Liberal Governor Abandons Single-Payer Health Care: ‘Greatest Disappointment of My Political Life’

Bruce Parker /

MONTPELIER, Vt. — Gov. Peter Shumlin announced this week he has called off his plans for single-payer health care in Vermont for 2015, saying “now is not the right time.”

At an unannounced news conference, Shumlin said he received the final modeling for financing single-payer health care on Tuesday and concluded the taxes required to fund a publicly financed system were simply unaffordable.

“As we completed the financing modeling in the last several days, it became clear that the risk of economic shock is too high at this time to offer a plan I can responsibly support for passage in the legislature,” Shumlin said.

“It was clear to me that the taxes required to replace health-care premiums with a publicly financed plan that would best serve Vermont are, in a word, enormous.”

The surprise announcement, which came nearly two weeks ahead of schedule, included details that Green Mountain Care’s new-revenues requirement had ballooned to $2.6 billion — up from prior high estimates of $2.2 billion. The overall cost for Green Mountain Care’s operations and coverage is estimated at $4.3 billion.

According to Shumlin’s financing plan, paying for Green Mountain Care would require a new 11.5 percent payroll tax on all Vermont businesses plus a new sliding-scale income tax of up to 9.5 percent, based on income level and family size.

Under Shumlin’s plan, a family of four with $100,000 of income or more would pay the full 9.5 percent tax. The maximum income tax for any single household would be capped at $27,500.

At the news conference, Shumlin called single-payer “the greatest disappointment of my political life so far,” and he explained why he abandoned his signature policy initiative of the past four years.

In a rundown of Green Mountain Care’s financing woes, Michael Costa, deputy director of health care reform, said $267 million in funds expected from opting out of the Affordable Care Act had shrunk to just $106 million.

Moreover, the expected availability of $637 million in Medicaid funding declined by $150 million. As for the hundreds of millions of dollars of administrative savings anticipated in the Hsiao report, they never materialized.

The administration also discovered Green Mountain Care would begin running deficits by 2020.


Can Detroit Become the Most Prosperous City in America Again? This Filmmaker Wants to Find Out. - Daily Signal

Can Detroit Become the Most Prosperous City in America Again? This Filmmaker Wants to Find Out.

Bruce Parker / Kate Scanlon /

Is Detroit doomed to fail or on the brink of rebirth? One filmmaker is on a mission to find out.

Ben Howe, founder and creative director of Mister Smith Media, is investigating the Motor City in his latest project.

“Someone needs to cover both the dangers that Detroit faces as well as the uplifting stories,” says @BenHowe

The film, currently under the working title “The Detroit Project,” is a follow-up to Howe’s previous documentary, “Bankrupt: How Cronyism and Corruption Brought Down Detroit,” released earlier this year.

Detroit was once the most prosperous city in America and the manufacturing capital of the world.

Centered around the automobile industry, the city boasted fabulous mansions and hotels, and was home to an extraordinary amount of wealth.

Then everything changed.

>>> This Once-Prosperous American City Went Bankrupt. Who’s to Blame?

According to Howe, as the companies failed to address their “systematic issues” and adapt to changes in the auto industry, the city “stepped in to help in a very crony-ish way.”

“The government colluded with corporate interests rather than letting the free market work,” said Howe. “Frankly, the unions didn’t help either.”

Now, the Motor City is bankrupt and almost $20 billion in debt. Jobs became few and far between as companies failed. Designed to accommodate 2 million residents, its population has shrunk to a mere 600,000.

Howe said his latest project is a way to “tell the story of Detroit:”

“Someone needs to cover both the dangers that Detroit faces as well as the uplifting stories of entrepreneurs and life-long residents hoping to rebuild the city into what it used to be,” he said.

“The previous one was about the rise and fall of Detroit,” Howe added. “This one is about where they are going from here.”

In an interview with The Daily Signal, where he serves as a contributor, Howe called Detroit’s problems “symptomatic of America.”

Howe said Detroit’s embrace of government handouts rather than free-market solutions should serve as a warning sign for the rest of the country because the city is simply “farther down the path.”

Howe wants to document “positive efforts” being made to revitalize Detroit, and to discover which solutions work and which don’t. He is in the process of interviewing residents and city officials, and crowdfunding the film.

“The city council, planners brag about all this awesome stuff being done, but what is actually happening?” asked Howe.

