MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!
Another round of healthcare reform is on the way. We’ll talk about what to expect.
NICK EICHER, HOST: That’s ahead on Washington Wednesday.
Also World Tour.
Plus how one farm in Florida is reaching out to new markets.
And what to do when frustration spills over onto your tongue.
REICHARD: It’s Wednesday, February 3rd. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Good morning!
REICHARD: It’s time for news. Here’s Kent Covington.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Biden immigration executive orders » President Biden signed multiple executive orders on Tuesday related to immigration.
One of them will create a task force charged with trying to reunite any immigrant children still separated from their families at the southern border.
Biden is also ordering a review of the asylum process at the border.
Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters…
PSAKI: We want to put in place an immigration process here that is humane, that is moral, that considers applications for refugees, applications for people to come into this country at the border in a way that treats people as human beings.
The review includes a policy to make asylum-seekers wait in Mexican border cities for hearings in U.S. immigration courts.
The president has now signed nine executive actions on immigration through his first two weeks in office.
Senate confirms two Biden nominees to Cabinet posts » Meantime, on Capitol Hill, the Senate confirmed the man who will oversee much of Biden’s immigration agenda.
The chamber approved Alejandro Mayorkas as Department of Homeland Security Secretary, but not without a fight.
The vote was 56 to 43 with Republican leader Mitch McConnell urging lawmakers to vote “no.” He said experience is not the problem. Mayorkas held senior DHS and immigration posts in the Obama administration.
MCCONNELL: The problem is when he’s chosen to pull those levers and for whose benefit.
McConnell said some former DHS employees who worked under Mayorkas felt he put the interests of immigrants ahead of law enforcement and national security concerns.
Democrats argued that was not the case.
But another of President Biden’s nominees sailed through the Senate Tuesday.
Former Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is the nation’s new Transportation Secretary.
AUDIO: The yeas are 86, the nays are 13. The nomination is confirmed.
The 39-year-old will be tasked with advancing President Biden’s infrastructure and climate change plans.
Democrats, Trump legal team file impeachment briefs » House Democrats filed a legal brief Tuesday ahead of former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.
They charged that Trump aimed a mob of supporters—quote—“like a loaded cannon” at the U.S. Capitol. And Democrats made their most detailed case yet for why they believe he should be convicted and permanently barred from office.
The House Article of Impeachment accuses him of inciting insurrection following the January 6th riot on Capitol Hill.
Trump’s legal team also filed a legal brief challenging the constitutionality of trying to impeach a president who has already left office.
Trump lawyer David Schoen told Fox News…
SCHOEN: I think it’s also the most ill advised legislative action that I’ve seen in my lifetime. It is tearing the country apart at a time when we don’t need anything like that.
Democratic leaders say accountability is an important part of healing divisions in the country.
The Senate impeachment trial begins next week.
Moscow court sentences Navalny to prison » A Moscow court on Tuesday ordered Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny to prison for more than 2 1/2 years. The court claimed Navalny violated the terms of his probation while recuperating in Germany after being poisoned with a Soviet-era nerve agent.
WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more on the ruling.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Tuesday’s sentence stems from an earlier ruling. In 2014, Russian courts convicted Navalny of embezzlement and sentenced him to a three-and-a-half year suspended sentence, plus five years probation.
The U.S. government and much of the Western world considered the conviction a politically motivated farce.
As the court read yesterday’s ruling, Navalny smiled and pointed to his wife Yulia in the courtroom. He traced the outline of a heart on the glass cage where he was being held and told her “everything will be fine” as guards led him away.
The 44-year-old anti-corruption investigator said he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin is behind the ruling. He said—quote—“I have deeply offended him simply by surviving the assassination attempt that he ordered.”
But as tens of thousands continue to protest in Russian city streets, Navalny added, “You can’t jail the entire country.”
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.
State Dept. says Myanmar takeover is a coup, Biden orders review » The Biden administration says the Myanmar military’s government takeover was a coup. And the State Department is vowing to hit top military generals with sanctions and other measures.
