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Laffer, Forbes: Big economic ideas

I participated in perhaps a bit of radio history last week when Steve Forbes and Art Laffer joined me on my syndicated radio show. It may have been the first time these supply-side-economics giants were ever together over the airwaves.

Forbes, of course, is chairman of Forbes Media and twice ran brilliant issue-campaigns for president. And Laffer, once a key advisor to President Reagan, is father to the ground-breaking Laffer curve, for which he should have won a Nobel prize. In our discussion together, they didn’t disappoint.

We started with “one big idea.” That’s how the late Jack Kemp approached economic-policy reform back in the 1980s. And his big idea, embraced by Reagan, was a mix of low marginal tax rates to spur economic-growth incentives and a sound, reliable dollar to conquer inflation and create confidence. (This duplicated the Kennedy prosperity model, which Brian Domitrovic and I wrote about in JFK and the Reagan Revolution.)

But these days, if you adhere to that big idea, you’re ridiculed as clinging to the past. My guests would have none of it.

“We need it now more than ever,” said Forbes. “To say that just because it worked 40 years ago, therefore, it’s old, is like saying the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are old, therefore we can cast them aside.”

Forbes’s version of “one big idea” is a flat tax and a sound dollar linked to gold. If we have that, we’ll be the “land of opportunity again.”

Laffer agreed. “Our economic verities have remained forever,” he said. “They go back to caveman, pre-cavemen. Incentives matter: If you reward an activity, then people do more of it. If you punish an activity, people do less of it.”

But for the tax side of “one big idea,” Laffer would like to see corporate tax reform. I agree. Reagan used to say, “Give me half a loaf now, and I’ll get the other half later.” Well, I’d take the half loaf of corporate tax cuts right now.

And that would work for Forbes, who can see income-tax reform following corporate-tax reform. “Even if we get to this two years down the road,” he said, “I think [Trump would] be amenable to doing something radical like a flat tax.”

But why is it that our Democratic friends in the economics profession and politics work so hard to discredit the idea of lowering marginal tax rates on the extra dollar earned to spark the positive incentives that lead to prosperity?

“Let me put it just succinctly,” answered Laffer. “These people are willing to rebut arguments they know to be true in order to curry favors with their political benefactors.”

To which Forbes added: “A lot of these far-left ideologues would rather have a smaller economy and more government power than a bigger economy and a smaller government.”

From that sad truth we moved to prosperity killers, in particular trade protectionism, about which there is still much talk within the Trump camp. Where, I asked, does trade protectionism — including tariffs on China — fit into the low-tax-rate, strong-dollar prosperity model?

“It doesn’t,” said Forbes, who offered an alternative: “The smart approach is get this economy moving through. . . tax cuts and deregulation. And then having a stable dollar . . . you sit down country by country and remove trade barriers.” Anything but the trade protectionism that blew up the stock market in 1929.

To which Laffer added the great line: “Don’t just stand there, undo something!”

“Cut taxes, stabilize the dollar, reduce tariffs, reduce regulation,” he said. “Undo, undo, undo — and undo the damages these other guys have done.”

One of those damages is Obamacare. And the fear now is that it will never get undone.

But my guests were optimistic, if philosophical. How will we get true, free-market, health-care reform?

“You do this . . . sometimes with great leaps, but sometimes step by step,” said Forbes.

To which Laffer added: “With any type of change that we can make in the right direction . . . never let the best be the enemy of the good.”

Finally, I asked, “Is the free-market model losing ground?” We’ve seen its decline in Europe, Latin America, and elsewhere.

“This thing always ebbs and flows,” said Laffer. “Reagan, at first, was dissed by all the foreign leaders, except for Thatcher. And once our success story came in, he’s now virtually a god. That’s going to happen again, believe me.”

The limits of this space have forced me to drastically abbreviate what I do believe was a historic radio event. Two economic giants met and discussed the big ideas that will restore growth and prosperity. They offered the “how,” and were confident that the “when” is near.

Lawrence Kudlow is CNBC’s Senior Contributor. He is also the host of The Larry Kudlow Show, which broadcasts on Saturdays from 10am to 1pm ET and is syndicated nationally. He is a former Reagan economic advisor and a syndicated columnist.

One state’s unstable ObamaCare bailout

It’s not a tax. It’s not a fee. It’s an “assessment.”

The New Hampshire Department of Insurance wants to charge health insurance companies a $36.8 million assessment to fund a reinsurance pool in order to prop up the state’s failing health care exchange.

