The last few years have seen a cascade of books and reports detailing the waste and obscene profits of the prescription drug industry. Even as they rake in large profits, most of their spending goes
to marketing, advertising, and administration-- rather than research
and development of new drugs as their public relations claims.
With new federal rules slipped into the recent reauthorization of the
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, families in
poverty are going to be suffering more -- and states have seen their
flexibility in helping them significantly curtailed by new rigid
federal rules. As this Stateline.org story
highlights, most states are now scrambling to meet these stiff
requirements and many are protesting that the poor will be the victims:
As November 2006 approaches, political observers have their eyes on
changing political winds. A number of observers are also keeping a
close eye on the states, where many outcomes are up in the air and the
stakes are high. Control of 29 legislative chambers -- almost one in
three -- is up for grabs and leaders of both the Republicana and
Democratic parties are pledging to put major resources into winning
Companies are required to calculate the risks to their businesses based
on a range of potential threats to their business models, but there is
currently no requirement that they calculate the potentially
catastrophic costs of climate change. A few U.S. companies do so
voluntarily, but most do not.
The Washington Post details some of the changes states are making in the Medicaid program, party based on federal waivers and partly due to a new federal law passed last December that allows states to offer unequal benefits to different Medicaid recipients.
A new Congressional report
by minority staff in the House found that the House and the Senate have
voted 57 times in the last five years to preempt state laws and
regulations. These votes, the authors declare, make clear "that there
exists a wide gulf between the pro-states rhetoric...and the actual
Paying terrible wages was never likely to be a route to economic
growth, so it's hardly surprising that research continues to show that
Wal-Mart's growth undermines local economies. The most recent study is in the June 2006 issue of Social Science Quarterly (subscription).
One of the stated defenses of cutbacks in aid to poor families in the
last decade in the US was the idea that welfare spending traps families
in poverty from generation to generation. But new studies, as detailed in this week's Economist magazine (subscription) show that countries with MORE spending on the poor have LESS persistent poverty than in the US.
The Bush Administration's latest move on immigration reform is yet
another attempt likely to fail, at least in part because it ignored
input from the people most impacted. Stateline reports that a number of Governors
from both parties are upset both by the continued federal dependence on
the Guard and by the lack of consultation from the White House before
Bush proposed using National Guard forces as a stop-gap measure: