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This Week: A Beginning to the End of America's Healthcare Crisis | The Nation

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Katrina vanden Heuvel

Katrina vanden Heuvel

Politics, current affairs and riffs and reflections on the news.

This Week: A Beginning to the End of America's Healthcare Crisis

OBAMACARE SURVIVES. On Thursday, in a surprising act of judicial stewardship, a bitterly divided Court upheld the Affordable Care Act—President Obama’s signature legislative achievement—and the individual mandate at the heart of the healthcare overhaul. While it left some of the best solutions to America’s healthcare crisis on the table, the Court’s decision is a welcome beginning to the end of the scandal in which nearly 50 million remain uninsured. I joined NPR’s On Point with Tom Ashbrook on Friday to discuss the decision and its impact. Listen to that here.

Here at TheNation.com, executive editor Richard Kim reminds us what was at stake in the decision, and the far-reaching implications for the almost 50 million Americans who currently lack health insurance. The Nation’s all-star team of reporters and writers were front and center with reaction and analysis. Legal affairs correspondent David Cole explains why Chief Justice Roberts sided with the Court’s liberals. As Tea Partiers and progressives alike assembled outside of the Court in anticipation of the ruling, Washington reporter George Zornick was there, and he has more on reactions from both sides. In the wake of the ruling, Republicans have predictably renewed their attack on Obamacare. Campaign correspondent Ben Adler reports on why this may be one of the rare instances where what is good for the country is also good for Mitt Romney. Contributing writer Ari Berman talked to long-time universal healthcare advocate Howard Dean about the political and policy implications of the ruling. And columnist Ilyse Hogue reminds us that the “three-letter word” upon which Chief Justice Roberts saved the Affordable Care Act “can—and often [does]—create a stronger America.”

ELECTIONS FOR SALE. On Monday, the Supreme Court vastly expanded the scope and reach of Citizens United in striking down a challenge to the law in a Montana case that sought state limits on corporate spending in state and local elections. In keeping with the Court’s position on “handing off control of American democracy to corporations,” as Washington correspondent John Nichols explains, the Court once again sided with corporations. Critics will charge that Citizens United also benefits the opposition—in this case labor unions—to raise money and compete in elections. But as Nichols rightly notes, the Court last Thursday erected elaborate new barriers to participation in elections by public-sector unions, tipping the playing field even more in the already uneven game of American electoral politics. On Monday, Rachel Maddow’s adroit analysis offers a clear picture of exactly how uneven this playing field has now become. Watch that here.

GIVING “LIFERS” A SECOND CHANCE. In another crucial decision handed down this week, the Supreme Court struck down mandatory life sentences without parole for juveniles on cruel and unusual grounds espoused in the Eight Amendment. Nation associate editor Liliana Segura, who in May reported the compelling account of Philadelphia resident Trina Garrett who is serving life without parole for a crime committed in 1976, has the full legal breakdown, analysis and impact of the ruling. But as Liliana notes, the Court stopped short of banning juvenile life without parole altogether, described by one death penalty lawyer as “incrementalism at its worst.” “For the majority of the 2,589 people serving juvenile life without parole,” writes Liliana, “the ruling’s implications are significant.” “In the twenty-eight states with mandatory sentencing laws, prisoners serving juvenile life without parole now have a shot at new sentence,” she adds. Although the decision was limited and in many ways flawed, wrote Liliana, for Trina Garret’s family, it was “a miracle.”

Programming Note: I’ll be on CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS this Sunday at 10 am ET, joined by economist Jeffrey Sachs, former Office of Management and Budget director Peter Orszag and financial commentator Peter Schiff, discussing the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act, the economy and much more. Also on Sunday from 10 am–12 pm ET, I’ll be on MSNBC’s Melissa Harris Perry to discuss all the week’s news. Tune in!

CHRIS HAYES GETS A NYT CLOSEUP. In last Sunday’s New York Times, reporter Alex Williams takes us on set and inside Up with Chris Hayes, the weekend morning show hosted by Nation editor-at-large Chris Hayes. The show, Williams reports, has attracted an engaged, diverse and enthusiastic following. And it’s been a ratings boon for MSNBC. Described by Williams as a “rebuke to traditional cable shout-fests” and an “antidote to the anti-intellectual posing that has characterized the last decade in cable news,” by MSNBC colleague Rachel Maddow, Chris success is well deserved. What he brought to the pages of The Nation as our DC bureau chief and now brings as an editor-at-large, he now brings to millions of Americans every weekend. We couldn’t be more proud.

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