaxy.
Some on the free-market side of the political spectrum argue that importation of prescription drugs is simply a matter of “free-trade,” which at least up until the last few months has been a persuasive argument when presented to Republicans. But, as professor Richard Epstein notes in an IPI publication noted below, importation of prescription drugs is actually a perversion of free trade, in that it rewards other countries for their price controls and socialized medicine systems, rewards them for their disregard for the patents of American drug companies, and would likely create shortages of much needed drugs in poor countries as their drug supply was diverted back to the US. Read More >>
Willing Tools of Russian Propaganda in the Denton Fracking Ban Debate
One of the tidbits contained in the just-released intelligence report about Russian interference in the US election is a section on other Russian propaganda activities, such as Russia’s propagandizing against fracking in the US.
The report says:
RT runs anti-fracking programming, highlighting environmental issues and the impacts on public health. This is likely reflective of the Russian Government’s concern about the impact of fracking and US natural gas production on the global energy market and the potential challenges to Gazprom’s profitability.
This hit close to home for me. In 2014, when my nearby city of Denton was voting on a ban against fracking within city limits, I got very involved. Two of the most vocal and ubiquitous leaders of the fracking ban were UNT professor Adam Briggle and a truly unhinged Twitter activist who goes by the name @TXSharon.
Both Briggle and @TXSharon appeared in interviews on RT regarding the Denton fracking ban. These interviews were used to promote the ban and to give credibility to these otherwise non-credible activists. Here’s Briggle on RT, and here is @TXSharon on RT.
Of course, the story of the Denton fracking ban is fairly well-known. Despite efforts by IPI and many others, it passed on the strength of voting by college students and professors, but was overturned by the Texas legislature before it even had a chance to lose in court. And the city of Denton eventually overturned it.
We said at the time that these activists were willingly allowing themselves to be used as tools of Russia in its attempts to discourage fracking in the US, and we were right. Read More >>
Tom Giovanetti makes the Village Voice's "Ten Worst Rightblogging Ideas of 2016"
I was honored to learn this morning that The Village Voice had included me in their listing of the "10 Worst Rightblogger Ideas of 2016."
Here’s a link to the piece, and here’s the money quote:
“Local control is not a trump card that allows municipalities to restrict economic freedom,” declaimed Tom Giovanetti at the Institute for Policy Innovation. Get outta here with this “consent of the governed” bullshit — we’re talking about money!
The macro context here is what Village Voice views as those nutjob libertarians and their insistence on economic freedom, and the micro context is the debate over cities like Austin, Texas regulating Uber out of the city. Village Voice sees this as democracy in action, of course, while I see it as the tyranny of the majority infringing on the economic freedom of the average guy.
Now, I’m being a bit tongue-in-cheek here, of course, but since you know a man by his enemies, I’m delighted that the lefties at the Village Voice find my arguments to be ridiculous. Read More >>
Is the SEC's Money-Market Rulemaking Designed to Discriminate Against Private Sector Debt?
In a few weeks we have another policy change coming out of Washington—this time new regulations on money market funds—that seems almost intentionally designed to cause harm to the private sector and to slow economic growth. I’m starting to wonder whether this is simply more Big Government incompetence or something more insidious?
I tend to attribute most failures of government to ineptitude rather than conspiracy. There’s no reason to think the average government employee is any wiser or more knowledgeable than the average person in the private sector—in fact, there’s every reason to believe otherwise, since various federal protections make it harder to weed out incompetent federal employees.
But suppose for a moment that I am wrong—that at the highest levels of the most important federal agencies, there are actually devilishly clever people playing the game several moves ahead of the rest of us. Making moves that are vital to the survival of their most cherished and most useful institution—the federal government—regardless of the impact on the American people.
That scenario might be more probable or less probable, depending on your degree of cynicism, but it hinges on a defensible premise—that the interests of the federal government and the interests of the American people are NOT the same thing. The federal government is not a proxy for the country. As Ronald Reagan said in his first inaugural address, “We are a nation that has a government—not the other way around.” It’s said that the smartest thing the Devil ever did was convince people he didn’t exist. Well, the smartest thing the federal government ever did was convince the American people that its interests are their interests. The truth is, the federal government is the most powerful special interest in America.
