Judge Roger Vison, the federal judge in Florida who ruled the entire Affordable Care Act unconstitutional, has just granted the Obama Administration's request to clarify his ruling. And he's done so in a way that will, apparently, allow the Administration to keep implementing the law. His singular requirement: That the administration file its appeal, to the Circuit Court, within the next seven days. I've only skimmed the ruling and, again, I'm not a lawyer. But it appears that Vinson granted what amounts to a stay of his ruling primarily on two grounds.
Today the Wall Street Journal editorial page joins the chorus of conservatives trashing President Obama's Monday announcement about the Affordable Care Act. Obama said he was offering the states greater flexibility, by allowing them to opt out of the Act' under certain circumstances. But the flexibility he'd afford is just a "mirage," according to the Journal. States "would still need to find other mechanisms to achieve the same liberal priorities." Well, yes, that's true. But that's because the "liberal priorities" are to provide everybody with decent, affordable health insurance.
After many feints in this direction dating back to 1996, Newt Gingrich seems to be finally preparing a run for president. Generally, he is not being taken as seriously as potential candidates like Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, and Mike Huckabee—or even D.C. insider heartthrobs such as Haley Barbour, Mitch Daniels, and Chris Christie. I agree with this assessment of Gingrich’s potential, to an extent; he’s the opposite of a fresh new face, and the guy’s baggage rivals Charlie Sheen’s.
If you have been following your dispatches from the alternative universe of the conservative movement, you have recently learned that the Obama administration has singled out a new industry to crush beneath its jackboot. The victim in question is the for-profit college industry—Strayer University, ITT Tech, Kaplan University, and so on—singled out apparently at random and threatened with onerous new regulation. “Is it the profit in for-profit that has the Administration uneasy?” asks the Heritage Foundation.
Last December, I asked a prominent K Street Republican what he thought his party’s top priority would be following its successes in the midterm elections. He didn’t mince words. “Public employee unions are going to get hosed, and they deserve to get hosed,” he told me. So, I wasn’t exactly surprised when Republican governors in Wisconsin and Ohio put the public unions in their states on a hit list.
My latest column for Kaiser Health News: With Republican governors complaining that the Affordable Care Act doesn't give them enough flexibility, President Barack Obama on Monday offered a compromise: He'd allow them to opt out of the law altogether, just as long as they had an alternative method of providing universal coverage. Although a few Republican governors responded positively, the party's more visible leaders were quick to condemn the move as meaningless.
Mitt Romney’s Republican rivals for president continue to pummel him over the health care reforms he enacted in Massachusetts. And my colleague Jonathan Chait is relishing every minute of it. Noting that Romney’s latest strategy “seems to be curling up into the fetal position and hope everybody gets tired of kicking him,” Jon remains convinced that Romney’s cause is hopeless: “My advice? “Find something to do other than run for president.” Jon is probably right and, to be quite honest, I have no great enthusiasm for Romney these days.
A quick recap of the standoff over the budget: Republicans want to snip off some $60 billion in government spending for the rest of the year. Democrats are arguing that the steep cuts cheered on by conservatives would hit essential programs that people actually need and use—good-bye Pell Grants, good-bye food-safety inspectors, good-bye well-functioning Social Security administration, and so forth. Worse still, economic forecasters—including Ben Bernanke have argued that slashing federal spending right now would drag down the economy.
For those who missed it on the TNR home page, I have an article in our latest print edition about Durant Tuuri Mott Elementary School in Flint, Michigan. DTM serves a low-income, high-risk student population in the middle of one of the most distressed communities in America. But it’s kids are performing well on tests and, based on what I observed over a series of visits, those test scores are no aberration. The kids are really learning. The article’s main purpose is to convey some first-hand observations about the effects of No Child Left Behind.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has used his state’s budget deficit as an excuse to attack collective-bargaining rights. He argues that Wisconsin simply can’t afford collective bargaining. Nevertheless, as has widely been reported, his claimed $137 million deficit could be addressed without touching these rights. Indeed, it’s simply false to argue that eliminating collective bargaining has really anything to do with the budget deficit, especially since unions have already offered pay concessions. But what is most surprising about Walker’s attack on collective bargaining is its speed.