For months, comedian Bill Cosby has come under relentless attack amid allegations that he raped dozens of women over the years after slipping them drugs. As the controversy grew, some on Capitol Hill questioned whether something should be done to strip the long-celebrated actor of a Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded him in 2002 during the Bush administration.
Today at a White House news conference, President Obama abruptly veered from an extensive defense of the Iran nuclear deal to a thinly veiled denunciation of Cosby as a serial rapist. In response to a reporter’s question of whether he would consider rescinding the medal, Obama said, “There’s no precedent for revoking a medal,” and that “we don’t have the mechanism.”
Then, after noting that he rarely publicly discusses pending civil law suits that might result in criminal charges, he made this startling pronouncement: “I’ll say this: If you give a woman -- or a man for that matter -- without his or her knowledge a drug and then have sex with that person without consent, that’s rape.”
It was a dramatic moment as the first African American president in U.S. history denounced from the White House pulpit the conduct of one of the most prominent and (once) beloved black actors and comedians of modern times.
Cosby and his lawyers for months have dismissed as fantasy claims by more than two dozen women that they had been sexually assaulted by the actor over the past several decades – frequently after having been given knock-out drugs to make them groggy or put them to sleep.
But this ‘he said-she said’ controversy came to an end earlier this month after Cosby had admitted in a deposition giving Quaaludes to women he wanted to have sex with.
The documents, dating back to 2005, stem from a civil lawsuit filed by Andrea Constand -- one of the dozens of women who have publicly accused the comedian of sexual assault. The records were made public after The Associated Press went to court to compel their release.
Following that report, Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) said it was an outrage that Cosby continued to hold the highest civilian honor in America. In a statement to Politico, a spokeswoman for Gillibrand said Cosby's medal must be revoked "because we need to set a clear example that sexual assault will not be tolerated in this country."
Obama apparently agrees with the senators, but just doesn’t know what he could do to take the medal back.
As expected, groups representing hospitals sued the Trump administration Wednesday to stop a new regulation would require them to make public the prices for services they negotiate with insurers. Claiming the rule “is unlawful, several times over,” the industry groups, which include the American Hospital Association, say the rule violates their First Amendment rights, among other issues.
"The burden of compliance with the rule is enormous, and way out of line with any projected benefits associated with the rule," the suit says. In response, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services said that hospitals “should be ashamed that they aren’t willing to provide American patients the cost of a service before they purchase it.”
Between December 2017 and July 2019, enrollment in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) fell by 1.9 million, or 2.6%. The Kaiser Family Foundation provided an analysis of that drop Monday, saying that while some of it was likely caused by enrollees finding jobs that offer private insurance, a significant portion is related to enrollees losing health insurance of any kind. “Experiences in some states suggest that some eligible people may be losing coverage due to barriers maintaining coverage associated with renewal processes and periodic eligibility checks,” Kaiser said.
Billionaire John D. Arnold, a former energy trader and hedge fund manager turned philanthropist with a focus on health care, says Big Pharma appears to have a powerful hold on members of Congress.
Arnold pointed out that PhRMA, the main pharmaceutical industry lobbying group, had revenues of $459 million in 2018, and that total lobbying on behalf of the sector probably came to about $1 billion last year. “I guess $1 bil each year is an intractable force in our political system,” he concluded.
The Wall Street Journal’s Richard Rubin says Elizabeth Warren’s proposed taxes could claim more than 100% of income for some wealthy investors. Here’s an example Rubin discussed Friday:
“Consider a billionaire with a $1,000 investment who earns a 6% return, or $60, received as a capital gain, dividend or interest. If all of Ms. Warren’s taxes are implemented, he could owe 58.2% of that, or $35 in federal tax. Plus, his entire investment would incur a 6% wealth tax, i.e., at least $60. The result: taxes as high as $95 on income of $60 for a combined tax rate of 158%.”
In Rubin’s back-of-the-envelope analysis, an investor worth $2 billion would need to achieve a return of more than 10% in order to see any net gain after taxes. Rubin notes that actual tax bills would likely vary considerably depending on things like location, rates of return, and as-yet-undefined policy details. But tax rates exceeding 100% would not be unusual, especially for billionaires.