“To call it a tax is misstating what it really is,” argues Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny. Sure.

His plan is to use the “don’t-call-it-a-tax” revenue, along with $8.2 million from the bottomless federal treasury, to “stabilize” the individual insurance market. He wants to increase costs on the part of the health insurance marketplace that actually works in order to subsidize the part that is crumbling.

Anthem, the state’s largest health insurance provider, supports the tax, er, assessment. Of course it does. It would get the money back, but only after adding to the premiums of customers in the group market.

Gov. Chris Sununu supports efforts to stabilize the exchange but not the assessment.

The Insurance Department has scheduled a series of public hearings on the plan but won’t need legislative approval to impose a $36.8 million tax increase. All to prop up a failing health insurance scheme that forces people to buy plans they don’t want.

Insurance companies are losing their shirts in the Obamacare exchanges, and many are fleeing. Sevigny wants to pull money from other customers to help the insurance carriers cover those losses.

The instability of Obamacare isn’t some new, unexpected feature. It’s a pre-existing condition. We should just pull the plug.

Mike Pence: How much Trump has done to date

In the first six months of this administration, President Donald Trump has fought every day to deliver on his promises to the American people. At a historic pace, this president has taken bold action to restore prosperity, keep Americans safe and secure, and hold government accountable.

President Trump has signed more than 40 bills and nearly 40 executive orders on everything from health care to energy, infrastructure and more.

While the previous administration turned to federal agencies to enact its agenda, President Trump has signed more laws to slash through federal red tape than any president in American history and has saved businesses up to $18 billion a year in costs.

And whereas the last administration stifled the use of America’s vast energy resources, President Trump has put a renewed emphasis on American energy – approving the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, rolling back the Clean Power Plan, and putting America First by withdrawing from the Paris climate accord.

President Trump inherited an economy that would barely budge – but under his watch, American businesses small and large have already created more than 800,000 new jobs since January. Company after company is responding to the president’s agenda with optimism – investing billions of dollars in American jobs, American workers and America’s future.

As the father of a United States Marine, I couldn’t be more proud to serve alongside a president who cares so deeply about the men and women of the armed forces of the United States of America.

After years of so-called “sequestration” and budget cuts to our armed forces, President Trump has already signed the largest increase in defense spending in nearly 10 years and called for the greatest investment in military readiness since the days of President Ronald Reagan.

And this president calls our enemy by its name – radical Islamic terrorism – and with the leadership of this commander-in-chief our armed forces are taking the fight to ISIS on our terms on their soil.

When it comes to security here in the homeland, President Trump has taken decisive steps to secure our borders and enforce our laws – a direct contrast with the previous administration.

And while illegal immigration was rampant in recent years, our administration has been working with local law enforcement to take drug dealers, members of gangs like MS-13, and other violent criminals off our streets. Illegal crossings at our southern border are down by more than 60 percent since the start of this year.

After the previous president tried to stack the courts with liberal jurists, our president made a commitment to appoint federal judges who will uphold the Constitution and the God-given liberties enshrined there. Look no further than the newest Supreme Court Justice, Neil Gorsuch.

President Trump’s accomplishments are nothing short of historic. But as the president likes to say, at this White House that’s just what we call a good start.

President Trump will not rest and he will not relent until we keep our promise to the American people and repeal and replace ObamaCare.

President Trump has called on the Congress to do its job, and we will continue to work with both the House and Senate to give the American people health care reform built on the principles of personal responsibility, free-market competition and state-based reforms.

President Trump is firmly committed to passing the largest tax cut since the days of President Reagan. We’re going to cut taxes across the board for working families, small businesses and family farms.

We’ll simplify the tax code. We’ll eliminate the alternative minimum tax. We’ll make the code flatter and fairer for everyone. And under President Trump, we will repeal death taxes once and for all.

And to get this economy moving again, we’re going to cut business taxes in America so that companies in this country can compete with companies around the world and create good jobs right here in America.

We’ll end the broken system that penalizes companies for calling America home. And we’ll cut taxes on trillions of dollars that are locked away overseas so that American businesses can invest in America’s future.

It is the greatest privilege of my life to serve as vice president to a president who is fighting every single day to restore an America of freedom, prosperity and opportunity for all.

So with boundless faith in the American people, with faith in President Trump’s vision and determination, and with faith in God who has ever watched over this Land of the Free and Home of the Brave, I say with confidence: We will make America safe again. We will make America prosperous again. And to borrow a phrase, we will Make America Great Again.