Howe said he wants to show viewers how the policies that destroyed Detroit could affect them.

“Conservatives talk about being ‘culturally relevant,’” said Howe. “This is what that looks like. We can only change hearts and minds through storytelling. Not to trick them, but to tell them compelling stories that are true. … As Andrew Breitbart used to say, ‘Politics is downstream of culture.’”

Howe hopes that by telling the true story of the history of Detroit, it can go through a “true renaissance” rather than “yet another rebirth.”

Can Detroit become the most prosperous city in America again?

“The only way these areas can come back is entrepreneurs,” said Howe, “because the people decided they wanted to trust themselves to rebuild.”

Howe said that the name of his company—Mister Smith Media—is an homage to the classic Frank Capra film “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”

“I’m not in Washington,” said Howe. “We pride ourselves on doing things differently.”

Howe said he hopes to start filming in the spring and release the film to DVD in the fall.

The Detroit Project is a sponsored project of Moving Picture Institute. You can learn more about the film on its crowdfunding page.

North Korea Can’t Take a Joke Because Dictators Don’t Like Being Mocked - Daily Signal

North Korea Can’t Take a Joke Because Dictators Don’t Like Being Mocked

Bruce Parker / Kate Scanlon / Ted Bromund /

Kim Jong Il, the former leader of North Korea, once made 11 holes-in-one in a round of golf. On a well-publicized scuba dive, Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, happened to find two ancient artifacts. Iran’s Supreme Leader claims the United States, Britain, and Israel created the Islamist rebels in Syria.

Dictators say a lot of crazy things. Some are silly, some are ridiculous, and some, like Iran’s claims, are sinister. None has any contact with reality. One American reaction to this outlandish, paranoid nonsense is, in a way, healthy: We laugh at it.

A Google search will find hundreds of fake images of a bare-chested Putin riding a shark. The creators of “South Park” laughed at North Korea in “Team America: World Police,” a plot that James Franco and Seth Rogen borrow for their movie “The Interview.”

Too bad North Korea can’t take a joke: It denounced “The Interview” as “an act of war.” Hackers in North Korea are suspected of crushing Sony Pictures with a cyber-attack.

Dictators don’t like being mocked, which is precisely why laughter is not a bad response. But our other ways of dismissing the crazy stuff are less helpful. We excuse it by saying that it’s merely misunderstood rhetoric. We rationalize it by claiming that it’s just meant for public consumption.

Worse of all, we psychoanalyze it, using it to put the dictators on the couch. Frankly, I don’t know if Putin’s machismo is a pose to compensate for his inner weakness, or if Kim had an ego problem. It wouldn’t surprise me if he did, but I don’t care. You can’t treat their nonsense as if you’re Oprah.

James Franco and Seth Rogan star in 'The Interview.' (Photo: Newscom)

James Franco and Seth Rogan star in ‘The Interview.’ (Photo: Newscom)

All these excuses — and even our jokes — paper over the fact that the crazy talk isn’t crazy at all: It serves a purpose. Several purposes, actually. Kim’s regime rests in part on the claim that his family dynasty is the best in the world at everything: Golf is merely a facet of his pretended greatness.

And undoubtedly, many Russians don’t believe Putin’s claims. But he can spot opponents by seeing who refuses to play along. In fact, a lot of the crazy talk isn’t directed at us: As George Orwell knew, it’s a way of enforcing conformity. If you don’t dare laugh at Kim’s golf skills, you won’t challenge his regime.

Of course, sometimes laughter isn’t appropriate. The president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, has recently republished his books online, in Arabic, on the authority’s official site. One of these tomes is “The Other Side: The Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism.”

The book’s theme, as journalist Seth Mandel summarizes it, is that Zionist leaders “struck up an alliance with the Nazis to facilitate the extermination of the Jewish people.” That’s a disgusting lie. But it’s a revealing one, because it tells us what kind of regime the Palestinian Authority is: one that glories in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and hopes that, by publishing in Arabic, we won’t notice.

The more you look for this kind of thing, the more you’ll find. Last month, Turkey’s president, Recep Erdogan, claimed Muslims discovered the New World, and that Columbus saw a mosque in Cuba. The same month, Chinese authorities banned puns, because they risk causing “cultural and linguistic chaos.”

