Look, folks, I am ordinarily among the first to criticize political partisans like Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Joe Biden (D-DE), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), their media proxies, and all the rest who try to politicize our country’s pandemic response by trying to take down President Donald Trump.
I won’t hesitate to call out the other side’s partisans either. Of course, like many others, I criticize the responses when we should, but it’s not necessary to personally attack executive branch leaders at any level if they’re doing a decent job taking care of their citizens!
Putting my commander hat on, I admonish everyone to get on the team and do our part to win this “war,” as the president has said. That leads me to this: I don’t care if you are a Democrat spreading false media and Chinese talking points about the federal response or if you’re a Republican undermining the authority of your state’s governor, you are wrong for doing so in partisan ways and it is obvious when you do it!
That compels me to focus on U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins (R-Port Barre) in Southwest Louisiana, who reacted recently to the latest restrictions by Governor John Bel Edwards. Rep. Higgins issued a Facebook video titled “We’re Not Going To Take It Anymore.”
“Really? He’s not?” is the inquiry from NOLA.com reporter Stephanie Grace in her article about the video. She is right to question the congressman because he is using his voice, his really big voice in Louisiana, to undermine the governor’s authority in the middle of a crisis unlike anything most Americans have ever faced. Quite frankly, I believe the only reason is that the governor is a Democrat.
As the famous commander of the Hurricane Katrina Task Force, Louisiana native son and retired General Russel Honore recently said on Fox News: “It’s time for us to fall out of the political season and work together.”
In that spirit, using an Air Force term to tell folks in the heat of combat to stop what they’re doing and reset: “Knock it off, knock it off, knock it off!”
Here’s my message for Mr. Higgins and all the rest of the swamp, regardless of party: Rep. Higgins, you say you’re fighting for your folks but in the DC Swamp you voted against them with your “Yes” vote on the H.R. 6201: Families First Coronavirus Response Act without debate and correction amendments.
Here are a few of the hits in the bill against the average citizen you represent:
- Put a massive mandate on small and medium-sized businesses while perpetuating the K-Street corporate welfare cronyism that Americans are sick of—exempting businesses over 500. Worse yet, the mandate was to be paid later through tax credits—and the tax credits would not cover it all!
- It does no good to mandate “paid leave” from a job that doesn’t exist because the business went under.
Instead of spewing your partisan frustrations at the governor of Louisiana, undermining his authority in the middle of an unforeseen pandemic response, why don’t you head on back to the DC swamp to help the Senate fix your mess? Your constituents need you to do your job, and that job doesn’t include injecting raw partisanship into the nation’s or state’s response to the crisis, placing lives at risk. Here’s a small list of things for which your constituents need you to use your position of power, advocating on their behalf by including the following tenets in the Senate version of the bill. From Conservative Review’s Daniel Horowitz:
- A limitation on Chinese visas and foreign students until benchmarks of transparency and cooperation are met by the communist Chinese government.
- A permanent provision of law mandating the suspension of travel from source countries and secondary countries the moment our government becomes aware of the spreading of a dangerous virus.
- A permanent provision of law stating that all immigration, refugee, and asylum processing must cease when there are restrictions on movement and commerce domestically. If it’s bad enough to restrict movement of Americans domestically, it should be severe enough to suspend immigration, which is more likely to transmit global epidemics across borders. With this epidemic, it took way too long to shut that down.
- A provision addressing how China is using immigration to suck out all our research and development, a problem recognized in a recent bipartisan Senate committee report.
- More funding for federal prosecutors: There is a growing epidemic of major cities ordering police to stand down and not arrest criminals or for jails and prisons to begin releasing criminals. The mix of businesses remaining vacant with criminals roaming the streets has the potential to create a second order crisis. Once we are spending endless sums anyway, we should beef up the federal prosecutors’ offices for the next few months to serve as a backstop against the local jailbreak. If we are federalizing every aspect of our lives, we may as well have the feds contribute to maintaining order, the core job of government.
- End ban on physician-owned hospitals: The biggest concern of our health care system, which is largely driving the push to restrict movement, is a lack of available bed space in hospitals. In general, we face a shortage in hospitals and affordable care due to the monopolies, mergers, and acquisitions of big health care conglomerates created under Obamacare. One of the most onerous yet forgotten provisions of Obamacare was the ban on physician-owned hospitals. That provision needs to end immediately so physicians can compete with the conglomerates while extending access to care. Doing so would immediately spawn a revolution in health care and stimulate the economy.
- Make telehealth great: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have temporarily suspended regulations on telehealth as well as some of the draconian privacy restrictions under HIPAA. The laws should be changed permanently to accommodate the better use of technology and communications to expand access to health care.
- End FDA bans on private testing: Everyone is talking about how government failed to deliver workable testing kits, which could have detected the virus earlier and flattened the curve of the spread quicker. What is less known is that government banned private labs from testing them. The minute Trump suspended that regulation, we had a boon of effective testing kits sprout up throughout the health care supply chain. It’s time this and similar regulations be permanently repealed.
- End all unnecessary regulations that stifle the supply chain of vital goods and services, whether they are environmental or labor in nature. We need to keep supplies of all sorts flowing.
- Medical Supply Chain Security Act: Pass Sen. Josh Hawley’s Medical Supply Chain Security Act, which would ensure that the FDA monitors and sources shortages of ingredients and materials needed for critical medical devices and drugs, with expedited approval of those items to go to market. Hawley is right to suggest that if we are going to bail out industries, we should demand answers about where they are going to make their products.
- Loans instead of bailouts: If we are going to bail out industries because of a lack of cash flow, then make it temporary and targeted, not permanent and indiscriminate. Ditto for small business loans from the Small Business Administration.
- Offsets: While we will obviously not pay for the entire cost, conservatives should demand at least a veneer of pay-fors. Sen. Rand Paul’s idea of cutting foreign aid makes a lot of sense when our own country is experiencing such a crisis.
- Refocus the mandate of NIH and CDC: The lead organizations dealing with public health crises have record cash, yet we are told they lack resources. Congress must reorient their mission away from fighting obesity and racism and make them strictly focused on public health management of crises that are too large for the states to deal with.
- Index capital gains taxes to inflation and temporarily suspend other income taxes: As much as possible, the focus should be on cutting taxes, not handouts. Rather than bailing out Wall Street, we should borrow an idea Sen. Ted Cruz has pushed in the past to index the capital gains tax to inflation. This will inject more capital into the market. As much as possible, we should be encouraging work for those who can or must work or who can telecommute. Let’s face it, a $1,000 or $2,000 check for every American is enough to bankrupt our Treasury but is a paltry sum if it’s designed to replace several months of lost household income. Clearly, unless we are prepared to cut $50,000 checks to every American family, we have no choice but to balance encouragement of work with social distancing. The best way to do that, since we are going to suffer revenue losses anyway, is to slash taxes. We need a live economy to actually stimulate. You can’t stimulate a nuclear winter.
- Sanction China: Finally, it’s time to divest and decouple from China. This begins by working with allies to sanction China until its government becomes more transparent about the source and timing of this disease. According to a study from Southampton University, there would have been a 95 percent reduction in coronavirus cases had China taken action and alerted the world three weeks earlier. Focusing a congressional response to this virus without dealing with China would be like focusing on 9/11 without studying the hijackers and al-Qaeda.
Mr. Higgins, I am hearing from small business owners all over Louisiana —many in your district— that they have merely one week left before they run out of capital and shutter their doors due to the issues in the legislation you voted yes on. So I strongly suggest you end your partisan bull-feces attacks on the state’s leadership team and join them to help win this war! If you can’t, then step down and let a real leader assume your spot.