So if you’re the federal government, what is your greatest threat? Not war or terrorism, because war and terrorism have proven to be windfalls for federal government growth. Almost certainly the single most important institutional concern of the federal government today is managing its own debt, which has risen to an unimaginable $19.4 trillion dollars. Interest alone on the debt is now one of the largest line items in the federal budget, and so servicing its debt and avoiding insolvency is as important to the federal government as it would be to any business or household. Read More >>
Some Internet Language We'd Like to See in the GOP Platform
Here's some language we'd like to see in the appropriate section of the GOP platform. In case anyone's interested:
The Internet is a platform for disruption, allowing individuals, private enterprises and entrepreneurs to communicate and engage in commerce in new ways, breaking down walls of distance, size and established power. Regulators and tax collectors, threatened by the disruptive Internet that empowers people and private businesses, are pushing for their powers to regulate and tax to grow in the same way, across borders and reaching every corner of the Internet. The Republican Party should consistently support Internet policies that allow people and private enterprise to thrive, without providing new and expanded powers to tax and regulate so that the Internet does not become the vehicle for a dramatic expansion of government power. Maintaining fundamental principles of limited government in an increasingly Internet-enabled world is a critical role for the party that puts people ahead of government bureaucracies and regulators. Read More >>
Why Did You Vote for Donald Trump?
Q. Why did you vote for Donald Trump instead of Ted Cruz?
A. The whole establishment is corrupt. The whole Republican Party is corrupt. I’m done with them. Donald Trump isn’t beholden to anybody—not the establishment, not the lobbyists, not the crony capitalists. He will look out for the people and do what’s right for America, not what’s right for Wall Street. He can do it all by himself.
Q. Why do you conclude the Republican Party is corrupt? They agree with you on almost every issue.
A. They said they were going to get rid of Obamacare but they didn’t. They said they were going to fix immigration but they didn’t. They let Obama get away with executive orders, and they didn’t investigate Benghazi or the IRS or Hillary’s email scandals. They signed a budget deal with Obama instead of cutting spending. They all suck.
Q. Actually, they DID investigate Benghazi, and the IRS, and Hillary’s email scandals (though they wisely deferred to the FBI on that one). They voted to overturn all or portions of Obamacare like 60 times. And the budget deal held spending below Obama’s budget AND locked in the Bush tax cuts PERMANENTLY.
A. Yeah, but what came of it? NOTHING! We voted them in and they didn’t get a thing done. I’m through with all of them. They betrayed us.
Q. You do understand that, to pass laws, House Republicans had to get the agreement of the Senate, which was in Democrat hands for the first part of the Obama administration, and of course they had to get Obama’s signature. You can’t change the law without getting the President’s signature. You know that, right?
A. They should have forced change from Congress. They should have shut the whole place down until the Senate and Obama were forced to overturn Obamacare, cut spending, and throw Hillary in jail. They should have refused to pass the spending bills and just shut the whole thing down until we got our way.
Q. You do realize that the only person in Washington who actually followed that plan was Ted Cruz, right? Ted Cruz is the guy who tried to shut down the government. And you just voted against him. You voted against the only person who actually agreed with you on the issues and the strategy.
A. Um . . . Read More >>
Municipal Choke Point on Innovation
The Consumer Electronics Show, hosted by CTA, is appropriately lauded for being a showcase of technology and innovation. As they tout themselves, “For 50 years, CES has been the launch pad for new innovation and technology that has changed the world. Held in Las Vegas every year, it is the world’s gathering place for all who thrive on the business of consumer technologies and where next-generation innovations are introduced to the marketplace.”
This year the buzz around the show was even greater than usual, largely because of the promise of a connected life becoming real in so many ways—from cars, to wearables, to thermostats and home alarm systems. Sharper pictures, bendable screens, virtual reality and the reality that your “phone” is rapidly becoming your personal “smart hub” all fought for attention inside the show. But the most accessible innovation may have been happening off of the show floor.
This year Uber, the ride hailing app provider, was operating in Las Vegas during the show. The impact was obvious. The infamous hours-long taxi lines for those trying to leave the convention center were cut by half or more. This year show attendees were able to make productive use of their time instead of waiting thirty minutes or more for a cab from the hotel to the show. As a further customer service, Uber partnered with a Dallas start-up company, Vinli, to provide riders with a Wi-Fi connection while they rode. The entire experience of attending a trade show that attracts 180,000 visitors to Las Vegas changed for the better Read More >>
Rubio's Reasonableness on Sugar
It’s a little surprising to see the Wall Street Journal savage Marco Rubio in an editorial (Nov. 5).
Or maybe not. Rubio originally championed something like the Journal’s preferred loose immigration policy, until he got the political stuffings beaten out of him by the consensus of Republican voters. Apparently the Journal editors would have preferred that Rubio’s candidacy had already been doomed by sticking with an immigration policy strongly disfavored by the voters. Being out-of-step with voters on one of the most intense policy issues is not a path to political success, as Jeb Bush is discovering. But the Journal’s editorial board is apparently still chapped over Rubio’s reality check on immigration, as they can’t help but reveal in the last paragraph of “Rubio and Big Sugar.”