State Department officials say they’re satisfied that the power grab meets the legal definition of a coup. That designation sets the stage for sanctions and other measures against those responsible.
Those commanders claimed the move was necessary because the civilian government failed to protect the last election.
Analyst Larry Jagan told the Associated Press there’s a kernel of truth there…
JAGAN: There is of course some doubt about the election. There were cases of fraud. There were cases of irregularities. To what extent the 10 million cases the military says it has evidence of is legitimate is difficult to know.
The United States and much of the world believe that was merely a pretext for the military to seize full control of the government.
President Biden has ordered a review of U.S. policy regarding Myanmar. That could impact future humanitarian assistance to the nation.
I’m Kent Covington.
Straight ahead: President Biden’s plans for healthcare reform.
Plus, Whitney Williams on pocket dialing God.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Wednesday the 3rd of February, 2021.
You’re listening to The World and Everything in It and we are so glad to have you along today. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher.
First up: President Biden announced last Thursday that he will reopen the enrollment window for Obamacare. Hours later, Press Secretary Jen Psaki circled back…
PSAKI: The Department of Health and Human Services will open Healthcare.gov for a special enrollment period from Feb. 15 to May 15.
He also took action to roll back Trump administration rules pertaining to Obamacare and Medicaid.
BIDEN: There’s nothing new that we’re doing here other than restoring the Affordable Care Act and restoring Medicaid to the way it was before Trump became president.
REICHARD: What exactly did he change and what will that mean? And what about Biden’s campaign promise to pursue a so-called public option, a government-run agency to compete with private insurance companies?
Here to answer those questions and others is Joe Antos. He is a healthcare scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.
Joe, thanks for joining us.
ANTOS: Thanks. Great to be here.
REICHARD: Well, let’s just start with the more pressing matter. And that is, of course the pandemic. What is President Biden doing differently so far than President Trump in regard to fighting it?
ANTOS: Well, he’s got better press.
REICHARD: [Laughs] Yes.
ANTOS: I don’t really see that there’s much difference because there weren’t any degrees of freedom with regard to rolling out the vaccine or really any of the other things about testing and so on. This is not a Biden-specific problem. We all have the bad luck that new variants of the virus are more virulent. We all have the problem that there isn’t enough vaccine and that’s not getting out there very quickly, but these are problems that were going to happen anyway, no matter who the president was. In my non-medical view, I think the issue really has to do with letting the supply chain catch up with reality. And that hasn’t happened yet.
REICHARD: Well, let me ask you about President Biden’s remarks last week. When he said he’s restoring Obamacare and Medicaid to the way they were before the Trump administration, what exactly did he change and what impact will that have?
ANTOS: Well, with Obamacare I don’t think he actually changed much of anything. He is opening the federal exchange, which accounts for, you know, probably 75 percent of all of all states are in the federal exchange rather than running their own exchanges. But, you know, he really hasn’t been very specific about things that he would do that would somehow restore Obamacare to the way it was.
One thing that would be significant would be for him to announce that he’s going to get legislation that authorizes him to pay insurance companies for what are known as cost sharing reduction subsidies. That’s probably $8 to $10 billion a year that the insurance companies are essentially giving away—right now for nothing—to certain low income enrollees in the exchange plans. Biden might think that that was a good idea to start paying what the governments said they were going to pay and then backed out. But if he does that, then he’s probably not going to change anything about premiums and the premiums went through the roof when the government quit paying those subsidies to the insurance companies. And they’re certainly not going to voluntarily come down without legislation. So I think Biden isn’t going to be turning Obamacare back into anything.
REICHARD: So that’s Obamacare. What about Medicaid?
ANTOS: That’s a bigger issue. It’s clear that Democrats are against requiring people, able-bodied people who are eligible for Medicaid to give back to the community by working, or by going to school, or by learning a trade, or by doing a lot of very useful things that people ought to be doing. He’s not a fan of that. He really wants Medicaid to be the entitlement program that it always used to be. By the way, these are state programs. They’re partly federally funded, but the states run them. So he’s basically going to take the authority away from the states to run their Medicaid programs in a way that I think a lot of people think is appropriate, which is that if you’re able-bodied, yes, you should get help getting health insurance, but you should give back to the community.
