It’s hard to deny: each year, kids going around the block trying to nab candy from their crochety neighbors have had exceedingly-bad luck. When Mrs. Obama moved into that old house across the street in 2009, she only had sugar-free Twizzlers and…floss to hand out to the poor 9-year-old ghouls. Now, Mr. Schiff in that apartment complex down the way has made local news by handing out articles of impeachment instead of candy to middle-schoolers along with black sharpies to redact as they see fit.
Even worse, “fun” young Ms. Ocasio Cortez in that pricey chateau next door is known for giving kids the best candies, only to take them back before the kids can say “trick or treat.” Sources say that the scary woman from New York then takes the candy and distributes it to…non trick-or-treaters. Fortunately, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has the best “tricks and treats” in Washington, DC, offering taxpayers juicy bits of information documenting government officials at their worst, and yes, at their – occasional and very rare – best. Hopefully, the Hill will have eyes and use this information to save taxpayers from The Purge of their dollars. So, ready or not, here are TPA’s 2019 Tricks and Treats.
C-Band “Voluntary Contribution” Just a Floating Apparition
An active imagination – and a touch of paranormal mischief – can lead the mind to interesting places. Some believe they see creepy twin girls in a hotel hallway, while others swear they can see slime oozing from the wall. Yet others are even more delusional and believe that a satellite company consortium known as the C-Band Alliance (CBA)will adequately compensate taxpayers if they are given the right by the Federal Communications Commission to auction off a critical bit of (taxpayer-owned) mid-band spectrum known as the C-band.
This stretch of broadband is ideal for the deployment of 5G, the new generation of internet that will be at least ten times fasterthan 4G and will allow everybody to binge Stranger Things in record time. But the C-band is currently haunted, or occupied, by satellite company incumbents, and the CBA claims that they must commandeer this ghost ship in order to clear the spectrum in a “private sale.” TPA has been criticizingthis ghoulish sale from Day 1, questioning how a government-granted monopoly not compensating the actual spectrum owner actually constitutes a “sale.” In fact, it sounds a lot like a ghost trying to pass itself off as a human but lacking some essential traits. But unlike a ghost, CBA’s biggest problem is a lack of transparency. Hopefully this scary tale doesn’t pan out.
The Conjuring of Sham Vaping Science
In the beginning of most horror movies, things seem to be going well…too well. When vapes stormed onto the international scene roughly a decade ago, regulators were held in checkby the courts, and smokers were free to ditch deadly, combustible cigarettes and try reduced-risk products such as e-cigarettes. Smoking rates for teenagers and adults alike dropped precipitously, as cigarette users subbed out their deadly habits for a product that is at least 95 percent saferthan tobacco.
But then, the voodoo started. The Food and Drug Administration decided in 2016that vapes are “tobacco products” (despite the fact that they don’t actually contain any tobacco whatsoever) and gave vaping companies just a few years to submit to a spectacularly spooky process of regulatory approval. Since then, vapers have had their choices transfigured away, and on September 11, 2019, the Trump Administration announced plansto ban flavored vapes altogether, which motivate millions of adult smokers to quit cigarettes. This action, and an accompanying eerie fog of state vaping bans, comes as governments across the country have made vaping a boogeyman in response to hundreds of lung-related illnesses. The real monster is not vaping, but dangerous black-market THC productsthat arose as a result of regulatory restrictions on legitimate vaping products. Clearly, public health officials and talking heads have used hocus pocus to take the real issue out of focus.
Trump Tariffs are a Hellraiser for Consumers
The Trump administration’s obsession with tariffs is truly a puzzle box for observers, but one thing is for sure: consumers have been shackled with higher prices for virtually every product under the full moon. The fun began in January 2018, when the President imposed levieson foreign-produced washing machines and solar panels. But things really kicked into high-gear when Trump engineered 25 percent tariffson imported steel and 10 percent tariffs on imported aluminum on America’s trading partners.
A tit-for-tat with China ensued, and now, the U.S. stands on the precipiceof slapping 10 percent tariffs on an additional $160 billion worth of goods – on top of the more than $300 billion in goods already targeted. The latest tariffs (to be implemented on December 15) are truly ghoulish, and include cell phones, computer monitors, and shoes. TPA hopes that these tariffs are conjured into another dimension, saving consumersmore than $1,000 per year.
We Were Promised a USPS Business Plan by Midsommar
Like Dani and Christian, the love and trust between the United States Postal Service (USPS) is quickly falling apart. That’s why out-going Postmaster General Megan Brennan promisedconsumers and taxpayers a ten-year, comprehensive business plan by Midsommar (July 1). Excitement grew, and some postal policy nerds even traveled to Sweden to see if we can learn any international lessons on how to reform our postal sector, although we were told that such fact-finding did not include any mysterious celebrations in the woods.
Well, July 1 (118 days ago) came and went, and Americans still have not seen the plan to reverse the USPS’s $70 billion in net losses since 2007. Fortunately, TPA released a reportthis year detailing more than $3 billion in annual savings the agency could realize if they reform house and root out waste and inefficiency. The best part is, the postal-obsessed can print out the report and read it anywhere, from Washington, DC to Hälsingland, Sweden.
Pelosi Plan would drive stake through the heart of drug innovation
Like Dracula, government price-setting proposals in healthcare just never seem to die. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Ca.) drug pricing planwould destroy innovation and curtail the pharmaceutical brands that patients rely on every day. Government-engineered artificial pricing would suck the blood out of life-saving biomedical innovations that have saved and bettered billions of lives. To see what the price-fixing of drugs looks like, consumers need only examine the experience of European countries (and no, we don’t mean Transylvania). Pharmaceutical innovations in countries such as France, Germany, and the U.K. languishedas their governments prevented companies from recouping the oft-immense costs of developing game-changing medications. Big-government healthcare schemes need to go (and stay) in the grave.
