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The Cabinet meeting this Monday was chock full of facts and feistiness. As a matter of fact, of a whole series of interconnected facts, the American people are experiencing the tangible benefit of electing a politician who actually takes his campaign promises deadly seriously. I commend the whole transcript or the video to your consideration.
One sample of facts and feistiness especially struck me: there has been a substantial, real reduction in overdose deaths for the first time in 30 years! For those scoring the presidential game at home, a president gets a maximum of eight years, and the two big parties do tend to fall in and out of favor, or vary in the quality of their bench, so we already know this is a bipartisan milestone. 2018 minus 30 takes us back to 1988, which just happens to be the last year of President Reagan’s administration, if my math is correct.
You remember President Reagan, and all the sophisticated snark about Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” (to drugs). Oh, that program continued on under its own inertia for a few years into the 1990s, but there was new thinking with new presidents: President Bush the First, President Clinton, President Bush the Second, President Obama.* Now we have a doer for president, who won on the basis of appealing to forgotten and discounted people in some of the places hardest hit by the opioid epidemic.
Excerpt of Cabinet meeting remarks** [emphasis added]:
THE PRESIDENT: That’s a big thing on the 401(k), Gene, too. That’s very important. Thank you.
Kellyanne, you were going to say about buy-back?
MS. CONWAY: Yes. Thank you very much, Mr. President. Because of the focus that you and the First Lady and the entire Cabinet and this administration have placed on combatting the drug supply/drug demand crisis in our nation, we are happy to report the first decline in 30 years of overdose deaths due to drugs — a decline of 5.1 percent overall — falling off of its peak in some of our states, up to 24 percent. A 24 percent reduction in overdose deaths in Ohio and 23 percent in Pennsylvania. We’ve got about 19 percent in Iowa, 17 percent in Kentucky, 11 percent in New Hampshire, and 9 percent in the hardest-hit state of West Virginia.
THE PRESIDENT: Those are really incredible numbers, folks. I mean, you’re not going to report them, so we’re just wasting our time.
MS. CONWAY: Perhaps they will. But it may —
THE PRESIDENT: Those — those are great numbers.
MS. CONWAY: But this battleship is turning in the right direction, albeit slowly.
But, Mr. President, the most significant bipartisan accomplishment, in my view, of your presidency was HR.6. We’re on the year anniversary of HR.6. Every single Democrat voted for HR.6, including the ones running for President. It is the largest investment of billions of dollars in prevention education, treatment, and recovery, and surveillance, and interdiction in our nation’s history on any one drug crisis.
Part of the education and equipping America is called “Take Back Day.” The Drug Enforcement Agency, the DEA, runs two Take Back Days each year. The next one is this Saturday.
Since the Trump administration got into office, we’ve collected 4.6 million pounds of unused prescription drugs. Let me repeat that: It’s not four — just 4.6 million drugs; that would be something. 4.6 million pounds. That’s the weight of 18 Boeing 757 aircrafts just collected. So it is a drug supply and a drug demand crisis.
I was cautiously hopeful about the big program of programs roll-out early in the Trump administration, but it now appears that something is working. And. No one in the bipartisan swamp, including media people who could get great stories and sell lots of soap, wants to make this a headline story. It is precisely in places that were heavily contested and supposedly not Republican-voting electorates that larger results are being reported. Hope in the wrong parts of the wrong states is bad for Democrats and the real bitter clingers on the TruCon dinghy, hoping to somehow stop President Trump and his “deplorable” voters.
But, wait a minute. Isn’t this news old? Didn’t the 2018 annual statistics come out at the beginning of the summer? Yes. So what is going on here? President Trump is leveraging a cabinet meeting, time in front of the cameras, to put the spotlight on a nationwide initiative to turn in unneeded and expired prescription drugs.
