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Ballot measure tests federal health care law

JEFFERSON CITY | The new federal health care law is about to face its first major popularity test.

A Missouri ballot measure Tuesday will challenge President Obama’s top policy accomplishment by attempting to reject its mandate that most Americans have health insurance.

The legal effect of Missouri’s measure is questionable because federal laws generally supersede those in states. However, its passage could send an ominous political message to Democrats seeking to hang onto their congressional majority in this year’s elections.

The proposed Missouri law would prohibit governments from requiring people to have health insurance. It would clash with a new federal requirement that includes penalties for those who don’t comply starting in 2014.

VICE PRESIDENCY

Biden says no plans to nation-build

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said Thursday the United States was not in Afghanistan to “nation-build” but for the sole purpose of defeating al Qaeda in the border areas with Pakistan.

Under growing pressure over the unpopular and costly nine-year war, the Obama administration is grappling with how to measure success in Afghanistan for a review due in December of how President Obama’s new strategy is working.

Laying out the reasoning behind its Afghanistan policy, Mr. Biden said it was not to create a U.S.-style democracy but to eliminate al Qaeda, which is blamed for the 2001 attacks against the United States.

“We are in Afghanistan for one express purpose … the al Qaeda that exists in those mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan,” he said in an interview with NBC’s “Today” show.

“We are not there to nation-build. We are not out there deciding we are going to turn this into a Jeffersonian democracy and build that country. We made it clear, we are not there for 10 years,” he said.

Mr. Obama announced in December that he was sending an additional 30,000 troops to fight the war and said he also intended to start pulling out U.S. troops from Afghanistan in July 2011 as long as the right conditions existed.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama: We’ll get back auto money

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