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GOP Leader McCarthy Unveils ‘Commitment To America’ Plan

GOP Leader McCarthy Unveils ‘Commitment To America’ Plan

Authored by Joseph Lord via The Epoch Times,

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)…

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GOP Leader McCarthy Unveils 'Commitment To America' Plan

Authored by Joseph Lord via The Epoch Times,

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Sept. 23 unveiled Republicans’ “Commitment to America” plan, which includes a litany of policy promises on various issues.

While the race for the Senate is generally considered slightly favorable for Democrats, in the House it’s widely expected that Republicans will be in control next year.

If they do take the lower chamber, McCarthy is on track to become speaker of the House.

‘A Plan for a New Direction’

McCarthy on Sept. 23 sat down with “Capitol Report” on NTD to discuss the plan, which he called “a plan for a new direction.”

He said that the plan is about “the American public, not about the politicians in Washington."

“For last year and a half, we’ve gone across the nation listening to Americans,” he continued. “And they’re fearful. They wonder whether they can afford it—can they afford to fill up their gas, can they go to the grocery store again which now costs more?”

Adding to these worries, McCarthy noted, is rapidly-rising inflation, which over the past year has broken record after record.

“Now [Americans’] take-home pay is less,” he said. “They only get 11 months, they lost one month of their wages, because the Democrats have caused inflation. And so what we think you should do is actually have a plan for a new direction.”

“That’s what the commitment to America is—a plan for a new direction where we’ll have an economy that’s strong, we take away this runaway spending [by] Democrats, we make America energy independent, so your price of gas goes lower, more money in your pocket, inflation gets slowed down.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), speaks during the Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony to honor the merchant mariners of World War II in Washington May 18, 2022. (Oliver Contreras/Getty Images)

Stop ‘Runaway Spending,’ Address Inflation

The key pillars of the plan re-articulate oft-repeated GOP criticisms of the current regime.

One such position is a promise to stop Democrats’ “runaway spending.” Since they thinly took the majority of both chambers, Democrats have spent a staggering amount of money, and the cost of consumer essentials has risen by over eight percent on average.

In March 2021, the party used the partisan reconciliation process to pass a $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill dubbed the American Rescue Plan with no GOP support or input. Later, the majority party was joined by a handful of Republicans in each chamber to pass a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill.

At the same time, the party pushed for an even more expensive reconciliation, the Build Back Better Act. In its first draft, the 2,000-page bill would have cost $3.5 trillion. Later, in an effort to win the crucial support of Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), that figure was dropped to $1.75 trillion, but this bill also failed when Manchin announced that he would not support the package at all.

Most recently, the party again turned to the reconciliation process to pass the Inflation Reduction Act, a bill that carried over some key elements of Build Back Better and which will cost taxpayers over $700 billion.

President Joe Biden signs the Inflation Reduction Act as Democrat lawmakers look on at the White House in Washington, on Aug. 16, 2022. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

In total, these three bills alone come out to well over $3.8 trillion spent by the majority party over the course of only a few short years.

Republicans have been highly critical of this pattern of spending, which they argue is the largest factor behind soaring inflation that has reduced the spending power of the dollar by almost 10 percent. McCarthy made just this point.

“If you watch, how did inflation start, it wasn’t just Republicans warning the Democrats because remember, only Democrats voted for the American Rescue Plan,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy also noted that the GOP position was influential among even many Democrat economists.

“Larry Summers, a Democrat, [and] former Secretary of the Treasury warned them not to do it, you cause inflation,” McCarthy said. “Steve Rattner, an economic adviser to [President Barack Obama] calls it ‘the original sin of inflation.'”

“We’ve got to stop that runaway spending,” the California Republican added.

Restore US Energy Independence

Republicans will also seek to restore American energy independence if they take the House, McCarthy said.

Under President Donald Trump, the United States became energy independent for the first time in decades. But when he took office, President Joe Biden, citing the so-called “climate crisis,” significantly cut U.S. energy capacity by shuttering the long-debated Keystone XL Pipeline and by declaring a moratorium on new oil and natural gas leases on federal lands.