And isn’t a key part of the story the miracle drug that reverses lethal overdoses, snatching people back from the clutches of death? Yes. And. President Trump persuaded and praised the CEO of one or more manufacturers of opioid overdose-reversing drugs to either donate or sell at near-cost a massive supply, rushing them into the medic kits of EMTs in the hardest-hit states.
That is right, it is the man the supposedly virtuous people, the self-imaged upright suburban women who claim such offense at President Trump, clutch their pearls and lattes over, who has shown real compassion for the least among us. He has shown such virtue by the fruits of his work as the whole stable of Bushes and Romney have only blathered about.
Let’s get holistic and talk a few more facts the supposedly virtuous should applaud, if they were really virtuous. From the transcript [emphasis added]:
The economy, again, is at a level that it’s never been. We are doing — whether it’s household income, whether it’s almost any chart — and I think maybe the best of all is unemployment. Unemployment has reached historic lows. African American, Asian American, Hispanic American reached numbers that nobody ever thought would be possible. Had the lowest ever in history.
So, if you’re black, if you’re Hispanic, if you’re Asian — anybody — African American, Hispanic American, Asian: the lowest in history. For women, the lowest in 71 years. The best. When I say “lowest,” I’m talking about the best. Both the best unemployment numbers and the best employment numbers — either way you want to cut it. You can say them both because it’s best in both.
As far as employment is concerned, we have the most people working today than ever before in the history of our country. We’ve never had — there’s close to 160 million people. So it’s — some incredible things are happening.
[Wait now, aren’t suburban women supposed to be caring about fairness? Haven’t we been told they care about the poor and minorities as underdogs?]
MR. KUDLOW: Thanks, sir. I appreciate it very much. Here’s a point I want to make right at the start. You’ve put out some great numbers on some of the recent releases. You know, first and foremost, this is a middle class boom. I can’t emphasize that enough. This is a middle class boom, even though perhaps some people won’t give us credit for it.
You’ve been rebuilding the economy, re-incentivizing the economy, lower taxes, lower regulations, opening up the energy sector, tough trade reforms for level playing fields. So after two and a half years, average real family income: $65,000. In fact, it’s really closer to $66,000. So $6,000 gains. About 8 percent. It’s better than anything our predecessors have done, be they Democrat or Republican. I’m not being partisan here whatsoever.
And, actually, if you look at the composition of wage increases, sir, the biggest gains have come in the middle quintile, the fourth, and the fifth. The lowest 10 percent have had the biggest increases — not the highest wages, mind you — but the biggest gains, which is what really matters to individual people. So I think that’s absolutely a key point. The policies have spurred a middle-class boom.
Now, 3.5 percent unemployment — the lowest in 51 years. 1.4 percent inflation. We’ve had a 50 percent increase, on balance, for the stock market. Household net worth — household net worth of $12 trillion dollars. So, we’re about $103 trillion — $103 trillion dollars for American household net worth. Disposable income is now growing at 3 percent.
[The poorest among us are experiencing the most improvement, surely the Republican Women’s Clubs are throwing MAGA parties. They are not?]
But I do want to bring in my friend and colleague, Russ Vought of OMB, because part of this is the regulatory story —
[President Trump passes the ball to OMB]
ACTING SECRETARY VOUGHT: Yeah, we’re going like gangbusters, Mr. President, as a result of your commitment to the deregulatory initiative. […] So if we — if you look at the economy-wide cost savings, it’s $220 billion of savings for regulations — deregulatory initiatives in the pipeline. […] The Vice President is going to be leading a task force with governors to really multiply the efforts that they’re doing on the state level — things like occupational licensing — to make sure that a hairdresser in Montana doesn’t have to — when she moves, doesn’t have to go through a thousand hours of training when she moves to Idaho. [Hey, white suburban “Republican” women really care about women who are hairdressers, right?}
So we’re excited about that. And we can’t think of deregulatory initiatives without thinking about the work that Andrew Wheeler is doing at EPA. So I would love if you want to talk to — about your initiatives as well.
