Why The Republicans Played Repeal Perfectly

The headlines today are about the claimed defeat for Republicans and, especially President Trump, when Paul Ryan pulled down the Obamacare Repeal Bill.

This is just wrong as the Republicans are playing this difficult game perfectly, they are Kasparov in this matter. I’ll explain why.

President Trump and many Republicans ran on the promise to repeal and replace Obamacare, which is collapsing. Obamacare is “owned” by the Democrats. It was passed without a single Republican vote and voters hate it. The Republicans absolutely had to take early action to repeal and replace this failed program but faced some very real problems due to the numbers required to pass repeal and replace and Senate rules that made it impossible t use budget reconciliation to pass it with 51 votes. Without reconciliation, it would take 60 votes to pass and the Democrats would block it. There are 52 Republicans in the senate, 46 Democrats, and 2 independents. ( who are really Democrats.)

The particular problem is the Byrd Rule below. The actionable section is in bold.

SUMMARY OF THE BYRD RULE

Under the Byrd rule, the Senate is prohibited from considering the extraneous matter as part of a reconciliation bill or resolution or conference report thereon. The definition of what constitutes “extraneous matter” is set forth in the Budget Act; however, the term remains subject to considerable interpretation by the presiding officer (who relies on the Senate Parliamentarian). The Byrd rule is enforced when a Senator raises a point of order during consideration of a reconciliation bill or conference report. If the point of order is sustained, the offending title, provision or amendment is deemed stricken unless its proponent can muster a 3/5 (60) Senate majority vote to waive the rule.

Subject matter – The Byrd rule may be invoked only against reconciliation bills, amendments thereto, and reconciliation conference reports.

Byrd rule tests – Section 313(b)(1) of the Congressional Budget Act sets forth six tests for matters to be considered extraneous under the Byrd rule. The criteria apply to provisions that:

  • do not produce a change in outlays or revenues;
  • produce changes in outlays or revenue which are merely incidental to the non-budgetary components of the provision;
  • are outside the jurisdiction of the committee that submitted the title or provision for inclusion in the reconciliation measure;
  • increase outlays or decrease revenue if the provision’s title, as a whole, fails to achieve the Senate reporting committee’s reconciliation instructions;
  • increase net outlays or decrease revenue during a fiscal year after the years covered by the reconciliation bill unless the provision’s title, as a whole, remains budget neutral;
  • contain recommendations regarding the OASDI (social security) trust funds.

Exceptions to the Byrd Rule – Section 313(b)(2) allows certain otherwise covered Senate-originated provisions to be excepted from the Byrd rule if the provisions are certified for exemption by the Senate Budget Committee chairman and ranking minority member, as well as the chairman and ranking minority member of the committee of jurisdiction. The permitted exceptions are:

  • a provision that mitigates direct effects attributable to a second provision which changes outlays or revenue when the provisions together produce a net reduction in outlays;
  • the provision will result in a substantial reduction in outlays or a substantial increase in revenues during fiscal years after the fiscal years covered by the reconciliation bill;
  • the provision will likely reduce outlays or increase revenues based on actions that are not currently projected by CBO for scorekeeping purposes; or
  • such provision will likely produce a significant reduction in outlays or increase in revenues, but due to insufficient data such reduction or increase cannot be reliably estimated.

Effect of points of order – The effect of raising a point of order under the Byrd rule is to strike the offending extraneous provision. If a point of order against a conference report is sustained, the Senate may consider subsequent motions to dispose of that portion of the conference report not subject to the point of order.

Waivers – The Byrd rule is not self-enforcing. A point of order must be raised at the appropriate time to enforce it. The Byrd rule can only be waived by a 3/5 (60) majority vote

Because of the limitations placed on legislation that can pass under reconciliation, the actual repeal and replace can’t be accomplished as desired by all Republicans.

the dilemma then is that a partial “repeal” can occur but it would not correct Obamacare’s major flaws, would cause damage, leave Republicans open to the charge that the problems were caused by them In short, they would own healthcare and its problems.

