Filed under: Bureaucracy, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Health Care, Law, Regulation, The United States | Tags: Harry Reid's Mistake, The Zika Virus, Turf War in Federal Agencies
Most of the news about the Zika Virus is bad. Babies are born with malformed brains, adults who suffer the progressive paralysis of Guillaine-Barré syndrome, Americans diagnosed after travel to the topics, active transmission of the disease in U.S. territories, but primarily because of regulatory requirements no vaccine is likely to become available before the end of the decade.
The FDA is “blocking real progress on a vital tool to control the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that carry and transmit Zika and the viruses that cause dengue fever, chikungunya and yellow fever.”
Using genetic engineering techniques, the British company Oxitec (a subsidiary of American-owned Intrexon) has created male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes with a specific mutation that causes them to need a certain chemical (the antibiotic tetracycline) to survive. Without it, they die—and their offspring die before reaching maturity. Releasing the males over several months causes a marked reduction in the mosquito population. Because male mosquitoes don’t bite, they present no health risk, and, because their progeny die, no genetically engineered mosquitoes persist in the environment.
Turf battle: the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, which has the authority and expertise to oversee genetically engineered insects vs. the USDA (budgetary concerns and anti-genetic engineering among senior USDA people) who sent it over to the FDA which is unqualified to review the mosquito and unwilling to move it along. If all this sounds nuts, it is.
Brain damage in Zika babies is far worse than doctors expected. The virus attacks lobes of the fetal brain that control thought, vision and movement.
The Senate voted to approve a $1.1 billion bill to fight Zika by a 52 to 48 margin, with funds to go to help develop a vaccine. (Not enough to get the bill to the floor). It was slightly less than what Obama requested, but his budget request earmarked over half a billion for Zika programs in other countries and shortchanged public health here at home. (ObamaCare has a 2 billion slush fund for public health).
Harry Reid called the bill “nothing more than a goodie bag for the fringes of the Republican Party” and said they had no choice but to block it. Their real complaint was that Planned Parenthood wouldn’t be able to get a portion of the funds directed to public health departments and hospitals that are reimbursed by public health. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) claimed that the Republican bill “limits access to birth control services needed to help curb the spread of the virus and prevent terrible birth defects.”
The Democrat’s idea was that the mainstream press would blame the GOP for the bill’s demise, but even the liberal media wouldn’t buy this mess of pottage. The headlines for CNN, NBC, CBS and even the NY Times were uniformly something in the line of “Senate Democrats block Zika funding.”
Scientists are getting closer to understanding how Zika causes Microcephaly, but they’re not there yet. The Senate’s stupid move makes it impossible for Congress to send legislation to the president before July 4. This means the bill is dead, and a new bill will have to be written and submitted. Both chambers are back in session for just one week before leaving for summer vacation July 15 and not returning till after Sept 5.
Filed under: Bureaucracy, Domestic Policy, Fun n Games, Health Care, National Security, Pop Culture, Progressivism, Sports | Tags: A Western Skill, Broken Bones, Cutting Horses
This is the first time, despite my advanced age, that I have ever had a broken bone. Right foot, 5th metatarsal, spiral fracture. I get a fancy ski boot with all sorts of Velcro and canvas and buckles that I apparently have to wear for months and months. It lets me walk on my injured foot, which makes life easier. No cast, for which I am grateful.
I didn’t even break a bone when my horse pitched me off trying to show off her ability as a cutting horse. She was pretty good. I wasn’t all that much as a cutting horse rider.
Filed under: Blogging, Domestic Policy, Health Care, Politics | Tags: Excuses Excuses, The Art of Being Clumsy, The Elephant's Child
Sorry about the light blogging. Dramatic version: I fell down the stairs and broke my foot. Reality: It was just the last step, and I thought it was just a sprain, but it is indeed broken, painful, puffy, and bright purple.
I shall write as soon as possible, cranky as ever, and there’s a remarkable amount to be cranky about.
Filed under: Capitalism, Domestic Policy, Economics, Economy, Energy, Health Care, Politics | Tags: Changing Energy Picture, Mercatus Center Study, Minding the Budget
The Mercatus Center at George Mason University has published a new study on the fiscal condition of the states. They rank each state on their fiscal health based on short-and long-term debt and other key fiscal obligations including unfunded pension liability and healthcare benefits. Growing pension obligations and increasing healthcare costs are straining budget planning.
Many states are facing big jumps in insurance premiums. Humana is seeking a 50% ObamaCare price hike in Michigan, deductibles are going up. Silver plan deductibles of $6,000 and $7,000 are not uncommon.
Ranking the 50 states is based on five separate categories.
- Cash solvency: Does a state have enough cash on hand to cover its short term bills?
- Budget solvency: Can a state cover its fiscal year spending with current revenues, or does it have a budget shortfall?
- Long-run solvency: Can a state meet it’s long-term spending commitments? Will there be enough money to cushion it from economic shocks or other long-term fiscal risks?
- Service-Level solvency: How much “fiscal slack” does a state have to increase spending if citizens demand more services?
- Trust Fund Solvency: How much debt does a state have? How large are its unfunded pension and healthcare liabilities?
The top five states, Alaska, Wyoming, North Dakota and South Dakota rank in the top five. Pensions and healthcare will be long term challenges, but these states are considered fiscally healthy. The top five have changed since last year. Wyoming moved up and edged Florida out, but Nebraska moved up to second place.
Kentucky, Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Connecticut are in the bottom five largely owing to low amounts of cash and big debt obligations. That little bright red spot at the bottom is Puerto Rico.
Filed under: Bureaucracy, Capitalism, Domestic Policy, Economics, Economy, Health Care, The United States | Tags: Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, The Voters of Kentucky
Polls apparently told Hillary that voters, besides finding her untrustworthy, doubted her ability to grow the economy. So, in Kentucky, wooing a crowd, she promised that she and her husband would restore the economic prosperity of the 1990s. She has an assignment for her husband, she said, if they return to the White House. The former president, she told voters, will be “in charge of revitalizing the economy.”
“Because, you know, he knows how to do it,” she said. “Especially in places like coal country and inner-cities and other parts of our country that have really been left out.”
Mrs. Clinton mentioned her idea for her husband while speaking at a rally outside a home in northern Kentucky. Earlier this month, she said she had told Mr. Clinton that he would need to “come out of retirement” to help put people back to work.
It has been 24 (almost) years since the newly elected Clintons moved into the White House, so Hillary can probably be excused a lapse of memory. They came to Washington D.C. with a plan that they would be co-presidents, and the American people would get a wonderful two-for-one deal. The American people wasted no time in letting the Clintons know that they did not elect Hillary to be a co-president, and that simply was not going to happen.
Hillary made a lot of noise about not staying home to bake cookies, and other ‘don’t try to make me the “little woman” comments,’ but she fell in line. First Ladies usually have a cause they support — Laura Bush supported Libraries and reading, Ladybird Johnson espoused highway beautification, and wildflowers, Michelle has attempted to change what school kids have for lunch. I had to consult Google to find out what Hillary’s cause was — silly me, it was HillaryCare! One might consider that as food for thought. Besides, it was a Republican Congress that forced Bill Clinton to go along with their efforts to fix the economy, he just bowed to the inevitable.
Also interesting is that at the same time that Obama is out talking about the success of his tenure in office and his revitalization of the economy, the two Democrat candidates are talking about how awful the economy is and how the American people have suffered.