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Obama agenda: All tied up

The New York Times: “A second federal judge ruled on Monday that it was unconstitutional for Congress to enact a health care law that required Americans to obtain commercial insurance, evening the score at 2 to 2 in the lower courts as conflicting opinions begin their path to the Supreme Court.”

More: “But unlike a Virginia judge in December, Judge Roger Vinson of Federal District Court in Pensacola, Fla., concluded that the insurance requirement was so ‘inextricably bound’ to other provisions of the Affordable Care Act that its unconstitutionality required the invalidation of the entire law.”

The Washington Post looks at the controversy whether Vinson’s ruling means that the health law is now invalid in the 26 states that filed the lawsuit. “David Rivkin, a conservative lawyer in Washington who represents the plaintiffs, said that the 26 states that are party to the lawsuit are no longer subject to any of the law's requirements - unless the federal government obtains a stay of Vinson's order from an appeals court. White House officials firmly rejected that view. ‘Implementation will proceed apace,’ one senior White House official said in a background briefing for reporters.”

“Mohamed ElBaradei, a 68-year-old former head of the United Nations body that enforces a key nuclear arms treaty, is emerging as an unlikely pivotal figure in the bid to force President Hosni Mubarak to resign,” the Boston Globe reports, adding, “ElBaradei’s history of standing up to the United States on issues such as the Iraq war during his tenure at the UN agency earned him respect in Egypt and across the Middle East. ‘It may be that his track record of being independent of the United States, and willingness to be critical of the US, might help him now in Egypt,’ said R. Nicholas Burns, under secretary of state for political affairs from 2005 to 2008.”

NBC’s Brian Williams interviewed ElBaradei on “TODAY.”

The Boston Globe’s editorial page says it’s time for the U.S. to disavow itself of Mubarak: “Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have called for an orderly transition in Egypt. This is a coy way of hinting that the administration is already looking beyond Mubarak without explicitly calling for his departure. But even if Obama does not feel comfortable saying overtly that the United States wants Mubarak removed — for fear of the effect on other Arab rulers who have partnered with Washington — the president ought to spell out what he means by an orderly transition. Doing so would show Egyptians that America wants what they want for their country.”

The Washington Post is the latest to note the U.S. government's delicate balancing act on Egypt. "The Obama administration, after initially underestimating the force and determination of anti-government demonstrations in Egypt, appeared Monday to have settled on a public and private course of action that officials hope will lead to President Hosni Mubarak's departure from office sooner rather than later. Senior officials moved to further define the "orderly transition" they called for over the weekend, and made clear in public statements that they were not impressed by the steps Mubarak has taken to respond to the protests." http://wapo.st/f9mNfq