Goodlatte’s strange effort to link opioids to sanctuary cities

Congressman Goodlatte, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, plans to devote valuable committee time to a hearing Thursday on “The Effect of Sanctuary City Policies on the Ability to Combat the Opioid Epidemic.”

In effect, Goodlatte is choosing to ignore the many more salient causes of the opioid crisis (pharmaceutical company spending, shortages of addiction treatment options, poverty, unemployment, lack of health insurance) to put the most divisive and partisan spin on a national tragedy.

According to the Harvard Business Review:

Every part of the country is battling opioid addiction, but the worst-hit states include Ohio, West Virginia, and New Hampshire.

In fact West Virginia and New Hampshire have no sanctuary cities, and Ohio has only one (Cincinnati). Despite Goodlatte’s bizarre effort to link the opioid crisis to sanctuary cities, there is no evidence of a connection between the two.

Responding to Goodlatte’s plan for the hearing, Judiciary Committee Democrats wrote to the chair calling for a more comprehensive examination of the epidemic:

In 2016, more than 42,000 people died of opioid overdoses, which equates to 115 people dying every day of preventable causes. On October 26, 2017, President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a Nationwide Public Health Emergency. At the time, you stated that ‘the House Judiciary Committee will continue to review our nation’s laws to determine if more resources are needed to address this crisis.

Shortly thereafter, on November 1, 2017, the President’s Commission on Combatting Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis released its final report setting forth 56 specific recommendations to address the ongoing epidemic. It is long past due that the Committee held a hearing to examine these issues and how we can work in bipartisan manner to consider comprehensive measures to combat the opioid epidemic.

 The Democrats concluded their letter:

[W]e should explore the opportunities for bipartisan action on these issues instead of focusing on divisive anti-immigrant politics. Therefore, we request that the full Committee or the Crime Subcommittee convene hearings to address means by which we can do more to prevent and fight opioid abuse in our country.

Goodlatte’s laughable fiscal hypocrisy

It is time for Congress to finally put an end to fiscal irresponsibility and stop saddling future generations with crushing debts to pay for our current spending. We must rise above partisanship and join together to send a balanced budget amendment to the states for ratification.

Congressman Bob Goodlatte, introducing a “Balanced Budget Amendment” to the Constitution on January 3, 2017

As I noted at the time, Goodlatte’s vaunted fiscal conservatism only seems to kick in when a Democrat happens to be president.

Goodlatte’s votes in Congress– along with those of other Republicans and some Democrats– helped turn the budget surplus that George W. Bush inherited from Bill Clinton in 2001 into the huge budget deficit that Barack Obama inherited from Bush in 2009.

While supporting Bush’s across-the-board tax cuts, which cost the Treasury $1.8 trillion in the first eight years, Goodlatte also voted for the president’s unfunded Medicare prescription drug program ($495 billion from general revenue through 2015), as well as the hugely expensive and unfunded wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (at least $1.6 trillion through 2014).

For Goodlatte, introducing a balanced budget amendment is like saying, “Stop me before I slash hundreds of billions in revenue and spend hundreds of billions we don’t have again.”

Then in November Goodlatte voted for the Republicans’ budget-busting tax plan, which promises to add up to $1.5 trillion to the national debt over the next decade.

Finally– as if to make sure we understood how phony his pious anti-deficit talk really is– Goodlatte joined in voting Friday morning for $300 billion in additional spending over the next two years– with no additional revenue to cover it.

GOP Senator Rand Paul was quite willing to call out the hypocrisy of Goodlatte and other Republican “fiscal hawks” who voted for spending.

“I can’t in all good honesty, in all good faith, just look the other way because my party is now complicit in the deficits,” he said on the Senate floor.

Bottom line: If, during his final months in Congress, Goodlatte dares to complain about out-of-control federal spending, his constituents will be perfectly justified in laughing in his face.