Vaccines and Cures are hurt by price controls

By: Phil Green

I’ve been an airline pilot for over 20 years. The industry has had its share of challenges during my career, but I’ve never seen anything like today. The threat of COVID-19 has caused a severe reduction in business and tourist travel. This holiday season, fewer people will be boarding a plane to visit family or friends.

This is sad for my family personally and it’s also led to layoffs across my industry. The best way out is a COVID-19 vaccine.

That’s why I was thrilled about results recently announced by multiple biopharmaceutical companies. If vaccine progress continues at this rate, it seems likely that 2021 will be a far better year for families, communities, travel and tourism, and businesses of all types—and thank goodness for that.

The speed of this success is proof positive that America got it right with our free market system for pharmaceuticals. Our model supports maximum research and development so when an urgent need like COVID-19 arises, there are technologies and promising vaccine candidates at the ready.

Our elected officials must protect this system. Government price-setting and other interventions in the market have no place here. I only hope the leaders we elected this fall will stand firm against destructive prescription drug policies so that we can finally defeat COVID-19 and get back to work—at the airlines and in research facilities across the country striving cure other devastating diseases. 

Phil Green is a Mesa voter and a pilot for a major airline

COVID Relief Funds Need More Transparency and Oversight

By: Laura Oldaker

Fighting this pandemic has been extremely difficult. As a businesswoman and entrepreneur, I’ve seen the firsthand the damage done and know I will remember these days for the rest of my life as some of my most strenuous and stressful. Too many innocent Arizonans have suffered, lost their businesses or worse, lost their lives to this unyielding pandemic—so needless to say, I am ready for the days where we’ll be able to put this virus behind us.

Though local and federal governments have stepped up to help reinforce efforts like ours, and support our community throughout this crisis, there is much more to be done, particularly regarding relief funding. Specifically, the reauthorization of the Paycheck Protection Program could be worth as much as $257 billion and would help bolster local businesses throughout the country, many of which are in health care or directly involved in COVID-19 relief efforts. In making the important decisions as to how to delineate these funds, Congress must also implement measures to protect from fraud, waste, and crony capitalism—issues that plagued early relief efforts.

Increased oversight, transparency, and tracking are critical to prevent these PPP funds from falling into the wrong hands or being wasted. In doing so, the federal government can better ensure that our pandemic relief funds—our taxpayer dollars—are getting where they are needed the most, starting with our frontline workers.

Pelosi’s HR3 is a disaster for Seniors

By Marsha Volkema

As a Medicare beneficiary, I do not support Nancy Pelosi’s H.R.3, the Lower Drug Costs Now Act and neither should any of our Senators or Representatives.

H.R. 3 is a partisan solution rammed through by the House Democrats without bipartisan input.  It imposes international price controls that will have devastating effects on future cures and medications.  I have been on Medicare for _ years and while some of those years were better than others, there is always room to improve the program. 

We do need lower drug prices in America, and I want to support a plan that does that, but I cannot support a plan that does more harm than good. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office preliminary analysis indicates that H.R.3 would reduce the number of new medicines coming to market, drastically decrease research and development budgets and impact as much as one-third of drugs currently in the development process. We need our representatives to work together and support a better solution than Nancy Pelosi’s H.R. 3.  

Fortunately, there is a better solution.  Senator Crapo has introduced the Lower Costs, More Cures Act.  It is a bi-partisan proposal that lowers the cost of drug prices while also promoting new drug development. It reduces the middlemen who drive up drug prices and ensures that saving flow into the pockets of Seniors.  Unlike Nancy Pelosi’s H.R. 3, the Crapo legislation incorporates bipartisan ideas that are fair to everyone. Senator Crapo’s Lower Costs, More Cures Act is better for seniors and all Americans and we all need to encourage our Senators to support it.


Marsha Volkema is a voter from Congressional District 8

Hold Congress Accountable on COVID-19 Spending

By Lea Márquez Peterson

You and I may have voted for different people in this election, but I bet we’re both hoping for the same outcome—good government led by responsible, trustworthy lawmakers, whatever their politics.

Character counts with voters because we recognize that government can be a breeding ground for fraud, corruption, and abuse of taxpayer funds, especially when powerful interests are involved. When nearly $3 trillion is up for grabs, the potential for waste and misuse is astronomical—but that’s exactly the situation we’re in with COVID-19. 

