Five Best Monday Columns

Michael Hirsh on Obama's health care message, Juliette Kayyem on the Colorado fires, Robert Frichtel on marijuana DUIs, Eileen Boris and Jennifer Klein on in-home attendants, Jeffrey Toobin on John Roberts. 

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Michael Hirsh in National Journal on Obama's health care messaging White House chief of staff Jack Lew suggested last week that America doesn't want to rehash the health care debate. "But the Republican Party clearly does intend to have this debate, all the way into November, and Lew's tepid talking-points are a warning sign that the White House is, yet again, surrendering the message war on a central issue that even Obama partisans admit was poorly marketed the first time around, before and after ACA was signed into law in 2010," Hirsh writes. Opportunity exists to explain the law to Americans who oppose it, and to critique Republicans for failing to provide an alternative. With a weaker economic message, "Obama really has no choice but to mount a selling job extraordinaire on the ACA."

Juliette Kayyem in The Boston Globe on Colorado and disaster relief Colorado's fires have displaced tens of thousands as authorities struggle to contain them. Kayyem says the disaster reveals shifting political fault lines. "The political dispute is around two different categories of disaster management: resources and relief." Republicans criticize Obama for not investing in enough firefighting jets. Meanwhile some Republicans who opposed the President's liberal use of disaster funds before are now asking for it in Colorado. "Just as surely as Colorado's Republicans are discovering, disaster does not know swing states from the red and blue ones."

Robert Frichtel in Bloomberg View on medical marijuana and DUIs Several states with medical marijuana laws are proposing limits to the levels of THC in a driver's blood. "Here's the problem with these laws: There are questions about how, and at what level, cannabis use impairs driving ability." Frichtel shows how THC levels can remain high long after the impairing effects of marijuana have subsided. Until we understand how the body processes it better, we would only be confusing those whose doctors have prescribed them the drug. "Until the evidence is in, it's hard to see why any state needs to lower the burden of proof necessary to convict someone of a DUI marijuana charge."

Eileen Boris and Jennifer Klein in The New York Times on protecting in-home care givers President Obama proposed a revision to rules that exempt home attendants and aides from protections like overtime pay. "As women, immigrants and service workers have become the new face of labor, what happens to home care matters for the shape of our economy, the fate of unionism and the establishment of a decent standard of living for all," write Boris and Klein. They recount the history of the exemption, and describe the rise of the industry, citing its success as evidence that worker protections won't limit its profitability. "The 'elder companion exemption' has allowed staffing agencies to avoid paying overtime. It treated women who labored to support their families as if they were teenagers picking up some spending money.

Jeffrey Toobin in The New Yorker on John Roberts Though Toobin applauds John Roberts for joining the liberals in upholding the health care law, he makes the argument that the decision should have been an easier one. "That the constitutionality of the A.C.A. was even called into question is testimony to how far the center of gravity in the American judiciary has shifted to the right," he says. He defends the individual mandate's constitutionality under the Commerce Clause (something Roberts didn't do.) Thinking long term, Roberts has shielded himself from charges of partisanship as issues like affirmative action come up next year. "For today, it is enough to say that the Chief Justice and the Court did the right thing in one of the most important cases that they will ever decide."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.