WASHINGTON, Dec. 17, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Robert Weiner, a former White House and senior congressional spokesman, now national columnist, reported that on Thursday, at the White House Daily Press Briefing, he was "privileged to be called on for two questions, first by Economic Advisors Chair Jason Furman for the closing Economic Report, and second by Josh Earnest for the closing question of the regular briefing. Weiner said that in his question to Furman, "I asked for details on the health care cost reductions under Obamacare Fuhrman recited and why that message has not gotten through when cost rises are cited by opponents."
"To Mr. Ernest, I asked if the Electoral College voters should factor in the newest revelations of Russian hacking and its impact on the U.S. election, and if the Electoral College electors have the Constitutional right to include those factors in their votes Monday." Weiner added, "The President made similar comments to the ones Thursday by Earnest at the Friday Year-end News Conference in the Brady Press Room.
I felt that the information is so timely for the Electors, with their voting Monday, that I wanted to amplify its availability, so it's in this report today.
We lead our report with our Q&A's at the White House Press Briefing, followed by the radio, and opeds:
FROM WHITE HOUSE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING, Noon December 15, 2016.
December 15, 2016 -- Bob Weiner asks questions of Jason Furman, chair of White House Council of Economic Advisors Chair, during his presentation of the closing Economic Report, and of White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, White House press secretary, concerning the electors' factoring in Russian hacking and its impact on Clinton-Trump
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Bob, I'll give you the last question.
BOB WEINER: Thanks, Josh. Given all the talk about Russian hacking, should the Electoral College voters take into account the influence of Russian hacking and the distribution of emails in their voting, which is going to happen on Monday, and do they have the constitutional right to do so?
EARNEST: Listen, I know that a number of electors have spoken publicly, raising some concerns and questions about how they should fulfill their constitutional obligation. I think that's evidence of how serious many of these electors take their constitutional responsibility. But I'm not going to stand here and tell them how to vote or tell them how to fulfill their constitutional responsibilities. This is a responsibility that they've been entrusted with. And there certainly is ample information about the election that has already been made public, but ultimately it's up to the Electoral College, and to fulfill their basic constitutional responsibilities.
(On Friday, President Obama amplified: "It's the American people's job, and now the electors' job to decide my successor. It is not my job to decide my successor. And I have provided people with a lot of information about what happened during the course of the election (most of the questions Friday related to Russia and its election hacking and impact). But more importantly, the candidates themselves, I think, talked about their beliefs and their vision for America. The President-elect, I think, has been very explicit about what he cares about and what he believes in. So it's not in my hands now; it's up to them.")
Weiner noted also that just yesterday the FBI agreed with the CIA's assessment that the hacking was done to help Mr. Trump and hurt Secretary Clinton. Weiner said, "This is a daily moving target showing successful Russian propaganda distortion of Americans' opinions as the election wound to a close, changing the predicted voting from one candidate to the other."
(Earlier in Thursday Briefing):
BOB WEINER: One of the biggest criticisms of Obamacare that's used is the cost, and yet you've said that we are now seeing the lowest growth in premiums vs. pre-Obamacare. Could you go into that more and why is that message not more successful?
JASON FURMAN, CHAIR, COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISORS: I think once people have read the chapter in here on health care in here, which is 105 pages, they'll all fully appreciate the set of points (aside: all night long – they'll pull an all-nighter and read it) but just to give you the facts. If you look at health care prices, since the Affordable Care Act, they've grown at the slowest pace health care prices have grown in over 50 years. If you look at health care cost per enrollee, they have slowed dramatically in private insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid. If you look at insurance premiums, they've also slowed, now among the lowest growth we've ever seen there, and if you include out-of-pocket costs, it is the case that deductibles have gone up; they were going up before the Affordable Care Act, that's continued to happen, but people also now get free prevention and get health insurance plans that have out-of-pocket limits, which they didn't used to have. So if you take all that into account, and out-of-pocket payments have actually … the growth of those has slowed as well. I think it's certainly the case that the health system is not perfect, people remain dissatisfied with all sorts of aspects of it, and that is completely understandable, and that's why there's a lot more work that remains to be done, but the health system is in much better shape in terms of both cost growth and all the measures we have of quality as well, for example, hospital-acquired infections or readmissions have also come way down and you can draw, and we do here, a direct line between some of the reforms we've made in Medicare and some of the ways the private sector has mimicked and adopted those reforms to really improve the health system, but of course people want it to continue to be better, and that's why a lot of work remains to be done.
Weiner Continued, "Also, here are our two latest op-eds. The first, by me and Ben Lasky, was just published in the Tallahassee Democrat about how Democrats in Congress and President-elect Trump can find surprising common ground, in infrastructure and health care. The second, by me and Thekla Truebenbach about eliminating gender pay gaps will be featured in Oped News. I have also linked to our latest radio appearances on "Steele and Ungar" (Michael Steele and Rick Ungar) on POTUS radio/SiriusXM about Trump's cabinet and national perspective. During and after the broadcast I was asked to guest host the show in the future! Attached are also our last few appearances on "The Alan Nathan Show" on Main Street Radio's 200 stations.
