The Biden administration’s embrace of so-called diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives—or DEI—represents an effort to “create equality of outcomes rather than equality of opportunity,” an advocate of conservative reforms says.
Tarren Bragdon, president and CEO of the Foundation for Government Accountability, says the Biden administration has taken actions to “use the power of the federal government to force certain political goals that really judge people based on the color of their skin, or maybe even their gender identity.”
Bragdon joins “The Daily Signal Podcast” to discuss how the Foundation for Government Accountability is working to expose questionable policies under President Joe Biden.
Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript:
Virginia Allen: It is my pleasure today to be joined by the president and chief executive officer of the Foundation for Government Accountability, Tarren Bragdon. Tarren, thanks so much for being here.
Tarren Bragdon: Thanks for having me.
Allen: Can you explain a little bit about what you-all do at the Foundation for Government Accountability? What is your mission?
Bragdon: Our mission is to work with state and federal policymakers to get conservative reforms passed into law. And so we have about 50 staff. We write legislation, we testify, we do research, and then work directly with policymakers to help shepherd it through the process.
Allen: So it’s very hands-on.
Bragdon: Very much so. But our primary audience is those policymakers rather than activists or students or members of the general public.
You recently wrote in the Washington Examiner about an executive order that [President Joe] Biden signed in February. You wrote that order commands virtually all major federal agencies to create new permanent units tasked with ensuring equitable outcomes regarding race, gender, gender identity, and even environmental justice in all facets of federal government business.
Break this down. What’s going on here?
Bragdon: Well, I’m sure people are familiar with the acronym DEI [diversity, equity, and inclusion]. And really what it’s about is trying to force the Left’s definition of diversity, which is really all about trying to create equality of outcomes rather than equality of opportunity.
We believe that part of the beauty of living in America is people have equal opportunity to pursue the American dream, to work hard, to get ahead.
But what the Biden administration wants to do is, instead, use the power of the federal government to force certain political goals that really judge people based on the color of their skin or maybe even their gender identity.
And what the executive order’s trying to do is create the permanent capacity within federal agencies to do this.
So it’s not like this is a presidential appointee that a future Republican president could get rid of. It’s, this is a permanent capacity within the federal government using federal money, federal power, federal employees to achieve those political goals.
Allen: And who pays for that expansion? If we’re creating new positions, that’s more money.
Bragdon: Well, it’s you and me, ultimately, or our children and grandchildren with deficit spending. And really, the Left is propped up by government spending. They use our own money against us, if you will. And so it’s reallocating money that’s already been appropriated for federal staff, but for this really partisan political purpose.
Allen: The Biden administration is pushing this forward. Is anyone pushing back trying to stop it?
Bragdon: What we’re trying to do is first to get a better sense of what they’re doing because this is a whole pattern of behavior.
Early on in the Biden administration, March 2021, he had an executive order that looked at, how do you use the power of the federal government to increase voter registration and voter participation?
And so we had a public records request that they ultimately ignored. We sued them, getting information on what exactly were they doing, and we’re going through the same process on this latest Biden executive order on forcing, essentially, racial outcomes or defining success based on race rather than on opportunity.
Allen: That’s the pulling back the curtain to actually see what’s going on.
Allen: When you mention your work with elections, with voting, I know that you-all do a lot of work around that issue of election integrity. Talk a little bit about that and how you-all are really working to restore both that trust, but then also to bring some accountability.
Bragdon: I think the key with election reform is everyone wants to know that they can vote easily, but at the same time vote securely and that their vote is going to be quickly counted and get those results on Election Day. And so we do a lot of work at the state level of, how do you actually have a secure election process that allows great participation that all of us want and how do you get the results quickly?
I live in Florida, we have early voting, we have vote by mail, we have same-day voting, but we know the results of those elections on election night.
Allen: Imagine that.
Bragdon: Right, and it’s a transparent process. So if I request my ballot by mail, I can track it every step along the way. And I even know when the elections office has received it back after I’ve voted by mail. So it’s super-transparent, quick counting. We want to take those same reforms to other states, and that’s exactly what we’ve done in a bunch of states around the country.
Allen: I want to take a couple minutes and talk about some legislative action that you-all have engaged in. Your organization recently filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration over the cost of prescription drugs. And you argue that the president is failing to implement a policy that would lower the cost of prescription drugs in America. What’s this policy exactly?
Bragdon: So, this is the same kind of thing with the Biden administration just using executive force, if you will, to either achieve a political goal that they couldn’t get through Congress, or in this case, what the administration is doing is ignoring the law and not requiring hospitals to disclose price information on drugs that patients actually have a right, under federal law, to get. And once we have this information, we then can be better shoppers as patients.
And so the first step in creating more of a market force within health care and lowering costs for everyone is having transparent prices. The Biden administration has said literally, in an FAQ, “We are going to ignore that law. You don’t need to comply.” And so we sued, as potential recipients of this information, we could do analysis on it and help patients. We sued saying, “You can’t ignore the law and give a hospitals a pass on that. That hurts patients.”
Allen: I think as we talk about the various issues that you-all are engaging in, one that is so foundational when we talk about really creating an America that is flourishing is that being able to empower people and empower people to live the American dream and move people off of dependence on the government to being able to provide for themselves, provide for their families. That’s something that is near and dear to your heart and the heart of your organization. Talk a little bit about how you-all are doing that, moving people off of welfare and creating that self-dependence.
Bragdon: Well, we really believe that work is a miracle. People from around the world try to come to America to work and live the American dream. And what’s happening is government is paying people not to work.
We saw this at a supersized level during COVID, people literally earning more money to stay home and not go to work. But it happens at all levels. It’s not just with unemployment, but with food stamps, with Medicaid, with all sorts of government handouts.
And so what we do is really three different things. One, we want to change public policy. So you move people from welfare to work, and we’re excited that Speaker [Kevin] McCarthy has embraced work requirements in a big way in Medicaid and food stamps as part of the debt ceiling. But we also push that at the state level.
No. 2, we want to get government out of the way for people who are trying to get that better job. So you go from first job, if you will, to better job. So that’s things like occupational licensing or unnecessary requirements or fees to work in a particular profession. So that’s No. 2.
And then No. 3 is for people who want to create their own business, how can we make it easier for them? By cutting red tape, reducing fees and regulations to allow people to do things like have a home-based business.
Two-thirds of people who start a business, it’s based out of the home, but a lot of times local governments restrict that and that hurts, in particular, poor communities. And so we want to protect home-based businesses and make it easier for entrepreneurs.
So it’s everything from first job to next job to becoming a job creator.
Allen: So, for those that want to get involved with the Foundation for Government Accountability, how can they do that?
Bragdon: You can take a look at some of our different solutions. That includes model legislation at our website, thefga.org. You can follow what’s happening.
And then I also think, and I say this as a former elected official, a great way to get involved is just to raise your hand and to run for office. That could be the local school board, it could be at the state level, or maybe it’s just directly engaging with your elected official to give them some ideas and to help those ideas, shepherd them through the process.
What’s exciting about doing this work locally or at the state level is you can have a concept go from idea to implementation in just a few months. And so you can really make the change that you want to have happen and it’s easier than you think.
Allen: Tarren, thank you so much for your time today. We really appreciate it and appreciate the work that you’re doing.
Bragdon: Thanks for the opportunity.
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