At the time, critics warned that these policies would substantially raise gas prices. When the predicted price spikes came about, Biden pulled millions of barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve rather than reversing his energy policies. Republicans joined by Joe Manchin unanimously opposed the move, calling on Biden to reverse his policies rather than pulling from U.S. reserves, which were intended to be used in case of global or financial crises.

If they take the House, McCarthy said that Republicans will work to restore America’s energy sector.

A person uses the keypad on a pump at a gas station in Arlington, Va., on July 29, 2022. (Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images)

Beyond Democrats’ spending, McCarthy noted that the rising costs of energy have had a substantial impact in worsening inflation.

“Another cause of inflation is the rise of energy costs,” he said. “So we’re going to make America energy independent, create more American jobs, but lower the price. The energy cost goes in every product and good.

“We’re going to make a sound economy with sound money policies,” he added. “That’s a start to get us under control.”

‘A Nation That’s Safe’

McCarthy also said that Republicans will work to reduce crime rates.

Over the past two years, cities across the U.S. have begun to see higher and higher rates of violent crime, with many cities breaking past records for homicide rates.

Republicans have blamed the situation in part on the “soft-on-crime” attitude of Democrats and liberals in the criminal justice system.

Following the death of George Floyd in 2020, anti-police sentiments spiked among liberals, and in several major cities prosecutors and district attorneys have refused to enforce several laws.

Speaking on this issue, McCarthy said, “We believe in a nation that’s safe.”

“We watch the Democrats defund the police and crime rises—from Portland to Philadelphia, it’s the highest it’s been in 20 years,” he continued. “So we … will make sure we don’t defund the police. We’ll actually bring 200,000 more police officers, we put the accountability to these prosecutors and [district attorneys] to uphold the law fairly and equally.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) speaks with U.S. Capitol Police Officers after arriving on a bicycle to an event at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial as part of the “Back The Blue” bike ride in Washington, on May 12, 2022. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

After largely evading the issue during most of the 117th Congress, Democrats on Sept. 22 finally tried to address rising crime rates with a series of policing bills that passed through the House along broadly party lines. The move, coming as it does only weeks out from a midterm election, raised eyebrows among observers after two years of largely anti-police sentiments among many Democrats.

‘A Future That’s Built on Freedom’

McCarthy also vowed that Republicans will address ongoing controversies in public schools about parents’ rights.

Schools in several major cities have faced scrutiny for the content being taught to children, which has included controversial topics like homosexuality, critical race theory, and graphic representations of nudity or sexual intercourse sometimes shown to children as young as primary school age. In turn, many parents in school districts across the United States have turned up to school board meetings to challenge the material being taught to their children.

If Republicans take the House, McCarthy promised a long-touted “parents bill of rights,” which McCarthy said would ensure that “parents have a say in their children’s education.”

The issue has increasingly become a rallying cry for Republicans.

Republican Glenn Youngkin made the issue the central pillar of his 2021 gubernatorial race in Virginia, which he later won by margins far wider than observers had predicted.

A local mother at a rally outside the Loudoun County Public Schools administration building in Ashburn, Va., on Sept. 13, 2022. (Terri Wu/The Epoch Times)

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has also put focus on the issue, lobbying and successfully passing a bill that forbids schools from teaching young children about issues like sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation. Though critics dubbed the legislation the “don’t say gay” bill, polls on it have generally shown that most Americans support the move.

The role of parents in determining what schools teach their children has largely become a mainstream issue only in the past year or two, and it remains to be seen whether the issue can rally new voters to the GOP’s banner in November.

Investigations to ‘Hold the Government Accountable’

McCarthy also vowed that Republicans would look into a series of controversial issues and decisions by the current administration through new probes and investigative panels.

The current rules of the lower chamber give the speaker of the House substantially broad authority over the creation of new committees and probes, meaning that Republicans have largely been unable to use the full force of Congress to investigate things they find potentially concerning.