[The President moved through farmers, ethanol, reversing a massive illegal Obama power grab under “water quality” false flag, increasing foreign demand for our farm products, then pivoted back to the whole population and drug prices.]
SECRETARY AZAR: Sure. So we’ve had the third year in a row under President Trump’s leadership, of historic levels of approving generic drugs. Those are the affordable alternatives to brand drugs. We’re approaching 3,000 generic drugs approved under your tenure. That led to — just in the first 18 months of your term — $26 billion of savings for people from those more affordable alternatives.
And as a result, we have seen now, for the first time in 51 years, the largest decrease in prescription drug pricing under the Labor Department’s inflation index — the largest decrease in 51 years.
[Then the president turned to his new Labor Secretary for great news and initiatives for workers.]
SECRETARY SCALIA: Thank you, Mr. President. It’s a great honor to join you, the Vice President, and the Cabinet in the important work you’re doing for the American people, including on the economic front. You and Larry Kudlow mentioned some of those numbers, which really are virtually unprecedented. As you said, in some cases, unprecedented unemployment numbers — since we’ve been tracking — for African Americans or Hispanic Americans; the lowest unemployment rate for women in generations.
And as Larry said, for those at the lower end of the economic scale, they particularly are enjoying these benefits. Americans who don’t have a high school degree have the lowest employment rate we’ve ever seen. And this has been, in part, because of your efforts to bring about deregulation to free employers to grow, offer more jobs.
I wanted to mention two that we’re doing at the Labor Department, and they’re both as a result of executive orders that you issued, Mr. President.
So what we did was we reduced some regulatory hurdles that stood in the way of small employers coming together, forming an association, working with the local chamber of commerce, for example, to provide healthcare through that association. That association can give the economies of scale of a larger company. It has leverage of a larger company. It has other ways that it can tailor the benefits available to these employees at the small — at the small employers.
The CBO has estimated that about 4 million Americans would benefit from these programs and that they’ll have premium reductions of as much as $2,000 as a result of these plans.
SECRETARY SCALIA: And we’ve got a related plan, what we call association retirement plans. And this, again, was a result of an executive order you issued, Mr. President. Same concept: Let smaller employers come together, achieve economies of scale, exercise leverage in negotiating to offer 401(k) plans.
There are about 40 million Americans who don’t have a retirement plan, who don’t have a 401(k) plan. This will make it easier for them to get those plans.
So, this choreographed presentation, on camera, showed a whole of government assault on the underlying cause of the opioid epidemic, and of the mental health crisis, a long and pervasive hopelessness as the whole of society, especially the political and economic elite, have pointedly ignored the need for work and dignity arising from self-reliance.
This illustrates, in a nutshell, the complete lie that suburban women have a real “concern” about President Trump. Or, to “keep it 100,” we see here the real reason “suburban Republican women” hate President Trump. He has taken the economic whip out of their hands. The hairdressers, nannies, and lawn service crews are getting uppity. Workers are being truly empowered to command the wages they actually merit, not falsely suppressed wages subsidized by dis-empowering social-welfare programs. Instead of posturing about state welfare programs, the ladies who lunch are being forced to fork over cash in a free market exchange. They want other people to pay for these workers and keep them down with non-cash social welfare, instead of cutting into their latte and lunch money.
A less bitter and more honest politics would have leaders of both parties and of the Congress joining with the president to celebrate this good news, to rejoice over lives saved and to take a bit of a victory lap for areas of bipartisan agreement doing real good for Americans. It may take a larger reelection victory to break the fever in the swamps around the Potomac, and to force “suburban women” to really respect the dignity of workers.
* “Just Say No” is not the same campaign as the one launched in 1987: “This is your brain on drugs.”
You likely remember the 1997 version about heroin, as it was far more dramatic:
** White House transcript of full-on, on-camera remarks in President Trump Cabinet meeting, October 21, 2019.Published in