By painting Marco Rubio as a thoughtless panderer to Florida’s sugar interests, the Journal editors do more than a disservice to one of our brightest and most principled presidential candidates—they create a straw man and then blow it over. Rubio has a considered position on the U.S. sugar program, and it’s worth an investment of time to understand it: Rubio wants U.S. sugar subsidies phased out as part of a global trade agreement, rather than unilateral disarmament on the part of the U.S. He believes that a negotiated treaty approach is the better and more sustainable long-term solution. Read More >>
On Obama's Rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline
The United States is the cleanest place on earth to refine oil. We have the highest environmental standards, the best technology, and the strongest rule-of-law institutions.
That Canadian oil is going to be refined somewhere. If not in the U.S., it’s going to be refined elsewhere. Contrary to Obama’s implication, that oil is NOT going to remain in the ground.
That means the Keystone XL pipeline was the best option for the environment. Now that oil will be shipped by rail and by ship, where a spill is more likely and more damaging, where the refining will be more harmful to the environment, and where the jobs and other economic benefits will happen.
Just the latest example of how for liberal-progressivism, symbol is more important than substance. It’s about how it makes liberals feel, now—not about reality or the long-term impact of the policy. Read More >>
Shkreli's Stupid Pricing Move Vindicates Rather Than Indicts Pharmaceutical Markets
Congress Finally Does Something Useful and Lifts the Ban on Crude Oil Exports
We'll, here's some good news: The House voted today to lift the senseless and outdated ban on U.S. crude oil exports.
And while this may seem like a no-brainer, there are any number of no-brainer pieces of legislation that Congress isn't bothering to move, so this is progress.
There is no argument against allowing U.S. crude oil exports except for an extreme anti-fossil fuels mindset, which is as unrealistic as it is wrong.
It's important for the Republican Congress to be passing this kind of commonsense legislation that the majority of the American people support, even if they suspect President Obama is going to veto it.
Let him. Force him to explain his rationale to the American people. Get him on record, and force all other Democratic candidates and elected officials whether they agree with the President or not.
One of the things that is so frustrating people right now is Congresses not bothering to pass good legislation because of the threat of a veto. In this baseball playoff season, Republicans need to stop playing wiffleball and start playing hardball. Read More >>
The Problem with Chaffetz as Speaker
You could hardly have a more fluid situation than what is going on right now with regard to future Republican House leadership, so this blog may be out of date before it’s finished. But as I’m writing, several people are maneuvering for leadership positions, and the general grassroots mood is that they want a “real conservative.”
(Of course, what a “real conservative” is differs literally from activist to activist. If they agree with you down the line on every single issue, they are a “real conservative,” and if they disagree with you on anything, they are a RINO. Apparently. Which is the biggest problem the conservative movement has right now. It’s principles, people. Anyway . . . )
One candidate who some feel is the “real conservative” for Speaker of the House is Jason Chaffetz from Utah. Chaffetz is an interesting case. Is Chaffetz the “real conservative” option?
Well, yes, the Obama administration doesn’t like Chaffetz, but that’s largely because he chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and thus has been looking into Executive Branch.
But conservatives mostly define themselves by their principles, and one of the pretty bedrock principles is constitutional federalism. On that front, Chaffetz is troubling, for at least two reasons. Read More >>
This Is Not Full Employment
You may be victimized today by those who are either economically ignorant or purposefully deceitful into thinking that good employment news was released today. In fact, you might even hear that the Federal Reserve has at last achieved one of its policy mandates of “full employment.”
Now, it’s true that economists do not define full employment as a zero percent unemployment rate. It’s actually impossible to ever reach zero percent unemployment, so economists have typically defined full employment as an unemployment rate of somewhere between 3.5 and 5 percent. [During the Reagan years, full employment was casually considered to be an unemployment rate of around 4 percent.]
So, with today’s announced creation of 173,000 new jobs and an unemployment rate of 5.1 percent, some are celebrating. But they are wrong. Read More >>
Tom Giovanetti Gives His Take on First GOP Debate
In an interview with CTV News, IPI's Tom Giovanetti gives his assessment of Thursday night's Fox News Channel Republican debate.
"It was a fabulous debate," said Giovanetti. "It showed how much energy there is on the Republican side." Read More >>
An Important Supporting Argument for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement
An important (though not primary) argument for the importance of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, and thus for the importance of trade promotion authority (TPA):
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