The U.S has allocated at least $2.9 trillion to save small businesses, help families, and keep the economy going through this pandemic, not to mention treating and finding a cure for the disease. Of that amount, however, some $1.4 trillion has been spent without any accounting to the American people of where, and to whom, it went.

We do know some things. For example, we learned that large corporations like Shake Shack[1] worth $2 billion also received PPP loans meant for struggling small businesses[2].

Small businesses are far less likely to receive low-interest, forgivable loans to help them survive and pay employees. Especially minority-owned ones. While PPP loans worth millions were handed out to companies that didn’t truly need them, only 12 percent of Hispanic and Black applicants in the US got loans they requested, even though over half asked for $20,000 or less.[3] And, in Arizona, where 27.2 billion was spent, only 4.1% went to Black applicants and 31.1% to Hispanic business owners[4].

Other things we know about COVID-19 spending have been compiled by the Project on Government Oversight in a readily searchable format online. Arizonans can use this tool to discover who benefitted from a vast array of pandemic-related government programs.

To be fair, some initial hiccups with COVID-19 relief were understandable. Lawmakers had to rush into action when coronavirus emerged and they lacked the luxury of time to craft the best legislation possible. However, continued obstruction of meaningful oversight and failure to patch trouble spots cannot be excused so easily.

This is not just water under the bridge, either. A still raging pandemic and faltering economic rebound make trillions more in COVID-19 stimulus extremely likely. There is also movement afoot to repurpose $130 billion left in the fraud- and abuse-laden PPP. 

We should not allow Congress to commit such enormous sums without straightforward answers about all coronavirus spending to date. We must also demand stringent safeguards to ensure additional funds are managed more responsibly so that meaningful assistance can reach small businesses and families in need.

Lea Márquez Peterson is the former President of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber and a Commissioner on the Arizona Corporation Commission. 


[1] https://www.nbcnews.com/business/business-news/which-companies-are-returning-their-ppp-loan-here-s-list-n1194566

[2] https://www.12news.com/article/money/ppp-loans-released/75-cf905bec-53ee-4f13-a306-f157856d3ef4

[3] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/paycheck-protection-program-black-hispanic-business-owners-shut-out-survey/

[4] https://beta.covidtracker.pogo.org/

Prioritizing Transparency and Accountability in the Next Stimulus Package

By Jonathan Lines 

I feel immensely disappointed in the ways the federal government has failed to fully bolster the American people and the economy throughout the COVID-19 crisis. Too busy playing politics, they’ve delayed voting on additional stimulus packages and reauthorizing the Paycheck Protection Program, which could be worth as much as $257 billion. This money would not only aid individuals and families in dire need of financial support through this prolonged crisis, but also small- and medium- sized businesses who have long struggled to stay afloat, including my own. For the past 34 years, I have owned and operated a roofing business in Arizona. We benefitted greatly from the PPP loan we received earlier this year but remain concerned about our outlook as we continue to endure financial stress and uncertainty. 

However, I’d argue that we are some of the luckier ones. Regardless of the pandemic, people still need their roofs repaired and insulation installed. Small businesses—hallmarks of Main Streets throughout our country—will not emerge from this crisis unscathed, as I anticipate we will. The assistance they ought to have received from earlier PPP payments may have helped, but much more is needed to reinvigorate our economy and the businesses that are the backbone of our local communities. 

Though the stimulus packages and the PPP have provided valuable lifelines to individuals and the business community at large, any reauthorization must be accompanied with reforms to increase transparency and accountability in government spending. Without these critical reforms, larger companies and corporations will continue to take advantage of funds intended to support smaller- and medium- sized businesses, specifically those who are not equipped to endure the financial hardships brought upon by a crisis of this severity. 

The initial PPP loan program put $349B on the line. Effectively delineating that amount of money was no easy task – and unfortunately, it wasn’t seal proof, either. The prospect of what was essentially free money, intended to bolster businesses suffering most throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, didn’t go unnoticed by larger companies, corporations and chains. Additionally, a number of foreign entities benefitted as well – the Project On Government Oversight, along with the Anti-Corruption Data Collective, found that millions of dollars from the PPP went to Chinese state-owned companies

This negligence worked directly to the detriment of smaller and independent businesses just like mine, many of which found it difficult to navigate the process created to secure a loan in the first place. Because of this, hundreds of thousands of small businesses across the country have had to shutter their doors, unlikely to open them ever again. Alongside these closed doors comes crushed hopes and dreams and a distrust in the government entities who are supposed to support good, contributory American citizens in times of crisis. 

