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By Erik Paulsen, former Congressman for CD3
The future of the Democrats' $3.5 trillion spending bill could come down to an intra-party showdown on a single issue: drug pricing.
On September 15, the House Energy & Commerce Committee, deferring to moderate Democrats, rejected a plan to let the government interfere in the price of drugs purchased through Medicare. Later that day, in an exercise of progressive political muscle, the House Ways and Means Committee approved a nearly identical measure.
Some on the progressive side are portraying the Democratic moderates as callous toward patients who need relief from high prescription costs. The criticism is misplaced.
This proposal would save Americans little at the pharmacy counter. It would, however, hugely damage the American system of drug innovation, depriving patients of breakthrough cures and vaccines for years to come.
At the center of this controversy is a collection of prescription drug reforms that would authorize the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate with drug makers on the price of medications purchased by the government through Medicare.
In this context, however, "negotiate" is a misleading word at best. The proposed reform would create a system of prescription drug price controls under which the government would cap the tab for hundreds of brand-name drugs. Medicare would pay no more than 120 percent of the average of the prices paid in six other developed countries.
Pharmaceutical firms that refused to sell their wares at this artificially low rate would be subject to a massive tax penalty, equivalent to 95 cents for every dollar of sales. What's more, the bill would make these lower prices available to private insurers as well.
The attempt to shoe-horn this major policy change into the budget bill has met with fierce opposition from moderates in the House, as well as Democratic Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Joe Manchin (D-WV).
Some might wonder why these holdouts are standing in the way of reforms that force pharmaceutical companies to cut prices. After all, roughly 80 percent of the country believes that drug prices are too high, and one in four Americans struggles to afford their medications.
The reason is that the proposed tax on innovation would not address the financial challenges facing patients. Instead, it would free up money to help fund other spending priorities having nothing to do with healthcare.
Voting for the School Board matters. We need people who will listen first to parents and students when making decisions. Early voting is possible at the Edina City Hall Monday-Friday during the day. Vote at your precinct on November 2 from 7:00 am – 8:00 pm.
There are 6 people running for 4 positions. The current School Board has 6 of 7 members that were endorsed by the Edina Teachers Union. They should be listening to parents and students first. They supported the union when they wanted to shut down the schools last November. They have supported Critical Race Theory ideas to promote racial equity that have led to declining academic achievement for all races since 2014. 22% of Edina students attend other schools. This has increased dramatically since 2014. Proposed changes for courses of study are being re-written in ways that are unacceptable for most of us.
I want a board of independent thinkers that will represent the voice of the community, parents and students not the Edina Teachers Union! Erica Allenburg has been endorsed by the Teachers Union. Michael Birdman, Karen Gabler and Dan Arom are supported by past Union leadership and current Board members who were union endorsed. That disqualifies them from being the independent thinkers we need in Edina. Look at everyone’s web site to make your own decision.
I recommend you vote for only two or three candidates.
Editor's note: We've listed all the candidate websites under the Local Elections, Edina tab on our site CLICK HERE
If you want our recommendations, contact us ([email protected]) and we will be happy to help.
Senate District 49 recently received an email that we felt was worth sharing. The author indicated he works in the public sector and we've chosen to not include his name.
“I proudly became a US CITIZEN two years ago and immediately started using my right to vote. I am very concerned the way our country is heading in the current political theater. I have some personal experience about voting manipulation and voting fraud in my country of birth, and the resemblance about what is happening here is very troublesome.
“I would like to vote for candidates that are pro-America, candidates that support and defend our exceptional constitution as written. Becoming a US CITIZEN was one of the most important decisions in my life. I swore to protect and defend our beloved nation against not only foreigner enemies but also local enemies, and I strongly feel that our local enemies are far more dangerous than any other foreign enemies.
“I could elaborate more; however, I just want to do my part and help elect GOP candidates in the next elections. Searching the names of candidates online helps a bit; however, very few candidates describe their political party affiliation (I believe it is a mistake when they do that) and I do not want to vote for a candidate opposing our political view.
“Thank you in advance for your help, I will continue supporting our beloved GOP party despite what others say about us, and believe me when I say that we are a very large “silent majority” we just need to stay focused and together.”