REICHARD: President Biden talked a lot on the campaign trail about bringing down prescription drug prices. What might he do there?
ANTOS: Well, this is another mystery. Biden supports the idea of limiting the prices that drugs that have a little competition can charge on the open market. The problem with that is that those drugs tend to be drugs that people really need. For example, the new biologic drugs that are truly miracle drugs, they are generally introduced at a very high price because, bluntly, they’re very hard to manufacture and the product represents, oftentimes, many, many years of scientific research and a huge amount of investment by the small pharmaceutical research firms and the larger pharmaceutical companies that bring the product to market.
All of this takes an enormous amount of time and enormous amount of money. And if you say you’re going to put a limit of some sort on what launch prices are going to be, you’re going to discourage investment capital from going into that business. And we’re going to see a reduction in the flow of new products.
REICHARD: President Biden says he doesn’t want a total government takeover of healthcare, but he wants the option for government run healthcare. When do you think he’ll push for that?
ANTOS: You know, it’s a difficult question for him. His problem is that his left wing actually doesn’t like the public option. They really like Bernie Sanders’ original proposal, which was to go for a completely government-run program modeled after Great Britain. The public option is not that at all. And Democrats who have really thought about this and not just politicians, but also experts at places like the Brookings Institution, basically admit that the federal government is really lousy at running health programs. You only have to look at the Medicare programs to know that the federal government can’t do it. First of all, the Medicare program has the worst benefits of any major health insurance in this country.
There are holes in that coverage and that’s the reason why people buy Medigap because the Medicare program is crummy benefits. It’s worse than exchange plans, believe it or not. But it’s expensive. So the fact is that the federal government does a lot to make Medicare happen. They collect a lot of taxes. They set a bunch of rules. But they don’t actually run the mechanics of the program.
So, the fact is that the federal government is really not capable of running its own national health insurance program. The Medicare program operates through private contractors, primarily.
So, in fact, the only way that the public option could work would be something similar to Medicare Advantage, through private plans. But it would kind of be, you know, similar to Medicare Advantage. Now here’s another problem. The idea of the public option that I think most Democrats, when they say this, think is this would be a competitor to the existing exchange plans. If the public option is going to attract any enrollment at all, it has to be better than its competition. And how does it get to be better? Well, the answer is it has to be some combination of cheaper to the customer or better in terms of broader access to services, broader access to providers, or lower out-of-pocket costs, you know, lower deductibles for example, would be good. And how do you do that? Well, the answer, Joe Biden certainly has is that he wants to pay providers less than they receive through commercial insurers. It is absolutely the case that Medicare pays below market rates and not enough over the long-term to sustain the provider sector, in healthcare. The actuaries that advise the Medicare program have indicated that if we continue on our current course, a large percentage of hospitals and physician practices will go out of business over the next 20 years because of the constant grinding down of payment rates in the Medicare program that is built into law today because of the Affordable Care Act.
REICHARD: Talk about the politics of all this.
ANTOS: I would say that it has to do with Biden’s problems with politics on the left and the right. And Biden’s problems with organized healthcare in general. So, the political issues really have to do with for anything that is really a substantial change in the way the government programs operate or the rules under which private programs operate under — Any of those changes basically have to go through Congress. And it’s going to be very difficult to get more than 60 votes in the Senate. And why do they need more than 60 votes? Because there’s a filibuster rule. A simple majority won’t do it. So the fact that the Democrats get the 51st vote from the new vice president really doesn’t cut it for anything that will not attract Republican support as well as Democratic support. Then in terms of the professional interests of organized medicine. And by that I mean hospitals, doctors, and basically every other group of providers that has a trade association in Washington, which would be all of them. So while they probably will not come out strongly against Biden’s proposals publicly, they will fight the ground war in the halls of Congress in the back room of Congress, in fact. So, I think he’s gonna end up at the end of his four year term, without much to show for it in terms of the legislation and with a bunch of rule changes that attempt to turn back the clock on the Trump rule changes, demonstrating that if you don’t have legislation, it’s not permanent. So it doesn’t matter.