Electric Vehicles spark Frankenstein-brained green energy schemes
It’s truly a pivotal transformation, as a dash of electricity brings an unwieldly monster to life. Now, that’s energy efficiency. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of electric vehicles (EVs), which aren’t nearly as green as Frankenstein’s monster. These heaping hunks of metal are resource intensive and getting those resources together for production entails plenty of environmentaland child labor issues. These vehicles pass into the afterlife, but the same cannot be said for the batteries ridden with ecological destructive materials such as lithium and nickel. These materials can haunt landfills and populations living alongside garbage dumps, even causing fires that burn harmful pollutants in the air.
And the worst part is that American taxpayers subsidize these Franken-vehicles, up to $7,500 per automobile. Luckily, the village folk of Transylvania…erm, America, are rising up to ensure that the tax credit phases out uninterrupted, as manufacturers surpass the cap on the number of cars authorized to receive a tax credit. But there are always some lawmakers (and devious mad scientists) determined to sneakgreater EV tax credits into unrelated pieces of legislation. Unless watchdog groups are vigilant in fending off these attempts, the “green” monster of subsidized EVs will never go away.
Trump Starts the Sweet Process of Scrutinizing United Nations (UN) Activities
For too long, international observers have had to play the game of monitoring the United Nations’ (UN) despicable activities around the world. The agency’s “peacekeeping” operations resultin a proliferation of violence and sexual abuse, while the UN’s “green” schemesfundthe infrastructure ambitions of corrupt dictators the world over. The organization, which receives more than$10 billion in US taxpayer funding per year, suffered another blow to its credibility in October by invitingnoted human rights abuser Venezuela onto…wait for it…the Human Rights Council. It’s not that the UN has ever exactly displayed a fondness for human rights, kicking out journalists from its conventions and frequently praising despotic regimes.
But at last, the Trump administration has signaled that it will no longer overlook these sorry activities financed by hard-working Americans. Trump seeks to slashthe UN’s budget and has entirely cut outfunding for the Green Climate Fund until further notice. Hopefully, these cuts remain as taxpayers enjoy a small treat and the UN receives much-needed scrutiny.
Title II Reversal Is More of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup than Candy Corn
It has been resolved: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are better than candy corn. And, with more evidence, the removal of onerous Title II regulations has strengthened the internet with increasing speeds and private investment. We heard it once, we heard it twice, we even heard it thrice. If Title II regulations were ever repealed, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) would turn into poltergeists and rob internet users of the freedom to roam around the web. Well, Title II repeal was officially enactedin June of 2018, and more than a year later, the fortune tellers warning about the end of the internet are still squintinginto their crystal balls, trying to pretend the internet is anything but fast and reliable.
Title II proponents have turned to discarded candy wrappers waiting for the internet to go back to the bad old days of utility-style regulation, where companies could land in a hot cauldron for the crime of…offering free internet servicesto consumers. But thanks to a recent federal court ruling, those nostalgic for government-run internet will turn to dust before old regulations are restored. In October, a judge ruledthat the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was legally justified in overturning the “net neutrality” order. The “bones” (think infrastructure) of the internet are now legally protected from arbitrary government rulemaking, and that’s cause if any for a toothy Peanut Butter Cup grin.
Reducing U.S. Regulatory Code is a Trick-or-Treat Bonanza
That stodgy neighbor who only gives out once piece of candy can find common cause with government regulators loath to give even the smallest break to entrepreneurs. The Trump administration and his team of policy officials are as determined as ever to hold regulatory agencies in check and keep ghastly “guidances” at bay. Significant progress has already been madeduring the first three years of the administration; energy sources have become easier to explore, and government officials can no longer hold up 5G with onerous rules and fees.
But there are some tight-fisted neighbors (i.e.regulators) who still refuse to budge in their candy allotment. Currently, regulatory gremlins can escape “spring cleanings” by issuing guidance documents, which unlike major rules, are difficult to keep track of and can be implemented without public input. In October, President Trump issued an Executive Orderrequiringregulatory guidance documents to be shown on a designated section of agency websites and mandating that the public be allowed input. In the light of day, haunted houses suddenly don’t seem so haunted anymore and trick-or-treaters can grab all they want without the watchful eye of a neighbor allocating candy.
Promising Medications Spells Significant Gratifying Savings for Taxpayers
The cauldron of medical innovation may prove too hazy for many patients and consumers to understand, but it’s hard to deny the benefits of the brews cooked up by biomedical “sorcerers” around the world. Promising gene therapies such as Zolgensma(for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA)) and Luxturna(for Inherited Retinal Disease) can beat back rare, devastating diseases at a fraction of the time and cost of traditional medications. Accordingto SMA sufferer Nathan Yates, “The first two years of treatment with Spinraza cost around 50% of one Zolgensma infusion, but Spinraza treatments must continue for life at a cost of $375,000 each year. The four initial loading doses of Spinraza in the first year of treatment total $750,000. Over a 10-year period, the cost-effectiveness of Zolgensma is clear.”
And in August, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) ensuredthat this not-so-black magic would be more readily available to Medicare patients across the country. CMS bolstered reimbursement payments for gene therapies, ensuring that patients can get out of the hospital and reenter the coven in short order. And since therapies such as Zolgensma are far cheaper than conventional counterparts, taxpayers save money when Medicare fully reimburses such treatments. With gene therapies, patients can get better in record time without making a deal with the devil (aka insurance companies). Instead of government agencies being afraid of medical innovation and taxpayer savings, they can don a fairy princess costume and grant the wishes of millions of patients eager for cutting-edge medications and gene therapies.