Welcome to Wonkbook, Wonkblog’s morning policy news primer by Puneet Kollipara (@pkollipara). To subscribe by e-mail, click here. Send comments, criticism or ideas to Wonkbook at Washpost dot com. To read more by the Wonkblog team, click here. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
Wonkbook’s Number of the Day: 20 million. That's how many people have gained insurance under the Affordable Care Act, according to a new report in The New England Journal of Medicine.
Wonkbook’s Chart of the Day: Fifty years after the Civil Rights Act's enactment, these 15 charts show how racial discrimination remains alive today.
Wonkbook's Top 4 Stories: (1) The Civil Rights Act, at age 50; (2) it's Jobs Thursday; (3) Hobby Lobby's inconceivably complex fallout; (4) What we learned from Yellen's most recent comments.
1. Top story: The Civil Rights Act's mixed legacy
Analysis: A legacy of gain, loss and hope. "On July 2, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson went on national television to sign the Civil Rights Act, legislation born in the strife of people of color and their liberal white allies who marched, prayed and endured physical violence trying to bring legal rights to a part of the United States that was still shaking off the legal chains of slavery....Since that day 50 years ago, the formalism of that promise may have been fulfilled, but the spirit seems to be lacking....Perhaps even more importantly, the question of race relations has become significantly broadened beyond black and white to a whole range of questions involving Latinos and Asians." Michael Muskal in Los Angeles Times.
Long read: Behind the Civil Rights Act, annotated by key experts. NPR.
Flashback: How it all happened: The longest debate in Senate history. Natasha Geiling in Smithsonian Magazine.
What did the act do, anyway? "LBJ’s Civil Rights Act prohibited discrimination on the basis of race or gender in all hiring, firing, and promoting by their employers. The bill also gave federal government the authority to desegregate racial divided public spaces and pushed forward the effort to desegregate schools. It’s credited with speeding the eventual demise of America’s Jim Crow segregation system, commonly viewed as beginning in 1883 when the Supreme Court ruled the Civil Rights Act of 1875, which prohibited discrimination in trains, hotels, and other public locations, was not permitted by the 13th or 14th Amendments and unconstitutional. LBJ’s bill was the first since to forbid discrimination in the workplace and public places." Alexandra Dukakis in ABC News.
Explainer: 5 things to know about the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Jesse J. Holland in the Associated Press.
Background reading: We're all equal — except in practice. "The battle to end overt discrimination has been far more successful than the effort to attain economic, educational or social equality. Blacks have made huge strides in high school education but still lag in college graduation rates. Their incomes have risen and poverty rates have declined, but a mammoth wealth gap remains, along with persistently high unemployment rates. So great has been the increase in political power that the black voter turnout rate surpassed that of whites in the 2012 presidential race, and the number of black elected officials has risen sevenfold. But while school segregation and workplace discrimination have declined, too many African Americans go home to segregated, often impoverished neighborhoods." Richard Wolf in USA Today.
School is done for the summer, and so is the era of majority-white U.S. public schools. Janell Ross and Peter Bell in National Journal.
Black and Hispanic kindergarteners are disproportionately in high-poverty schools. Economic Policy Institute.
Explainer: Civil Rights Act of 1964: The numbers. Jessica Sparks in The Wall Street Journal.
The economy's depressing double standard for black men. "For all the opportunities that have been opened to minorities since then, black men still need two more levels of education to have the same chances of landing a job as a white man. A black man with an associates degree has the same chances — about 88 percent — of finding a job as a white high school graduate, according to a recent analysis of employment rates and education for whites and minorities by Young Invincibles, a nonprofit group focusing on the economic issues impacting millennials. Getting a bachelor's degree ups those chances to 93 percent for a black man, the same as a white man who dropped out of college." Jonnelle Marte in The Washington Post.
Interview: How the Civil Rights Act of 1964 changed the South's economy. Danielle Kurtzleben in Vox.
