“Together, we will face this challenge as a national family with conviction, with unity, and with a commitment to love and support our neighbors in times of dire need. Working together, we will defeat this opioid epidemic.” – President Donald J. Trump
AMERICAN FAMILIES AND COMMUNITIES DEVASTATED: New data compiled by President Donald J. Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) shows the costs of opioid abuse are much higher than previously thought.
• Opioid-involved overdose deaths doubled in the past ten years and quadrupled in the past sixteen years.
o The number of opioid-involved overdose deaths has risen by nearly one-third since 2013.
o This rise in overdose deaths involves fentanyl, a highly potent synthetic opioid, and fentanyl analogs, most of which is believed to be illicitly imported.
• Evidence suggests that drug overdoses related to opioids are underreported by as much as 24 percent, which would raise the estimated 2015 opioid overdose death toll to over 40,000.
• Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of injury death in the United States, outnumbering traffic crashes or gun-related deaths.
o According to preliminary analysis, more than 64,000 lives were lost to drug overdoses in 2016, devastating American families and communities.
o This represents a rate of 175 deaths a day in 2016.
• Since 2000, over 300,000 Americans have died from overdoses involving opioids.
THE TRUE ECONOMIC COST OF THE OPIOID CRISIS: The true cost of the opioid crisis has been greatly understated because the full loss of thousands of American lives was not accounted for.
• Using standard economic techniques, the CEA estimates the cost of the opioid crisis in 2015 to be $504 billion, or 2.8 percent of GDP, once the lives lost due to opioid overdoses are accounted for.
o The CEA’s high estimate puts the cost of opioid misuse at $622.1 billion while the most conservative estimate suggests the cost is $293.9 billion.
• CEA’s study included all opioid-involved losses, not solely losses caused by prescription opioids.
• The new cost estimates include nonfatal opioid abuse, which totaled $72.3 billion in 2015, according to the CEA.
o Consequences of nonfatal opioid abuse include billions in medical and addiction treatment costs, criminal justice costs, and the resulting decrease in productivity among users.
THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IS FIGHTING BACK: President Trump is taking the opioid crisis seriously, using the tools of government to aggressively confront opioid addiction.
• On October 26, President Trump directed the acting Secretary of Health and Human Services to declare a nationwide public health emergency to bring the full war chest of the U.S. government to fight the opioid crisis.
• The Trump Administration organized the most effective “Take Back Day” on record, collecting 456 tons of expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs.
• In March 2017, President Trump established the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, with the mission “to study the scope and effectiveness of the Federal response to drug addiction and the opioid crisis and to make recommendations to the President for improving that response.”
• Since President Trump took office, more than $1 billion in funding has been allocated or spent directly addressing the drug addiction and opioid crisis.
o Since April, more than $800 million has been distributed for prevention, treatment, first responders, prescription drug monitoring programs, recovery and other care in communities, inpatient settings, and correctional systems.
o Since the President took office, $254 million in funding for high-risk communities, law enforcement, and first responder coordination and work has been awarded.
• The Department of Justice’s Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit is targeting criminals and their networks that are contributing to the prescription opioid epidemic, has netted the largest-ever health care fraud takedown, secured the first-ever indictments against Chinese fentanyl manufacturers, and seized AlphaBay, the largest criminal marketplace on the Internet and a major source of fentanyl and heroin.
• The Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs are collaborating on a six-year, $81 million joint research partnership focusing on nondrug approaches to managing pain in order to address the needs of service members and veterans.
• The Food and Drug Administration is imposing new requirements on the manufacturers of prescription opioids to help reverse the overprescribing that has fueled the crisis.
• The State Department has secured a binding U.N. agreement making it harder for criminals to access fentanyl precursors ANPP and NPP.
“While we wish our fellow man well, it’s only our fellow citizens to whom we have a duty and whose rights our government was created to protect.” Senator Tom Cotton’s speech given at Hillsdale University.
Thank you. Thank you all. Thank you so much. That is such a warm welcome, and Larry, thank you very much for the kind introduction, as always. After an introduction so splendid, even I am interested in what I will say tonight now.
You know, Larry has had the occasion to introduce me on many occasions, and I’m always grateful for it because he gives such fine remarks. The only complicating factor is the height of these microphones. Fortunately, we’ve worked it out tonight. You know, Hillsdale studies many great statesmen. Two of the greatest would be Abraham Lincoln, who was 6’4”, and Winston Churchill, who was 5’6”. It’s an indication that the truly great men come in all statures and something to which we can all aspire.