This is the particular problem the Republicans faced and they knew it. In short, they could not achieve true repeal and then replace with a program that works with the Byrd rule in place. So what were they to do?  Any attempt to partially repeal, Obamacare lite, for example, would result in a plan that was badly flawed, but the flaws would be seen as Republican flaws-a political death wish. The result of the non-vote on the American Health Care Act is that Obamacare is still the law of the land, is a disaster, and is owned by the Democrats.

The Republicans know that to have a proper healthcare law, the repeal and replacement of all of Obamacare is required to get there, they need either a 60 vote majority in the Senate or Democratic support.  That’s what they are playing for! If Obamacare continues to be a problem and it will, they will campaign in 2018 on that issue and hope to get a 60 vote Senate Majority. That’s actually a very desirable goal and the Democrats seem to be oblivious to the risk they are taking by opposing repeal and replace, and, for that matter, the Gorsuch nomination. the first indication that this is the Republican plan is that President Trump asked for Democratic help in the repeal, replace effort. The Democrats haven’t gotten back to him yet!!!

It’s a wonderful trap and there is no escape for his prey.

New York Ends Literacy Tests For Teachers; Yes, You Read That Right

This article caught my eye this morning. It, of course, flies in the face of all reason. Certainly teachers must be literate. Maybe, teachers should be the most literate members of society as they will teach our children, among other things, literacy. However, teaching our children is less important than having a properly diverse group of teachers. This could certainly be done without jettisoning standards, but i guess it’s easier to do so. 

The attached article describes this fiasco. I still can’t believe it’s real. 




Test meant to raise teacher standards latest victim of diversity religion, minority students will suffer most.

New York State has been trying to raise teacher standards in order to solve the problem of low graduation and literacy rates in minority school populations.

That makes sense – how can an academically unqualified teacher be expected to help raise academic success among students. These increased standards were meant to help minority students by ensuring that qualified teachers were not limited to wealthier districts.

One of the key components of the push for higher teacher qualifications was a literacy test. The test is just one of several tests prospective teachers need to pass. That literacy test survived a court challenge in 2015.  A federal judge found that the test, unlike prior tests, was not discriminatory:

… Judge Wood ruled that the state and Pearson, the testing company that helped devise the exam, had done a proper job of making sure that the “content of the ALST is representative of the content of a New York State public-school teacher’s job.”

Yet that has not stopped claims that the test is racist based entirely on the tests results, which Black and Hispanic prospective teachers passed as lower rates than whites.

Education reformers believe that tests like New York’s Academic Literacy Skills Test can weed out potentially lousy teachers.

The tests, however, came under intense scrutiny for their alleged racial bias, after just 46 percent of Hispanic test-takers and 41 percent of black test-takers passed it on the first try, compared with 64 percent of white candidates.

Plus, critics said, the test’s $131 price tag is too steep.

The Test Design summary describes the components, with the key components reading and writing.

https://web.archive.org/web/20170314150509/https://www.nystce.nesinc.com/content/docs/NY202_OBJ_FINAL.pdf

So the NY State Regents, the government body that controls public education in NY State, has voted to scrap the test.

The NY Times misleadingly includes the claim of discrimination in the title, Regents Drop Teacher Literacy Test Seen as Discriminatory:

The Board of Regents on Monday eliminated a requirement that aspiring teachers in New York State pass a literacy test to become certified after the test proved controversial because black and Hispanic candidates passed it at significantly lower rates than white candidates.

The Regents also moved forward with a proposal that would allow some students who failed another test, aimed at evaluating practical skills like lesson planning and assessment, to be certified as teachers based on their grades and professors’ recommendations.

Together, the steps signal how much the Regents’ approach has changed under the current chancellor, Betty A. Rosa, after several years of efforts to raise the bar for entering the profession.

The webpage for the literacy test now has a Notice that it no longer applies:

https://www.nystce.nesinc.com/TestView.aspx?f=HTML_FRAG/NY202_TestPage.html

The victims of this move will be minority students. National Council for Teacher Quality (NCTQ) President Kate Walsh released this statement:

“Getting rid of this recent licensing test is a big step backwards, not just for New York but for the country. This test, first implemented in 2013-14, put the academic needs of students above the employment interests of teachers. Rather than lowering standards by removing the Academic Literacy Skills Test, we should work to educate future teachers to reach this level. Otherwise, it is our students, especially those from traditionally disadvantaged and minority backgrounds, who will suffer most in the long run.”