If— when—the Paycheck Protection Program is reauthorized, it must be accompanied by reforms that increase transparency and reduce fraud, abuse, and waste of its funds. These reforms are paramount to the survival of America’s small- and medium-sized businesses and all taxpayers should demand them.

Jonathan Lines is a Yuma County Supervisor-elect and the vice president and general manager of Lines and Lundgreen Roofing and Insulation. 

Time for a Bipartisanship Approach to Lowering Drug Costs

By: Lalani Hunsaker

Last year, Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats passed H.R.3, the Lower Drug Costs Now Act, which imposed international reference pricing on some Medicare perscriptions. I am worried that introducing foreign price controls will have a negative impact on the production and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines as well as other drugs already in testing and production.

The preliminary Congressional Budget Office analysis indicates that H.R.3 would reduce the number of new medicines coming to market and could drastically decrease research and development budgets. Granted, the analysis does say that in the near-term drug costs will be reduced, however, it does not account for the additional costs that would burden families due to the unavailability of lifesaving and cost-reducing new medicines. Furthermore, the Council of Economic Advisers found that HR3’s price controls would impact as much as one-third of the drugs under development and the California Life Sciences Association believes this will cause a workforce reduction of 80,000 jobs just in their state. I am worried that the bill does more harm than good.

On the other hand, the bi-partisan Lower Costs, More Cures Act also lowers the cost of drug prices while also encouraging new cures and treatments. It incorporates dozens of vetted, bipartisan ideas to update our federal policies and programs so that Americans get better prescription drugs prices. The changes in this legislation would also cap Part-D plans and allow enrollees who reach their out-of-pocket maximum to pay it in monthly installments. Under the modernized Part D program, enrollees would have Part D plan options that pass more of the discounts on to them, have peace of mind that insulin would only cost up to $50 per month, and would not face an Obamacare cliff scheduled to add an extra $1,200 to drug bills.

The Lower Costs, More Cures Act is better for seniors and we should encourage our Senators to support it.  

Lalani Hunsaker is the founder and President of the East Valley Women’s Coalition.

Leaders at the Competitive Enterprise Institute react to DOJ Suit Against Google

WASHINGTON, DC – The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit today alleging Google has broken antitrust laws with its search function and digital advertising practices.

Associate Director of CEI’s Center for Technology and Innovation Jessica Melugin said:

 “In the U.S., the antitrust standard is consumer harm. Consumers enjoy Google’s search without charge and the service continues to improve in quality and expand in offerings, like autocomplete and translations. It will be a heavy lift for the DOJ to show real consumer harm. That this bar is unlikely to be met is precisely why so many antitrust enthusiasts are calling for a fundamental rewriting and expansion of U.S. antitrust laws. Those proposed changes sacrifice the primacy of consumer welfare and insert competitors and broader socio-economic goals in its place. This suit is a mistake; antitrust should not be used to protect inefficient producers at the expense of consumer’s interests.”

Senior Fellow Ryan Young said:

 “Any antitrust lawsuit against Google is unlikely to accomplish its goals. The Republicans driving the lawsuit want to avenge perceived political bias. An antitrust lawsuit is a strange way to go about regulating political speech.

 “Democrats might take over the Republicans’ lawsuit or file their own case, depending on how the election goes. They are concerned about monopoly power. For example, Google has a major share of online advertising revenues. But online ad prices have fallen by roughly half over the last decade, even as print advertising prices have gone up. Any first-year law student knows that monopolists don’t cut prices.They raise prices, because they have the market power to do so. Google clearly lacks this market power.

 “Nor is using competing search engines difficult. It takes seconds to type ‘DuckDuckGo.com’ or ‘Bing.com’ into your browser—even in Google’s Chrome browser. While Google is the default search option in most smartphones, Microsoft’s experience with Internet Explorer shows that default status matters very little when something better is a dozen keystrokes away. Its newer Chromium-based Edge browser, the new Windows default, has similarly failed to catch on. Consumers rule the search market, not Google.”