Under Republicans, McCarthy said, the government is “going to be held accountable.”

“We’re … going to look from the aspects of holding government accountable, as well as the DOJ going after parents,” McCarthy added, referencing a controversial decision from the Department of Justice to pursue parents attending school board meetings to protest their children’s curriculum.

McCarthy also promised accountability from China through a probe into the origins of the COVID-19 virus, which is now widely recognized to have likely leaked from a biological research facility in Wuhan, China.

“Why don’t we find out where the origin of COVID started,” he said.

McCarthy said that he’d also create a select committee on China that would look at ways to have U.S. industries, that were shipped there, return to America.

Workers inside the P4 laboratory in Wuhan, capital of China’s Hubei Province, on Feb. 23, 2017. (Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images)

Republicans have also suggested probes into Dr. Anthony Fauci’s ties to the Wuhan facility, the role of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in leaving the Capitol building unprepared on Jan. 6, and the recent raid by the FBI of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home.

Undoing Democrats’ IRS Expansion

McCarthy said that if they take the House, Republicans will also work to undo Democrats’ recent expansion of the IRS.

Specifically, the expansion was included as part of the Inflation Reduction Act, which sextupled the IRS’ current budget overnight.

The IRS provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act were among its most controversial.

The $80 billion allocated to the agency by the bill sextuples its budget, and Republican critics have warned that the bulked-up IRS could hire as many as 87,000 new agents. These agents, in turn, critics have said, will be let loose against middle-class Americans and small businesses, despite Democrats’ claims about the expansion that nobody making less than $400,000 per year will see their tax bill increase.

Proponents of the bill suggest that, in addition to the new tax code changes, a bulkier IRS will bring in an additional $124 billion annually through enforcement efforts.

The funding for the IRS will go toward “necessary expenses for tax enforcement activities … to determine and collect owed taxes, to provide legal and litigation support, to conduct criminal investigations (including investigative technology), to provide digital asset monitoring and compliance activities, to enforce criminal statutes related to violations of internal revenue laws and other financial crimes … and to provide other services.”

The Internal Revenue Service headquarters building in Washington is seen in a file photo. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Preston Brashers, a senior tax policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, told The Epoch Times that contrary to Democrat claims, the IRS expansion will almost certainly mean more audits, and in turn more taxes, for middle-class families and small businesses.

“On the very first day, [we’re going to] repeal 87,000 IRS agents,” McCarthy said.

However, this promise may be impossible for McCarthy to keep, particularly if Democrats retain the Senate. Because the Inflation Reduction Act was passed using the filibuster-immune reconciliation process, Republicans theoretically could repeal the expansion of the IRS if they take both chambers of Congress. But even in this case, the measure would need the signature of President Biden, who’s likely to oppose any such move.

Limitations

Despite the broad range of promises and proposals discussed by McCarthy, Republicans will likely face many limitations on how much they can do, particularly if they only take the House.

Currently, Republicans seem to be on track to reenter the House majority after four years in the minority, but the Senate is less certain. Though Senate races in several states remain nail-bitingly tight, observers currently peg the fight for the Senate as leaning heavily in Democrats’ favor.

Right now, FiveThirtyEight gives Republicans a 71 in 100 chance of retaking the House after four years in the minority. But FiveThirtyEight also gives Republicans only a 29 in 100 chance of reclaiming the upper chamber.

If these projections pan out, Senate Democrats would find their scope heavily limited by the Republican House, while the Republican House would find its scope severely limited by the Senate. If the race does end in a divided government, it is likely that McCarthy will face substantial hurdles to rolling out the policy proposals in the Commitment to America plan.

On the other hand, House Republicans would have the benefit of Manchin’s swing vote, which could help them get some budget reconciliation legislation over the finish line in the Senate.

