News brief: the week’s top stories for the non-politicophile
By Astoria Jellett
1. Trayvon Martin
The pending case of Trayvon Martin, a 16-year-old black male who was killed in February, has dominated the news for the past two weeks. Trayvon was shot for, as of yet, no substantial reason by a neighborhood watchdog in Sanford, Fla. What differentiates this story from other recent shootings is that the undisputed killer, George Zimmerman, still has not been arrested. While mainstream media pundits like Reverend Al Sharpton argue that this is a race case and that police (and by extension, American society) don’t care about black lives, others argue that the issue is more complex. The shooting calls into question the vague “Stand Your Ground” law in Florida and many other states.
2. Obamacare in the Supreme Court
On March 28, the Supreme Court concluded its three-day hearing on the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. Most of the debate centered on the constitutionality of the individual mandate, which has been opposed by conservatives and defended by liberals, who argue that the Commerce Clause protects such measures. Most experts initially believed there would be little ground for debate on the ACA, but now no one can be sure. The timing of the case is also an issue: if the Supreme Court strikes down the biggest piece of legislature in Obama’s arsenal, they would not only turn the odds against him in the coming election, but also jeopardize their own credibility. Georgia’s Attorney General Sam Olens weighed in.
3. Ryan Budget Adopted
On March 29, Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) “Path to Prosperity” budget passed the House along party lines and is now on its way to the Senate, where it is “doomed” due to the Democratic majority. The bill would reform health care in a similar way to Obamacare, at least in the individual mandate aspect. While it would cut spending and the deficit by a few trillion dollars more than Obama’s plan, it would do so at a cost to recipients of Medicare, Medicaid, and other government programs, Democrats argue. The bill’s status is curiously timely, with Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s support and the budget once again up for vote after this year’s election.