50 years later, Americans see progress on race. "More than three in four Americans, including most whites and blacks, think the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act was a very important event in U.S. history....Nearly eight in 10 Americans think there's been real progress since the 1960s in getting rid of racial discrimination....The percentage that says progress has been made has remained fairly consistent in recent years, but it has increased nearly 30 points since 1992. But few — just 5 percent — think all of the goals of Martin Luther King and the 1960s civil rights movement have been achieved....Moreover, most Americans say discrimination against blacks exists today, and blacks are far more likely than whites to think it is pervasive. " Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Anthony Salvanto and Fred Backus in CBS News.
Behind the Pew numbers on race and progress. "I think that misstates the real finding of Pew's survey....With the single exception of solid liberals, majorities in every other group believe this by a 2:1 margin or more. That's the takeaway here. The other takeaway is that the news was a little different on the other questions Pew asked about race. The country is split about evenly on whether further racial progress is necessary, and large majorities in nearly every group continue to support affirmative action on college campuses. A sizeable majority of Americans may not believe that discrimination is the main reason blacks can't get ahead, but apparently they still believe it's enough of a problem to justify continuing efforts to help out." Kevin Drum in Mother Jones.
Charts: Conservatives say the U.S. has done enough to create equality for blacks. Young liberals agree. Emily Badger in The Washington Post.
If affirmative action is doomed, what's next? David Leonhardt in The New York Times.
Also, see Wonkbook's previous coverage of the Brown v. Board 60th anniversary and affirmative-action ruling.
How might the Civil Rights Act protect LGBT workers today? "The question for LGBT advocates is whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act...also applies to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and gender-nonconforming workers. The Supreme Court in 1989 decided that Title VII protects workers from sexual stereotyping. LGBT advocates argue those prohibited stereotypes include...social expectations that discriminate against LGBT people. The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) agrees with LGBT advocates....The EEOC rulings, however, aren't the law of the land....While the Obama administration intends to enforce the EEOC's ruling to protect LGBT federal employees, courts facing workplace discrimination cases typically consider the EEOC rulings as expert advisories and nothing more." German Lopez in Vox.
Discrimination against LGBT individuals is alive and well. "Better qualified LGBT applicants are 23 percent less likely to get a call back from some federal contractors than applicants who don't openly identify as LGBT, according to a new study from Freedom to Work and the Equal Rights Center. The study sent a pair of fictitious but similar resumes to 100 jobs across eight federal contractors....The LGBT resume always included stronger credentials....Despite the stronger qualifications, the LGBT applicant was much less likely to get called back." German Lopez in Vox.
Gay, widowed, and fighting for what they're due. "United States v. Windsor...made it clear that married same-sex couples were entitled to federal benefits. But some workers in both the government and the private sector are still encountering resistance when they make their requests, and need to take legal action or work with a lawyer before they can make any progress. The government’s latest announcement does not guarantee that all gay married couples will receive equal treatment either, particularly if they live in states that do not recognize their unions....Most federal agencies now treat same-sex married couples equally, and in June, yet another batch of benefits was extended....But there was some disappointing news for gay couples, too." Tara Siegel Bernard in The New York Times.
Other legal reads:
PURDUM: Why the Civil Rights Act couldn't pass today. "The climate in today’s Washington is so different...that celebrating the law’s legacy is awkward for Republicans and Democrats alike. Neither party bears much resemblance to its past counterpart, and the bipartisanship that carried the day then is now all but dead. Congress is deadlocked on every big question, from immigration reform to a grand bargain on taxes and spending, so it’s hard to believe the two parties once cooperated to address the single most controversial domestic issue of the day — legal equality for the races — or that Lyndon B. Johnson signed the bill 50 years ago Wednesday, in the middle of a presidential election year." Todd S. Purdum in Politico.
MORENO: It broke Jim Crow, but has been abused for unintended ends. "This momentous piece of legislation promised to establish individual equality of opportunity under the law for all Americans. The goal was — and is — a noble one. Yet the ink was hardly dry on the new law before it became an instrument for racial classifications and preferences that the bill's sponsors swore would be prohibited. This was largely the work of legal academics, bureaucrats and judges. Officials elected by and accountable to the public hardly ever consented to what has come to be called affirmative action." Paul Moreno in The Wall Street Journal.