Nevertheless, even in the best case for Republicans—control of both chambers of Congress—the White House will still be occupied by a Democrat, meaning that a fully Republican Congress’s most ambitious goals would be difficult or impossible to carry out.

Tyler Durden Sun, 09/25/2022 - 16:30

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Four burning questions about the future of the $16.5B Novo-Catalent deal

To build or to buy? That’s a classic question for pharma boardrooms, and Novo Nordisk is going with both.
Beyond spending billions of dollars to expand…

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To build or to buy? That’s a classic question for pharma boardrooms, and Novo Nordisk is going with both.

Beyond spending billions of dollars to expand its own production capacity for its weight loss drugs, the Danish drugmaker said Monday it will pay $11 billion to acquire three manufacturing plants from Catalent. It’s part of a broader $16.5 billion deal with Novo Holdings, the investment arm of the pharma’s parent group, which agreed to acquire the contract manufacturer and take it private.

It’s a big deal for all parties, with potential ripple effects across the biotech ecosystem. Here’s a look at some of the most pressing questions to watch after Monday’s announcement.

Why did Novo do this?

Novo Holdings isn’t the most obvious buyer for Catalent, particularly after last year’s on-and-off M&A interest from the serial acquirer Danaher. But the deal could benefit both Novo Holdings and Novo Nordisk.

Novo Nordisk’s biggest challenge has been simply making enough of the weight loss drug Wegovy and diabetes therapy Ozempic. On last week’s earnings call, Novo Nordisk CEO Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen said the company isn’t constrained by capital in its efforts to boost manufacturing. Rather, the main challenge is the limited amount of capabilities out there, he said.

“Most pharmaceutical companies in the world would be shopping among the same manufacturers,” he said. “There’s not an unlimited amount of machinery and people to build it.”

While Novo was already one of Catalent’s major customers, the manufacturer has been hamstrung by its own balance sheet. With roughly $5 billion in debt on its books, it’s had to juggle paying down debt with sufficiently investing in its facilities. That’s been particularly challenging in keeping pace with soaring demand for GLP-1 drugs.

Novo, on the other hand, has the balance sheet to funnel as much money as needed into the plants in Italy, Belgium, and Indiana. It’s also struggled to make enough of its popular GLP-1 drugs to meet their soaring demand, with documented shortages of both Ozempic and Wegovy.

The impact won’t be immediate. The parties expect the deal to close near the end of 2024. Novo Nordisk said it expects the three new sites to “gradually increase Novo Nordisk’s filling capacity from 2026 and onwards.”

As for the rest of Catalent — nearly 50 other sites employing thousands of workers — Novo Holdings will take control. The group previously acquired Altasciences in 2021 and Ritedose in 2022, so the Catalent deal builds on a core investing interest in biopharma services, Novo Holdings CEO Kasim Kutay told Endpoints News.

Kasim Kutay

When asked about possible site closures or layoffs, Kutay said the team hasn’t thought about that.

“That’s not our track record. Our track record is to invest in quality businesses and help them grow,” he said. “There’s always stuff to do with any asset you own, but we haven’t bought this company to do some of the stuff you’re talking about.”

What does it mean for Catalent’s customers? 

Until the deal closes, Catalent will operate as a standalone business. After it closes, Novo Nordisk said it will honor its customer obligations at the three sites, a spokesperson said. But they didn’t answer a question about what happens when those contracts expire.

The wrinkle is the long-term future of the three plants that Novo Nordisk is paying for. Those sites don’t exclusively pump out Wegovy, but that could be the logical long-term aim for the Danish drugmaker.

The ideal scenario is that pricing and timelines remain the same for customers, said Nicole Paulk, CEO of the gene therapy startup Siren Biotechnology.

Nicole Paulk

“The name of the group that you’re going to send your check to is now going to be Novo Holdings instead of Catalent, but otherwise everything remains the same,” Paulk told Endpoints. “That’s the best-case scenario.”

In a worst case, Paulk said she feared the new owners could wind up closing sites or laying off Catalent groups. That could create some uncertainty for customers looking for a long-term manufacturing partner.