From THE TALLAHASSEE DEMOCRAT – December 13, 2016
DEMOCRATS, TRUMP, AND CONGRESS: Surprising Common Ground on Infrastructure and Health Care:
Infrastructure cannot prioritize tax breaks but direct job creation for positive effect, and Dems should compromise on tort reform for doctors to save 20 million Obamacare enrollees and new benefits for millions; Trump, Ryan, McConnell Could agree with Dems
By Robert Weiner and Ben Lasky
Weiner and Lasky stated in a fuller version of the article (article was shortened):
Although Democrats in Congress don't agree with most of Donald Trump's policies, there are some surprising areas of common ground in infrastructure spending and even concerning the Affordable Care Act. Congressional Democrats can either whine, curl up with a good book and their dogs as Hillary says she was tempted to do, or get to work.
While many remain are upset about the election, leading Democrats from Chuck Schumer to Bernie Sanders to Nancy Pelosi say they will work with President Elect Trump "where we can." Obama says the President-elect is "a pragmatist" not an "ideologue." As ultra-liberal Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said, "If Trump is ready to go on rebuilding economic security for millions of Americans, so am I and so are a lot of other people-Democrats and Republicans." This is a far cry from Republican leaders in 2008 who supported Senate Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-KY) statement that "the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term President."
With President Elect Trump making fixing the country's infrastructure one of his biggest talking points and citing his Trillion dollar proposal to reporters as first up, this is an area where both parties can work together.
But there is a big "however." Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellen on November 17 warned against the $1 trillion that Trump has proposed as a threat to the deficit. "There is not a lot of fiscal space," Yellen said. "The economy is operating relatively close to full employment," she added.
First of all the country has 4.6 percent unemployment, not the 3 percent "full employment" of previous decades. Second, the economy might not be in crisis, but the country's infrastructure is. The GAO says that as many as half of the country's bridges, roads, rails, and tunnels are in a state of disrepair, let alone the need for modernization to meet European standards.
According to The Florida Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers, in 2016 Florida's infrastructure rates out to a C. While the state's bridges were given a B, the school facilities received a D+ rating.
Yellen said nothing about the even bigger threat to the deficit-- $6 trillion worth of more debt—by Trump's proposed tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations. A report by the Library of Congress said that you get five times more bang for the buck when government creates jobs than from tax breaks for the wealthy. Likewise, the Congressional Budget Office found that every dollar devoted to the middle class causes the economy to grow three times faster than a dollar for the rich. Bill Clinton called it "simple arithmetic:" When you take money from the Treasury and give it as tax breaks for the wealthy, you are literally taking money from jobs, education, food, and health.
President Elect Trump promised to replace – and after meeting with Obama, said "amend," the Affordable Care Act, and keep some provisions. On 60 Minutes, he also said he would keep parts of the bill, specifically covering preexisting conditions and keeping kids on their parents' healthcare until they turn 26. Even though he specifically said the "replace" must be at the "same time" as the "repeal", he may be opposed by Congressional Republicans beholden to the insurance industry who simply try to kill the law.
Trump would be smart to keep the popular parts. 7.8 million Floridians have some pre-existing condition. When it comes to staying on parents' healthcare, since the law's passage there has been a 16 percent decline in uninsured Floridians ages 18 to 25.
Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), chairman of the National Republican Campaign Committee, told the National Press Club that it is important to emphasize they will "fix, replace, repair" and will maintain the law's coverage of new recipients, pre-existing conditions, children through age 26, and other good provisions. "There's a lot of these areas we're in agreement on."
One area in which Democrats could achieve enormous Republican good will is tort reform, so that doctors cannot be sued into bankruptcy for trying to do their job. Obama suggested including state model tort reform programs in Obamacare but congressional Democrats, beholden to trial lawyers, rejected it. Now is a good time to try again. Joe Scarborough said that if Republicans kill Obamacare, states that Trump won and especially Florida, with its more than 1.5 million enrollees, could "become bright blue."
Trump promised not to touch Social Security. That's good news for Floridians, over three million of whom are over 65. One in five Floridians receives social security. Florida's great Claude Pepper was the House Aging Committee Chairman and negotiated with Ronald Reagan and Speaker Tip O'Neill to include the current protections. Social Security is actually solvent for decades to come. Much of the "deficit" talk is a myth to give commissions to Wall Street for privatizing it.
Democrats should look for areas where the sides can agree to help the country, starting with fixing the country's infrastructure and making sure millions continue to receive healthcare.
