Blackwell Speaks Out About How Crony Richard Cordray Hurts College Graduates

We have been bracing for Richard Cordray to announce that he is running for Governor of Ohio. The head of the CFPB has been using the power of his position to apparently earn favor with liberal donors in preparation for a run.

Former Secretary of State Ken Blackwell has some comments below on how Cordray’s actions have harmed Ohioans and college students in particular.

Crony Cordray Hurts College Graduates

Ken Blackwell

There is no doubt about it. Richard Cordray, the far-left head of the Consumer Financial Protection Board (CFPB) wants to run for governor of Ohio. Speculation is growing that an official announcement could come at any moment.

I have no doubt that my fellow Ohioans will reject Obama-era holdover Cordray’s radical philosophy on Election Day, just like they did when he ran for Attorney General in 2010.

One might assume that a government agency with “consumer financial protection” in its name might actually protect consumers. Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth. Cordray’s agency, with more than a $600 million annual budget, has developed a lengthy track record of mismanagement, heavy-handed mandates, and outright corruption.

Cordray knows his time is limited, which is why he is desperate to use his rogue agency to garner political support from the political swamp for his future gubernatorial campaign.

In a stunningly brazen move, we are just learning of a secret deal Cordray made last month with hedge fund manager David Uderitz of Vantage Capital to manage student loan collections for the same delinquent student loans his firm owns through the National Collegiate Student Loan Trusts.

As too many students and parents are aware, more than 1.1 million students are in default on their school loans, and more 40% of student borrowers are not making any payments. This is a financial disaster that cannot be sustained.

Part of the trusts’ problem is many of their ownership details of loans are incomplete. But instead of this being fought out in court through a lengthy process with borrowers, Corday’s CFPB has agreed to give Udertiz’s firm full control over the collection process.

This is crony capitalism at its worse. This deal would allow a hedge-fund manager profit from the CFPB’s decision by circumventing the legal system. This hedge fund now has CFPB’s blessing to charge fees and administer a $21.6 million government settlement trust owed to students. And, as the fund owns some of those delinquent, they will be pocketing the remaining funds.

Why would Cordray and the CFPB intervene? The Ohio Republican Party recently filed a FIOA request to get answers. But there is no doubt that this move would not only give Cordray an empty campaign talking point about doing something on student loans, even though in reality he simply turned over student loan collections to a well-connected hedge fund.

Cordray and the CFPB have far exceeded their authority in this matter, and are only making things worse. This difficult situation for students and lenders should be settled in court, not by politically motivated bureaucrats who invent their own rules.

Obama is no longer in the White House, but his legacy of unconstitutional overreach and unchecked regulations lives on through the CFPB. President Donald Trump should have fired Rich Cordray and replaced him long ago.

Ken Blackwell served as the mayor of Cincinnati (1979–80), the Ohio State Treasurer (1994–99), and Ohio Secretary of State (1999–2007). He was the Republican candidate for Governor of Ohio in 2006. Most recently, he served as Domestic Policy Advisor to the Trump Presidential Transition Team.

 

The LA Times’ Fake News Hit Job on Ken Blackwell

The national media has its sights set on Ken Blackwell. The former Ohio Secretary of State is on President Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. This has made him the target of a bit of a smear campaign fueled by misinformation.

The Voter Integrity Commission is simply asking for information thats already public record
to ensure that no legitimate vote is canceled out by an illegitimate one. A single invalid vote in each district can change entire election outcomes – and the course of history.

The LA Times and other outlets have accused Blackwell of unethically publishing social security numbers on the Secretary of State’s website as if it was leaked information.They are using false headlines from 2006 while Blackwell was engaged in a gubernatorial primary with Jim Petro. Nothing was leaked although that is how they are framing it to tarnish Blackwell.

They say that Blackwell can’t be trusted because of this. But, what they are failing to understand was that this wasn’t an issue from Blackwell. This information mostly came from banks and lawyers. At the time, state law didn’t address the specific situation of redacting this information. The issues of the law highlight the fact that this wasn’t a “leak” as the media is portraying it.