Are shareholders and regulators happy? 

The pandemic was a wild ride for Catalent’s stock, with shares surging from about $40 to $140 and then crashing back to earth. The $63.50 share price for the takeover is a happy ending depending on the investor.

On that point, the investing giant Elliott Investment Management is satisfied. Marc Steinberg, a partner at Elliott, called the agreement “an outstanding outcome” that “clearly maximizes value for Catalent stockholders” in a statement.

Elliott helped kick off a strategic review last August that culminated in the sale agreement. Compared to Catalent’s stock price before that review started, the deal pays a nearly 40% premium.

Alessandro Maselli

But this is hardly a victory lap for CEO Alessandro Maselli, who took over in July 2022 when Catalent’s stock price was north of $100. Novo’s takeover is a tacit acknowledgment that Maselli could never fully right the ship, as operational problems plagued the company throughout 2023 while it was limited by its debt.

Additional regulatory filings in the next few weeks could give insight into just how competitive the sale process was. William Blair analysts said they don’t expect a competing bidder “given the organic investments already being pursued at other leading CDMOs and the breadth and scale of Catalent’s operations.”

The Blair analysts also noted the companies likely “expect to spend some time educating relevant government agencies” about the deal, given the lengthy closing timeline. Given Novo Nordisk’s ascent — it’s now one of Europe’s most valuable companies — paired with the limited number of large contract manufacturers, antitrust regulators could be interested in taking a close look.

Are Catalent’s problems finally a thing of the past?

Catalent ran into a mix of financial and operational problems over the past year that played no small part in attracting the interest of an activist like Elliott.

Now with a deal in place, how quickly can Novo rectify those problems? Some of the challenges were driven by the demands of being a publicly traded company, like failing to meet investors’ revenue expectations or even filing earnings reports on time.

But Catalent also struggled with its business at times, with a range of manufacturing delays, inspection reports and occasionally writing down acquisitions that didn’t pan out. Novo’s deep pockets will go a long way to a turnaround, but only the future will tell if all these issues are fixed.

Kutay said his team is excited by the opportunity and was satisfied with the due diligence it did on the company.

“We believe we’re buying a strong company with a good management team and good prospects,” Kutay said. “If that wasn’t the case, I don’t think we’d be here.”

Amber Tong and Reynald Castañeda contributed reporting.

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Petrina Kamya, Ph.D., Head of AI Platforms at Insilico Medicine, presents at BIO CEO & Investor Conference

Petrina Kamya, PhD, Head of AI Platforms and President of Insilico Medicine Canada, will present at the BIO CEO & Investor Conference happening Feb….

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Petrina Kamya, PhD, Head of AI Platforms and President of Insilico Medicine Canada, will present at the BIO CEO & Investor Conference happening Feb. 26-27 at the New York Marriott Marquis in New York City. Dr. Kamya will speak as part of the panel “AI within Biopharma: Separating Value from Hype,” on Feb. 27, 1pm ET along with Michael Nally, CEO of Generate: Biomedicines and Liz Schwarzbach, PhD, CBO of BigHat Biosciences.

Credit: Insilico Medicine

Petrina Kamya, PhD, Head of AI Platforms and President of Insilico Medicine Canada, will present at the BIO CEO & Investor Conference happening Feb. 26-27 at the New York Marriott Marquis in New York City. Dr. Kamya will speak as part of the panel “AI within Biopharma: Separating Value from Hype,” on Feb. 27, 1pm ET along with Michael Nally, CEO of Generate: Biomedicines and Liz Schwarzbach, PhD, CBO of BigHat Biosciences.

The session will look at how the latest artificial intelligence (AI) tools – including generative AI and large language models – are currently being used to advance the discovery and design of new drugs, and which technologies are still in development. 

The BIO CEO & Investor Conference brings together over 1,000 attendees and more than 700 companies across industry and institutional investment to discuss the future investment landscape of biotechnology. Sessions focus on topics such as therapeutic advancements, market outlook, and policy priorities.

