A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld ObamaCare's subsidies — the same day another appeals court ruled against them.
In a unanimous ruling, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the health care law permits the federal government to provide subsidies to people who purchase health insurance in every state. Plaintiffs had argued that a poorly-worded section of the law implied the government could only provide subsidies in states that opted to set up their own health care exchange programs, and not in states where the feds run those exchanges. The law specifically states that subsidies can go to people who buy coverage "through an Exchange established by the State," though the 4th Circuit said lawmakers clearly intended the law to be broader than that.
Here's the crux of the ruling:
However, when conducting statutory analysis, "a reviewing court should not confine itself to examining a particular statutory provision in isolation. Rather, [t]he meaning — or ambiguity — of certain words or phrases may only become evident when placed in context." With this in mind, the defendants' primary counterargument points... provide an equally plausible understanding of the statute, and one that...comports with the IRS's interpretation that credits are available nationwide. [PDF]
Earlier in the day, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the letter of the law meant subsidies were null in more than half the states. That ruling — which the White House has said it will appeal — could have affected millions of Americans who depend on the subsidies to purchase affordable care, and potentially undermined the viability of the entire health care law. Jon Terbush
Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday said President-elect Donald Trump's tendency to insert himself into the political matters of foreign countries is "inappropriate." Kerry spoke specifically about Trump's recent remarks criticizing German Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to accept a wave of refugees, which Trump called "one very catastrophic mistake" in an interview with German publication Bild.
"I thought frankly it was inappropriate for a president-elect of the United States to be stepping into the politics of other countries in a quite direct manner," Kerry told CNN's Christiane Amanpour. Kerry, for his part, called Merkel's refugee policy "extremely courageous." Jessica Hullinger
With just four days left until Donald Trump takes the oath of office, the president-elect's favorable rating remains stubbornly — and historically — low. A new Gallup poll finds Trump with a 40 percent favorable rating, or roughly half of Obama's 78 percent rating leading up to his 2009 inauguration. Trump currently holds the distinction of being the only incoming president, of the most recent four, whose unfavorable score is higher than his favorable score. Fifty-five percent of respondents currently have an unfavorable view of Trump, compared to just 18 percent of Obama in 2009.
But it's not all bad. Gallup reports that Trump's favorable rating is at least slightly higher than it was during the presidential campaign, when it stayed put at 38 percent. And 82 percent of Republicans say they are in Trump's corner. But that's notably lower than George W. Bush's soaring 97 percent favorable rating among Republicans back in 2001.
"The president-elect's general unpopularity is an unprecedented hurdle, whose impact on his ability to govern remains to be seen," Gallup reports. "As he takes office, Trump also faces much greater political polarization than his successors, even though all recent presidents have faced fairly stiff opposition from non-supporters once in office."
This new poll was conducted Jan. 4-8 among 1,032 adults. It has a margin of error of 4 percentage points. Jessica Hullinger
Monica Crowley, a Republican strategist and former Fox News analyst, will turn down an invitation to serve in Donald Trump's White House as a senior director of strategic communications at the National Security Council. "After much reflection I have decided to remain in New York to pursue other opportunities and will not be taking a position in the incoming administration," Crowley told The Washington Times. "I greatly appreciate being asked to be part of President-elect Trump's team and I will continue to enthusiastically support him and his agenda for American renewal."
In recent weeks, Crowley faced criticism after CNN reported that large sections of her 2012 book, What The (Bleep) Just Happened, had been plagiarized from news articles, Wikipedia, and various other sources. Her publisher, HarperCollins, pulled the book from stores following the report. CNN and Politico also claimed Crowley plagiarized parts of her Ph.D. dissertation. Jessica Hullinger
On Monday, FBI agents arrested the wife of Omar Mateen, the gunman who last June killed 49 people in a mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. CBS News reports Noor Salman is facing charges of obstruction of justice, and aiding and abetting. During interviews following the shooting, investigators began to question how much Salman knew about Mateen's plans, The New York Times reports. She is expected to appear in Federal Court in San Francisco on Tuesday. Mateen, who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, was killed during a police shootout at the scene of the rampage. Jessica Hullinger
If you need a startling statistic to put into perspective the growing gap between the world's rich and the world's poor, consider this: The world's richest eight people hold as much wealth as the world's poorest half. That's the take-home message from a new report from anti-poverty organization Oxfam, which found that the money amassed by these few super-wealthy individuals equals that of the world's 3.6 billion poorest individuals.
The eight richest people, all men, are listed below, in order of net worth:
Bill Gates, Microsoft founder, $75 billion
Amancio Ortega Gaona, Spanish founder of the fashion company Inditex, $67 billion
Warren Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, $60.8 billion
Carlos Slim Helú, Mexican telecommunications magnate, $50 billion
Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder, $45.2 billion
Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, $44.6 billion
Lawrence Ellison, founder of Oracle, $43.6 billion
Michael R. Bloomberg, former mayor of New York and founder of Bloomberg L.P., $40 billion
World and business leaders are meeting this week in Davos, Switzerland, and Oxfam released the report in an attempt to urge these leaders to do more about the growing income gap. "It is obscene for so much wealth to be held in the hands of so few when 1 in 10 people survive on less than $2 a day," said Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International. "Inequality is trapping hundreds of millions in poverty; it is fracturing our societies and undermining democracy."
In 2015, a similar report found 62 people held as much wealth as the bottom half.
Editor's note: This article original mischaracterized the nature of the findings in the Oxfam report and has since been corrected. We regret the error. Jessica Hullinger
President-election Donald Trump will meet with Martin Luther King III on Monday, incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer said. King is a human rights and civil rights activist, and the oldest living child of the civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., whose birthday is honored during Monday's federal holiday. Spicer says Trump will discuss with King his father's legacy.
Trump took some heat over the weekend when he attacked Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) on Twitter, saying he was "all talk, talk, talk — no action or results" after Lewis refused to recognize Trump's presidential win as legitimate. Lewis is a civil rights leader who marched at Selma with Martin Luther King Jr. Jessica Hullinger
A South Korean special prosecutor's office on Monday said it was seeking a warrant for the arrest of Samsung Group chief Jay Y. Lee in connection with the influence peddling scandal that led to the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye. The prosecutor's office accused Lee of paying bribes totaling $36.4 million to Choi Soon-sil, the close friend of Park who is at the center of the case. Lee faced 22 straight hours of questioning last week. Harold Maass