We shouldn’t ignore this nonsense. We certainly shouldn’t write it off because it’s said in public: It matters precisely because it is said in public. Our politicians say lots of silly things, but in democracies, respectable people don’t do crazy talk. So when you hear a foreign leader talking crazy, laugh — but remember: You’re listening to a dictator.

Originally appeared on

How Harry Reid’s Last Act as Majority Leader Directly Benefited His State - Daily Signal

How Harry Reid’s Last Act as Majority Leader Directly Benefited His State

Bruce Parker / Kate Scanlon / Ted Bromund / Melissa Quinn /

In his final move as majority leader, Sen. Harry Reid ushered through a series of tax breaks that directly benefit residents of his home state of Nevada.

Called tax extenders, the package retroactively renews expired tax breaks, including a state sales tax deduction and the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act.

The Senate passed the tax bill 76-16 earlier this week—the last legislation it would vote on before the end of the 113th Congress and Reid’s tenure as majority leader.

“Congress needs to pursue sweeping tax reform that creates opportunity and fairness for everyone,” says @DanHoller

The inclusion of two provisions were beneficial to both Reid’s home state and Florida, states without a state income tax and where residents were hit hard by the housing market crash.

The state sales tax deduction allows Nevada residents to deduct state and local taxes.

In addition, the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act relieves homeowners from paying taxes on forgiven debt.

Reid touted his work in pushing through the tax extenders legislation in a press release Wednesday, saying his position as Democratic leader helped him deliver “on a number of priorities to grow Nevada’s economy.”

“These deductions will save Nevada families and taxpayers millions of dollars and are important to renew as our state’s economic and housing security continue to recover,” the majority leader said. “I will continue to ensure these tax cuts are protected for Nevada.”

>>> One More Year of Tax Extenders: Paving the Way for Reform in 2015

The senator’s office did not return The Daily Signal’s request for comment.

The tax extenders received criticism from both Republicans and Democrats, but Heritage Foundation tax and economic policy expert Curtis Dubay said the legislation was a “mixed bag of sound policies and policies that Congress should have abolished long ago.”

“Given the desire of the Senate and President Obama to retain the unjustified policies, a one-year extension is sensible because it prevents a tax hike and keeps in place many policies necessary for a better functioning tax system,” he said.

Reid’s pronounced devotion to continue delivering legislation that directly benefits his state comes just one week after Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma delivered a farewell speech warning senators to heed their oath of office.

“It’s nice to be able to do things for your state, but that isn’t our charge,” he told his fellow senators. “Our charge is to protect the future of our country by upholding the Constitution and ensuring the liberty that’s guaranteed there is protected and preserved.”

Dan Holler, spokesman for Heritage Action for America, the lobbying arm of The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal that the tax code should benefit all Americans, not just a select subset.

“Our tax code is riddled with distortions,” he said. “Rather than continually rearranging a chaotic code with tweaks that reek of favoritism, Congress needs to pursue sweeping tax reform that creates opportunity and fairness for everyone.”

>>> A Taxpayer’s Guide to the Lame-Duck Session

In One Kentucky County, Workers Might Soon Enjoy More Freedom - Daily Signal

In One Kentucky County, Workers Might Soon Enjoy More Freedom

Bruce Parker / Kate Scanlon / Ted Bromund / Melissa Quinn / James Sherk /

The momentum for right-to-work measures at the local level across the country might be gaining steam.

Kentucky’s Warren County, which includes the city of Bowling Green, just passed a local right-to-work ordinance. A 5–1 bipartisan majority of the county legislature voted to make union dues voluntary for private-sector workers.

The measure comes up for a second and final reading today. If it passes, then unions will lose the ability to compel workers in Warren County (home to a sizeable GM plant) to pay union dues — at least until the inevitable court challenge.

>>> Local Leaders Try New Tactic to Bring Right-to-Work Laws to Kentucky

The National Labor Relations Act, which largely set the (favorable) ground rules for unionization in America, clearly permits states to pass right-to-work laws.

Legal scholars have debated for decades whether it also allows local governments to do so. A 1957 Stanford Law Review article started the debate; since then most but not all scholars have concluded it does.

The Supreme Court has never decided this issue. Only a handful of lower courts have considered it, reaching contradictory conclusions. My colleague Andrew Kloster and I summarized the legal issues involved in a recent report.

Warren County has good arguments for its authority to do this, including the fact Kentucky state law expressly allows counties to pass economic development and commercial regulations — so long as they do not contravene state law, which this does not.