REICHARD: Joe Antos is with the American Enterprise Institute. Joe, thanks so much!
ANTOS: My pleasure.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: World Tour with Africa correspondent Onize Ohikere.
ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER: Farmer protests in India—We start today in India.
AUDIO: [Sounds of yelling, booms]
Clashes between farmers and counter protesters broke out around New Delhi last week. Police fired tear gas and used batons to separate the groups.
Farmers have surrounded the city for two months, trying to force the government to reconsider unpopular reform measures. They say efforts to deregulate farm produce markets will drive down prices and make it impossible for them to survive.
The counter protesters say they are tired of the ongoing unrest, but the farmers say they aren’t leaving. The farm protests pose the biggest challenge to Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi since he took power in 2014.
U.K. opens visa program for Hong Kongers—Next we go to Europe.
The U.K. has created a new visa program to help people escape China’s authoritarian rule in Hong Kong. The program is open to anyone with a British National (overseas) passport. About 70 percent of Hong Kong residents are eligible to apply.
Winston Wong and his wife Connie Chan decided to emigrate as Beijing tightened its grip over the formerly semi-autonomous city.
WONG: I think literally you can’t win everything, you have to make a choice; so if you want to have a nice life where you can freely speak of everything without being worried or feared, then you have to pay the price for coming over.
After five years, visa holders can apply for British citizenship.
British officials estimate more than 300,000 people will seek a visa in the next five years. Furious over what it calls outside interference, Beijing has vowed to make it hard for anyone to leave Hong Kong.
Taliban vow to continue fighting—Next to the Middle East.
AUDIO: [Man speaking Farsi]
The Taliban says it will continue its “fight and jihad” if foreign troops do not leave Afghanistan by May. That deadline was part of a U.S. agreement negotiated with the Taliban during peace talks with the Trump administration.
But President Biden said last week he wanted to reconsider that deal. The United States has about 2,500 troops left in Afghanistan.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani urged Biden not to recall any more troops and to put pressure on the Taliban to renounce violence. The insurgent group has refused to stop its terror attacks despite attempts to strike a peace deal. The violence resulted in more than 25-hundred civilian casualties during the last three months of 2020, including more than 800 deaths.
Kosovo establishes ties with Israel—And finally, we end today in Israel.
The foreign ministers of Israel and Kosovo met virtually on Monday to mutually recognize each other’s sovereignty.
AUDIO: Kosovo has waited for a very long time to establish diplomatic relations with Israel. On this important day, we mark a new chapter in the historical bond between our countries who have witnessed a long and challenging path to existing as a people and to becoming states.
Kosovo’s announcement follows similar recognitions from several other Muslim-majority countries, including the United Arab Emirates and Sudan. But Kosovo also plans to open an embassy in Jerusalem, something the Arab states did not do.
Israel joins more than 100 countries that recognize Kosovo’s sovereignty, including the United States, but Russia and China do not.
That’s this week’s World Tour. Reporting for WORLD, I’m Onize Ohikere in Abuja, Nigeria.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Well, if you haven’t heard the news by now, the nation’s most famous weather prognosticator gave his prognostication.
LUNDY: Ladies and gentlemen, the seer of seers, the Great Oz of weather forecasting, Punxsutawney Phil!
The crowd noise was piped in. Thousands of people are usually packed shoulder to shoulder for the annual event, but they weren’t this year. You know why.
But Phil was undeterred!
Jeff Lundy is president of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club Inner Circle. He read from a scroll.
LUNDY: My faithful followers being safe and secure, our tradition of Groundhog Day must endure. Now, when I turn to see, there’s a perfect shadow cast of me!
You know what that means!
PHIL: He’s gotta be stopped!
No, it means six more weeks of winter. Bundle up!
