Hour 1 Segment 1
Observations from Israel, what have you learned so far?
Big new overnight: Rubio goes for Romney
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., endorsed Mitt Romney for president Wednesday night on Fox News' "Hannity," saying Romney offers "a very clear alternative" to President Obama's vision for the future of the country.
Rubio, a young, first-termer who has been discussed as a possible vice presidential candidate, criticized talk of a fight for the Republican nomination on the convention floor, a possibility that is keeping alive the campaigns of Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich.
Romney has "earned this nomination," Rubio said, though he again shot down questions about whether he would accept any offers of a spot on the ticket.
"I don't believe I'm going to be asked to be the vice presidential nominee," he said, adding it's not something he wants.
The endorsement comes after another big-name in Florida politics, former Gov. Jeb Bush, threw his support behind Romney, and former President George H.W. Bush is expected to officially endorse Romney on Thursday.
Romney has a comfortable lead in the delegate count, though Santorum has been able to pick up wins in several recent state contests, including Louisiana on Saturday.
Stephen Dinan Washington Time
Obama budget goes down
The Bowles-Simpson deficit-reduction plan went down to a crushing defeat in the House late Wednesday night in a vote that damages the one bipartisan proposal that just a few months ago had seemed like a possible solution to the country's debt woes.
The 382-38 defeat, with just 16 Republicans and 22 Democrats voting for it, marks a bad end to what began nearly two years ago, when President Obama tapped former White House Chief of StaffErskine Bowles, a Democrat, and former Sen. Alan Simpson, a Republican, to lead a deficit-reduction committee.
Their report has popped up in every deficit discussion since then, but had never gotten a vote in either chamber until this week, when opponents prevailed.
"This doesn't go big. This doesn't tackle the problem. This doesn't do the big things," said Rep. Paul D. Ryan, Wisconsin Republican and chairman of the Budget Committee. "You can never get the debt under control if you don't deal with our health care entitlement programs."
Minutes earlier, the House also defeated Mr. Obama's own budget, submitted last month, on a 414-0 vote arranged by Republicans to embarrass the president and officially shelve his plan.
"It's not a charade. It's not a gimmick — unless what the president sent us is the same," said Rep. Mick Mulvaney, a freshman Republican from South Carolina who sponsored Mr. Obama's proposal for purposes of the debate. "I would encourage the Democrats to embrace this landmark Democrat document and support it. Personally, I will be voting against it."
The House also defeated an alternative offered by the Congressional Black Caucus that would have included $4 trillion in additional tax increases on top of those Mr. Obama proposed, and used that money to boost spending on domestic programs. That plan was killed 314-107.
But the Bowles-Simpson plan was the most anticipated vote of the evening, earning its first-ever vote in either chamber.
"There's a consensus in america we have to reduce our deficit," said Rep. Rob Andrews, New Jersey Democrat.
"Most of it should be by cutting spending, and some of it should be in revenue contribution by the wealthiest Americans."
The plan was sponsored by Rep. Jim Cooper, Tennessee Democrat, and Rep. Steve LaTourette, Ohio Republican, and was backed by Mr. Bowles and Mr. Simpson, who said it faithfully represented their goals.
But it was attacked by those on both ends of the political spectrum, leaving the two chief sponsors to defend themselves. Mr. LaTourette listed a series of attacks he said were untrue, adding after each: "False. Your pants are on fire."
Rep. Charlie Bass, New Hampshire Republican, said he also supports House Republicans' budget but said that plan doesn't have a chance in the Senate, and without a final agreement on a congressional budget it will make it impossible to agree to spending limits and extending the Bush-era tax cuts.
"Compromise is not a capitulation of principle," Mr. Bass said.
