Administration considers pared health law
WASHINGTON – Covering all the bases ahead of a momentous Supreme Court ruling, the Obama administration plans to move ahead with major parts of the president’s health-care law if its most controversial provision does not survive, according to veteran Democrats closely involved with the legislation.
Even if the requirement that nearly every U.S. resident have health insurance is declared unconstitutional, the remaining parts of the law would have far-reaching impact, putting coverage within reach of millions of uninsured people, laying new obligations on insurers and employers, and improving Medicare benefits even as payments to many service providers get scaled back.
The White House says President Barack Obama is confident the whole law will be upheld when the court issues its ruling in the next week or two, but officials will be ready for any outcome.
G-20 to produce plan for global growth
LOS CABOS, Mexico – The leaders of the world’s largest economies have agreed to step up their efforts to boost growth and job creation, which they call the top priority in fighting the effects of the European economic crisis, according to a draft of the statement to be released today at the end of the Group of 20 annual meeting.
The draft obtained by The Associated Press on Monday places the G-20 on the side of those who have been arguing for a focus on job creation, including through government spending, instead of the budget cutbacks and austerity pushed most notably by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Germany feels that it been unfairly burdened by its large contributions to international bailouts of economically weaker European countries that overspent for years and, in exchange, it has been insisting on steep cutbacks from aid recipients such as Greece. Those cutbacks have led to dramatic economic hardship for voters in Greece and other countries. A growing number of European countries having been advocating spending and growth, not austerity, and the G-20 statement appears to place the group of the world’s largest economies into that camp.
Lawmaker performs ‘Vagina Monologues’
LANSING, Mich. – A state lawmaker who says she was barred from speaking in the Michigan House because Republicans objected to her saying “vagina” during debate about anti-abortion legislation performed “The Vagina Monologues” on the Statehouse steps – with a hand from the author.
Eve Ensler, whose groundbreaking play about women’s sexuality still packs theaters 16 years after it debuted, oversaw Monday night’s performance by Democratic state Rep. Lisa Brown, 10 other lawmakers and several actresses.
Capitol facilities director Steve Benkovsky estimated about 2,500 spectators – women and men – watched the play in downtown Lansing from lawn chairs and blankets. Billed on Facebook as the “Vaginas Take Back the Capitol!” event, the combination play and protest included political signs and chants of “Vagina! Vagina!”
Sandusky defense emphasizes reputation
BELLEFONTE, Pa. – Jerry Sandusky opened his defense in his molestation trial Monday with character witnesses who defended his reputation, including a former Penn State coach who said he knew Sandusky brought boys into showers but never saw him do anything wrong.
The six witnesses, one who called Sandusky a “local hero,” did little to directly counter the testimony last week by eight young men who accused the former Penn State assistant football coach of sexually abusing them when they were children.
Judge John Cleland told jurors Sandusky’s defense has about a day and a half left of testimony and that they could begin deliberations on the case as early as Thursday – a quicker schedule than had been expected.