It’s The World and Everything in It.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Wednesday, February 3rd. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day.
Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: creating a specialized market for beef.
Keeping a farm in the family for generations isn’t easy. It’s become especially difficult over the past decade for small farmers, with operating costs going up and commodity prices going down.
EICHER: But some families are finding ways to adapt. WORLD’s Sarah Schweinsberg recently visited one such farm in Florida.
AUDIO: [QUIET MORNING]
SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: It’s a peaceful morning in Central Florida. And that means it’s breakfast-time for the cattle at the Master Blend Cattle Company farm.
AUDIO: [Tractor trailer]
Richard VanWagner drives a cabless tractor pulling a wagon that dumps feed into bunks. Cows, bulls, and steers eagerly lower their heads to eat. This isn’t your regular hay, corn, or silage mixture.
Son, Jacob Vanwagner, says the family likes to use people food to feed their cattle.
JACOB: We have brewers grain. It’s leftover from the beer making process. We have the potatoes in there. We have then one of the more interesting things that we get is the fruit from stores and we just put it in each load.
A bull uses his nose to rummage through the mixture. He’s looking for a prize: an apple. He happily snarfs it down.
AUDIO: [BULL PUFFING]
JACOB: The reason why we do fruit is because it adds bulk to the feed. And the cows really seem to enjoy it quite a lot.
The VanWagners aren’t afraid to try new ideas. They can’t be or else they would have lost their land a long time ago.
Jacob points to a pen of about 30 Holstein dairy cattle.
JACOB: Right now this is the last of our dairy herd.
For decades, the VanWagners milked about 500 cows.
Then 15 years ago, milk prices began dropping and operation and regulation costs went up. The family has a small farm. To compensate, they needed to buy more land, so they could milk more cows.
But that wasn’t really an option. Dad, Richard Van Wagner, says sand doesn’t come up for sale often, and it’s expensive.
RICHARD: Everything’s growing so fast now. And so we’re kind of landlocked.
So Richard VanWagner decided if he wanted to stay afloat, he had to do something completely different. He sold most of his milk cows. Seeing his herd go wasn’t easy.
RICHARD: We had Holsteins and genetics that we had worked on for 35 years. And it was saying, Okay, I’m letting this go. And that was the tough part. Because we spent a lot of energy and effort doing that.
The VanWagners shifted to feeding other people’s dairy calves and raising Black Angus beef cattle.
But they still didn’t have enough land to make a profit.
RICHARD: The way things are set up now is, it almost forces you to find a niche. Otherwise, you’re competing with the guys that have thousands. And we can’t do thousands.
So they started to think further outside of the box.
What if the family started raising more exotic breeds? Ones that many Americans hadn’t even heard of?
So, the VanWagners learned a new business again. They began buying calf embryos from cattle breeders and implanting them in their own stock.
RICHARD: Everything we breed is artificial, or embryos. And what that allows us to do is we can take genetics from all over the world. And that’s how we found our niche.
Their specialty became raising cattle from Europe, India, and Japan.
AUDIO: [COW MOOING]
Jacob VanWagner walks through the cattle feedlot. He names the breeds of all the cattle in one pen.
JACOB: I’ll start with Wagyu, Angus, Belgian Blue, Brahman. Piedmontese that that’s the main ones that we have around here.
Besides raising these purebred cows and bulls, the family also began creating their own cross breeds.
JACOB: That guy over there is special. He’s our first Wagner blue that we’re going to do. He’s a composite breed. It’s between 50% Wagyu, 25% Belgian Blue, and 25% Angus.
Once the animals are two to four years old, the VanWangers sell their specialty breeds to other farms.
Because these cattle are rare, buyers pay more money for them. That means the VanWagners can raise fewer animals and still make a profit.
If they don’t sell the animal, they butcher it and sell the meat directly to customers.
AUDIO: [Rummaging through meat]
Jacob VanWagner opens one of the deep freezers in their small meat store. There’s not much meat left inside.