CASHIN: Lessons for progressives. "Today most civil rights advocates focus on racial disparities, comparing the struggles of blacks and Latinos to those of whites without acknowledging that plenty of whites are harmed by the same structural barriers. Many whites shut down in the face of these arguments, rationalizing that minorities themselves are to blame and resenting the fact that their own economic pain is not being acknowledged....A focus solely on black-white disparities masks the overrepresentation of high school dropouts of all colors in our prisons. Instead, a civil-rights discourse that focuses on common challenges and values is needed to bridge the gaps between whites and nonwhites that contribute to toxic, partisan gridlock." Sheryll Cashin in The New York Times.
KRISTOF: Porsches, potholes and patriots. "In New Jersey, the gas tax hasn’t been increased since 1992, and two-thirds of the roads are now evaluated as in poor or mediocre condition. The upshot, one study found, is that the average motorist spends $601 per year in repair costs. It sure seems as if society would be better off spending a little in taxes to improve roads and then saving on car repairs — not to mention in injuries and fatalities averted....Yet on the campaign trail, it’s a brave politician who acknowledges that taxes have their uses. Around July Fourth, we should be able to celebrate that some of our greatest national achievements aren’t tax cuts but public investments." Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times.
REINHARDT: The illogic of employer-sponsored insurance. "Imagine yourself in a bar where a pickpocket takes money out of your wallet and with it buys you a glass of chardonnay. Although you would have preferred a pinot noir, you decide not to look that gift horse in the mouth and thank the stranger profusely for the kindness, assuming he paid for it. You might feel differently, of course, if you knew that you actually had paid for it yourself. Persuaded by both theory and empirical research, most economists believe that employer-based health insurance is an analogue of this bar scene." Uwe E. Reinhardt in The New York Times.
LACHMAN: Is Yellen repeating the problems of the past? "Rather than using interest rate policy as a means to remove the proverbial punchbowl before the financial market party really gets going, her forward guidance on interest rate policy gives the markets a green light to keep on partying. This raises the real risk that the asset price bubbles across credit and equity markets, which she now seems to acknowledge might be forming, become all the more pronounced. It also raises the risk that she might be underestimating the impact of the bursting of these bubbles especially on those parts of the financial system that are beyond her regulatory reach. Only time will tell whether the BIS was right in now sounding the alarm again." Desmond Lachman in AEIdeas.
LANE: High court highlights problem with the middleman. "Bottom line of both cases: Rights and responsibilities tend to be more transparent when government social-welfare programs deal with individuals directly. Over time, Obamacare may further that goal by creating exchanges where you can always buy subsidized health coverage even if your employer says coverage is against its religion. To justify its agency fees, SEIU boasted that it bargained for health benefits. But the exchanges render that union function redundant, too. In short, Obamacare might eliminate a lot of what the left and right were arguing about in Hobby Lobby and Harris — but don’t expect either side to admit it." Charles Lane in The Washington Post.
COCHRANE: The failings of New-Keynesian models. "There are many ways to generate the models' predictions for GDP, employment and inflation from their underlying assumptions about how people behave. Some predict outsize multipliers and revive the broken-window fallacy. Others generate normal policy predictions — small multipliers and costly broken windows. None produces our steady low-inflation slump as a 'demand' failure. These problems are recognized, and now academics...are busy tweaking the models to address them. Good. But models that someone might get to work in the future are not ready to drive trillions of dollars of public expenditure." John H. Cochrane in The Wall Street Journal.
HORWITZ: Expect many more Hobby Lobbys. "A country that cannot even agree on the idea of religious accommodation, let alone on what terms, is unlikely to agree on what to do next. A country in which many states cannot manage to pass basic anti-discrimination laws covering sexual orientation is one whose culture wars may be beyond the point of compromise. And a nation whose marketplace itself is viewed, for better or worse, as a place to fight both those battles rather than to escape from them is still less likely to find surcease from struggle. Expect many more Hobby Lobbies." Paul Horwitz in The New York Times.
World Cup interlude: USA goalie Tim Howard, a hero even in defeat, has gone viral.