The state’s only role in handling these bank documents was to post them within 3 days. State law was ambiguous about removing information on these forms. Blackwell then worked with the legislature to amend the law to allow for the redaction of this information.

Blackwell moved on the issue very quickly.

“Blackwell acted correctly after initial resistance to removing the numbers, said Christian Jenkins, an attorney representing truck driver Darrel Estep. “What we’ve seen here is a 180-degree about-face and a decision to do the right thing,” Jenkins said. “I see that as a very good result in a very short time.”

This is what happens with the media recycles poorly placed news from over a decade ago. They are using highly biased Ohio articles to hit the Trump Administration. It’s cyclical. Ohio’s bad political writing from 11 years ago appears to be in a time warp and has been recycled for 2017.

Other media sources are trying to portray Blackwell as a vote suppressor because of a paperweight rule from his successor, Bob Taft. This dates back to 2004 when Ohio required that voter registrations needed to be on 80 lb paper.

The recommendation for this came from the United States Postal Service because people were cutting registration cards out of newspaper or regular paper and simply mailing them in. This type of paper was not made to endure USPS equipment.

There were no call of outrage form the left about this rule when Taft was Secretary of State, but they simply used it as a wedge to attempt to smear Blackwell in his gubernatorial run. Now, uninformed and biased journalists are regurgitated this 13 years later to attack President Trump.

Blackwell Pushes For Full Obamacare Repeal

Voters have given Republicans control of the House of Representatives, the Senate and now the White House. Frustration with Obamacare has helped propel Republicans into office as they promise to repeal the monstrosity of a bill that is burdensome on small businesses and the middle class.

As Congress is about to vote regarding Obamacare, Ohio’s former Secretary of State Ken Blackwell has weighed in on this issue in the Cincinnati Enquirer. 

Although Blackwell was a Domestic Policy Advisor for the Trump Transition Team, he is not in favor of the current bill as he doesn’t believe it addresses the biggest problems of Obamacare.

“Obamacare is falling apart on its own, thanks largely to the 10 essential benefits mandates that must be included in all insurance packages or face large penalties. These requirements range from maternity care to sex-change operations, regardless what the health care customer needs or wants. These mandates limit options and make insurance vastly more expensive, which is compounded by rules that mandate coverage for those currently sick or with preexisting conditions. Obamacare requires that these unhealthy people cannot be treated differently than anyone else, which results in healthier and younger people paying even higher premiums.

These bad issues with Obamacare are only compounded, as it incentives people to not buy insurance until they are sick, as the insurance companies have to sell them coverage at the same rate as if they were healthy. Imagine what the result would be if people could buy fire insurance while their house is on fire or extra car insurance after a serious crash. For insurance companies, that is not a sustainable business model.”

Blackwell praises the bill for removing the mandate for employers with more than 50 employees and the expansion of HSAs, but there is much more that should be done to revamp this very flawed system.

Blackwell believes true reform includes a full repeal of Obamacare and free market reform that focus more on individual choices rather than employer based insurance options.

“This is a reminder of what happens when government gets in the way of market solutions. If insurance companies had flexibility, people could buy coverage across state lines and only for the coverage they need. Those living in poverty could buy private insurance through vouchers, and high-risk pools could provide care for those with pre-existing conditions.

These types of market-based changes would accelerate improvements if employees could control insurance options, instead of their employers. The insurance tax deduction should shift away from businesses and instead be directed at individuals who can carefully decide what type of coverage they want and how much they wish to contribute to tax-free health savings accounts (HSAs).

Free-market reforms would put the individual healthcare consumer in a position where more options are available at a lower price. By making health care pricing more transparent and encouraging the expanded use HSAs, health care consumers can make better choices while competitive market mechanism drive prices down.”

