04 20 2015
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  • When should we use military to enforce US goals? NASHUA, N.H. (AP) — Rand Paul lashed out Saturday at military hawks in the Republican Party in a clash over foreign policy dividing the packed GOP presidential field. Paul, a first-term senator from Kentucky who favors a smaller U.S. footprint in the world, said that some of his Republican colleagues would do more harm in international affairs than would leading Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton. "The other Republicans will criticize the president and Hillary Clinton for their foreign policy, but they would just have done the same thing — just 10 times over," Paul said on the closing day of a New Hampshire GOP conference that brought about 20 presidential prospects to the first-in-the-nation primary state. "There's a group of folks in our party who would have troops in six countries right now, maybe more," Paul said. Foreign policy looms large in the presidential race as the U.S. struggles to resolve diplomatic and military conflicts across the globe. The GOP presidential class regularly rails against President Barack Obama's leadership on the world stage, yet some would-be contenders have yet to articulate their own positions, while others offered sharply different visions. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, whose brother, President George W. Bush, authorized the 2003 invasion of Iraq, declined to say whether he would have done anything different then. Yet Jeb Bush acknowledged a shift in his party against new military action abroad. "Our enemies need to fear us, a little bit, just enough for them to deter the actions that create insecurity," Bush said earlier in the conference. He said restoring alliances "that will create less likelihood of America's boots on the ground has to be the priority, the first priority of the next president." The GOP's hawks were well represented at the event, led by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who has limited foreign policy experience but articulated a muscular vision during his Saturday keynote address. Walker said the threats posed by radical Islamic terrorism won't be handled simply with "a couple bombings." "We're not going to wait till they bring the fight to us," Walker said. "We're going to bring the fight to them and fight on their soil." South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham addressed the question of putting U.S. troops directly in the battle against the Islamic State group militants by saying there is only one way to defeat the militants: "You go over there and you fight them so they don't come here." Texas Sen. Ted Cruz suggested an aggressive approach as well. "The way to defeat ISIS is a simple and clear military objective," he said. "We will destroy them." Businesswoman Carly Fiorina offered a similar outlook. "The world is a more dangerous and more tragic place when America is not leading. And America has not led for quite some time," she said. Under Obama, a U.S.-led coalition of Western and Arab countries is conducting regular airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. also has hundreds of military advisers in Iraq helping Iraqi security forces plan operations against the Islamic State, which occupies large chunks of northern and western Iraq. Paul didn't totally reject the use of military force, noting that he recently introduced a declaration of war against the Islamic State group. But in an interview with The Associated Press, he emphasized the importance of diplomacy. He singled out Russia and China, which have complicated relationships with the U.S., as countries that could contribute to U.S. foreign policy interests. "I think the Russians and the Chinese have great potential to help make the world a better place," he said. "I don't say that naively that they're going to, but they have the potential to." Paul suggested the Russians could help by getting Syrian President Bashar Assad to leave power. "Maybe he goes to Russia," Paul said. Despite tensions with the U.S., Russia and China negotiated alongside Washington in nuclear talks with Iran. Paul has said he is keeping an open mind about the nuclear negotiations. "The people who already are very skeptical, very doubtful, may not like the president for partisan reasons," he said, and "just may want war instead of negotiations."
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  • Some lawmakers, sensing a tipping point, are backing the parents and teachers who complain about 'high stakes' tests   
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obamacare coverage chartNEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Health care stocks have been hot since the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, outperforming the broader market by a healthy margin.

Insurance companies UnitedHealth, Cigna and Aetna have all climbed about 100 percent since Obamacare was signed into law. They initially got a boost as investors anticipated that the law, which requires Americans to have health insurance beginning in 2014 or pay a penalty, would result in millions of new customers.

New state-based exchanges open for enrollment this week, but analysts note that many major insurers are not going to take part on them yet. So investors should not expect another Obamacare bump for these stocks in the short-term.

But insurers that specialize in Medcaid, such as Molina and Centene, could benefit sooner, said ClearBridge Investments health care analyst Marshall Gordon. Though only a little over half of the nation's states are opting to expand coverage for their low-income residents, Gordon expects more will eventually sign on.

Major hospital operators Tenet Healthcare, Community Health System and HCA Holding have also gained considerable ground thanks to the legislation.

"Hospitals currently get stuck paying for a lot of uninsured patients when they come to the emergency room," said Charles Sizemore, chief investment officer at Sizemore Capital Management. He expects the increase in the number of insured Americans to help increase revenue and limit the debt burden at hospitals, but he added that this is mostly factored into their stock prices already.

Still, Obamacare is not the only reason why the health care sector has done so well for the past three years.

The real stars of health care have been biotechnology companies. In fact, the S&P 500 biotechnology index is up a whopping 60% just this year -- more than any other part of the health care sector.

The gains have been driven by a number of high-profile government drug approvals over the past few years. Jeffrey Loo, a S&P Capital IQ analyst, noted that Vertex's Incivek, a drug to treat Heptatis C, was approved in 2011 and became the fastest drug in history to reach $1 billion in sales.

Shares of biotech companies have also been lifted by several large mergers, such as Amgen's $10 billion purchase of Onyx Pharmacuticals. Loo said that's led to speculation of more biotech deals.

Despite the big surge in health care stocks overall, analysts remain optimistic.

ClearBridge's Gordon said many pharmaceutical firms are developing innovative new drugs. He particularly likes Bristol-Myers, Merck and AstraZeneca.

The industry also stands to benefit as baby boomers get older.

"The aging population could provide a boon for the industry as an increasing number of Americans require more extensive drug treatments and medical care," said Brad Sorensen, director of market and sector research at Charles Schwab.

But Sorensen added that the health care sector "is very politically charged right now." So investors will need to keep any eye on how exactly Obamacare is implemented.

™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

 

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