Scraping non-discriminatory, relevant testing is part of a trend that has been going on for a long time. Just recently, Harvard Law to Accept Applicant GRE Scores in Place of LSAT for Diversity.

Where does it stop when equal opportunity no longer is that standard, and “fairness” becomes racial quotas in the name of diversity?

 

Learned Comment on the Middlebury Mess

Sign the Statement: Truth Seeking, Democracy, and Freedom of Thought and Expression – A Statement by Robert P. George and Cornel West

March 14, 2017

The pursuit of knowledge and the maintenance of a free and democratic society require the cultivation and practice of the virtues of intellectual humility, openness of mind, and, above all, love of truth. These virtues will manifest themselves and be strengthened by one’s willingness to listen attentively and respectfully to intelligent people who challenge one’s beliefs and who represent causes one disagrees with and points of view one does not share.

That’s why all of us should seek respectfully to engage with people who challenge our views. And we should oppose efforts to silence those with whom we disagree—especially on college and university campuses. As John Stuart Mill taught, a recognition of the possibility that we may be in error is a good reason to listen to and honestly consider—and not merely to tolerate grudgingly—points of view that we do not share, and even perspectives that we find shocking or scandalous. What’s more, as Mill noted, even if one happens to be right about this or that disputed matter, seriously and respectfully engaging people who disagree will deepen one’s understanding of the truth and sharpen one’s ability to defend it.

None of us is infallible. Whether you are a person of the left, the right, or the center, there are reasonable people of goodwill who do not share your fundamental convictions. This does not mean that all opinions are equally valid or that all speakers are equally worth listening to. It certainly does not mean that there is no truth to be discovered. Nor does it mean that you are necessarily wrong. But they are not necessarily wrong either. So someone who has not fallen into the idolatry of worshiping his or her own opinions and loving them above truth itself will want to listen to people who see things differently in order to learn what considerations—evidence, reasons, arguments—led them to a place different from where one happens, at least for now, to find oneself.

All of us should be willing—even eager—to engage with anyone who is prepared to do business in the currency of truth-seeking discourse by offering reasons, marshaling evidence, and making arguments. The more important the subject under discussion, the more willing we should be to listen and engage—especially if the person with whom we are in conversation will challenge our deeply held—even our most cherished and identity-forming—beliefs.

It is all-too-common these days for people to try to immunize from criticism opinions that happen to be dominant in their particular communities. Sometimes this is done by questioning the motives and thus stigmatizing those who dissent from prevailing opinions; or by disrupting their presentations; or by demanding that they be excluded from campus or, if they have already been invited, disinvited. Sometimes students and faculty members turn their backs on speakers whose opinions they don’t like or simply walk out and refuse to listen to those whose convictions offend their values. Of course, the right to peacefully protest, including on campuses, is sacrosanct. But before exercising that right, each of us should ask: Might it not be better to listen respectfully and try to learn from a speaker with whom I disagree? Might it better serve the cause of truth-seeking to engage the speaker in frank civil discussion?

Our willingness to listen to and respectfully engage those with whom we disagree (especially about matters of profound importance) contributes vitally to the maintenance of a milieu in which people feel free to speak their minds, consider unpopular positions, and explore lines of argument that may undercut established ways of thinking. Such an ethos protects us against dogmatism and groupthink, both of which are toxic to the health of academic communities and to the functioning of democracies.

Robert P. George is McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University.

Cornel West is Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy in the Divinity School and the Department of African and African- American Studies at Harvard University.

If you would like to join Professors George and West as a public signatory to this statement, please submit your name and title and affiliation (for identification purposes only) via email to jmadison@Princeton.edu(link

A Learned Response to the Middlebury Mess

Sign the Statement: Truth Seeking, Democracy, and Freedom of Thought and Expression – A Statement by Robert P. George and Cornel West

March 14, 2017

The pursuit of knowledge and the maintenance of a free and democratic society require the cultivation and practice of the virtues of intellectual humility, openness of mind, and, above all, love of truth. These virtues will manifest themselves and be strengthened by one’s willingness to listen attentively and respectfully to intelligent people who challenge one’s beliefs and who represent causes one disagrees with and points of view one does not share.

