National Review recently obtained internal documents by the Health and Human Services (HHS) headed by secretary Xavier Becerra, showing an effort to implement new standards for “equity” and “gender-inclusive correspondence.”
Every April HHS releases a Plain Writing Act Compliance Report, which “details the agency’s efforts to train employees in ‘clear Government communication that the public can understand and use’ in its ‘letters, publications, forms, notices and instructions,’ as outlined by the Plain Writing Act of 2010” reports National Review.
April of 2021’s report introduced “a New Focus section on Promoting Equity.” It was designed to support the first executive order that President Biden signed in office for a “whole-of-government equity agenda” which promises to “embed equity principles, policies, and approaches across the Federal Government.”
The report aims to advance racial equity and support for underserved communities through the Federal Government by using “plainly written and culturally sensitive, unbiased information.” National Review reports:
The new standard on gender-inclusive correspondence instructs HHS employees to “use gender-neutral salutations and forms of address only.” That includes omitting “gendered courtesy titles (Mr., Mrs., Ms.)” in address blocks and in salutations. (“Instead, write ‘Dear,’ followed by the individual’s name, followed by a colon,” the document suggests.)
It goes further, advising against gendered pronouns and other terms when in doubt — and even suggesting using the so-called “singular ‘they’” instead:
When writing to an individual whose name is unknown, avoid using gendered salutations (e.g., Dear Sir/Madam). Refer to the context of the communication to identify a suitable, gender-neutral alternative (e.g., Dear colleague, Dear recipient). Similarly, when addressing a group, avoid gendered language (e.g. Dear Sirs/Madams), opting instead for collective salutations that are gender neutral.
In the body of the letter, avoid using masculine or feminine pronouns (he, she) to refer to individuals whose gender or preferred pronouns are unknown. Instead, consider using the individual’s preferred name; using the singular “they,” “them,” and “theirs” pronouns; or using sentence constructions that avoid the use of pronouns.
The new equity section, meanwhile, mandates that department memos, such as those on a rule, “include noteworthy elements about equity and describe how the action will promote equity for individuals belonging to groups that have been historically underserved, marginalized, or subject to discrimination or systemic disadvantage,
including those referenced in EO 13985.” (As an example, the guide’s template for a regulation decision memo to the secretary includes a new section titled “Noteworthy Elements about Equity.” The sample section prompts the author to explain how the discussed regulation will affect “individuals belonging to groups that have been historically underserved, marginalized, or subject to discrimination or systemic disadvantage.”)
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The Looming National Debt Crisis: The Uncomfortable Truth No One Wants to Discuss
As Republican candidates gather for a debate, the skeleton in the closet remains the ballooning national debt, a subject that’s largely been relegated to the shadows of political discourse.
While the candidates may briefly touch upon the issue and offer surface-level solutions, the uncomfortable truth is that addressing the national debt’s growing burden would require difficult, unpopular choices. Candidates find themselves in a precarious position, tasked with both solving the problem and securing votes, all within the constraints of a 90-second debate response.
Since surpassing the $33 trillion debt threshold, the United States has been accruing over $800 million in new debt every hour, adding more than $2 billion daily in interest payments. The most recent debt ceiling bill has suspended any cap on this debt until January 2025, casting a long shadow over the nation’s future freedom and prosperity.
Democrats have occasionally pointed to the “Trump Tax Cuts” as a driver of the deficit. However, the tax cuts did stimulate economic growth and resulted in record-high Treasury revenues, albeit without corresponding spending cuts.
One feasible solution begins with fixing the federal budget process, though it is by no means an easy task. Nonetheless, it would substantially rein in Congress’s control over the spending pie chart. A recent Heritage study revealed that only 10 percent of the $7.5 trillion in COVID-related spending actually went to healthcare. The remaining 90 percent, charged as overhead and other expenses, underscores the need for significant reform.
According to reports from Fox News, while the discretionary budget, including debt interest payments and defense spending, constitutes less than 25 percent of overall expenditures and continues to shrink, the true driver of federal deficits lies in mandatory, programmatic spending. These are expenditures Congress does not address annually but continues unabated.
Furthermore, they encompass popular transfer programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, student loans, and healthcare initiatives like Obamacare, among countless others. Altering these programs involves a political third rail, a risk few presidential candidates are willing to take.
Mandatory, programmatic expenditures are perpetual and don’t undergo annual scrutiny or adjustment. There is virtually no constituency for tackling these fundamental issues, despite their role as the primary drivers of the nation’s fiscal challenges.
Many citizens believe that trimming discretionary spending, such as congressional salaries or foreign aid, or rooting out “waste, fraud, and abuse,” can resolve the debt problem. While these are valid concerns, the real target for reform should be mandatory, programmatic spending to ensure the sustainability of essential programs.
The Republican candidates vying for the nomination face a daunting question: Who among them possesses the courage and leadership to make the unpopular decisions necessary to restore fiscal responsibility to the nation’s future?
On the other side of the aisle, Democrats seem unlikely to embrace responsible spending as part of their agenda, leaving the issue largely unaddressed in their political DNA.
In a political landscape dominated by divisive issues and partisan debates, the national debt looms as the silent crisis that few are willing to confront.
The path to fiscal responsibility requires acknowledging the harsh reality that popular programs must also be on the table for reform. Only then can America hope to secure a stable financial future for its citizens.
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