Robert Weiner is a former spokesman for the Clinton and Bush White Houses and was Chief of Staff of the House Aging Committee under Rep. Claude Pepper (D-FL). Ben Lasky is a senior policy analyst at Robert Weiner Associates and Solutions for Change.
AMERICA'S SCANDALOUS WAY OF PAYING WOMEN
By Robert Weiner and Thekla Truebenbach
Weiner and Truebenbach stated, in a piece set in the queue of OpEdNews:
You would almost think that something as basic as gender equality would long be established in our society. Far from it. Especially when it comes to getting paid the same amount of money for the same work, the inequality between men and women is dramatic. We were shocked to see that Baton Rouge's disparity is especially large.
In 2015, there was still a payment gap of 20 percent between full-time working women in the United States and their male colleagues.
In Baton Rouge the situation is even worse. The Institute for Women's Policy Research analyzed census numbers and found Baton Rouge as the having the highest average income disparity between men and women for medium and large cities (more than 200,000 population) in the country. Women in Baton Rouge only earn 64.9% of what their male colleagues make. The average income of male workers is $53,155, whereas wages of female employees only sum up to $34,522. That means that woman earn less than two dollars for every three dollars a man makes.
The city's wide pay gap occurs even though women there tend to be more educated than their male colleagues. The female to male ratio at Southern University and A&M College in the city is 65% to 35%, and at Louisiana State University there are slightly more female students (52%).
One of the reasons why women often get paid less than their male colleagues is that many females choose to stay home with the kids or work part time when they become a parent. That obviously has a big impact on earnings, cutting back on paid working hours. Many companies are still very conservative when it comes to designing a flexible workday. Often young parents are not granted the possibility of arranging their hours as it is best for their family life, or they are not allowed to work from home.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) better life index found out that the US is 28th among 38 countries surveyed, meaning that the country far from leads the way. If parents cannot afford a nanny or their child did not get one of the rare places in daycare, one of them has to stay home with the kid. Most of the time it is the mother. According to the Pew Research Institute, in only 46% of American two-parent households do both mother and father work full time.
Another reason for women getting paid less is the choices they make in what they want to become after graduating. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women tend to choose jobs in health care, education or office and administrative support, whereas men prefer to work in fields like construction, production and transportation. The work men do tends to pay better wages than traditionally female-dominated jobs which require the same kind of education and skill. Jobs in the manufacturing sector in Baton Rouge for example paid women just more than half of what their male colleagues earned working in this business.
Are women in Baton Rouge and America picking the "women's" jobs because they cannot access the "men's"? Even after factors impacting the pay gap like working part time or being employed in worse paying industries are subtracted out, there still remains a 7 percent difference between the wages of female and male college graduates one year after graduation, which cannot be explained with logical arguments.
It all comes down to society still not valuing women in the same way as men. It is still in many minds that women are not worth as much as men and that they do not deserve the same. It is very hard to alter that kind of thinking implanted in not only many men's but just as much in women's heads over time, but we must.
Attitudes – and actions – can change if the government implements laws fighting this inequality, and if the private sector trains and educates itself. One of President Obama's final acts in office was the announcement at the White House on December 7 saying that 44 more companies have signed on to the administration's equal pay pledge with the goal of paying men and women equally.
Employers need to work to close the gap in payment between female and male workers. But in the end, a lot comes down to us as individuals. As long as we do not accept that women are worth just as much as men, in every single area and that no one has the right to take anything away from someone just because of gender, the gap will never close, and we will forever be stuck in the archaic age of inequality.
Robert Weiner is a former spokesman for the Clinton and Bush White Houses and the U.S. House Government Operations Committee. Thekla Truebenbach is policy analyst at Robert Weiner Associates and Solutions for Change.
"Steele and Ungar" on SiriusXM: (Bob is guest of Michael Steele and Rick Ungar)
For Alan Nathan Show with Alan and Bob on Main Street radio Network's 200 stations (six recent shows since Election), and other recent radio-TV, see: http://www.weinerpublic.com/radio.html
Best regards, and thanks again to Ben Lasky for organizing this compilation.
Robert S. Weiner, President
Robert Weiner & Associates News; and Solutions for Change Foundation
White House Correspondent, radio-TV commentator, oped columnist(750 op-eds in major papers)Former spokesman, Clinton and Bush White Houses, 4-Star Gen. Barry McCaffrey, US House Government Operations Committee, and senior staff Congressmen John Conyers, Charles Rangel, Claude Pepper, Ed Koch, and Sen. Ted Kennedy
Director, Press Briefing Room, 2016 Democratic National Convention
Winner, 2016 National Press Club President's Award for program recruiting young journalist to co-author opinion articles in major papers
1750 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW #28271
Washington, DC 20038-8271
Contact: Robert Weiner 301-283-0821 [email protected]
SOURCE Robert Weiner Associates