Workers will win a huge victory if the courts uphold local right-to-work ordinances. Unions in non-right-to-work states can take their members’ support for granted: The workers must pay dues or get fired, and unions don’t have to earn dues to collect them. Perhaps unsurprisingly, 57 percent of union members’ believe they do not get enough value for the dues they pay.

Consider United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 2164, which represents workers at the Corvette plant in Bowling Green. Federal financial disclosure reports show it spends just 2 percent of its $560,000 annual budget on “representational activities.” Yet every worker in that plant must pay Local 2164’s dues. Even some UAW officers admit this hurts workers. Gary Casteel, the UAW’s southern-region director, told reporters earlier this year:

This is something I’ve never understood, that people think right to work hurts unions. To me, it helps them. You don’t have to belong if you don’t want to. So if I go to an organizing drive, I can tell these workers, “If you don’t like this arrangement, you don’t have to belong,” versus ”If we get 50 percent of you, then all of you have to belong, whether you like to or not.” I don’t even like the way that sounds, because it’s a voluntary system, and if you don’t think the system’s earning its keep, then you don’t have to pay.

Thanks to today’s vote, Local 2164’s members may get a choice about where their money goes. This freedom will also probably bring them better services.

Originally appeared in National Review.

As Gas Prices Tumble, States Feel Pinch of Less Tax Revenue - Daily Signal

As Gas Prices Tumble, States Feel Pinch of Less Tax Revenue

Bruce Parker / Kate Scanlon / Ted Bromund / Melissa Quinn / James Sherk / Rob Nikolewski /

Reduced gasoline prices are good news for drivers across the country, but they’re causing headaches for budget directors in oil-producing states who are now revising their numbers downward and hoping prices stabilize quickly.

“I haven’t seen anything this rapid in my time,” Oklahoma Finance Secretary Preston Doerflinger said. “I don’t think we’ve seen anything in recent history this dramatic.”

The budgets in oil-rich states count on revenue generated from the oil and gas industry. In addition to the money generated from sales taxes resulting from the boom times created by horizontal drilling and fracking, the industry also kicks in millions of dollars each year in severance taxes.

For example, a recent study showed that 31.5 percent of the general fund in New Mexico is attributed to taxes, royalties and fees generated each year by the oil and gas industry.

But with the price of a barrel of oil plummeting from $107 a barrel to under $60 in just five months, states that had been counting on a nice chunk of change from energy companies are now expecting less money coming their way.

“Maybe as equally important as oil price and the ramifications of depressed prices on our economy is the possible ripple effect if the energy industry were to shrink in our state,” Doerflinger said.

“When I say that, I’m talking about income taxes and other types of revenue sources that can be affected by not having as many energy jobs in the state.”

The boom in the U.S. has led to a greater supply of oil in the global market, which has put downward pressure on prices. But the most recent nose dive is attributed to a decision made Nov. 27 by OPEC to keep on pumping.

That’s increased the supply even more.

Even though OPEC leader Saudi Arabia denies it, the move has been widely interpreted as an attempt to starve off U.S. shale producers by drastically undercutting the price and preserving the Saudis’ market share.

“In my opinion this is very definitely an attempt to disrupt the energy renaissance that’s happening in this country,” Doerflinger said.


The Meaning of the Constitution - Daily Signal

The Meaning of the Constitution

Bruce Parker / Kate Scanlon / Ted Bromund / Melissa Quinn / James Sherk / Rob Nikolewski / Ed Meese /

The Constitution of the United States has endured for over two centuries. It remains the object of reverence for nearly all Americans and an object of admiration by peoples around the world.

William Gladstone was right in 1878 when he described the U.S. Constitution as “the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.”

>>> This is an excerpt from The Heritage Guide to the Constitution

Part of the reason for the Constitution’s enduring strength is that it is the complement of the Declaration of Independence.

The Declaration provided the philosophical basis for a government that exercises legitimate power by “the consent of the governed,” and it defined the conditions of a free people, whose rights and liberty are derived from their Creator.

The Constitution delineated the structure of government and the rules for its operation, consistent with the creed of human liberty proclaimed in the Declaration.

The Constitution was born in crisis, when the very existence of the new United States was in jeopardy. The Framers understood the gravity of their task.

Several important themes permeated the completed draft of the Constitution. The first, reflecting the mandate of the Declaration of Independence, was the recognition that the ultimate authority of a legitimate government depends on the consent of a free people.