Hour 1 Segment 2
Seg 2 Guest
Ran Enoch New venue in Job search Social network job search engine
Mr. Ran Enoch
With over 12 years of activity in Internet business and entrepreneurship, Ran was cofounder and CEO of Start.co.il, which was subsequently acquired by MSN Israel [MSFT] and Internet Gold [IGLD]. His experience includes co-founding Makam – Israel's leading online monitoring & research service provider as well as vice president online, of daka90.co.il - Israel's leading online travel agency. Ran holds (with honors) an MBA and a B.Sc., in industrial & management engineering from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology.
Hour 1 Segment 3
Obamacare impact: IRS seeks 4000 agents and 303m to enforce
The Internal Revenue Service
wants to add about 4,000 agents to hunt down tax cheats and still plans to
spend $303 million building a system to oversee Obamacare even though its
future looks bleak in the U.S. Supreme Court.
A new Government Accountability Office review of the IRS 2012 tax return season and the taxman's fiscal 2013 budget request also found that the agency's customer service rating has slipped and 5.5 million returns were delayed a week because of a computer programming glitch.
The news isn't all bad though. A March 20 GAO performance audit found that the agency has seen a steady increase in e-filing and had processed 68 million returns so far, a 3 percent bump. What's more, IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman said that the American Customer Satisfaction Index for his team has jumped to 73 percent and he added that for every $1 spent on enforcement, the agency collects a return of $4.30.
The audit looked at everything from customer service to pending budget issues. It found that the agency's "level of service" via phone calls dropped from 70 percent last year to 61 percent currently, and that the number of "abandoned (calls,) busies and disconnects" jumped 41 percent this year and almost 150 percent since 2009. The average wait time for IRS help also surged 48 percent to 16.6 minutes.
As for the new workers sought, the GAO said the total will be about 4,500 with nearly 4,000 slated for enforcement. The IRS, however, argues that past budget cuts have forced the agency to cut jobs and set a hiring freeze. On the $303 million for Obamacare, the GAO said it will "continue the development of new systems and modifications of existing systems required to support new tax credits."
Scalia invokes 8th Amendment against reading Obamacare bill
Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia humorously invoked the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids cruel and unusual punishments, when discussing the Obamacare legislation during oral argument today at the Supreme Court.
JUSTICE SCALIA: Mr. Kneedler, what happened to the Eighth Amendment? You really want us to go through these 2,700 pages?
JUSTICE SCALIA: And do you really expect the Court to do that? Or do you expect us to — to give this function to our law clerks?
Is this not totally unrealistic? That we are going to go through this enormous bill item by item and decide each one?
MR. KNEEDLER: Well -
Hour1 Segment 4
France 24 Reports: Father of Toulouse shooter threatens to sue France
The father of Mohamed Mehra, the man who confessed to killing seven people in a 10-day killing spree in south-west France, told FRANCE 24 that he wants to take the French state to court for failing to capture his son alive.
By Tony Todd (text)
The father of Toulouse gunman Mohamed Merah on Tuesday said he planned to take the French state to court – for killing his son and failing to take him alive.
Benanel Merah told FRANCE 24 that police besieging his son's Toulouse flat "could have used sleep-inducing gas and taken him like a baby."
"Why were they so hasty?" he asked. "Why did they kill him? He could have been sentenced to many years in prison or even a life sentence. There is no death penalty in France."
Earlier, Merah told reporters that he would "hire the biggest named lawyers and work for the rest of my life to pay their costs - I will sue France for having killed my son."
Mohamed Merah, a 23-year-old French man of Algerian origin, embarked on a 10-day killing spree that claimed the lives of three serving French soldiers – all of North African descent – and a rabbi, his two young children and another child outside a Jewish school in Toulouse.
After a two-day standoff with police besieging his house, he was shot dead on March 22 in an operation in which three officers were injured, one seriously.
Benalel Merah left his family when his son Mohamed was six years old. His other son Abdelkader is currently under investigation, suspected of aiding and abetting his brother's crimes.
On Tuesday the French conservative political establishment erupted in indignation at Benanel Merah's threat to sue the state.
Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told Radio Classique that "if I was the father of a monster [like Merah] I would shut my mouth in shame."
And President Nicolas Sarkozy's chief advisor Henri Guaino told France Culture radio that while the man was "perfectly within his rights" to start legal proceedings, it would be "indecent".
He added: "A little bit of decency right now would do everyone a lot of good. To try to blame the state is the height of indecency. This monster killed in cold blood. French society owes him absolutely nothing."
Guaino, only too aware that France will elect its next president in April and May, also used the occasion to take a dig at the opposition.
He said the threat to sue came from the left-wing "ideology that the criminal is never fully responsible for his acts, that it's always other people that are responsible."
Hour 2 Segment 1
Jeremy Gimpel from the WEST BANK
LATimes New Kadima leader elected
gliding to a surprisingly easy victory over Kadima party Chairwoman Tzipi Livni, Israel's newly elected opposition leader, Shaul
Mofaz, faces an uphill battle in keeping the once-dominant centrist political
party from splintering.
The Iranian-born Mofaz, 64, comfortably defeated Livni in Tuesday's primary, garnering nearly 62% of the vote in the party election. Speaking Wednesday, he wasted no time in setting his sights on Israel's next national election, which is not scheduled until the end of 2013 but which many believe may be called as early as this fall.
"I will lead Kadima to a victory over [Israeli Prime MinisterBenjamin] Netanyahu," said Mofaz, a former defense minister who has been fighting for years to serve as chairman of Kadima and win a shot at the prime minister's job.
Mofaz is considered well-organized and politically savvy and has better relations with Israel's religious parties than does Livni. But it remains to be seen whether he can rescue Kadima, which three years ago won more votes than any other party but now is trailing badly in opinion polls.
Previewing his strategy, Mofaz on Wednesday emphasized social reform and easing Israel's high cost of living as top priorities, rather than focusing on reaching a peace deal with Palestinians, which was Livni's leading concern. But he will face the same challenges that Livni did in bringing together Kadima members, a diverse mix from Israel's left and right who followed then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in his break from the rightist Likud Party in 2005.
Some, including Livni during the recent campaign, said Mofaz, a former Likud member with strong security credentials, does not offer a clear enough alternative to Netanyahu, the Likud leader. Some say he might even opt to join Netanyahu's coalition government. Livni, by contrast, had steadfastly refused, arguing that Kadima's presence in the coalition would be used only as a "fig leaf" because Netanyahu had no intention of reaching a peace deal with Palestinians.
Some analysts say Mofaz's conservative credentials may eventually help him lure away votes from Likud.
"Since Mofaz is center-right, he has more of a capability than Livni to pull in disappointed Likud members and the soft-right-wing votes," said independent political analyst Raanan Gissin, who served as an advisor to Sharon. "That could change the balance."
In his speech, Mofaz called on Livni to remain in the party, but she refused to comment Wednesday about her plans. Supporters say she is considering dropping out of politics entirely, though others speculate that she might take time off or perhaps form a new party, potentially stealing away some of Kadima's members.
"Your place is with us," Mofaz said to Livni.
The election results are a stinging rebuke to Livni, a former foreign minister once on track to become Israel's second female prime minister. Despite her sagging domestic popularity, Livni was one of Israel's most popular politicians internationally, thanks to her oft-stated commitment to helping create a Palestinian state that would end the long-standing Middle East conflict.
"Such a vote of no-confidence by registered voters in the leader of their party is something that we have not seen in a long time, if ever," wrote newspaper columnist Sima Kadmon in Wednesday's Yediot Aharonot. "Ouster, that is the word."
The fallout will become clearer in the coming weeks, but there's no question that Tuesday's election marked a turning point for Kadima, a party that holds more Knesset seats than any other but nevertheless has been made largely irrelevant by the Likud-led right-wing coalition.
Yet a split in the party may not be as bad as some fear since it might reduce infighting that has gone on since 2008 and enable leaders to formulate a clearer platform on issues.