JACOB: In here, I have the Wagyu. And Belgian blue, this is going to be the wagyu box. This is the Belgian blue.
Jacob says customers enjoy the lean, tang of the Belgian Blue and the fatty, tenderness of Wagyu.
JACOB: So you have the Belgian blue, that’s a deep, maroon red. Then the Wagyu. That’s going to be looking a bit more pale because of the fat content that’s in it.
Back outside, Jacob says people want to buy meat from the family farm because they want to try something new and locally grown.
JACOB: We like feeding the people in our community, just something different. And they really appreciate it because they say it’s way better quality.
And the VanWagners say they aren’t done exploring other niches yet either.
Another pen, holds a muscley-white bull. He swings his head up and hits the metal gate with one long horn.
AUDIO: [HORN HITTING FENCE]
The VanWagners bred him to be a rodeo bull.
JACOB: My dad’s gonna send him somewhere to get trained as a bucking bull.
And, dad, Richard VanWagner says they may start breeding American Bison as well. People like lean, bison meat as a healthier option.
The possibilities—and changes that have to come—are really endless. But that’s what makes the family business fun.
RICHARD: When you do the same thing every day. You got to do something a little different to make it interesting. And for us this is what started us down that line. And hopefully maybe Bison will be the next step.
MUSIC: [“Life Change” -Thomas Rhett]
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg in Citra, Florida.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Wednesday, February 3rd. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard.
Have you ever had one of those days where little frustrations stretch you to your breaking point? Commentator Whitney Williams has some advice.
WHITNEY WILLIAMS, COMMENTATOR: This mama of three young boys has a confession to make: Recently, I’ve noticed the Lord’s name whispering through my lips in moments of anger or in times of overwhelming stress.
I know it’s not right, but there’s something about one child whining for his umpteenth snack that day, while I’m wiping another and trying to get a disrespectful 7-year-old to do his math homework as my phone pings with work emails, that really drives me to my breaking point. “I only have two arms. I can only do ONE thing at a time. STOP WHINING. GET BACK IN YOUR CHAIR! NO, YOU CAN’T HAVE ICE CREAM FOR LUNCH, WE HAD IT FOR DINNER LAST NIGHT!” bleep. I have a feeling I’m not alone in this struggle. James chapter 3 verse 2 confirms it: “For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man …”
Taking the Lord’s name in vain, whether out loud or in my head, is sinful, I know, but something interesting has come out of these careless moments. The Lord answers my call—even when I wasn’t really calling on Him. I immediately repent, and then, jogged from my frustrated fog, I try again. This time calling to Him intentionally.
It’s like when a friend answers your pocket dial. You go ahead and apologize, admitting you called her by mistake, “Oh hey, sorry, I didn’t mean to call you, but while I’ve got you on the line…”
I’ve also considered that in those moments, it’s possible that this Christian mama was not deliberately taking the Lord’s name in vain, but that her very soul was crying out to Him when her mind was too overwhelmed to pray.
Even outside of stressful moments, when you hear of a child in your church family drowning in his backyard swimming pool—Jesus! Another miscarriage—Jesus! Stage four cancer—Jesus! At times it’s all we can muster.
This one-word prayer holds tremendous power, if the heart cries it out in earnest need and trust. But even if it doesn’t, even if, in a moment of anger or frustration, you say the Lord’s name in vain, don’t let Satan win. Take it as an opportunity to wake up from your spiritual slumber and meet with the Lord, admitting your deep need for Him and trusting Him to meet it. He is able and faithful, is He not, to work ALL things for our good and for His glory? To put a new song in our mouths, as Psalm 40 says, rather than of a bar of soap?
I’m Whitney Williams.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Tomorrow: We’ll tell you how the new executive order on transgenderism might affect women’s sports.
And, we’ll introduce you to two men who keep the hands of time running in a small Texas town.
That and more tomorrow.
I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard.
The World and Everything in It comes to you from WORLD Radio.
WORLD’s mission is biblically objective journalism that informs, educates, and inspires.
Jesus said: Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Go now in grace and peace.