Insilico Medicine is a leading, clinical stage AI-driven drug discovery company that has raised over $400m in investments since it was founded in 2014. Dr. Kamya leads the development of the Company’s end-to-end generative AI platform, Pharma.AI from Insilico’s AI R&D Center in Montreal. Using modern machine learning techniques in the context of chemistry and biology, the platform has driven the discovery and design of 30+ new therapies, with five in clinical stages – for cancer, fibrosis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and COVID-19. The Company’s lead drug, for the chronic, rare lung condition idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, is the first AI-designed drug for an AI-discovered target to reach Phase II clinical trials with patients. Nine of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies have used Insilico’s AI platform to advance their programs, and the Company has a number of major strategic licensing deals around its AI-designed therapeutic assets, including with Sanofi, Exelixis and Menarini. 

 

About Insilico Medicine

Insilico Medicine, a global clinical stage biotechnology company powered by generative AI, is connecting biology, chemistry, and clinical trials analysis using next-generation AI systems. The company has developed AI platforms that utilize deep generative models, reinforcement learning, transformers, and other modern machine learning techniques for novel target discovery and the generation of novel molecular structures with desired properties. Insilico Medicine is developing breakthrough solutions to discover and develop innovative drugs for cancer, fibrosis, immunity, central nervous system diseases, infectious diseases, autoimmune diseases, and aging-related diseases. www.insilico.com 


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Another country is getting ready to launch a visa for digital nomads

Early reports are saying Japan will soon have a digital nomad visa for high-earning foreigners.

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Over the last decade, the explosion of remote work that came as a result of improved technology and the pandemic has allowed an increasing number of people to become digital nomads. 

When looked at more broadly as anyone not required to come into a fixed office but instead moves between different locations such as the home and the coffee shop, the latest estimate shows that there were more than 35 million such workers in the world by the end of 2023 while over half of those come from the United States.

Related: There is a new list of cities that are best for digital nomads

While remote work has also allowed many to move to cheaper places and travel around the world while still bringing in income, working outside of one's home country requires either dual citizenship or work authorization — the global shift toward remote work has pushed many countries to launch specific digital nomad visas to boost their economies and bring in new residents.

Japan is a very popular destination for U.S. tourists. 

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This popular vacation destination will soon have a nomad visa

Spain, Portugal, Indonesia, Malaysia, Costa Rica, Brazil, Latvia and Malta are some of the countries currently offering specific visas for foreigners who want to live there while bringing in income from abroad.

More Travel:

With the exception of a few, Asian countries generally have stricter immigration laws and were much slower to launch these types of visas that some of the countries with weaker economies had as far back as 2015. As first reported by the Japan Times, the country's Immigration Services Agency ended up making the leap toward a visa for those who can earn more than ¥10 million ($68,300 USD) with income from another country.

The Japanese government has not yet worked out the specifics of how long the visa will be valid for or how much it will cost — public comment on the proposal is being accepted throughout next week. 

That said, early reports say the visa will be shorter than the typical digital nomad option that allows foreigners to live in a country for several years. The visa will reportedly be valid for six months or slightly longer but still no more than a year — along with the ability to work, this allows some to stay beyond the 90-day tourist period typically afforded to those from countries with visa-free agreements.

'Not be given a residence card of residence certificate'

While one will be able to reapply for the visa after the time runs out, this can only be done by exiting the country and being away for six months before coming back again — becoming a permanent resident on the pathway to citizenship is an entirely different process with much more strict requirements.

"Those living in Japan with the digital nomad visa will not be given a residence card or a residence certificate, which provide access to certain government benefits," reports the news outlet. "The visa cannot be renewed and must be reapplied for, with this only possible six months after leaving the countr

The visa will reportedly start in March and also allow holders to bring their spouses and families with them. To start using the visa, holders will also need to purchase private health insurance from their home country while taxes on any money one earns will also need to be paid through one's home country.

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