When Defense Minister Ehud Barak broke away from the leftist Labor Party last year and formed a new party, the fracture served to only revitalize Labor. At the time, many pundits wrote off Labor as dead, but it is now performing better than Kadima in most polls.
Hour 2 Segment 2
Yuli Edelstein on Israeli Diaspora
By William La Jeunesse
Published March 29, 2012 | FoxNews.com
The family of a murdered U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent is demanding to know if U.S. agencies could have seized the weapons used to kill him before they crossed the border into Mexico.
Amador and Mary Zapata also believe their son Jaime, who was only in Mexico for 9 days before his death, was not adequately trained for his assignment, a trip on one of Mexico's most dangerous roads in a $160,000 armored Suburban.
"We want to find out the truth," Amador Zapata said from the living room of his Brownsville, Texas home. "Who thought of this program? How come they let those weapons go – when they knew who had bought them? How come they let them go through the border – without trying to stop them? That's what we want to know."
The Zapatas had four sons employed by ICE, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency. Jaime, the second oldest, was gunned down while driving from Mexico City to Monterrey last February by assassins for the Zeta cartel. The guns used to kill him were purchased in Texas.
"I don't know anything now that I didn't know the first day," said Mary Zapata, surrounded by photos and memorabilia associated with her son's life. "I expected them (ICE supervisors) to sit with us and give us a report. This is what we have so far. We do not know."
The Zapatas hired former Assistant U.S. Attorney Trey Martinez and Ray Thomas, a south Texas litigator, to find out the facts.
"The family would like answers. The family would like closure," said Martinez. "We don't know if this is a gun walking operation but there is circumstantial evidence that there was."
Martinez is referring to two guns found February 15, 2011 at the murder scene in Mexico.
One was purchased in August 2010 near Houston on behalf of accused drug dealer Manuel Gomez Barba. The other in October 2010 by a Dallas trafficking ring that included Otilio Osorio, his brother Ranferi and their neighbor Kelvin Morrison.
According to the indictment, Barba began sourcing weapons through straw buyers in June 2010. He took custody of some 70 weapons through February 2011, readily informing the buyers their guns were being bought on behalf of the Zeta cartel.
Barba, who erased gun serial numbers on his kitchen table, took delivery of the weapon used to kill Zapata on August 20. In October, the ATF recorded a phone call in which Barba talked about smuggling and obliterating serial numbers of his guns. Using that evidence, ATF obtained a search warrant and arrested him four months later, the day before Zapata was killed.
Barba however was already an accused felon in a 2006 drug case and was arrested again June 18, 2010 by the DEA for dealing methamphetamine. Initially detained without bond, agents released him in July after he agreed to become a snitch. Barba set up a drug buy which allowed the DEA to arrest two others. In October, he pled guilty but remained free awaiting sentencing. During that time, he was allegedly running guns and under ATF investigation. As an accused felon, Barba was prohibited from possessing a firearm. The ATF executed its search warrant of Barba on October 8.
Martinez believes the agency may have acted sooner. The ATF says no.
"What the family needs to know is the weapons that Barba was having straw purchased for him were all purchased in May, June and August before we even knew who Barba was," said Gary Orchowski, ATF Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Houston Field Division.
The second gun used against Zapata was smuggled by a ring responsible for 207 weapons. From June 2010 through February 2011 the Osorio brothers and six other men began to acquire firearms from Dallas area gun stores.
According to ATF management logs, agents first observed a member of the ring buy four AK-47 style weapons from a dealer on July 29 but did not maintain surveillance. The next day, Morrison bought another weapon that later showed up in August along with 21 other guns on their way over the border, including two bought by Ranferi Osorio.
