The Weekly Dispatch


June 26 - July 1

Hello, and welcome to the Dispatch for June 26 - July 1!

Health Care

The Supreme Court ruled the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act is constitutional, though only when interpreted as a tax. The ruling, anxiously awaited by both parties, affirms one of the Obama administration’s signature accomplishments. Surprisingly, the deciding vote was that of Chief Justice Roberts, widely seen as a conservative justice, who joined the four liberal justices in forming the majority.

The Supreme Court ruling is a big win for the Obama Administration, but Roberts’ opinion is more notable for the why than the what. Roberts treated the mandate as a tax because it lacks any serious associated criminal charge, but in doing so he also rejected the Administration’s assertion that the mandate was allowed under the Constitution’s Commerce clause, which states Congress can regulate interstate commerce. The Commerce clause, along with the Necessary and Proper clause, have formed the constitutional underpinnings for a vast array of federal laws since the early 1800s. In ruling the mandate was not allowed under the Commerce clause, Roberts set a limiting precedent on what can be covered as Commerce, and thus what Congress can regulate or legislate. I suspect this will be the true long-term effect of the Court’s ruling, whatever the eventual fate of the PPACA.


With 95% of the vote counted, official polls from Mexico’s presidential elections showed Enrique Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) ahead by 6%.

The PRI ruled Mexico for 71 years, gaining a reputation for corruption and electoral fraud that lead to their eventual ouster in 2000. Since then, Mexico has faced a host of problems, including a faltering economy and an increasingly bloody drug war, which may explain PRI’s recent success at the polls. There may be other factors at play, too: a week before the elections, the Guardian revealed evidence that Televisa, the largest television network in Mexico, had funded and run a campaign for Peña Nieto in 2009, helping him secure the governorship of Mexico State, his stepping stone to the Presidency. Given the PRI’s past, the allegations are exceedingly troubling in a country already struggling with widespread corruption.

Additional Reads

Two interesting reads recently concerning Mexico:

* Cocaine Incorporated digs into the history and structure of the Sinaloa cartel, Mexico’s largest drug cartel. It’s a great read, and the sheer amount of money and corruption that makes an organization like the Sinaloa viable is incredible.

* The Kingpins digs into the effects of the cartels and drug money on the political situation, and paints a picture in places so absurd that one begins to wonder what sort of person would actually want the job of cleaning up that mess bad enough to try to rig an election for it.

Thanks for joining me, and my best for the week ahead!