The Newsletter has run articles in September and October explaining Rep. Steve Elkins’ bill in the state legislature. I hope Bloomington citizens pay attention and start asking their city council members about this bill.
The bill itself is sweeping. Among other things, it would remove Bloomington’s power to zone a neighborhood for single family residences; force fast track processing of multi-family (including apartment) high density housing; and use the profit motive to almost guarantee builders would be scrambling to build higher density housing. It also provides a guarantee that property owners could build solar power, which means they could use the law to force neighbors to cut trees which shaded their roofs (where most solar power installations go).
Elkins’ own letter to constituents cites several articles he wrote or contributed to. In those articles he makes it clear that he believes single-family zoning is racist and has to be eliminated for that reason.
Elkins’ bill and his arrogant, elitist attitude endangers our right to live in the kind of neighborhood we please. If we wanted to live in a densely populated neighborhood, my wife and I would have stayed in Minneapolis. We love our single-family neighborhood and the home we built ourselves twenty-one years ago. Speaking for myself, I don’t need Rep. Elkins to lecture me about my supposed racism because I want to live that way.
Elkins has supported and does support city councilman Nathan Coulter, running for re-election this year (and also Shawn Nelson whose term ends in 2023). He has contributed to the campaign of Lona Dallesandro (running to replace Councilman Baloga) who in turn served on Coulter’s campaign. Coulter, Nelson, Mayor Busse and at-large representative Jenna Carter seem to form a tight majority on our council, support one another’s campaigns, and apparently are in ideological agreement with Steve Elkins.
This council in-crowd of cool kids needs to be asked straight up if they support the Elkins bill. And if they deny it, asked if the City is going to actively oppose it in the next legislative session. Candidates this year also need to be asked where they stand on the Awful Elkins Bill.
Erica Allenberg, chairman of the Edina School Board and a candidate for re-election in November, proposed to limit availability of the time devoted to Hearing from Members of the Public at Edina School Board meetings. This was at the Work Session on September 13. The entire School Board will be discussing this proposal later.
Every Edina School Board meeting allows time to Hear from Members of the Public. Anyone can sign up to address the School Board for 3 minutes. They just need to sign up ahead of time. This, along with the entire meeting, is recorded for anyone to review at a later date.
Allenberg has proposed to not record the “Hearing from the Members of the Public” portion of the meeting. It would be only heard by the 35 people who are actually attending that particular meeting. This is a bad idea.
The role of the School Board is to represent parents and students. The wider that the content of school board meetings is available, the better the public is informed on the issues of the day. This includes everything brought up as part of the community input.
I have heard discussions of school start times; bus schedules; school trips; academics; and many other subjects. In this segment, I heard a 4th grade girl talk about her struggles to learn to read in 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade. She had to leave the Edina School system to get the help she needed to learn to read. Many say that you “learn to read” in grades 1-3 and then “read to learn” the rest of your life. She read her 3-minute speech. It moved me that she came back to advocate for help for others like her.
Bloomington voters should consider who has contributed to their City Council members, to understand who might be aligned with whom and might be seeking influence.
According to finance reports filed with Hennepin County, State Rep. Steve Elkins (D, Bloomington/Edina) supported Bloomington Councilman Patrick Martin last year with a donation of $100. Readers may recall that the previous edition of the SD 49 Newsletter reported on Elkin's bill to use the State's power to effectively outlaw single family residential zoning in Minnesota, and to make other changes to "densify" our neighborhoods.
The financial reports show a direct tie between several of the current City Council members and one City Council candidate. Current Council members Jenna Carter and Shawn Nelson contributed to Patrick Martin. Lona Dallessandro also contributed $100 and was listed as Martin's campaign treasurer on the Schedule A of 2020's end of year campaign financing report. Dallessandro is now running in City Council District 3 to replace retiring Jack Baloga.
If Elkins, Martin, Carter and Nelson all support Martin, how do you suppose they will act ending residential neighborhoods as we know them if Elkins' bill passes? If Dallessandro wins her race and joins the Council, a majority of the council may be for actions like Elkins' Bill.
House District 49B’s state representative, Steve Elkins, is proposing a major change in the way our cities govern themselves. His bill, with no bill number as yet, proposes to take away Minnesota cities’ authority to zone areas for single family dwellings and effectively require cities to allow high density housing everywhere.
