DAILY SIGNAL: Rep. Gary Palmer Exposes Biden’s Failures on Economy, Health Care

Americans have had more than a year to experience President Joe Biden’s administration.

If Biden’s slouching poll numbers are any indication, Americans aren’t thrilled with the president’s performance.

High inflation featuring rising food and gas prices, missing baby formula, and a hyperfocus on race and gender ideology seemingly are beginning to grate on the public’s nerves.

In the face of such issues, the common refrain from the president has been that it’s not his fault.

To Rep. Gary Palmer, R-Ala., this is just par for the course.

“This is the Biden administration. They lie through their teeth,” Palmer says. “They’re lying to the American people about why gasoline prices are so high. They’re lying to the American people about inflation.”

Palmer continues:

We had a hearing yesterday on the energy crisis, the price of gasoline. And I made the point [that] they first blamed it on the pandemic, then they blamed it on [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, then they blamed it on energy company profits. It’s not the pandemic. It’s not Putin. It’s not profits. It’s Biden administration policy. And they’re not going to change.

Palmer joins this episode of “The Daily Signal Podcast” to discuss the multitude of Biden’s failures and what Republicans plan to do to fix the mess.

We also cover these stories:

  • In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court overturns New York state’s strict concealed carry gun law, ruling it unconstitutional.
  • The Biden administration proposes significant changes to Title IX regulations based on gender ideology.
  • The Senate advances a gun control bill, avoiding a filibuster with a 65-34 vote.
  • Ukraine and Moldova become formal candidates for European Union membership.

Listen to the podcast or read the lightly edited transcript below.

Doug Blair: My guest today is Congressman Gary Palmer, who represents the great state of Alabama. Congressman, welcome to the show.

Rep. Gary Palmer: Glad to be here. I represent part of the great state of Alabama, the 6th [Congressional] District.

Blair: Sure. But Alabama is in fact a great state.

Palmer: It is. No disagreement.

Blair: So let’s start out with talking about the Department of Health and Human Services and health care in general.

You have been pretty attentive to what’s been going on with health care recently and it seems like Health and Human Services has had a rough going. First there was the forced “anti-racism” policy that you introduced legislation to stop. And then there is the ongoing baby formula crisis.

How has Congress been attempting to hold HHS accountable for these failures?

Palmer: Well, we had a hearing back on April 27 with Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra. And I asked him about this new rule that they put forward that will incentivize doctors to implement what they call anti-racism programs. And really what it will wind up doing is incentivize reverse discrimination.

And he denied that the rule existed. He claimed that I had misinformation. The very next day in the Ways and Means Committee, Congressman Jason Smith asked him about it. He denied it again even though it’s clear in the rule.

So it indicates to me that he was either trying to mislead Congressman Smith and me, or he’s ignorant of what’s actually going on under his watch at HHS.

But the rule is, it’s in the rule and would give incentives to doctors who implement what the HHS calls anti-racism programs that basically would pay doctors a bonus to discriminate against other people.

Blair: Have you been successful in maybe pushing HHS and these other organizations to stop doing these types of things?

Palmer: No. I mean, this is the Biden administration. They lie through their teeth. They’re lying to the American people about why gasoline prices are so high. They’re lying to the American people about inflation.

We had a hearing yesterday on the energy crisis, the price of gasoline. And I made the point they first blamed it on the pandemic, then they blamed it on [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, then they blamed it on energy company profits. It’s not the pandemic. It’s not Putin. It’s not profits. It’s Biden administration policy. And they’re not going to change.

Biden is using the Defense Authorization Act to try to force the energy companies to produce more fossil fuel. At the same time he’s doing that, Douglas, the other parts of the administration are using regulations to block them.

So they’re saying one thing and doing another and this is consistent throughout the administration. It’s intentional. And so when it’s intentional, I’ll introduce this bill, but it’ll never get a vote. It won’t even be brought up in committee.

But what we’re trying to do is to educate the American public about what’s really happening in this administration.

Blair: It sounds like all of these things kind of tie together. The failure of HHS and of other aspects of the Biden administration to come together is creating more and more problems for the American people.

Palmer: Absolutely. I heard yesterday that we might see eggs at $12 a dozen. I mean, we’ve been talking about $6 gallon gas, well, we’re there. And it’s going to continue to go up.

The other thing that people need to know about this and even on the health care side, your insurance premiums are going up. Everything’s going up. And there are things that we could do on the health care side that would clearly reduce the cost of health insurance, but they’re not going to do it.

There are things that we have proposed that would allow small companies, independent contractors, to get health insurance through association group plans. They will not do that.

For younger people who don’t think they need to be paying $500 or $600 a month in premiums for insurance because they think they’re invincible, could get short-term insurance and buy what they need to protect them against an accident or something like that. They won’t allow that.

