Archive: June, 2012
As balm for a divided nation, the historic Supreme Court ruling this week that upheld health-care reform offers the prospect of healing on a several fronts — even if there’s no certain cure.
The benefits could be felt at the Supreme Court itself in support for the rule of law, in the expanded access of millions to health care, and even perhaps in the fractured political process that hampers Washington’s ability to grapple with critical problems.
In the majority opinion written by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., the court found that Congress acted within its power to impose a tax penalty on individuals who go without health insurance. But the court did as much to rescue its own standing as it did for the health of the nation.
With the budget behind them, Mayor Nutter and City Council have a rare opportunity to craft sweeping tax and government spending reforms.
Though Council wisely postponed a new property tax system based on the actual value of properties until the numbers are in, members cannot waver from their commitment to the Actual Value Initiative (AVI), the most extensive tax reform in decades.
An ambitious restructuring of taxation as well as government spending is not as difficult as it may seem. Most of the homework was done in 2003 the then-Councilman Michael Nutter won a voter referendum to create the Tax Reform Commission, which conducted a far-reaching analysis of the city’s tax system and its effects on the economy. He completed a curtailed version of that civic exercise shortly after being elected mayor and the new commission confirmed the findings of the old one.
When it comes to setting priorities, Gov. Corbett and lawmakers in Harrisburg have put the most needy in the state at the bottom of the list.
As early as Sunday, thousands of adults could be tossed off General Assistance rolls without a safety net. They include the temporarily disabled, recovering drug addicts, battered women, those caring for elderly parents, and children who would otherwise be in foster care.
While Corbett and the Republican-controlled legislature negotiated to restore painful cuts to public and higher education, too many social-service programs were left on the chopping block.
In the ongoing controversy over Pennsylvania’s move to require voter identification at the polls starting in November, a Republican leader’s moment of campaign swagger has given opponents new ammunition.
State House Majority Leader Mike Turzai of Allegheny County last weekend stood before a political gathering in Hershey, ticking off victories for the Republican-run state legislature and Gov. Corbett. Voter ID, said Turzai, “is going to allow Gov. Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”
Big surprise, said his political foes. State Sen. Daylin Leach (D., Montgomery) said Turzai’s comments confirmed what Democrats have suspected all along: that voter ID is “part of a national effort by the Republican Party to pass laws disenfranchising large numbers of voters who tend to vote Democratic.”
Nora Ephron, who died Tuesday at age 71, was the link between different worlds, different eras, on and off the screen.
She brought together Hollywood and the Beltway, the personal and the political, in her book (and later screenplay) Heartburn, about her marriage to the Washington Post’s Carl Bernstein.
She linked the coasts, the bustling east and the insomniac west, along with movie romances old and new, in Sleepless in Seattle.
The landmark Supreme Court ruling Thursday upholding key tenets of the federal health-care overhaul was a victory for common sense. It offers hope to so many Americans who thought health insurance was beyond their reach.
Even as both parties jockey for advantage in November, the five justices who upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) pulled the nation back from a disastrous U-turn on reform efforts soon to reach full stride.
At stake was not only the future aim of providing for almost two-thirds of the 50 million uninsured, but also major structural reforms under way in a sprawling sector of the U.S. economy that accounts for $2.7 trillion in spending, or $1 in every $6.
It's easy to see how some Philadelphians may feel left out of the school superintendent search. It's also easy to appreciate the urgency to fill the position.
The sudden announcement that the candidates' list of more than 100 names had been whittled down to two, and that a new superintendent could be chosen as early as Friday, caught many by surprise.
The candidates, Pedro Martinez, deputy superintendent in Clark County, Nev., and William Hite, head of the Prince George's County, Md., school system, made whirlwind rounds this week meeting teachers, parents, students and city officials.