Saturday, January 16, 2016

Last Call For Now It's A Problem

A weird thing happened when over the last couple of years the epidemic of opioids spread from inner city black neighborhoods which didn't matter to Republicans, to Red State small towns that do. Suddenly Republicans in Congress are worried about kids being born addicted to smack.

The chairman of a U.S. House committee that oversees child abuse issues opened an inquiry Friday into whether the federal government is failing to enforce a law meant to protect thousands of babies born dependent on drugs each year.

The inquiry, launched by Representative John Kline of Minnesota, comes in response to a Reuters investigation last month that identified 110 examples of children who were exposed to opioids while in the womb and later died preventable deaths after leaving the hospital.

No more than nine states comply with a 2003 law that calls on hospitals to alert social workers whenever a baby is born dependent on drugs, the news agency found.

Since the law was enacted, the number of newborns diagnosed with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome has skyrocketed – from 4,991 cases in 2003 to 27,315 in 2013, federal data show. A Reuters analysis found that thousands of drug-dependant newborns are sent home each year without a referral to social service agencies, contrary to the intent of the federal law.

Imagine that.  Now it's a problem to House Republicans, where before it was just "government overreach" for the federal government to deal with health issues.

Those referrals are intended to help social workers develop a "plan of safe care" for the newborns and mothers. Although most states fail to comply with the provisions, Reuters found none has lost federal funding.

In a letter Friday, Kline told Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell that he was "deeply concerned" that the agency may not be enforcing the law.

“A Reuters investigation released in December cast serious doubts over whether these basic requirements in federal law are being followed," wrote Kline, a Republican who chairs the House Education and the Workforce Committee. The letter was co-signed by Todd Rokita, an Indiana Republican, who chairs a subcommittee on early childhood education.

“The Reuters investigation reveals the shocking and deadly consequences when these vital federal and state child welfare policies are not properly implemented and enforced,” the lawmakers wrote.

"Even more troubling, according to the Reuters report, there are some states that have failed to put these policies in place altogether, yet not a single state is being denied … funds.”

You mean the 31 states controlled completely by Republicans are resisting federal mandates to do something about the health of their citizens despite taking federal taxpayer money to do so?

Perish the thought.

The Power Of Two

The same Republican Village pundits who told us that the smart money was on Scott Walker, Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson and Marco Rubio now tell us they're sure they've got it this time, and that it's a two-man race between Trump and Ted Cruz.

As the presidential primary race moves into a more urgent and combative phase, there is growing acceptance among Republicans, including the Washington and financial elite, that Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are the two candidates most likely to become the party’s nominee.

Their commanding performances at the sixth debate — along with their continued dominance in national and early state polls — have solidified the conclusion of many Republicans that the campaign is becoming a two-person contest.

Long expected to become a race between an outsider and an establishment candidate, it is coming down instead as one between two outsiders, with dwindling time for their rivals to change the trajectory before the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1.

There is hope that one of the four establishment candidates may emerge as a consensus choice and consolidate support. The two who seem best positioned to do so, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, had some sparkling moments in Thursday’s Fox Business Channel debate but left the stage bruised and squabbling. They returned to the campaign trail on Friday aiming more firepower at each other than Trump or Cruz.

Trump and Cruz sucked all the oxygen out of the room, which is bad news for the establishment folks,” said Barry Bennett, a veteran GOP strategist who recently resigned as campaign manager to Ben Carson. “It doesn’t look like much is going to stop them. They’re in a tier off to themselves, and I think our nominee is going to be Cruz or Trump.”

If that's finally correct, then it's the best news for 2016 I've heard in a long time.

For the Democrats.

Iran The Table On Them

President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry come through yet again as Iran and the US arrange a long overdue prisoner swap that includes Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian.

Iran has released four imprisoned U.S. citizens, including Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, as part of a swap, the office of Tehran’s prosecutor announced Saturday, according to Iranian news media.

The other released prisoners include Amir Hekmat, a former U.S. Marine, and Saeed Abedni, a pastor, and a fourth unnamed American. All four are dual U.S.-Iranian citizens. Rezaian has been held since 2014.

According to Iran’s Fars News Agency, the four were ordered released in exchange for six Iranian-Americans held in the United States on sanctions-related charges.

A statement by the prosecutor said that “based on an approval of the Supreme National Security Council and the general interests of the Islamic Republic, four Iranian prisoners with dual-nationality were freed today within the framework of a prisoner swap deal,” Fars reported.

There was no official confirmation from the United States. Kris Coratti, vice president of communications and spokeswoman for The Post, said that “while we are hopeful, we have not received any official word of Jason’s release.”

As the US-Iran nuclear deal heads towards the day of implementation as nuclear watchdogs are expected to sign off on the deal soon, the prisoner exchange is good ol' fashioned diplomacy.

It's hard to imagine any of the Republicans currently running for President Obama's job pulling this off without, you know, bombing something first.

Taking Stock Of 2016 So Far

It;s not been a good month for your 401(k) so far.  The markets are now in bear territory and have given back all their 2015 gains and then some.  Oil is now sinking under $30 and barrel and people are starting to ask uncomfortable questions about that Fed rate hike.

Wall Street bled on Friday, with the S&P 500 sinking to its lowest since October 2014 as oil prices sank below $30 per barrel and fears grew about economic trouble in China.

Pain was dealt widely, with the day's trading volume unusually high and more than a fifth of S&P 500 stocks touching 52-week lows. The major S&P sectors all ended sharply lower. The Russell 2000 small-cap index dropped as much as 3.5 percent to its lowest since July 2013.

The energy sector dropped 2.87 percent as oil prices fell 6.5 percent, in part due to fears of slow economic growth in China, where major stock indexes also slumped overnight. The energy sector has lost nearly half its value after hitting record highs in late 2014.

"Initially when oil was down, the convenient line was 'Well, it's good for the other nine sectors'," said Jake Dollarhide, chief executive officer of Longbow Asset Management in Tulsa, Oklahoma. "That tune has changed. Now, it's a contagion to the other nine sectors. It's a contagion to Main Street and Wall Street."

The technology sector was the day's biggest loser, sliding 3.15 percent as weak quarterly results from chipmaker Intel weighed heavily on chip stocks.

The S&P 500 has fallen about 12 percent from its high in May, pushing it into what is generally considered "correction territory."

Hopefully things will start to turn around here, unlike 2007/2008 we're not losing 800,000 jobs a month and not having economies collapse.  But even a mild recession at this point would be hideous news for the Dems, so I'm really hoping that this is a hiccup as it was in August.
Related Posts with Thumbnails