Thomas Jefferson had set forth the basic principle in his famous formulation:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

That “all men are created equal” means that they are equally endowed with unalienable rights. Nature does not single out who is to govern and who is to be governed; there is no divine right of kings. Nor are rights a matter of legal privilege or the benevolence of some ruling class. Fundamental rights exist by nature, prior to government and conventional laws.

It is because these individual rights are left unsecured that governments are instituted among men.

In The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, we seek to present the Founders’ understanding of the Constitution and its various provisions, and examine the judicial interpretations and political circumstances that make up the historical development of constitutional law.

The Constitution is our most fundamental law. It is, in its own words, “the supreme Law of the Land.”

Its translation into the legal rules under which we live occurs through the actions of all government entities, federal and state.

The Constitution—the original document of 1787 plus its amendments—is and must be understood to be the standard against which all laws, policies, and interpretations should be measured.

It is our fundamental law because it represents the settled and deliberate will of the people, against which the actions of government officials must be squared.

In the end, the continued success and viability of our democratic Republic depends on our fidelity to, and the faithful exposition and interpretation of, this Constitution, our great charter of liberty.

‘The Innocent Bystander’: A Mother’s Struggle After a Miracle Birth - Daily Signal

‘The Innocent Bystander’: A Mother’s Struggle After a Miracle Birth

Bruce Parker / Kate Scanlon / Ted Bromund / Melissa Quinn / James Sherk / Rob Nikolewski / Ed Meese / Josh Siegel /

When April Leffingwell gave birth to her son, Elijah, they instantly became survivors.

Eight weeks earlier, in a procedure that could have killed them both, doctors partially removed Elijah from April’s womb so surgeons could remove a tumor the size of an orange from the boy’s left lung.

“I was at the lowest point in my life after he was born,” says April Leffingwell of her son, Elijah.

Instead of bringing joy, the occasion of Elijah’s premature birth — and knowing that he had indeed made it through birth — left April depressed and overwhelmed.

“I definitely had postpartum depression,” April says. “It was very hard. I was at the lowest point in my life after he was born.”

Earlier this month, The Daily Signal visited the Leffingwells’ Wisconsin home and told the story of the miraculous surgery that saved Elijah.

If not for prenatal surgery, done before Elijah’s birth to stop the tumor from smothering his heart and right lung, doctors say he would have died.

But as April’s experience with postpartum depression shows, when a mother decides to move forward with fetal surgery, she is not just sacrificing her baby — who faces risks such as premature birth — but also herself.

Experts refer to the mother in this experience as the “innocent bystander,” subjected to a hip-to-hip wound of her abdomen from two surgeries (the fetal surgery and cesarean delivery), a lifetime of scarring, months of bedrest and lost work — and an expectation that she cope with it all.

“It’s a very fine weighing of the balances between maternal risk and fetal risk,” says Dr. Julie Moldenhauer, the medical director of the special delivery unit at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “Because clearly for the fetus this is a life-or-death situation. And for mom this is a very large commitment.”

Moldenhauer is studying the incidence of postpartum depression with mothers who carry babies with birth defects.

Postpartum depression — maternal mental illness — is not limited to mothers who experience a traumatic pregnancy.


Recent studies show that in the year after giving birth, at least one in eight and as many as one in five women develop symptoms of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder or a combination.

In addition, researchers say that symptoms often occur during pregnancy — and not necessarily immediately after giving birth — as commonly thought.

Genes, stress and hormones are considered causes of maternal mental illness, scientists say.

Moldenhauer says her research is too new to say definitively if mothers who carry babies with birth defects are more likely to have postpartum depression than those who have ordinary pregnancies.

But any mother who undergoes a complicated pregnancy is certainly at risk for such mental problems, she says.

“We found that moms with these difficult pregnancies are at higher risk for developing postpartum depression, high anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder,” Moldenhauer says. “Because really, you enter a pregnancy and every couple comes in with high hopes and expectations. Most of the time it is wonderful and fun. And for a small portion of couples, they receive news that there’s an issue. You can only imagine all of the emotions that go along with that and the concern and the worry.”

‘No Escape’

April felt the worst after Elijah was discharged from the hospital.

Elijah was on life support for the first nine days after birth.

He spent the first 66 days of his life at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where he was tended to by nurses and neonatologists, his vitals tracked by monitors.