Electromed launches SmartVest wireless pulmonary aid tech


Electromed, Inc. (NYSE MK:ELMD) today announced the late June launch of the SmartVest® SQL® with SmartVest Connect wireless technology, a personalized high frequency chest wall oscillation (HFCWO) therapy management portal for patients with compromised pulmonary function. The SmartVest SQL with wireless technology features built-in cellular connectivity, offering healthcare teams and patients access to treatment information to better collaborate in making patient-centered care decisions. SmartVest Connect is available online at to pediatric and cystic fibrosis patients using a wirelessly enabled SmartVest SQL system.

SmartVest Connect enables patients to track progress of their therapy plan and includes a real-time SmartVest Score and easy-to-read goal reports that provide an in-depth look at performance.

  • Created to encourage patient engagement, SmartVest Connect provides feedback for patients to take an active role in their HFCWO therapy, fostering improved therapy adherence.
  • SmartVest SQL with SmartVest Connect is simple, intuitive, and designed to automatically update following completion of a therapy session: just plug it in.

“SmartVest Connect is designed to make it easy for healthcare teams and patients to track therapy performance and collaborate in treatment decisions,” commented Kathleen Skarvan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Electromed. “We believe this innovation will strengthen our patient and clinician partnerships, leading to greater therapy adherence and improved quality of life for individuals with compromised pulmonary function. We’re proud to stand by our commitment to ‘making life’s important moments possible’ and continued innovation of delivering market-driven HFCWO therapy solutions. We expect to expand SmartVest Connect availability to targeted adult pulmonary clinics throughout the year.”

The SmartVest System uses HFCWO, a proven therapy that helps clear the lungs of excess secretions, reducing the risk of respiratory infections and hospitalizations. HFCWO produces an alternating flow of air into a garment that rapidly compresses and releases the chest wall at a variety of selectable frequencies and pressures, resulting in an oscillation in airflow within the airways that act to loosen, thin, and propel mucus toward the major airways where it can be expectorated or suctioned away.

Bayer mesothelioma med misses key endpoint

 Germany’s Bayer said on Friday a cancer treatment for patients with a type of tumor often caused by asbestos had failed to meet its main goal in a clinical trial.

The compound, known as anetumab ravtansine, “did not meet its primary endpoint of progression-free survival” for patients with mesothelioma, Bayer said, adding it was disappointed by the results.

“Malignant pleural mesothelioma is a very difficult-to-treat tumor, and we had hoped for a better outcome for patients,” said Robert LaCaze, executive vice president and head of the oncology strategic business unit at Bayer.

He said Bayer would continue to study the usefulness and safety of the compound for other tumor types.

Novartis leukemia med OK urged by Euro panel

A European Medicines Agency (EMA) panel recommended on Friday approval of a new Novartis drug to be used against a tough-to-cure form of blood cancer as the Swiss drugmaker makes headway on refreshing its oncology portfolio.

The EMA’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) backed Rydapt against acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) in newly diagnosed patients and three other indications.

Rydapt was also recommended as a treatment for adults with advanced systemic mastocytosis, a rare disease in which the body’s mast cells accumulate rapidly.

This latest CHMP opinion sets the stage for likely European Commission approval this year.

Rydapt, whose U.S. wholesale cost is nearly $7,500 for a two-week supply, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in April.

Novartis is rebuilding its portfolio of cancer drugs after the expiration of patents on its blockbuster Gleevec in early 2016 exposed the $5 billion-a-year seller to generics from rivals including Sun Pharmaceuticals.

AML is a rare and aggressive cancer of the blood and bone marrow.

Other recent Novartis approvals or regulator recommendations have included Kisqali against a tough-to-treat form of breast cancer. The company is also aiming for the FDA’s blessing for its first-of-its-kind cell therapy CTL019 this year.

Novartis is banking on these cancer medications as well as heart failure drug Entresto, psoriasis treatment Cosentyx and its Sandoz unit’s growing portfolio of biosimilars to help return it to sales growth starting in 2018.

Nektar/Daiichi breast cancer med gets nod from Euro panel

European regulators on Friday recommended against granting approval to a breast cancer drug being developed by Nektar Therapeutics and Daiichi Sankyo’s German unit.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said its committee of experts refused authorization to market the investigational drug, Onzeald, as a first-line treatment for adults with advanced breast cancer who have already received other treatment.

One of the main concerns raised by the committee was that the benefit of Onzeald to treat breast cancer that had spread to the brain had not been “sufficiently demonstrated”.