Documents show that in September 2010, the ATF in Dallas traced more crime weapons back to the ring. In November, Morrison and the Osorio brothers illegally provided 40 firearms to an ATF informant, and in January, one of the group told a gun dealer he wanted to buy a large purchase of assault rifles. Morrison himself bought 24 guns, each time swearing on a federal affidavit the guns were all for himself.
Martinez claims the ATF could and should have intervened earlier, potentially preventing the sale or export of the gun that killed Zapata.
The Dallas ATF chief Robert Champion denies his office ‘walked guns' or knowingly allowed guns to go south as in Operation Fast and Furious. However he did admit to the Dallas Morning News in March that his agents could have arrested the Morrison and the Osorio brothers three months earlier that he did – when they delivered the 40 guns to the informant without serial numbers.
"I know people will criticize us for not taking these guys down immediately," Champion told the paper. "But we weren't sure what they were up to."
Hour 2 Segment 3
Professor Barry Rubin
Haaretz: Israel bought an airbase in Azerbaijan to hit Iran
Israel has been granted access to air bases in Azerbaijan on Iran's northern border, Foreign Policy reported Wednesday, quoting senior U.S. diplomats and military intelligence officials.
"The Israelis have bought an airfield," a senior U.S. administration official told Foreign Policy's Mark Perry, "and the airfield is called Azerbaijan."
According to the report, U.S. intelligence officials are worried that Israel's military involvement in Azerbaijan would make it more difficult for the U.S. to reduce Israeli-Iranian tensions. Apparently now, military planners must prepare for a war scenario that would also involve the Caucasus.
"We're watching what Iran does closely," said a U.S. intelligence officer involved in assessing the consequences of a potential Israeli strike on Iran. "But we're now watching what Israel is doing in Azerbaijan. And we're not happy about it."
In February, Israel signed a $1.6 billion arms deal with Azerbaijan, committing to sell drones and anti-aircraft missile defense systems to Baku. According to a retired U.S. diplomat, the deal left Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan "sputtering in rage," since Israel had previously canceled a contract to develop drones with the Turkish military.
The report said that the Azeri military has four abandoned, Soviet-era airfields that could be available to Israel and four air bases for their own aircraft, quoting the International Institute for Strategic Studies' Military Balance 2011.
U.S. officials told Foreign Policy that they believe Israel has been granted access to these air bases through a "series of quiet political and military understandings."
"I doubt that there's actually anything in writing," said a former U.S. diplomat who spent his career in the region. "But I don't think there's any doubt - if Israeli jets want to land in Azerbaijan after an attack, they'd probably be allowed to do so. Israel is deeply embedded in Azerbaijan, and has been for the last two decades."
The report states that Israel's embassy in Washington, the IDF, the Mossad, and the Shin Bet were all asked to comment on the story but failed to respond. Also, the Azeri embassy to the U.S. did not respond when asked about Azerbaijan's security agreements with Israel.
Hour 2 Segment 4
Reuters: Americans Angry with Obama over gas prices
More than two-thirds of Americans disapprove of the way President Barack Obama is handling high gasoline prices, although most do not blame him for them, according to a Reuters/Ipsos online poll released on Tuesday.
Sixty-eight percent disapprove and 24 percent approve of how Obama is responding to price increases that have become one of the biggest issues in the 2012 presidential campaign.
In the past month, U.S. fuel prices have jumped about $0.30 per gallon to about $3.90 and the Republicans seeking to replace the Democrat in the November 6 election have seized upon the issue to attack his energy policies.
The disapproval reaches across party lines, potentially spelling trouble for Obama in the election, although the online survey showed voters hold oil companies or foreign countries more accountable than politicians for the price spike.
"Obama is getting heat for it but people aren't necessarily blaming him for it," said Chris Jackson, research director for Ipsos public affairs.
Majorities of Republicans, Democrats and independents all disapprove of the president's handling of gas prices, according to the online poll of 606 Americans conducted March 26-27.
Eighty-nine percent of Republicans said they disapproved, as did 52 percent of Democrats and 73 percent of independents.