Congressional Republicans voted for a full repeal of Obamacare more than once, but now they appear to be balking at doing the same under a Republican President.

 

 

Stopping America’s Drug Epidemic

This 2016 presidential race was a hard fought campaign. President-elect Donald J. Trump campaigned on a bold and conservative platform of making our cities safe again. After decades of neglect, urban communities across America are in desperate need of repair.

With so many partisan political issues, there remain a select few issues that unite us rather than divide us. America is facing a tragic epidemic of drug-overdose deaths, and both Republicans and Democrats agree that it is time for action.

More than 21 million Americans above the age of 12 have been diagnosed with a substance abuse problem. In 2014, we saw watched 47,000 Americans die from drug overdoses, mostly due to abuse of heroin and other opiates. Ohio had the second-highest number of overdose-related deaths in the nation, with 79 people dying from opioid overdoses every day.

These tragic statistics do not include the many examples of people who hurt others while under the influence of drugs, the spread of diseases from shared needles, or the endless violence that is inherent to the criminal drug trade.

In rural, suburban, and urban neighborhoods across Ohio, too many people suffering from chronic pain become addicted to prescribed drugs and turn to black market alternatives like heroin when obtaining new prescriptions becomes too difficult or costly. Heroin is cheap and available, despite the more than $500 the U.S. spends every second on the war on drugs. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has confirmed that Mexico is the primary supplier of heroin in the United States. These cartel traffickers are taking advantage of the Obama Administration’s failure to secure our Southern border.

And, if that wasn’t bad enough, outrageous federal loopholes currently allow manufacturers from China to shipping fentanyl, a deadly opioid which is stronger and cheaper than heroin, into our communities. Dealing with the opioid epidemic requires a diverse array of treatment strategies and options that must involve our criminal justice, law enforcement, and public health systems. A multifaceted approach is required to address this issue, and it is imperative that we are making the right investments at every turn.

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, sponsored by Ohio Senator Rob Portman recently passed with a bi-partisan vote of 92-2. The goal of this law is to shift focus away from fighting the drug war through mass incarceration, and built up America’s treatment capacity. It included, among other things, greater funding for law enforcement and treatment, and increased the patient cap on doctors prescribing buprenorphine, a bridge treatment which reduces withdrawal symptoms and cravings that too often drive addicts back to drug dealers.

In Ohio, a drug known as Suboxone is the state’s preferred buprenorphine treatment paid for by Medicaid. But it is far from an ideal medication. Suboxone comes in film strip form and is available in limited dosages, meaning physicians often have to prescribe higher doses than a patient actual needs. As a result, we are seeing patients to sell their excess strips on the black market for more than twice their value. Suboxone strips are also commonly smuggled into prisons and resold to inmates, compounding drug addiction problems in our prisons.

In Columbus, Suboxone smuggling into the Franklin County Jail became such a problem that the facility had to ban all outside deliveries of underwear and socks, which were easily used to conceal film strips. And in Southwest Ohio, officials at the Warren and Lebanon Correctional Institutions report that they are seeing an influx in Suboxone smuggling and abuse in those facilities. Law enforcement in Ohio is already overwhelmed trying to fight the drug epidemic in our communities, and now a purported solution to the opiate epidemic is exacerbating the problem.

Notably, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and 35 other attorneys general have sued the makers of Suboxone. The bipartisan suit argues that an aggressive pricing scheme and monopolistic practices have delayed alternatives to keep prices artificially high. Not only have their actions been a burden on taxpayers, they have prevented other drug manufacturers from offering patients and Medicaid programs more efficient options with tailored dosage levels and larger barriers to diversion into prisons and black markets.

To be clear, ensuring access to MATs is important. When used properly, these treatments save lives. But in Ohio, almost all of Medicaid’s spending on these treatments is paying for Suboxone, when there are other effective options available. Limited taxpayer resources shouldn’t be paying for medications that are ultimately costing the state in other ways.

