Friday Edition



Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s impending exit is a sign of just how much the GOP’s politicians and constituency have changed since Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential victory. (Politico)

There’s been a shift toward hardline conservatism in the GOP as traditional Republicans leave the party and are replaced by Trumpier, more conservative lawmakers. In the past year, multiple GOP leaders (including former Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel) have been ousted or resigned after pressure campaigns from conservatives. Including McConnell, 24 Republicans in the 118th Congress have resigned or are not seeking reelection.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., on McConnell’s departure: “The Republican Party is going through a pretty dramatic transition. Our voter base has continued to evolve into a working class party. … That’s obviously playing out in the halls of Congress within our party as well.”

Republicans are divided on the legacy of the longest-serving Senate party leader in U.S. history. Some see him as a ruthlessly effective operator –– a politician who brushed aside conservative backlash to score compromises that benefitted the party. Critics say McConnell, who feuded often with Trump, was too unwilling to upset the status quo.

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo.: “One of his great legacies will be the avalanche of corporate money that has disfigured our politics… the Senate is bought and paid for by big tech. Nobody has done more, by the way, to make that possible than Mitch McConnell.”

Conservative pundit Erick Erickson: Mitch McConnell did not care about your or my temper tantrums and demands because he has long understood that a Republican majority, for better or worse, had the power to block the administrative state and build a judiciary that has no term limits or elections for its members. … Conservatives have the luxury of cheering on McConnell’s retirement because they have so much of what McConnell cared about and very little memory of how much worse the Republicans who preceded him in that position were.”

The job market landscape has transformed significantly for both men and women compared to past decades. (Pew Research Center)

Source: Pew Research Center

A new Pew Research Center survey found women now constitute 47% of the U.S. civilian labor force, up from 30% in 1950.

  • Women surpass men in the college-educated workforce, holding 51% of positions among those 25 and older.

  • Women's representation in the 10 highest-paying occupations rose to 35% in 2023 from 13% in 1980.

  • In opposite-sex marriages, the percentage of women who earn as much or more than their husbands tripled over the past 50 years, reaching 16% in 2022.

There are still big disparities, particularly in business and politics. Only 28% of U.S. congressional members and about a third of state legislators are women as of September 2023. Women comprise just 11% of Fortune 500 company CEOs and 30% of Fortune 500 board members.

The gender pay gap has remained relatively unchanged over the past two decades, with women earning 82 cents for every dollar earned by men in 2022. The reasons for this difference in pay are hotly debated.


In a bid to reign in homelessness, public drug use and property crime, San Francisco is weighing two ballot measures that clash with its progressive image. (WSJ)

Proposition F requires drug testing for public benefit recipients, while Proposition E aims to expand police surveillance capabilities and lessen oversight. A recent San Francisco Chamber of Commerce poll shows 61% of likely voters support these measures, and 72% think the city is on the wrong track.

San Francisco reported a city record 806 overdose deaths last year. Meanwhile, businesses have expressed frustration over property crime. Last year, the San Francisco Standard reported 47% of retailers located in the city’s downtown area have closed since 2019.

Stanford University professor Keith Humphreys on the proposal to drug test welfare recipients: “The measure politically reflects enormous frustration with the lack of progress in reducing drug problems in San Francisco. … This is something you normally associate with more conservative parts of the country.”

San Francisco is part of a broader post-Black Lives Matter movement trend in the U.S. Since 2020, Americans’ belief that the justice system isn’t “tough enough” on criminals has spiked.


More than 60,000 pounds of fentanyl, enough to potentially kill double the world’s population, were seized by the state’s National Guard in 2023. (The Center Square)

Seizures in the Golden State have surged by 1066% since 2021.

  • The seized fentanyl's street value is estimated at $649 million.

  • A lethal dose of fentanyl is just 2 mg.

The U.S. continues to struggle with a drug overdose crisis fueled largely by fentanyl deaths. More than 109,000 individuals died from drug overdoses in 2022, with the total number of overdose deaths surpassing 1.1 million since 2000. A new Rand Corporation survey found more than 40% of Americans know someone who has died from a drug overdose.


U.S. pharmaceutical companies charged 35% more for new drugs last year, despite Inflation Reduction Act provisions aimed at reducing drug costs. (Reuters)

President Biden’s signature law limits price increases for drugs under Medicare but doesn't limit initial pricing for new medicines.

  • Dana Goldman, director of the USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics: “It means you are encouraging companies to launch at high prices."

Last year, the median annual list price for a new drug was $300,000. That’s up from $222,000 in 2022. Prescription drug price inflation was around 3.3% for the 12 months through December, in line with broader inflation.

Some Americans will see savings thanks to the IRA. Medicare's prescription drug benefit now has an out-of-pocket cost cap, set at approximately $3,300 for 2024 and lowering to $2,000 by 2025. This change is expected to affect 1.5 million Medicare enrollees.

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