That’s why all of us should seek respectfully to engage with people who challenge our views. And we should oppose efforts to silence those with whom we disagree—especially on college and university campuses. As John Stuart Mill taught, a recognition of the possibility that we may be in error is a good reason to listen to and honestly consider—and not merely to tolerate grudgingly—points of view that we do not share, and even perspectives that we find shocking or scandalous. What’s more, as Mill noted, even if one happens to be right about this or that disputed matter, seriously and respectfully engaging people who disagree will deepen one’s understanding of the truth and sharpen one’s ability to defend it.

None of us is infallible. Whether you are a person of the left, the right, or the center, there are reasonable people of goodwill who do not share your fundamental convictions. This does not mean that all opinions are equally valid or that all speakers are equally worth listening to. It certainly does not mean that there is no truth to be discovered. Nor does it mean that you are necessarily wrong. But they are not necessarily wrong either. So someone who has not fallen into the idolatry of worshiping his or her own opinions and loving them above truth itself will want to listen to people who see things differently in order to learn what considerations—evidence, reasons, arguments—led them to a place different from where one happens, at least for now, to find oneself.

All of us should be willing—even eager—to engage with anyone who is prepared to do business in the currency of truth-seeking discourse by offering reasons, marshaling evidence, and making arguments. The more important the subject under discussion, the more willing we should be to listen and engage—especially if the person with whom we are in conversation will challenge our deeply held—even our most cherished and identity-forming—beliefs.

It is all-too-common these days for people to try to immunize from criticism opinions that happen to be dominant in their particular communities. Sometimes this is done by questioning the motives and thus stigmatizing those who dissent from prevailing opinions; or by disrupting their presentations; or by demanding that they be excluded from campus or, if they have already been invited, disinvited. Sometimes students and faculty members turn their backs on speakers whose opinions they don’t like or simply walk out and refuse to listen to those whose convictions offend their values. Of course, the right to peacefully protest, including on campuses, is sacrosanct. But before exercising that right, each of us should ask: Might it not be better to listen respectfully and try to learn from a speaker with whom I disagree? Might it better serve the cause of truth-seeking to engage the speaker in frank civil discussion?

Our willingness to listen to and respectfully engage those with whom we disagree (especially about matters of profound importance) contributes vitally to the maintenance of a milieu in which people feel free to speak their minds, consider unpopular positions, and explore lines of argument that may undercut established ways of thinking. Such an ethos protects us against dogmatism and groupthink, both of which are toxic to the health of academic communities and to the functioning of democracies.

Robert P. George is McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University.

Cornel West is Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy in the Divinity School and the Department of African and African- American Studies at Harvard University.

If you would like to join Professors George and West as a public signatory to this statement, please submit your name and title and affiliation (for identification purposes only) via email to jmadison@Princeton.edu(link

The NFL’s Prescription Drug Problem

I encountered a friend and famous Viking defensive lineman one Sunday morning before a game. He was not walking well. He said, “When it hurts Sunday from last Sunday, it’s time to think about doing something else!!” 

Football is a violent game and pain is the constant.  Medication is required and its use is problematic, as the following article claims. 

National Football League teams violated federal laws governing prescription drugs, disregarded guidance from the Drug Enforcement Administration on how to store, track, transport and distribute controlled substances, and plied their players with powerful painkillers and anti-inflammatories each season, according to sealed court documents contained in a federal lawsuit filed by former players.

The sealed material, which was reviewed by The Washington Post, provides a rare look into the league’s relationship with drugs and how team doctors manage the pain inherent in a bruising sport to keep players on the field.

Federal law lays out strict guidelines for how teams can handle and dispense prescription drugs. The sealed court filing, which includes testimony and documents by team and league medical personnel, describes multiple instances in which team and league officials were made aware of abuses, record-keeping problems and even violations of federal law and were either slow in responding or failed to comply.

The filing, which was prepared by lawyers for the players suing the league, asserts that “every doctor deposed so far … has testified that they violated one or more” federal drug laws and regulations “while serving in their capacity as a team doctor.” Anthony Yates, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ team doctor and past president of the NFL Physicians Society, testified in a deposition that “a majority of clubs as of 2010 had trainers controlling and handling prescription medications and controlled substances when they should not have,” the filing states.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the allegations contained in the court filing “are meritless and the league and its clubs will continue to vigorously defend these claims.

“The NFL clubs and their medical staffs are all in compliance with the Controlled Substances Act,” McCarthy said in an email. “… The NFL clubs and their medical staffs continue to put the health and safety of our players first, providing all NFL players with the highest quality medical care. Any claim or suggestion to the contrary is simply wrong.”

The details and communications were unearthed by lawyers representing more than 1,800 former professional football players who are suing the league in U.S. District Court for Northern California, claiming they suffer long-term organ and joint damage, among other maladies, as a result of improper and deceptive drug distribution practices by NFL teams.

The material was collected by the players’ attorneys as part of the discovery process in the case. The attorneys redacted large portions of the 127-page complaint because both parties had agreed to do so under a court-approved protective order, sealing it from public view. The Post was able to review the redacted information because of an apparent technical error in the filing process but not some of the supporting exhibits and documents.

The filing solely reflects the ex-players’ claims against the NFL’s 32 teams, presenting their legal arguments and evidence to the court.

Democrats Asked Russia For Election Help.

The Theory that the Russians assisted Donald Trump in his election is the most absurd political theory I’ve heard recently. They clearly hoped for and expected a Clinton victory and were looking forward to dominating her.  They were simply trying to soften her up. the Russians are very nervous about Trump, who they expected to lose as they read the same polls the mainstream media was reading, are now trying to adjust to having a president they can’t push around. 

Interference in elections is nothing new. Obama actually sent a team to Isreal to try to defeat Netanyahu in his re-election campaign and Ted Kennedy tried to make a deal with Andropov in an effort to defeat Reagan. Read about that below.

From John Hinderaker at Poserlineblog.com

CONSPIRE WITH RUSSIA TO SWING PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION? IT’S BEEN DONE

The Democrats’ allegations against Jeff Sessions, one of the most upright men in Washington, are ludicrous. I don’t understand how anyone can think they amount to anything. But if the Democrats want to talk about collusion with the Russians, by all means let’s have that conversation.

Chris Adams takes us on a walk down memory lane. In 1983, Ted Kennedy–the “liberal lion of the Senate”–tried to enlist the Soviet Union, our most bitter enemy, in the Democrats’ effort to defeat President Ronald Reagan’s re-election.

Yes, a United States senator really did collude with the Russians to influence the outcome of a presidential election. His name was Ted Kennedy.

While Sen. Al Franken (D-Ringling Bros.) and other Democrats have the vapors over a truthful, complete, and correct answer Attorney General Jeff Sessions gave in his confirmation hearing, it’s worth remembering the reprehensible behavior of Senator Ted Kennedy in 198[3].
***
To recap, from Forbes:

Picking his way through the Soviet archives that Boris Yeltsin had just thrown open, in 1991 Tim Sebastian, a reporter for the London Times, came across an arresting memorandum. Composed in 1983 by Victor Chebrikov, the top man at the KGB, the memorandum was addressed to Yuri Andropov, the top man in the entire USSR. The subject: Sen. Edward Kennedy.

Kennedy’s message was simple. He proposed an unabashed quid pro quo. Kennedy would lend Andropov a hand in dealing with President Reagan. In return, the Soviet leader would lend the Democratic Party a hand in challenging Reagan in the 1984 presidential election. “The only real potential threats to Reagan are problems of war and peace and Soviet-American relations,” the memorandum stated. “These issues, according to the senator, will without a doubt become the most important of the election campaign.”

Kennedy made Andropov a couple of specific offers.

Among the promises Kennedy made the Soviets was he that would ensure that the television networks gave the Soviet leader primetime slots to speak directly to the American people, thus undermining Reagan’s framing of the sinister nature of the USSR. Even then, the Democrats had the power to collude with the legacy media. Kennedy also promised to help Andropov penetrate the American message with his Soviet agitprop.

That’s right, folks. Even 30 years ago, Democrat senators were colluding with America’s enemies to bring down Republicans.

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