Overseas Headlines- July 9, 2019

Date: July 9, 2019

United States:

Obamacare’s future in play as U.S. appeals court weighs its constitutionality

“NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) – The future of Obamacare could be at stake on Tuesday when a group of Democratic-led states and the House of Representatives urge a federal appeals court to overturn a Texas judge’s ruling that the U.S. healthcare reform law is unconstitutional. Republicans have repeatedly tried to repeal Obamacare, formally named the Affordable Care Act, since its 2010 passage. The Justice Department would normally defend a federal law, but the Trump administration has declined to take that position against a challenge by 18 Republican-led states. A coalition of Democratic state attorneys general led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra stepped into the void to defend the law, also called the ACA. The House intervened after Democrats won control in November’s elections after many focused their campaigns on defending Obamacare. A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, including two judges appointed by Republican presidents and one by a Democrat, will take up a ruling by a federal judge in Texas last year that the entire ACA was unconstitutional. Two hours before arguments were to get underway, about a dozen law students and lawyers had lined up outside the courthouse on a steamy New Orleans summer day to make sure they had seats to view the arguments. An appellate ruling declaring Obamacare unconstitutional could prompt an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, opening the door for the top court to take up the issue in the midst of the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Obamacare, the signature domestic achievement of Trump’s Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, has been a political flashpoint since its passage. Republican opponents call the law an unwarranted intervention by government in health insurance markets, while supporters say striking it down would threaten the healthcare of 20 million people who have gained insurance since its enactment. In 2012, a divided U.S. Supreme Court upheld most of its provisions, including the individual mandate, which requires people to obtain insurance or pay a penalty. The mandate compelled healthy people to buy insurance to offset sicker patients’ costs after Obamacare barred insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.”





London’s Ethnicity Pay Gap Sees Minority Workers Paid 22% Less

“Workers from ethnic minority groups in London are paid 21.7% less on average than white employees, according to Office for National Statistics data. The capital — which is home to the highest proportion of workers identifying as being from an ethnic minority group — had the largest pay gap in the country last year, figures drawn from the Annual Population Survey showed. Across the whole of Britain the difference was 3.8%, with employees from a minority ethnicity earning more in the north east and east regions. White British people account for almost 80% of the working population, the report said. White workers of other nationalities, such as European or Australian, were the second largest group and had the highest employment rate. The data published Tuesday showed Chinese and Indian employees posted the highest median hourly pay, while Pakistani and Bangladeshi workers had the lowest. While the ethnicity pay gap between ethnic groups narrowed once other characteristics such as education and occupation were taken into account, some “significant gaps” still remain, the ONS said. After the introduction of mandatory gender pay gap reporting in the U.K., the government is considering the possibility of also requiring companies to publish data on wage disparities for citizens of “Black, Asian and minority ethnic,” or BAME, origins. A public consultation ended in January and already some firms, including PwC, Deloitte, KPMG and broadcaster ITN, have voluntarily decided to release their own numbers.”





China Eyes Trump’s 2020 Strategy for Clues on Trade War Deal

“As the U.S. and China prepare to restart trade talks, few in Beijing see a clear pathway to a lasting deal. Pessimism dominated in conversations last week with about a dozen bureaucrats, government advisers and researchers in China’s capital following the latest truce between Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping. Most saw Trump’s election strategy as being the paramount factor for whether a deal was possible in the short term. “Trump’s biggest aim is reelection in 2020,” said Wei Jianguo, former vice minister of commerce and now a vice chairman of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges. “All of his actions are aimed toward it.” More than a year after Trump first levied punitive tariffs on Beijing, the conflict between the world’s two-largest economies has only widened as both Trump and Xi face political pressure to resist key demands from the other side. Slowing growth and threats against major companies from both countries have further raised the stakes heading into next year. Many Chinese officials were reluctant to discuss the 2020 election out of fears they could be accused of Russian-style meddling. Yet two schools of thought emerged on Trump’s political calculus.”



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