Poll: Most voters believe health care mandate is unconstitutional

Posted Feb. 27, 2012, at 9:02 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Nearly two years after President Barack Obama signed his landmark health care package into law, three-quarters of registered voters believe the law’s requirement that every American carry health insurance is unconstitutional, according to a new survey.

A USA Today/Gallup poll taken earlier this month and released Monday found that a majority of voters — those surveyed in battleground states and nationwide generally — agreed in their dislike of the Affordable Care Act. Voters in battleground states are more likely to want it repealed, the poll showed.

Fifty-three percent of voters polled in battleground states — Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Virginia and Wisconsin — said they would favor repealing the law if a Republican is elected president in November. Nationwide, 40 percent said they would favor repeal.

A majority of voters — 50 percent nationwide and 53 percent in battleground states — consider the law a bad thing. The vast majority of voters feel the law has so far had no effect on them or their families, but more than 40 percent believe it will ultimately make things worse.

The survey also polled voters on their general election preferences. Nationwide, Obama and Mitt Romney are tied in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup, with 47 percent each, according to the poll. Rick Santorum holds a 3 percentage point advantage with 49 percent compared to Obama’s 46 percent. Both results are within the sampling error of four percentage points.

FBI says billions in financial crime restitution

WASHINGTON — The FBI said Monday that its probes of financial crime last year led to more than 3,000 convictions and over $12 billion in court-ordered restitution as agents attacked insider trading, Ponzi schemes and Medicare fraud in high-dollar scams that victimized thousands of investors and the government.

In a press briefing that amounted to a warning to the business community generally and to Wall Street in particular, the bureau released video and wiretaps from a few of its undercover operations targeting complex financial crime.

Among the FBI’s largest conviction numbers and amounts of restitution for 2011: securities and commodities fraud, 394 convictions and $8.8 billion; mortgage fraud, 1,082 convictions and $1.38 billion; health care fraud, 736 convictions and $1.2 billion.

9 Afghans killed in blast outside NATO base

KABUL, Afghanistan — A suicide car bomber rammed his vehicle into the gates of a NATO base and airport in eastern Afghanistan on Monday, triggering a blast that killed nine Afghans, officials said. The Taliban claimed the attack was revenge for U.S. troops burning copies of the Quran.

The bombing in the city of Jalalabad follows six days of deadly protests in the country over the disposal of Qurans and other Islamic texts in a burn pit last week at a U.S. military base north of Kabul.

American officials have called the disposal of the books a mistake and have issued a series of apologies. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has urged calm, calling on his countrymen not to allow insurgents to capitalize on their indignation to spark violence.

About 40 people have been killed in protests and related attacks since the incident became known this past Tuesday, including four U.S. soldiers. NATO, France, Britain and the U.S. have pulled their advisers from Afghan ministries out of concern that the anti-foreigner anger might erupt again.

On Monday, the United Nations also scaled back its operations, moving its international staff from an office in the northern city of Kunduz that was attacked during protests Saturday, the organization said in a statement.

Texas boy, 12, accused of brandishing loaded gun

WARREN, Texas — Sheriff’s deputies have taken a 12-year-old boy into custody after witnesses reported he pointed a loaded gun at a classmate standing in the lunch line at a rural junior high school in East Texas.

Tyler County Sheriff David Hennigan says the seventh-grader apparently objected to comments the student made about a female classmate. Hennigan says the .25-caliber pistol was loaded, but there was no bullet chambered.

Two coaches escorted the boy to the school office and held him for deputies. Hennigan says he has been placed in the juvenile detention center in adjacent Hardin County and will be charged with aggravated assault.

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