Vice President for Policy Wayne Crews said:

 “The claimed purpose of antitrust is enhancing consumer welfare, but this suit seems more about competitor’s interests. One of the dangerous and unstated goals of antitrust exploitation is to grant lesser competitors forced access to the target’s voluntarily acquired customers without doing the hard work and innovation the target did to win them in the first place. News reports indicate that the DOJ asked rivals and other third parties for their views on which businesses Google should have to sell and which existing competitors should be off-limits as potential buyers in the forced fire sale.  

 “Government asking competitors how it should apply force illustrates the naked character of the rent-seeking involved here specifically and generally. We at least pretend that antitrust is about protecting competition and not competitors, but it seems the most prominent bipartisanship in Washington is to expand government power rather than reduce it.”

For more information about CEI’s work on antitrust, please visit cei.org/antitrust.

Congress: Let Big Tech Help Small Business

Written by: Jake Ward

Amidst the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression — when leaders should be boosting our economy and helping small businesses — a congressional subcommittee chair is instead playing politics and small businesses will pay the price.

In an extraordinary rebuke of American innovators and our global technology leadership, Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline (D) just released a report on “Big Tech” that recommends Congress punish success by forcibly dismantling America’s leading technology companies. More importantly, he ignores the invaluable partnership between those tech leaders and millions of American small businesses.

Research and common sense tell us that smart use of digital tools and online marketplaces drives small business success. In the best of times, businesses that use affordable, scalable small business tools grow faster and have higher revenue and profits. In a pandemic, access to these tools may be the difference between staying in or bankruptcy.

According to Digitally Driven, a survey of more than 7,000 small businesses, tools that enable e-commerce, digital marketing, more efficient operations and working from home give American small businesses a fighting chance during the COVID recession.

They form a Digital Safety Net, as businesses that embrace them anticipate four times better revenue than those that don’t. Additional research documents that online marketplaces provided more than $145 billion in value in 2018 and likely twice that during the COVID pandemic.

By rejecting the data, Cicilline’s report is wrong from its thesis to the conclusion. Government concerns of tech-industry monopolies and market dominance are always built on quicksand.

Remember Yahoo, AOL and MySpace? Zoom was virtually unknown in February but now is synonymous with video conferencing as Kleenex is with tissues. To assert that there is no competition in technology is to ignore recent history.

At the heart of Cicilline’s recommendations is a “single-line of business rule” for digital platforms and marketplaces. This “Glass-Steagall for the Internet” proposal may be clever branding, but really it is a bad analogy built on faulty mythology twisted into bad public policy.

The legend was that banks’ bad investments using consumer deposits caused the Great Depression, and the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 was intended to prevent banks from gambling with consumer deposits again. But today’s digital economy is not causing a Depression or the COVID recession. Digital platforms are delivering billions of dollars of value to consumers and small businesses and justifiably have been embraced as a result.

Another absurd proposal would ban digital marketplaces from showing any preference for their own products. But grocery and department stores have been selling their own brands alongside third-party products for decades. Will Congress also require store-brand cereal to be on supermarkets’ top shelves so consumers are less likely to find it?

The Cicilline proposal is a square peg in the modern economy’s round hole, and the resulting chaos will create inefficiencies and force higher prices for online ads, marketplaces, business collaboration tools, and many more services that today work brilliantly for millions of small businesses.

Despite the obvious evidence of tech industry competition and value, including digital platforms’ fierce competition for small business advertising, marketing, and software dollars, Rep. Cicilline is not convinced.

Or perhaps he is simply too busy headlining fundraisers as a modern-day trust-buster to pay attention to the substantive details and data. Is it any wonder that he is releasing the report while the media is occupied with the pandemic, Supreme Court and election?

Regulations are not inherently bad, and antitrust law is essential to protecting consumers. But the wrong regulations for the wrong reasons at the wrong time will have unintended consequences.

Forcibly breaking apart digital platforms will eliminate the gains that many small businesses have enjoyed for nearly a decade. The competition debate cannot just be about the “big” in Big Tech, as these platforms’ size and scale are precisely what enables them to provide small businesses with high-quality tools and services at affordable prices.

The debate about Big Tech must include Main Street and the millions of small businesses that are the backbone of our economy and will drive our economic recovery.

Rep. Anthony Kern on Arizona Propositions

As Arizona leaves the summer heat behind, we are headed into the heat of the 2020 election.

And while the presidential and U.S. senatorial races garner the limelight, state voters have a say on two very important topics – legalizing marijuana and raising income taxes on tens of thousands of taxpayers.