2. What to look for in today's jobs report
What's the gnawing fear among economists? For one, part-time workers. "New government data...is expected to show the economy added more than 200,000 jobs for the fifth straight month — the longest streak since the late 1990s. The unemployment rate is expected to hold steady at 6.3 percent after falling more than a percentage point over the past year. But...more than 26 million people are in part-time jobs, significantly more than before the recession, making it one of the corners of the labor market that has been slowest to heal. That has led to worries that the workforce may be becoming permanently polarized, with part-timers stuck on one side and full-time workers on the other." Ylan Q. Mui in The Washington Post.
Additionally, discouraged workers. "These are the millions of Americans who want a job, but have given up hope of finding one. That means they're not officially 'unemployed,' because they're not actively looking for work, but they de facto are. The question is whether they'll come back to the labor market now that it's looking better....That hasn't happened so far, but there's no reason to think it won't eventually. And if it does, it would mean there's much more slack in the economy than the unemployment rate alone suggests. That's why you should pay almost as much attention to how much the labor force grows — if it does — as you do on how much employment grows." Matt O'Brien in The Washington Post.
Explainer: 5 things to look for in the jobs report, including the discouraged workers numbers. Jonathan House in The Wall Street Journal.
GDP is down, but what do payrolls say about recession risk? "U.S. gross domestic product shrank by 2.9% in the first quarter of 2014, by far the worst quarter since the recovery began in mid-2009. But GDP is only one indicator to monitor if the U.S. is slipping into renewed recession. So far the monthly jobs report is one of the key pieces of evidence that the expansion will continue. One thing to watch: job gains tend to deteriorate even before recession begins, providing a warning signal that recession may be ahead. The annual change in jobs shows this trend clearly. Job growth begins slipping before the recession. It is a leading, rather than coincident, indicator." Josh Zumbrun in The Wall Street Journal.
@Goldfarb: Given the World Cup, BLS should add a new category to Thursday’s jobs report: Employed but not working.
Private-sector payrolls strong, ADP says. "Wednesday's report from payrolls processor ADP added to other bullish data ranging from manufacturing to auto sales that has suggested the economy has bounced back smartly after a first-quarter slump. Private employers added 281,000 workers to payrolls last month, up from 179,000 in May, ADP said. June's increase, which topped economists' expectations for a gain of only 200,000 jobs, was the largest since November 2012....The ADP data increased the likelihood of another month of strong nonfarm payrolls growth, economists said. Most, however, maintained their forecasts for the government data, noting that the ADP report...was not a reliable indicator of overall jobs growth." Lucia Mutikani in Reuters.
@JustinWolfers: The only thing more ridiculous than JOBS THURSDAY, is the idea that anyone cares what ADP says the day before.
@MKTWEconomics: ADP -- after messing with the formula -- over time does a good job of tracking payrolls http://on.mktw.net/TOxP87 pic.twitter.com/2b6EQW4Fkv.
Survey: Job creation index holds at six-year high in June. Justin McCarthy in Gallup.
32 states lag behind national average in jobs recovery. "In May, the overall economy finally recovered all 9 million jobs that vanished in the worst downturn since the 1930s. Another month of solid hiring is expected in the U.S. jobs report for June that will be released Thursday. Yet 32 states still have fewer jobs than when the recession began in December 2007 — evidence of the unevenness and persistently slow pace of the recovery." Paul Wiseman in the Associated Press.
What the Fed is watching for today. "If the numbers come in close to the predictions pressure could begin to build on the Federal Reserve to move up its timetable for raising the key fed funds rate — the short-term rate banks charge one aother — from the near-zero range where it’s been held for five-and-a-half years....If the economy continues to add jobs at its current rate or better, he expects wages to start rising in the second half of 2014 and into next year. That would give inflation a boost, something the Fed is currently seeking, Faucher noted. Inflation has been running at about half the Fed’s target rate of 2%." Dunstan Prial in Fox Business.
What's on the minds of economists who met with Obama?
See who dined with the president. The Wall Street Journal.
What are economists telling Obama? Make infrastructure a priority. Reilly Dowd in The Fiscal Times.