At home, April and her husband, Jason, finally cared for Elijah on their own.

“The lowest emotionally was when I got home and there are no nurses caring for him,” April says. “There was no escape for me.”

>>> Elijah’s Story: A Life Saved Before Birth

One month after coming home, April resumed full-time work at the financial firm Robert W. Baird.

She used up two months of her three-month maternity leave while Elijah recovered in the neonatal intensive care unit.

“I didn’t have a real maternity leave,” April says.

After work, April and Jason would return to their house to a baby who could not eat on his own.

Because he was born prematurely — and because of complications from fetal surgery — Elijah spent the first year of his life on a feeding tube.

April is always connected with Elijah because of their  similarly sized scars from the fetal surgery. (Photo: Scott Eastman)

April is always connected with Elijah because of their similarly sized scars from the fetal surgery. (Photo: Scott Eastman)

April and Jason prepared his meals by pouring formula into a continuous feed that attached to his stomach.

“I was overwhelmed,” April says. “It was nonstop. I’d come home from work to a medically fragile baby.”

The couple took Elijah to occupational therapy every other week.

As part of the state-run Birth to Three program, therapists came to the Leffingwells’ home to help with Elijah’s developmental problems, such as eating, sitting, rolling over and pushing up.

Their attention diverted, April and Jason feared that they were neglecting Elijah’s 4-year-old big sister, Ellianna.

“I was so consumed with Elijah that I had no time for my daughter,” April says. “I was guilty for my daughter.”

>>> 46 Touching Photos That Prove Love and Science Work Miracles

April also had no time for herself, so she suffered lingering complications from Elijah’s birth defect.

When Elijah was still inside April’s womb, his tumor crushed his esophagus, preventing it from swallowing amniotic fluid — a slightly yellowish liquid that surrounds an unborn baby during pregnancy.

As a result, the fluid clogged and stretched April’s stomach so big and so fast, that it caused a hernia. So at 25 weeks pregnant, she looked ready to deliver a baby.

April lived with the hernia until July of this year. At that point, while her stomach didn’t appear pregnant, an off-center bulge protruded from her belly.

“It looked like I had put a baseball under my shirt,” April says. “It was not a feminine baby bump.”

When doctors opened her up, they found April actually had a triple hernia, she says.

“Now I am finally breathing,” April says. “I can breathe again. I lived with that trauma for over a year because I didn’t have a moment for myself.”

April, with her children Elijah and Ellianna, says she can "finally breathe again." (Photo: Scott Eastman)

April, with her children, Elijah and Ellianna, says she can “finally breathe again.” (Photo: Scott Eastman)

Some mothers who experience postpartum depression report having visions and urges to harm their child.

April never reached that point.

“I never felt like I wanted to harm Elijah,” April says. “It was just overwhelming.”

She handled her problems by leaning on Jason.

“He was my rock,” April says. “He never showed much emotion.”

She relied on herself, refusing to see a psychologist or take medication.

April says she’s the type who would rather “sit under a tree or get a massage” than take pills or talk to a shrink, but she still kicks herself for not getting help.

“I know I should have,” April says. “My excuse was, ‘Why should I go? What is the point? So I can just cry to them? They can’t do anything for me.’”

‘No Regrets’

Despite her emotional and physical struggles, April has no regrets about choosing fetal surgery.

That’s because today, 2-year-old Elijah is healthy — and alive.

But it’s also because April respects the process that informed her decision to move forward with fetal surgery.

Medical professionals say they are honest and cautious in deciding whether to recommend fetal surgery.

“No one has all the answers,” says Lori Howell, executive director of the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “Our job is to weigh out all the options.”

Howell continues:

“If the decision is made to proceed with fetal surgery, we do that with the reasonable expectation that we think we will get a good baby out of this. If it is a postnatal option, that’s fine with us. We support them in that decision. Because, at the end of day, it’s important they have no regrets about what they decided to do. I always have to remember that we will see another mom the next day, but this family lives with this decision the rest of their lives.”

In April’s case, because Elijah was already suffering from heart failure, doctors presented surgery before birth as the only option that would produce a healthy baby.

Doctors deemed April a good fit for fetal surgery because of her slim figure and clean health record.

She consulted with Joanna Cole, a psychologist at the hospital, in the days before fetal surgery.