Rep. Anthony Kern
(photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Proposition 207 would legalize marijuana for recreational use, just four years after voters rejected a similar proposal. While Arizona has a robust medical marijuana law allowing people with specific ailments or diseases to use the drug, removing safeguards so that all adults have access to marijuana will hurt our society and lead to far greater ills. 

Allowing greater access to marijuana will increase vehicle crashes and lead to unsafe working environments. We need only look to our neighbor to the north, where car crashes increased by 10 percent following the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, for instance, has found a significant increase in car crashes in states that have legalized recreational marijuana. I don’t want to see that trend come to Arizona.

Legalizing recreational marijuana isn’t the only dangerous measure voters will see in November.

Proposition 208 aims to bring us the largest income tax increase in state history. The measure nearly doubles the income tax rate on thousands of taxpayers, including numerous small and medium-sized businesses.

Arizona doesn’t have a school funding problem, but rather the issue is how the money is spent. Just 55 cents of every education tax dollar goes to our classrooms. Too much money ends up in the pockets of administrators. I believe If our school district leaders made better decisions, our teachers and students would benefit greatly. It’s time to instruct those school board members and superintendents to target more resources into the classrooms to support our teachers and students.

An estimated 90,000 Arizonans will be hit with the tax in the first year. And according to one study, half of those paying the tax will be small businesses, the drivers of our state’s economy. I am also just as concerned with how the tax will stifle the earning potential of people who are near the cap. If striving to earn a little more money makes you eligible for the tax, government has taken away the incentive to provide for your family.

Additionally, it’s unclear whether the tax will bring in the nearly $1 billion backers claim. This unstable source of income won’t be the elixir to fix issues with our schools. Instead, approving Prop. 208 will drive businesses away from the state as employers seek states with fairer tax structures.

Representative Anthony Kern serves in the Arizona House and represents Legislative District 20 located in north Phoenix and Glendale.

Radical Liberals Running in Maricopa County

Most voters believe the role of an elected prosecutor, sheriff, or elections official, is to enforce the laws on the books. Prosecutors and Executive and Administrative offices always have some discretion in how they run their offices according to law, but they recognize the constitutional limits of their office. The people and their elected legislators write the laws. County officials administer them.

Events across the country have shown that when liberal activists take control of prosecution or administration of law, they will overstep their bounds with little regard for facts and the law.

Maricopa County is a battleground for control of the US Senate and for the Presidency. What many Arizona voters may not realize is that it is also a battle for control of the Arizona legislature and many important county offices.

Voters in Maricopa County elected Adrian Fontes after a failed Presidential preference election in 2016. After 20+ years of non-partisan elections, Helen Purcell’s office did not foresee record voter turnout in 2016. Long lines and understaffed polls, created a backlash and voters held her office accountable. They replaced her non-partisan and administration approach with Adrian Fontes, a man who is partisan, activist, and holds dissenters in low regard, telling one voter to Go F-yourself!. During this election year alone, Fontes’ partisan and activist efforts have been slapped down twice by the courts.

When the typically left leaning Arizona Republic posts Sunday news about Fontes failures, you hope that Independent and Republican voters will get the message.

For County Attorney, Allister Adel faces Liberal activist Julie Gunningle. Who is Gunnigle? Well, for starters, read her Twitter page. She is the type of activist prosecutor that would be a dream for outside groups backed by George Soros. She calls the County Attorney and her office racists without evidence, and vows to be an “anti-racist” activist. She supports Sanctuary City Policies and she is rabidly pro-abortion, not wanting to enforce existing Arizona laws.

If conservatives need motivation to defeat Julie Gunnigle, look at her recent tweets:  Gunnigle calls for the defunding of the Phoenix Police during the riots.

For other radical progressive views see her other tweets.

Gunnigle’s McCarthyism crusade to be an anti-racist

Calls County Attorney’s office racist

Gunnigle won’t enforce AZ abortion laws

Gunnigle criticizes Adel for enforcing existing laws on the books

Gunnigle donates 500 hours to helping with abortion

Voters in Maricopa County need to wake up and inform their neighbors about the consequences of a blue wave in AZ. If the GOP allows Democratic activists to run county offices, or to take control of the legislature, Arizona’s government will be transformed into an activists playground just like California, Oregon, and Washington State. Vote the Republican slate.