All of that would bring premiums down.

As I’ve already discussed on the energy side, we will never run out of natural gas. We will never run out of oil. That’s how huge the reserves are. If we continue to use it at the same rate that the world used it for the last hundred years, we’ve got one reserve in western Colorado, southwestern Wyoming, and northern Utah that contains more recoverable oil than the entire world’s used in the last hundred years. We’ll never run out.

But instead of tapping into these resources to bring these costs down, they’re pushing policies to force us into renewables when the grid won’t support it, when renewables cannot generate the energy capacity that we need.

And I think really what it is, they know they’re going to lose in the midterm, the House, and I think they’ll lose the Senate as well. So they see this as a five- or six-month window to try to shove everything they can down the American people’s throat in these last four or five months when they have the majority in both houses and the White House. And the same thing’s going on over at HHS. That’s this whole idea of this rule.

Blair: Right. Now, speaking of crises that you mentioned, obviously, the energy crisis that we’re going through, but we are still going through a baby formula crisis.

Palmer: Absolutely.

Blair: Months and months after the fact. You obviously mentioned this hearing that you went to, but it seems like not much has changed since then. Because I just read a report that indicated that Americans are now having to import formula from Mexico to bridge the gap. How is Congress planning to address those issues both before with Democrat control of the House and possibly in November?

Palmer: Well, again, American people need to understand that when you’re in the minority, you have zero power. You can’t even get a committee room to have your own hearing without the other side’s permission.

So they brought in people from Abbott. That’s where this whole thing started, as Abbott represents about 47% of the baby formula market, and their plant in Sturgis, Michigan, produced 40% of that. So when that facility had to shut down, you immediately had a supply crisis.

We had that hearing with the FDA and I brought up the fact that the guy who is over the division that handles food, the food part of FDA, the Food and Drug Administration, the people who actually do the inspections and should have oversight of it don’t report to him.

So you had a situation where in 2019, there were multiple reports about the problems at that Sturgis plant in Michigan. There were at least 16 complaints by parents and medical personnel that there was a problem with the formula coming out of that plant.

The FDA did an inspection. There were numerous violations, problems with the drying vessels and leaky roof and a number of things. And then COVID hit. And there was not another inspection by the FDA, not another inspection by the state of Michigan, and Abbott didn’t do anything to fix the problems.

In 2021, when they finally came back and did inspections, the FDA notified Abbott ahead of time, which is highly unusual, Douglas. They normally don’t do that. They just show up. But they notified them ahead of time, still found those problems, and didn’t include it in their report. It took a whistleblower inside Abbott submitting a report to get action on this.

So when we get the majority back, we’re going to dig deeper into this. And I’ve already submitted questions to Abbott. I want to know who the FDA contacted and informed about the inspection. I want to know who they sat down with to determine what would be in the FDA report, if Abbott had any influence in that report. And I want to know why Abbott, having known this for two and a half years, didn’t do anything to correct it.

Blair: I want to go back to what you mentioned at the earlier part, where you questioned Frank Yiannas, who is the FDA’s deputy commissioner for food policy and response, about how he was unaware that this was even happening.

It seems like there’s this general trend of either somebody’s not aware or somebody’s incompetent and something happens. Do you see the Biden administration as having a repeated pattern of this type of behavior?

Palmer: I don’t know if this can be totally put on the Biden administration in the context of what led up to this. I think the problem with the Biden administration is the response to it. And the fact that you have an organizational structure where the individual who should ultimately be responsible for making sure that these things don’t happen, the people who are doing the inspections and have the information don’t even report to him.

And he, according to The Washington Post now, made an attempt to start a restructuring process and was told to stand down. He didn’t want to respond to that when I brought that question up in the hearing.

But first of all, I think we’ve got to look at the structure of the FDA. And what I’ve been told is that there’s more emphasis on drugs than on food safety. And the people who head up the FDA are generally medical doctors. So we’ve got to figure out how we’re going to make the FDA work properly.

But the other thing that we need to look into that you just brought up is the Biden administration’s culpability in this. It’s one of those, I hate to use the old Watergate phrase, the 50th anniversary of Watergate, but what did you know and when did you know it? And then there’s the “why” question. Why didn’t you act? What took so long? And that’s where I think the Biden administration has some culpability.

Blair: Now, it sounds like, again, that there are these things that are coming out of the Biden administration that are just so antithetical to American values that it’s problematic.

As you mentioned before, there’s that bill from last month that would ban health care providers from adopting racially discriminatory policies at the request of the Department of Health and Human Services. What is the status of that legislation?

Palmer: It’s been filed. But like I said before, it’s never going to get to committee. I mean, when you’re in the minority, you can introduce whatever you want to, but it’s entirely up to the majority to advance the legislation.