The hospital’s Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment staffs a support team consisting of a psychologist, social workers, a chaplain and a child life specialist.

Natalie Rintoul, the neonatologist who cared for Elijah after birth and discharged him from the hospital, says the hospital’s resources help parents make a far-reaching decision.

“It’s not just about surviving,” Rintoul says. “[It’s about] what are they going to be like in kindergarten? What are they going to be like? Parents ask us that. We are all about being honest and telling them everything that we know so they can make the best decisions for the baby and for their family.”

Life Recovery

Now that Elijah and April have survived, they must live.

Once Elijah got off the feeding tube and began eating orally, April says her feeling of hopelessness went away.

She hopes to return to work next year. Her quick recovery from postpartum depression may be a part of a trend, but experts say it’s too early to say.

“We think long term it is an adjustment disorder, and they are able to get back to a normal routine,” Moldenhauer says. “We are trying to establish how frequently do we see this and what is best to support these couples. Because right now, we don’t know. This is an area that’s completely open. We’re doing the best we can.”

Though April’s battle with postpartum depression never reached the worst end of the spectrum, her experience reveals the sensitive balance of fetal surgery.

“You would do anything for your child,” April says. “But it’s stressful.”

Advancing Economic Freedom, Affirming the Transatlantic Partnership - Daily Signal

Advancing Economic Freedom, Affirming the Transatlantic Partnership

Bruce Parker / Kate Scanlon / Ted Bromund / Melissa Quinn / James Sherk / Rob Nikolewski / Ed Meese / Josh Siegel / Joel Anand Samy /

BRUSSELS, Belgium—At The Konrad Adenauer Foundation’s December 2014 dinner event hosted by Dr. Stefan Gehrold, director of the organization’s office in Brussels, Becky Norton Dunlop, vice president of external relations at The Heritage Foundation and former director of the White House Cabinet office for President Reagan, delivered the keynote address communicating the importance of strengthening the transatlantic partnership based on key principles and addressing the unfinished work of advancing the rule of law and economic freedom.

The keynote address presented by Dunlop articulated President Ronald Reagan’s vision and principled leadership, and, his direct engagement with America’s allies in Europe during the Cold War period. The dedicated efforts of stalwarts, including Ronald Reagan, Lady Thatcher, Konrad Adenauer, Pope John Paul II, Alexandr Solzhenitsyn and other distinguished leaders were acknowledged in hastening the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The speech outlined three key points commencing with remembrance—reflecting on the challenges and hardships brought by World War II and the Cold War decades and the accomplishments and results in freeing a continent from the threat of communism and tyranny. Dunlop encouraged a recommitment to the high ideals which transformed the world and resolve to pass these principles to families, friends, and future generations.

In highlighting the historic accomplishments by the leading lights of liberty from the West and within Eastern Europe, Dunlop reminded the audience of the challenges faced by Americans and Europeans, including the rise of anti-Semitism across Europe, uncertainty in Ukraine, Russia’s encroachment and the instability in the Balkans. The vulnerabilities exposed on Europe’s continent revealed weak rule of law states and rampant corruption. The message underscored the message that there is unfinished work in advancing the rule of law and freedom.

The speech called for bold ideas for the 21st century, based on principles and affirming the foundation of the rule of law and protection of property rights—in addressing challenges within the countries of the transatlantic alliance and advancing freedom in difficult places around the world.

Prior to Dunlop’s keynote, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation invited Natasha Srdoc, chairman of the Adriatic Institute, co-founder of International Leaders Summit and former contributor to The Economist Intelligence Unit, to present an overview of the Index of Economic Freedom for the European region, co-published by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal.


The prominent dinner event was attended by a high-level visiting delegation from the German Bundestag in Berlin, senior leaders from EU member states and diplomats.

Dunlop’s visit to Brussels included high-level meetings with Europe’s elected leaders including meetings with Paulo Rangel, vice chairman of the European People’s Party (EPP), Monica Macovei, member of the European Parliament (MEP) and former justice minister of Romania, Tunne Kelam, MEP, Estonia and one the Baltic region’s pioneering freedom fighter calling for Estonia’s independence. During her visit, Dunlop addressed the Young Leaders Network affiliated with the EPP.