"People are unhappy that they are having to pay $3.90 a gallon. They want somebody to be able to lash out at and the president is as good a person as anybody," Jackson said.
BLAMING OIL COMPANIES
The most common reason cited by voters of all political stripes for the rising cost was oil company greed.
Overall, 36 percent of respondents said "oil companies that want to make too much profit" deserve the most blame for higher energy prices. Twenty-eight percent of Republicans said so, as did 44 percent of Democrats and 32 percent of independents.
Twenty-six percent of all respondents said a range of factors was equally to blame, including oil companies, politicians, foreign countries that dominate oil reserves and environmentalists who want to limit oil exploration.
There was little difference in that result across party lines. Twenty-seven percent of Republicans, 24 percent of Democrats and 32 percent of independents said all of those factors were equally to blame.
Republicans have hit Obama particularly hard for his decision to block TransCanada Corp.'s Keystone XL Canada-to-Texas pipeline as a sign that his energy priorities are hurting America.
Hoping to placate car-loving Americans, Obama toured U.S. oil country last week to tout his "all of the above" energy strategy that includes room for oil and gas development in addition to support for renewable fuels.
In Oklahoma, he pledged to accelerate approval of the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline. Republicans immediately dismissed the campaign-style stop as a stunt, saying Obama does not have the authority to really jump start the project.
Jackson said Obama has little to fear, at least according to historic trends, from gas prices alone if the U.S. economy continues to recover from deep recession.
Previous spikes in fuel prices have not affected U.S. presidential election results. But economists warn that higher gas prices could slow the overall economy, which would toughen Obama's chances of winning re-election.
The poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 4.6 percentage points for all respondents.
Hour 3 Segment 1
Obama flip flop on Gas Subsidies
Hour 3 Segment 2
Washington Time Bernanke we stopped a depression
For Americans who have forgotten, or who never knew, how much worse things could get - shantytowns, gnawing hunger and a desperate 1 in 4 people out of work - Federal Reserve ChairmanBen S. Bernanke is providing a reminder.
In a series of four lectures he is delivering at George Washington University this month, the one-time Princeton professor and renowned specialist on the Great Depression is expounding on the horrors of the Depression and how the austerity policies of the central bank at the time made things worse.
Lessons learned from the 1930s debacle led to more enlightened central bank practices in the subsequent decades that nurtured prosperity. But some conservatives say Mr. Bernanke has gone to the other extreme with lenient policies in his drive to nudge a healthier recovery from a stubbornly slow-growing economy.
The first-ever such lectures by a sitting Fed chairman present a subtle pushback against such criticism, spearheaded by Rep. Ron Paul of Texas but endorsed to one degree or another by most of the other Republican presidential candidates. President Obama and most Democrats view Mr. Bernanke as a hero who likely averted a second depression.
The easily understandable lessons, and the videos of the lectures that theFed is making available to the public on its website, suggest that Mr. Bernanke's target audience is the generation of young people attending college who grew up in affluence and know little about the Depression, as well as many parents and older folks who seem to have forgotten its bitter lessons.
But there's no amnesia at the Fed. Mr. Bernanke makes it clear that as long as he is chairman, he will not let the central bank repeat the devastating mistakes that made the Depression so painful for a whole generation of Americans.
"The Great Depression informed the Fed's actions and decisions in the recent crisis," he said in his opening remarks, noting the Fed's multiple missteps during the 1930s in failing to stem the financial panics, bank runs and economic downspiral that created such desperate conditions.
In the years after the great stock crash of 1929, as the Fed stood by, unemployment soared to 25 percent, stocks lost 85 percent of their value, the economy shrank by one-third, prices fell by 10 percent and nearly 10,000 banks collapsed, he said, underscoring the economic devastation with dramatic graphics provided on the Fed's website. In the truly worldwide collapse of the early 1930s, other countries, especiallyGermany, had it even worse.