Blair: And the majority’s not interested.

Palmer: They’re apparently not interested. But I think we as Republicans have to lay down markers for the American people to let them know what we will do when we’re in the majority. And I can assure you that bill will be reintroduced in the next Congress. And I think I can speak with a pretty high degree of certainty that it will get a hearing and it will advance.

We’re going to lay out for the American people what they can expect from Republicans in the majority. We’ll be rolling out our “Commitment to America” a little later, I think the end of August, around September.

And when we get the majority, unlike the Democrats—when they got the majority, we all got sworn in, and then they recessed for the rest of the week so they could go have a retreat to figure out what they’re going to do—when we get sworn in, we will start dropping bills that day.

Blair: Sure.

Palmer: And we’ll pass them.

Blair: Excuse me, you did mention at the top of the show that there is some legislation that you were going to introduce. What is that legislation?

Palmer: Well, tomorrow I’ll be introducing a bill that will allow states to require proof of citizenship to vote in federal elections. Arizona passed a bill like that and the Supreme Court struck it down because they said that the National [Voter] Registration Act does not require that.

Now states can require proof of citizenship to vote in state and local elections, but not federal elections. So my bill amends the National [Voter] Registration Act so that states can now require proof of citizenship to vote in federal elections.

And then there’s two other bills. We have a huge problem. And this is part of what raised so many questions in the 2020 election about the integrity of the election. In 2012, the Pew Research Center put out a report and said that there’s 24 million Americans improperly registered. Almost a million of them are deceased. Almost 3 million are registered in multiple states.

Well, that is a problem with the states not having accurate voter files. Judicial Watch has filed numerous lawsuits to try to force state and counties to clean up their voter files. One suit involved Los Angeles County, where they found that there’s 1.5 million more people registered to vote in LA County than are old enough to vote who live in the county.

The state of Michigan, for instance, is 105% registered to vote. That means they’ve got 5% more people registered to vote than are eligible to vote in that state, and the average is 74%.

So you see what an enormous gap it really is, instead of comparing it to 100% registered to what the national average is. Sixteen counties in Michigan are over 110% registered to vote. One of them is 119%. And all the counties around Detroit are over 110%. Overall, they’ve got 67 counties in Michigan that are 100% registered or higher.

There’s over 800,000 inactive voters still on the voter files in Pennsylvania. The counties around Atlanta, over 100% registered to vote. It creates a huge problem.

And there’s two bills that I’m introducing—one that will put requirements on the secretaries of states in terms of reporting to Congress through the Election Assistance Commission on their progress in cleaning up their voter files.

And then the other one takes away the safe harbor that exists where the secretaries of state can send you a change of address card that you have to send back to certify that you’ve moved. Or if you don’t send it back, they just assume you’re still there. And they claim that’s sufficient. Well, it’s not.

There needs to be cross-referencing with the Division of Motor Vehicles, driver’s license. And I think there needs to be cross-referencing with the death data. And maybe even by collaborating between the states and their death data and Social Security. That would also help us reduce the amount of improper payments we send out through Social Security to dead people.

Blair: As we wrap-up here, I do want to combine all of this information. So as you’ve mentioned before, when you’re in the minority, it’s very difficult to get things done. So you’re introducing this bill. You’re introducing these bills on health care. You have all this stuff. If Republicans take back Congress in November, President [Joe] Biden will still be in the White House.

Palmer: Right.

Blair: What is the plan then to counter some of his worst instincts with legislation?

Palmer: Well, the most important thing we can do is on the appropriation side. Because despite all efforts to the contrary, the House still has the power of the purse. That will be difficult because it could force us into situations where there could be government shutdowns, and we will be forced to negotiate with them.

What people need to understand is that we could have a really big majority in the House, and I believe the potential for that to happen is there. But we get the majority back in the Senate, we’re not going to have 60, and they’ll still have the ability to filibuster whatever we send over, unless it’s something done through reconciliation, which is not subject to filibuster. And we’re not going to do away with the filibuster. Thank God we have it now.

But let’s just say we do get some things passed by both houses and send it over to the White House and the president vetoes that legislation. We will not have enough votes in either House or the Senate to overturn a veto.

So people need to understand this little civics lesson about how things work.

But I think the most important thing for us as Republicans—and [House Minority Leader] Kevin McCarthy is all on board of this. He wants to have an election of contrast. This is what we’re for.

And once we get the majority back and then demonstrate our commitment to these things by introducing these bills and getting them passed—because again, in the next two years, the next Congress, we have to message to the American people what we will do when we have the House, the Senate, and the White House to get our country back on the right track.

Blair: That was Congressman Gary Palmer, a representative from the great state of Alabama. Congressman, thank you so much for your time.

Palmer: Thanks for having me on.

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