Thank you all, Hillsdale, for having me back for my second Hillsdale Constitution Day celebration. At first, I thought this was an encore performance. But then Larry Arnn told me it was more of a shot at redemption. But whatever the case may be, it is always good to see so many old friends and patriots.
In a way, not much has changed since we gathered together two years ago. Yesterday, we celebrated the 230th anniversary of the signing of our Constitution. Earlier this year, Congress was seated for the 115th time under that charter of government. And last year, the American people once again expressed their judgment about our government through regular elections. [Read more…]
Just about every country has a national day, a holiday when citizens stop to honor their constitution, celebrate a monarch’s birthday, recall the day their nation was liberated from colonial rule, or otherwise pay tribute to their country’s origins. The United States isn’t unique in celebrating a day of independence.
But Thanksgiving is something else. Only a few countries set aside a day of national thanksgiving. Most of these holidays trace their origins back to a time when life beat to the rhythm of the agricultural cycle.
Koreans celebrate the harvest festival of Chuseok with family gatherings and visits to their ancestral homes. Similarly, China’s Mid-Autumn or Moon Festival is a modernized version of long-ago harvest celebrations. Germany has Erntedankfest, when churches are decorated with symbols of the harvest.
The first thanksgivings in Canada were religious ceremonies celebrated by English and French explorers, but the modern Canadian Thanksgiving Day owes a debt to the American Loyalists who carried the New England custom with them when they fled to Nova Scotia at the time of the Revolutionary War.
Brazil’s Thanksgiving Day, which debuted in 1949, was the brainchild of that country’s ambassador to the United States, who admired the American holiday. These and other thanksgivings are joyous occasions, but they say little about what it means to be Korean or Chinese, German, Canadian, or Brazilian.
In contrast, the American Thanksgiving is far more than an update of an ancient harvest festival. Thanksgiving has grown up with the country. It reflects our national identity as a grateful, generous, and inclusive people.
When a 21st-century American takes his place at the Thanksgiving table or volunteers at a local food bank, he is part of a continuum that dates back to 1621, when the Pilgrims and the Indians shared their famous three-day feast.
As this book has recounted, the most direct influence on the development of the holiday was the religious days of thanksgiving marked in all of the American colonies. By the turn of the 18th century, the after-church Thanksgiving meal had taken on an identity of its own in New England, and the holiday emerged as a time for homecomings, feasting, and hospitality, in addition to the religious aspects.
The Pilgrims weren’t associated with Thanksgiving until the 19th century, after the establishment of the now mostly forgotten holiday of Forefathers Day and the emergence of the Pilgrims as icons of liberty and the forerunners of the Founding Fathers.
The story of how Thanksgiving became a national holiday is itself a classic American saga of how one enterprising, hardworking individual with a good idea can have an impact in an open, democratic society.
In this case, a penniless young widow—subject to all the limitations attached to such a station in life in the early 19th century—rose to become the editor of the most popular magazine of her era. Sarah Josepha Hale used her position to generate grassroots support for her campaign for a national Thanksgiving, and she petitioned the most powerful men in the land to turn her vision into a reality.
In the political realm, Thanksgiving has sparked debates about core aspects of American liberty. In 1789, George Washington’s call for a national Thanksgiving ignited controversy when some members of Congress believed that the new president was exercising a power that rightly belonged to the individual states.
Other opponents said the Thanksgiving proposal violated the guarantee of a separation of church and state found in the First Amendment, which Congress had just debated.
In the 1930s, Franklin Roosevelt’s decision to change the date of Thanksgiving set off a revolt in statehouses over presidential authority, with the result that half the country celebrated on one day and half on another.
We live in a less religious age than did the Pilgrims or Washington or Hale, but it would be a mistake to claim, as some do, that Thanksgiving is not a religious holiday. It is that rarest of religious holidays, one that all religions can, and do, celebrate.
For this, as in so many other things, the nation can thank Washington, who declared our first Thanksgiving as a nation in a proclamation that embraced people of all faiths. The Pilgrims came to our shores seeking religious freedom. On Thanksgiving Day, Americans of all faiths—and of none—can give thanks that they found it.
This excerpt was taken from Melanie Kirkpatrick’s book, “Thanksgiving: The Holiday at the Heart of the American Experience” (Encounter Books, 2016).