In the long run, the other countries will envy the U.S. labor surplus. "Over the next 15 years, the U.S. will have a problem that plenty of other countries would love to have: too many workers for the jobs available. That’s according to a report...by the Boston Consulting Group. Idle labor isn’t a good thing, especially for the unemployed workers. But you could argue that it beats the alternative, which is having so few workers that jobs go unfilled and economic output falls short of potential. That’s the problem that most other major nations, from Germany to Brazil to South Korea, will face between now and 2030....A relatively high birthrate and liberal immigration policy give the U.S. an advantage in labor supply." Peter Coy in Bloomberg Businessweek.
Other economic/labor reads:
A lost generation: The cost of youth unemployment. NPR.
How the rise in partisan conflict is dampening economic growth. Ben Leubsdorf in The Wall Street Journal.
Fourth of July interlude: The saddest-ever fireworks display for your office cubicle.
3. The deepening fallout from the SCOTUS contraception ruling
Don't expect many lawsuits from small business. "Small businesses from Bible bookstores to Halal food producers are likely to challenge government regulations on religious grounds in coming years, thanks to this week’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores. But the ruling probably won’t spark a plethora of Affordable Care Act lawsuits from privately held businesses, experts say. That’s because the smallest U.S. companies aren’t required to provide insurance, and about three-quarters of midsize and larger companies already include contraception in their employees’ health coverage." Karen E. Klein in Bloomberg Businessweek.
Hobby Lobby is already creating new demands on Obama. "The Supreme Court...decision is beginning to reverberate: A group of faith leaders is urging the Obama administration to include a religious exemption in a forthcoming LGBT anti-discrimination action. Their call, in a letter sent to the White House Tuesday, attempts to capitalize on the Supreme Court case by arguing that it shows the administration must show more deference to the prerogatives of religion....The Hobby Lobby decision has been welcomed by religious-right groups....But Tuesday's letter is different: It comes from a group of faith leaders who are generally friendly to the administration." Molly Ball in The Atlantic.
Obama announces executive order protecting federal employees from gender-identity discrimination. Zachary A. Goldfarb in The Washington Post.
Our coverage of the Hobby Lobby ruling. Puneet Kollipara in The Washington Post.
ACA contraception accommodation could be complicated. "To make sure women got the coverage, outside companies that administer health plans for religious groups were required to pay for it, with government reimbursement to follow....It’s a complex solution that hasn’t worked in the real world, said the third-party administrators, or TPAs, providing the birth-control benefit, because the government hasn’t figured out how to pay them back. Without a solution, the benefits administrators may ultimately choose to drop clients with religious objections to covering birth control....Nonprofits and businesses with religious owners that refuse to cover the benefit would have to change the way they provide health benefits as a result." Alex Wayne in Bloomberg.
Fact-check: Could the Hobby Lobby ruling affect coverage of transfusions and vaccines? We don't know yet. Steve Contorno in Tampa Bay Times.
Don't forget contraception's broader benefits. "Contraception extends well beyond a woman’s decision whether and when to conceive, and access to reliable family planning goes deeper than a woman’s personal wellbeing. It plays a pivotal role in the financial, physical and emotional health of children, and data suggest that effective contraception and positive social outcomes are mutually reinforcing. In the end, empowering women — regardless of socioeconomic status — with more options to control pregnancies has benefits for everyone." Jacoba Urist in The Atlantic.
A ruling in the case that could really kill Obamacare is due soon. "The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to rule in Halbig v. Burwell....An unfavorable outcome stands to cripple a core component of Obamacare, without which the law may not be able to survive. Two of the judges, both Republican appointees, expressed varying degrees of sympathy for the challengers' case....At issue is whether the statute permits the federal exchange...to dole out premium tax credits. Without the subsidies, which are benefiting millions of lower-income Americans, the individual mandate is unworkable because many people won't be able to afford insurance. And without the mandate, the coverage guarantee for preexisting conditions threatens to send costs soaring and destabilize the health care market." Sahil Kapur in Talking Points Memo.
Other health care reads:
White House dials up the pressure on Medicaid holdouts. Ferdous Al-Faruque in The Hill.