The 2016 Potentials React to Obama’s Cuba Plan - Daily Signal

The 2016 Potentials React to Obama’s Cuba Plan

Bruce Parker / Kate Scanlon / Ted Bromund / Melissa Quinn / James Sherk / Rob Nikolewski / Ed Meese / Josh Siegel / Joel Anand Samy / Natalie Johnson /

President Obama’s decision to normalize relations with Cuba yesterday swept headlines, marking a new policy issue for the 2016 presidential race. Many of the rumored hopefuls swiftly reacted to the president’s plan, establishing their positions for 2016.


The Democrat contenders showed unanimous support for Obama’s plan, praising the president’s efforts to open U.S.-Cuban relations for the first time in more than 50 years.

Hillary Clinton, the Democrats’ likely frontrunner, issued a statement backing Obama’s announcement saying Cuban “isolation has only strengthened the Castro regime’s grip on power.”

“As I have said, the best way to bring change to Cuba is to expose its people to the values, information, and material comforts of the outside world. The goal of increased U.S. engagement in the days and years ahead should be to encourage real and lasting reforms for the Cuban people. And the other nations of the Americas should join us in this effort.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont described the embargo on his site as “counterproductive,” saying “it’s time we normalize relations.” The independent senator said lifting the embargo would benefit both the U.S. and Cuban economies.

Sanders Statement on Cuba Announcements: #Cuba #AlanGross

— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) December 17, 2014

Jim Webb, Virginia’s former senator, and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley both posted their appraisal on Twitter.

POTUS made right decision on #Cuba. Proud of having worked years toward normalization of relations w/ Vietnam & leading the way in Burma.

— Jim Webb (@JimWebbUSA) December 17, 2014

Diplomacy creates opportunities. Embargoes don't. It's time to reset our Cuba policy & build closer ties b/t the American & Cuban people.

— Martin O'Malley (@GovernorOMalley) December 17, 2014


Jeb Bush, who made headlines this week for announcing he would explore a potential 2016 run, told reporters he didn’t think the U.S. “should be negotiating with a repressive regime” and that Obama’s concessions “rewarded” Cuba’s dictators, according to USA Today.

President Obama’s decision to restore diplomatic ties with Cuba undermines America’s credibility:

— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) December 17, 2014

Sen. Ted Cruz released a statement commending Alan Gross’ release, but said that Obama’s overarching plan does “nothing to resolve the underlying problem. Indeed, it has made it worse.”

The Texas senator also took to Twitter to mount his disdain.

It’s a consistent pattern. First Russia, then Iran, now Cuba. Obama’s deal will be remembered as a tragic mistake.

— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) December 17, 2014

In July 2013, I interviewed two Cuban dissidents. They warned the US not to fall for any offer of detente from Cuba.

— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) December 18, 2014

Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana rebuked Obama for having “no strategy” toward foreign policy. Jindal said in a statement that normalizing relations with Cuba validates “the Castro way of governing” and only allows them to “tighten their grip” on the country. The governor called on Congress to do “everything it can” to prevent the plan’s implementation.

Ruthless dictators like Assad, Putin and Castro think Obama is an easy mark and will be sorry to see him go.

— Gov. Bobby Jindal (@BobbyJindal) December 17, 2014

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul broke away from Republican contenders by supporting the president’s announcement, telling News Talk 800 that the embargo “just hasn’t worked” and that opening relations with Cuba is “probably a good idea.”

“If the goal is regime change, it sure doesn’t seem to be working and probably it punishes the people more than the regime because the regime can blame the embargo for hardship.”

Gov. Rick Perry slammed the president’s foreign policy, saying Obama’s Cuba negotiations are part of the administration’s “pattern” of deals that “aren’t necessarily good for America.” The Texas governor told a local paper that it is not in U.S. interest to negotiate with countries “that have huge human rights problems.”

Mitt Romney, the GOP’s 2012 nominee, posted his sole reaction to Twitter.

More "we give, they get" diplomacy from Obama; this time the Castros win, and the champions of freedom and democracy lose. #Cuba

— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) December 18, 2014

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio immediately berated the president’s plan, writing in the Wall Street Journal that it is “disgraceful” and a “victory for tyranny.” The senator promised he would do everything he can to “unravel” the president’s latest move through nomination and funding blocks.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker denounced the plan as a “bad idea,” telling reporters “there’s a reason” the U.S. placed an embargo on Cuba in the first place and that because the government hasn’t noticeably shifted toward a “more free and prosperous country” it should not be lifted.

Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum have not yet commented.