Elkins’ proposal has been ‘advertised’ in a Star Tribune article (‘When You Look At These Neighborhoods, What Do You See?” and in an OpEd Elkins wrote in the Star Tribune (“Twin Cities Housing: The Flaming Hoops Separating Builders and Cities”.
To understand what Elkins’ bill will do, you have to read both articles and then slog through the twenty-four page bill, pen in hand, referring back and forth from section to section.
Elkins wants to make state statute outlaw city zoning requirements that mandate single-family dwellings in certain areas of the city. His arguments lean heavily on the inconvenience to builders of the current zoning/building process, but reading through his news articles makes it clear Elkins is motivated by his conviction that our cities’ zoning is racist.
Current zoning restricts building in parts of Twin Cities suburbs to single-family residences, defined as homes which do not share a wall with another residence. Elkins proposes to open single-family neighborhoods to higher density dwellings – read “large apartments”. His motivations aside, Elkins goes to some trouble to make sure it is difficult to figure out what this would mean for Bloomington, Edina and Eden Prairie residential neighborhoods, so SD49 Newsletter dug into the details to see what the impact would be.
The newsletter this week contains several articles on the recent resignation of the MNGOP Chairwoman, the events surrounding that move, and the events leading up to it. Noteworthy was the statement released by the Congressional District 3 Executive Committee on August 17,
This statement was debated within the CD3 Executive Committee during a special meeting on the evening meeting August 16. The approval of this statement was virtually unanimous, with no dissenting votes, so strong was the feeling within this elected group.
The Executive Committee members knew that the feeling across CD3 was not nearly as unanimous. Yet almost all of the members had had personal experiences with Jennifer Carnahan or had heard first hand of her actions and of how she had dealt with people that did not support or agree with her. Allow me to relate a story.
A front-page story ("A new wedge issue in campaign," July 18) and a commentary("What CRT looks like in my classroom," July 17) recently criticized the critics of critical race theory, or at least of the "straw man" the critics are said to have created.
The critics' claim is that the real critical race theory is a mere corrective addition to the "current" school history standards, which supposedly omits discussion of slavery, racism, Native American/settler conflict and other American shortcomings. This is either naiveté or plain falsehood.
I hold a Ph.D. in history and I taught, as part of a multiracial staff, at the University of Minnesota's Tri-Racial Center — an actual corrective supplement to high school teachers in Minnesota and Wisconsin in the 1970s. After that time these topics were universally addressed in the high school standards, and have been for decades.
CRT is a far more dangerous and one-sided attack on the entire range of standards for history, literature and social studies — and on America's fundamental principles of equal treatment under law and outcomes determined by "the content of character" rather than the color of one's skin.
Let me offer some examples of "proposed" and current CRT-related educational phenomenon (oh yes, it is in our schools now). The proposed CRT-influenced state history standards literally dropped any mention of the actual events, causes or results of the Revolutionary War, the Civil War or World Wars I and II, except in as far as the wars affected Blacks or other minorities, and omitted the Holocaust altogether.
Anita Smithson, a Bloomington human rights commissioner, recently demonstrated that she has neither the disposition nor the lack of bias herself to serve the people of Bloomington in that position.
In postings to her personal Twitter account that have been obtained by the Bloomington Patriots organization and reported in AlphaNews and the Minnesota Sun, Smithson is quoted as saying that a Back the Blue Rally held in Bloomington on July 25 was “fascist radicalization.” “These people stuck in a cycle of fear and division don’t define us and don’t speak for us.”
Rebecca Brannon reported that the rally was held in appreciation of Minnesota Law Enforcement. Her photographs of the rally, one of which is shown above, depict a peaceful rally with a veteran-owned food truck and live DJ music.
All proceeds from the event went to the family of officer Matt Ryan, who is currently battling Leukemia for a second time.
As described in a Facebook post from the Bloomington Patriots, Anita Smithson dismissed the intent of the event. “The organizers try to say it’s a family friendly event. They even raise money for a good cause. But that’s all from the hate group’s planning guide. It’s still fascist radicalization and a refusal to do the work towards a more just community.”