By adopting a multi-faceted approach to addressing the opioid epidemic—expanding access to treatments, stopping well-intentioned Medicaid policies that are making the drug epidemic worse, and stopping the trafficking of illegal drugs at the border and in our communities—Ohio and America can use these evidence-based policy changes to keep more people alive and stop the opioid crisis.

This Op-Ed was written by Ken Blackwell.

 

 

 

Left Panics Over Blackwell as Possible WH Domestic Policy Advisor

Liberal outlets are on red alert over rumors that Ken Blackwell is being considered for White House domestic policy advisor, for good reason.

The thrust of their attack is to narrowcast Blackwell as embodying two issues the Left hates: guns and religion. He’s on the board of directors of the National Rifle Association, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the Council for National Policy, the Family Research Council, and is a professor at Liberty University.

But while no one is better credentialed on the issues of the Second Amendment and faith, few statesmen of this generation have a broader and deeper grounding in the full spectrum of domestic issues.

From growing up in public housing as an African American to becoming the youngest mayor in Cincinnati history, then an under secretary at HUD, Blackwell knows better than anyone what ails cities and how to turn into reality Trump’s promise to revitalize America’s urban centers.

His decades of work in education—a board member of Grove City College, university vice president, professor, advocate for educational choice, and husband of a school superintendent—makes him a widely trusted expert in that field.

Then fiscal issues. This former Ohio state treasurer managed an investment portfolio of over 100 billion dollars—and made the Buckeye State the single largest bondholder of Israeli bonds, becoming friends with Benjamin Netanyahu and the Knesset—has been part owner of radio networks, a sports team, and sits on the board of an investment fund.

But his economic policy work is also theoretical. Blackwell was heavily involved with the Reagan White House on tax policy, worked for years with Jack Kemp on fundamental tax reform and co-wrote a book with Kemp on reforming the IRS. Blackwell also worked for many years with Steve Forbes on developing and promoting the flat tax.

Coupled with Blackwell’s weighty foreign-policy credentials—former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission and subsequent years of working with the State Department—no one floated as a possible domestic policy advisor has Blackwell’s scope of experience.

Critically important for President-elect Trump are the political benefits of appointing Blackwell. First, in terms of marshaling support for his agenda, Blackwell is on the board of directors of more conservative organizations than perhaps anyone in American politics today.

Beyond all the aforementioned groups like the NRA, Blackwell is on the board of the Club for Growth, the National Taxpayers Union, the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, and others. Some of these were valuable allies for Trump. Others caused static for Trump during the campaign, and the president could expect Blackwell’s formidable presence to overcome those difficulties going forward, calming the political waters for the White House.

Appointing Blackwell should also yield major benefits from minority communities. Integrating his skills on urban housing, new business startups, small business development, tax reform, and school choice, Blackwell could coordinate the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Education, and the Small Business Administration to revitalize inner cities. If Trump wants a major share of the black vote in 2020, Blackwell could gather him more of those votes that anyone else in a position to make often-clashing Cabinet departments and agencies work together to generate a synergy of urban renewal.

Simultaneously, Blackwell’s other organizational achievements suggest he could play a central role at dismantling the labyrinth involving Departments of Interior, Agriculture, Energy, and the EPA to expand everything from energy development to agriculture, hunting, and grazing issues.

As former Ohio secretary of state and board member of the ACRU, Blackwell could also tackle another 2020 priority—election law reform.

Blackwell’s thirty years of television and radio experience—thousands of interviews, including every major network and show—could also make him a top surrogate for Trump whenever these issues are in the news.

Finally, Blackwell is one of the only people in the country fully embraced both by the GOP establishment and the anti-establishment forces that propelled Trump to victory. He is trusted by both sides of the current divide in the party which Trump will need to bring together.

No wonder liberals are panicking about the possibility of Blackwell overseeing from the White House the full range of domestic policy issues for President Trump. It’s hard to imagine a more formidable aide in that post to enact Trump’s agenda of change.