Good morning, pals. I’m writing to you fresh off a weekend in Bedminster, N.J., where the airplanes are grounded and the president is crashing weddings.
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Today, let’s talk about the opioid crisis.
What’s at stake
Every day, 142 people die of a drug overdose in America.
That grim statistic is on the first page of the draft report that President Trump’s opioid commission — headed by N.J. Gov. Chris Christie — released last week. It’s the administration’s opening move in combating the opioid crisis, an issue Trump often returned to on the campaign trail — though usually in connection with building a wall on the Mexican border to curb the drug trade. But the commission’s report doesn’t say anything about a wall; instead, it recommends a slew of public health measures aimed at getting more people into treatment and preventing addiction. And it recommends the president declare a national emergency.
The local angle
According to the city’s medical examiner, more than 900 people died of an overdose last year in Philadelphia, where the heroin is the cheapest and purest in the country. (And a new study shows that, in the past, the feds have significantly underestimated how many of those overdoses were caused by opioids, my colleague Don Sapatkin reported today.) City officials and addiction researchers told me they were encouraged by the commission’s report, which mirrors some of their own recommendations for the city, like getting more people into medication-assisted addiction treatment (which, studies have shown, is effective but underutilized) and making it easier to get Narcan, the overdose-reversing drug.
“This is the biggest epidemic we’ve had in 100 years, bigger than AIDS,” said Tom Farley, the city’s health commissioner. “It touches everyone, and I think this is one problem that will transcend even the huge political divides in Washington.”
Farley and other health officials say they hope the commission will push harder on curbing the overprescription of opioid painkillers, which is often how people become addicted in the first place. And the draft report doesn’t mention safe-injection sites, a far more controversial measure that the city’s heroin task force has nonetheless recommended for consideration — with the aim of simply keeping people alive in a city where overdoses are expected to hit 1,200 this year. (My colleague Mike Newall argues in favor of safe-injection sites here).
Trump is scheduled to give a “major briefing” on the opioid crisis from Bedminster at 3 p.m. today, so stay tuned.
What they’re saying
“The Trump base is far bigger & stronger than ever before (despite some phony Fake News polling).” — President Trump in a series of tweets on Monday morning, pumping up the base. (The latest polling shows that base might be softening.)
“[Trump] doesn’t really leave the premises much. He’s got everything he needs on the golf course. He’s not spending evenings down at the local pizzeria.” — Mayor Steven Parker of Bedminster, N.J., on his town’s most famous but (probably) least-seen resident.
“My entire team will continue to focus all our efforts to advance the President’s agenda and see him re-elected in 2020. Any suggestion otherwise is both laughable and absurd.” — Vice President Pence on a New York Times report that he is positioning himself for a presidential run of his own.
In other news…
- The New York Times got a hold of a draft of a dramatic federal report on climate change that concludes climate change is real, humans are behind it and the last few decades have been the hottest in 1,500 years. The Times reports its authors are concerned the Trump administration, not exactly the most concerned bunch when it comes to climate change, will try to suppress it.
- President Trump is facing criticism for not condemning the bombing of a Minnesota mosque over the weekend.
- The president announced his support for a new immigration bill aimed at cutting legal immigration by 50 percent, and Trump aide Stephen Miller, who has been mostly behind the scenes lately, got into it with CNN’s Jim Acosta after he appeared at a White House press briefing to tout the bill. (The Washington Post fact-checked the contentious exchange.)
- Kellyanne Conway went to Ventnor this weekend and got paparazzi-ed.
What I’m reading
- A POLITICO dispatch from the heroin crisis in Palm Beach — where, across the bridge from Mar-a-Lago, young people addicted to heroin are being victimized by the very system that’s supposed to get them sober.
- My colleague Jeff Gammage on a refugee from the Republic of Congo making his way in Philadelphia — and how President Trump’s refugee policies are complicating his family’s arrival.
- The Daily Beast looks into the deeply weird story of the alleged Twitter bot whom Trump retweeted over the weekend. (She’s not a bot, but something’s up.)
A non-political palate cleanser
Here is a lovely tribute to Darren Daulton, the Phillies catcher who led us to the World Series in 1993 (which, coincidentally, is one of my earliest memories) and died of brain cancer Sunday at 55.
Everything is happening so fast — or at least that's how it feels trying to follow politics these days. You've seen the headlines about President Trump and his policies — but what do they mean for Philadelphia? What does that mean for you? We've launched a newsletter to explore just that. You can sign up to get the weekly Trumpadelphia newsletter in your inbox every Tuesday.