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Vox Sentences: Mad Dog to defend White House

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Congress is passing a major bill (don't everybody get too excited); Donald Trump's most widely respected Cabinet pick to date is the dude who needs a special waiver from Congress.


Congress passes medical research bill full of uppers, downers

Elizabeth Warren at a podium The Washington Post/Toni L. Sandys via Getty Images
  • Congress is in the midst of passing the biggest piece of health legislation since the Affordable Care Act: the 21st Century Cures Act, which puts $6.3 billion toward changes in medical research and would, among other things, substantially change the process for approving new drugs. [Vox / Julia Belluz]
  • The bill is the sort of bipartisan initiative people love to complain doesn't exist anymore. Republicans rallied around proposals to change FDA regulations to bring drugs to market faster; Democrats supported the bill's funding efforts for VP Joe Biden's "cancer moonshot" and for the NIH and FDA. [The Atlantic / Russell Berman]
  • The thing about big bipartisan bills is they have huge upsides and huge downsides. The 21st Century Cures Act could help beat the opioid crisis (it sends $1 billion to states to fight opioid addiction). But it also rewards the pharmaceutical industry that helped make prescription painkillers an addiction crisis to begin with. [Huffington Post / Sam Stein, Ryan Grim and Matt Fuller]
  • The bill isn't just a wish list for big pharma. Thanks to the efforts of Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), a proposal to keep doctors from having to disclose when they were being paid by industry in prescribing drugs got scrapped. [Stat News / Ed Silverman]
  • But among the biggest changes the bill will make is to fast-track the development of more drugs by allowing researchers to skip clinical trials and present "real-world evidence" instead. The problem is that the regulatory process isn't actually the biggest reason drugs take so long to get to market… [Vox / Julia Belluz]
  • …and cutting corners in the regulatory process could have problems for patient safety. [Vox / Julia Belluz]

Mad Dog to defend White House

Donald Trump Holds Weekend Meetings In Bedminster, NJ Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images
  • President-elect Donald Trump has reportedly selected retired Gen. James Mattis to serve as his secretary of defense. [Washington Post / Dan Lamothe]
  • (The Trump transition team has denied that a final pick for DoD has been made. But pretty much every Cabinet appointment so far has leaked before the official announcement, and every leak about a Cabinet appointment so far has been correct.) [CNN / Eric Bradner, Phil Mattingly and David Wright]
  • Mattis is a lot more respected among establishment policymakers — of many ideological stripes — than most of Trump's picks. [Foreign Policy / Dan De Luce and Paul McLeary]
  • This isn't to say he's a moderate — he's a huge Iran hawk, for example. But he knows his stuff, and has been known to stand up to Trump about, for example, the ineffectiveness of waterboarding. [Vox / Yochi Dreazen]
  • Legally, though, Mattis is barred from taking the position — military officials are barred from civilian oversight roles until seven years after they retire. It's supposed to protect the principle of civilian oversight of the military — something President-elect Trump's apparent reliance on generals to guide his policy thinking is throwing onto shaky ground. [NYT / Mark Landler and Helene Cooper]
  • Congress is likely to grant Mattis a waiver. Again, he's well respected — and it doesn't hurt that a lobbying team has been working senators day after day for two weeks to prep them to accept Mattis should he be nominated. [The Daily Beast / Kimberly Dozier and Tim Mak]
  • But there are other concerns with putting a fresh ex-general in control of the Pentagon. For one thing, as Erin Simpson writes, "Warfighters rarely make good bureaucrats" — and Mattis is definitely a warfighter. [War on the Rocks / Erin Simpson]

Dealmaker in chief

trump Getty / Tasos Katopodis
  • Arguably, Donald Trump is a warfighter rather than a bureaucrat — something that's coming into focus as we learn more about the deal struck with Carrier to keep some jobs in the US. [Vox / Timothy B. Lee]
  • The deal is even more modest than initially reported. Carrier's keeping about 800 jobs in Indiana — another 1,000 are still being shifted to Mexico. That's not great return on the $7 million the state of Indiana is paying the company to stay. [Vox / Matt Yglesias]
  • Furthermore, as Bernie Sanders points out, it basically sets a template for any other company tempted by outsourcing: Dig in enough, and the Trump administration will give you a sweet deal. [Washington Post / Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)]
  • But here's the problem. A lot of people in the region really like it. They see it as Trump keeping his word — and they actively don't want to hear about the details. [Phil Mattingly via Twitter]
  • What does one do with such an attitude? Does one chalk it up to traditional gung-ho populism — Trump doing something "for us" — and wait until the Republican Congress does something that doesn't even pretend to benefit workers? [Vox / Matt Yglesias]
  • Does one simply concede what a Trump supporter said on a cable news segment today, that "there's no such thing anymore, unfortunately, as facts"? [The Atlantic / James Fallows]
  • Or does one consider that — at least the way Trump tells it — he never intended to keep the Carrier plant itself in the US to begin with, and only did it because he saw a worker on TV who cited Trump's promise sincerely? And conclude that, terrifyingly, Trump's need to satisfy his fans may run deeper than his desire to wave away his lies? [Slate / Josh Voorhees]

Miscellaneous

  • This time for sure: Colombia's parliament has officially ratified a peace deal with the FARC (the revised version of the one voters rejected earlier this fall). [The Guardian]
  • Fifteen-year-old Bresha Meadows killed her father — who she claims was brutally abusive. She was charged with aggravated murder and could have faced life in prison. On Thursday, prosecutors announced she'll only face six years. [Huffington Post / Melissa Jeltsen]
  • If you shared that Washington Post story last week about Russia's propaganda influence on fake news, you owe it to yourself to read this critique from Adrian Chen — who knows Russian propaganda on the internet. [New Yorker / Adrian Chen]
  • Your hair extensions might have come off the scalp of a 14-year-old girl in rural China. [New Zealand Herald / Olivia Carville]
  • Because Dara is filling the Misc. section tonight, you get a detailed and readable breakdown, courtesy of SB Nation, of the new labor agreement between Major League Baseball and its players. [SB Nation / Grant Brisbee]

Verbatim

  • "Starting today, the federal government has the power to hack millions of Americans’ computers with one single search warrant. And the government isn’t even required to ensure those subject to a computer search are notified." [Medium / Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT)]
  • "The United States Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit is very certain that lesbians exist, but it is not entirely sure why, or what to do about them." [Slate / Mark Joseph Stern]
  • "For decades, governments around the world — from France to Turkey to China — have forced Muslims into a never-ending game of religious Twister, contorting their faith in every which way, promising them that if they change just this one thing they’ll be left alone and 'accepted.'" [Washington Post / Rashid Dar]
  • "Somehow our financial conversations, we feel romantic and connected at the end of them, I think because it’s a way of talking about values." [Ari Wisebard to Bloomberg / Josh Eidelson, Eva Holland, and David Gauvey Herbert]
  • "In the midst of troubled times, @CountVonCount reminds us we can do anything we set our minds to." [Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) via Twitter]

Watch this: Why blackface is still part of Dutch Christmas

The debate over Zwarte Piet (Black Pete), explained. [YouTube / Christophe Haubursin]