4. What we learned from Yellen's comments on financial instability
Yellen: Monetary policy isn't the right tool to curb financial excesses. "Central banks around the world are grappling with the question of how to prevent another global financial crisis — and some have argued it will require a fundamental rethinking of the way those institutions operate. In fact, critics both inside and outside the Fed have raised concerns that years of easy-money policies could be seeding the next bubble by encouraging investors to pile on risk. Yellen...in her speech at the International Monetary Fund...said that no change in monetary policy is necessary to correct any current financial imbalances. And in most cases, she said, the economic toll from raising interest rates would outweigh the benefits of curbing investors’ appetite for risk." Ylan Q. Mui in The Washington Post.
Another way of looking at Yellen's comments: Optimal levels of crisis. "The Fed obviously can't say this, but this has long been implicit in how it operates. In fact, it was explicit in Alan Greenspan's doctrine of mopping after bubbles rather than popping them....Mr Bernanke's (and now Ms Yellen's) response to emerging markets who complain that easy American monetary policy is destabilizing their economies is a variation of this logic: bad as the spillovers of easy policy are, emerging markets would suffer more if the Fed were to prematurely raise rates and weaken U.S. demand for the world's goods."The Economist.
Shadow banking remains a big challenge for the Fed, Yellen says. "Yellen said...that regulating activity outside the traditional banking sector remains very difficult but the central bank has boosted its monitoring activities to stay on top of possible risks. International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde asked Ms. Yellen in a question-and-answer session at the IMF what the Fed was doing to address risks from non-banks, which include hedge funds, private equity and derivatives. Ms. Yellen replied: 'You’re pointing to something that is an enormous challenge.'" Pedro Nicolaci da Costa and Ben Leubsdorf in The Wall Street Journal.
Primary source: Full transcript of the remarks of Yellen and Lagarde. The Wall Street Journal.
Background reading: The key tension between the first ladies of finance. Ylan Q. Mui in The Washington Post.
Obama's new comments on banks will appease financial-sector critics. "President Barack Obama on Wednesday said that 'further reforms' of Wall Street are needed, arguing that there remains too much focus on making profits through big banks’ trading desks as opposed to investing in companies and the 'real' economy. Obama said in an interview with the Marketplace radio show that the 2010 Dodd-Frank law put in place important policies to safeguard against another financial crisis but that more can be done, without offering any specific proposals....The president’s comments are significant because since the enactment of Dodd-Frank, Obama administration officials have mostly preached patience while the law is being implemented to those calling for more to be done to crack down on big banks." Dave Clarke in Politico.
Other financial reads:
Lawmakers turn to stealth tax measures. Brian Faler in Politico.
Renewable energy investment faces a changing financial climate. Zack Colman in the Washington Examiner.
Animal sports interlude: World Cup highlights, cat edition.
How to use a super PAC to kill super PACs. Brian Fung.
Why we need to raise the gas tax — and then get rid of it. Emily Badger.
How will people use their Obamacare? Let’s check with Romneycare. Jason Millman.
The economy’s troubling double standard for black men. Jonnelle Marte.
The crucial FDA nutrition label battle you probably don’t know about, but should. Roberto A. Ferdman.
Democrats used to be wildly over-represented in the House. Then Gingrich happened. Christopher Ingraham.
Nevermind the headlines, tomorrow’s jobs report is all about discouraged workers. Matt O'Brien.
Yellen: Monetary policy not the right tool to curb financial excesses. Ylan Q. Mui.
The way for regulators to hit a bank where it hurts: a ban from markets. Danielle Douglas.
Climate-driven wildfires consume Forest Service budget. Alan Bjerga in Bloomberg.
The costly lobbying war over the dying honeybees. Clare Foran in National Journal.
U.S. immigration officials in California regroup after setback. Marty Graham in Reuters.
Watchdog finds NSA net surveillance effective, but sounds constitutional warning. Siobhan Gorman in The Wall Street Journal.
Russia sanctions lose their bite as U.S., Europe move in opposite directions. Carol Matlack in Bloomberg Businessweek.
Common Core testing anxiety and the states. Stephanie Simon and Caitlin Emma in Politico.
Long read: Can the GOP be a party of ideas? Sam Tanenhaus in The New York Times Magazine.
Got tips, additions, or comments? E-mail us.
Wonkbook is produced with help from Michelle Williams and Ryan McCarthy.