Hour 3 Segment 3
Prof. Eyal Zisser Director of the Moshe Dayan Center for MiddleEastern and African Studies Head of the Department of Middle Eastern and African History & Dean, faculty of humanities- Tel Aviv University.
Topic : Current events in Syria
Published August 2011
Vol. 11, No. 12 9 August 2011
The Syrian Uprising: Implications for Israel
NYT: On Day 3, Justices Weigh What-Ifs of Health Ruling
The day after the Supreme Court suggested that President Obama's health care law might be in danger of being held unconstitutional, the justices on Wednesday turned their attention to the practical consequences and political realities of such a ruling.
The justices seemed divided on both questions before them: What should happen to the rest of the law if the court strikes down its core provision? And was the law's expansion of theMedicaid program constitutional?
The two arguments, over almost three hours, were by turns grave and giddy. They were also relentlessly pragmatic. The justices considered what sort of tasks it makes sense to assign to Congress, what kinds of interaction between federal and state officials are permissible and even the political character of the lawsuits challenging the law. One justice dipped into Senate vote counting.
The court had in other words, on the third and final day of a historic set of arguments, moved from the high theory of constitutional interpretation to the real-world consequences of what various rulings would entail.
The arguments concluded the most closely watched Supreme Court proceedings since Bush v. Gore in 2000, and it left both supporters and opponents of the health care law mapping strategies for the months until the court decides the case, probably in late June, and for the aftermath of that ruling.
In a 90-minute morning session, the justices considered the consequences of striking down the law's requirement that most Americans obtain health insurance or pay a penalty.
Lawyers and judges are used to arguing about hypothetical propositions, and the entire morning argument proceeded on the assumption that the provision, often called the individual mandate, was going to be struck down. Still, a long argument built on that proposition seemed to give the notion a further patina of plausibility after the skeptical questioning about the mandate on Tuesday.
Some justices suggested the entire law should fall, on the theory that members of Congress would not have voted for it without the mandate. Others indicated that the court should take a minimalist approach, leaving the balance of the law intact. The decision under review, from the federal appeals court in Atlanta, had taken that second approach.
But neither the Obama administration nor the challengers agreed, and the Supreme Court appointed H. Bartow Farr III, a Washington lawyer in private practice, to argue the point.
Justice Antonin Scalia said an analysis of how to proceed could not be divorced from the realities of the political process in Washington, which he said was beset by "legislative inertia."
"My approach would say if you take the heart out of the statute," he said, "the statute's gone."
He explained his reasoning: "You're not going to get 60 votes in the Senate to repeal the rest. It's not a matter of enacting a new act. You've got to get 60 votes to repeal it. So the rest of the act is going to be the law."
Justice Stephen G. Breyer at one point seemed to agree that the Supreme Court is not well suited to editing the balance of the law should the mandate fall.
"I would stay out of politics," he said. "That's for Congress, not us."
The practical question, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, was deciding between "a wrecking operation" and "a salvage job." "The more conservative approach," she said, "would be salvage rather than throwing out everything."
Striking down the whole law, Justice Sonia Sotomayor suggested, would be too broad an assertion of judicial power.
But Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said it could be judicial overreaching to leave parts of the law intact in light of the obligations it would continue to impose on insurance companies.
"We would be exercising the judicial power if one provision was stricken and the others remained to impose a risk on insurance companies that Congress had never intended," he said.
As the argument progressed, some justices wondered about their own competence to undertake a salvage job.
"You really want us to go through these 2,700 pages?" Justice Scalia asked a lawyer for the Obama administration, adding: "Is this not totally unrealistic? That we're going to go through this enormous bill item by item and decide each one?"
The lawyer, Edwin S. Kneedler, said the court should not strike down the mandate. If it does and decides to engage in judicial editing, he said, only two other provisions — one forbidding insurers from turning away applicants and the other barring them from taking account of pre-existing conditions — would also have to fall.
Hour 3 Segment 4