Rick Perry began his speech at the National Press Club on Thursday with an account of the mutilation and lynching of Jesse Washington in Waco, Texas, in 1916. Perry's honesty with the horrifying facts would have been shocking coming from any politician. Coming from Texas's former governor, though, his words were something new in the debate about race in America. (C-SPAN has a rough transcript of the speech, along with the footage.)
Perry faulted Democrats for failing to improve conditions for Americans of color, citing zoning rules in cities that he said have raised rents for working families in big cities. His most surprising argument, though, was a discussion of the importance of federal power in redressing the consequences of slavery. That idea is anathema to many Republicans, both because of the embrace of federal power and because of the suggestion that policies based specifically on race might still be necessary to create genuine equality.
"There has been and there will continue to be an important and a legitimate role for the federal government in enforcing civil rights," Perry said. "Too often, we Republicans — me included — have emphasized our message on the 10th Amendment but not our message on the 14th."
Perry has written at length about the 10th Amendment -- which limits the power of the federal government -- in his book Fed Up! Yet he says that the amendment is a problem if Republicans want to connect with black voters. Historically, racists and segregationists (most of them Democrats) appealed to states' rights to resist federally imposed integration.
Instead, Perry focuses on the 14th Amendment, which the federal courts have tried to use to force racial equality on recalcitrant states.
It wasn't just a shift in rhetoric that Perry advocated, though. He also said that there is a flaw in the argument for states' rights when it comes to race.
That's an important admission. Many Republicans emphasize the rights of states over the federal government. As Wonkblog has previously reported, though, many people of color continue to feel that federal power is the only way to guarantee them a fair shot when it comes to health care, education and other issues.
What's in Wonkbook: 1) Greek debt 2) Opinions, including Memarian on the Iran deal 3) A look ahead at this month in Congress, and more
Number of the day: 3,959. That's the number of lynching victims in the South in the three quarters of a century between 1877 and 1950 documented in a report earlier this year. Campbell Robertson in The New York Times.
Greek voters rejected Europe's offer. "The resounding victory Sunday for Greeks who said 'no' to European austerity demands — 61 percent in all — gave a much-needed boost to Greece’s battle-scarred leftist leaders. But European leaders — in control of the funds that have kept Greece afloat — gave no immediate indication they would rush to make a deal even with Greece’s banks still closed and teetering on the edge of insolvency. ... There will be little movement on the crisis before Tuesday evening at earliest, when leaders of the 19-nation euro zone convene to discuss what to do after the referendum. No path is yet clear, but the Greek vote sharply raised the chances that the country’s could be pushed out of the common currency." Griffe Witte and Michael Birnbaum in The Washington Post.
The Greek finance minister has resigned. "Saying the country's prime minister had judged it helpful if he was absent from future talks with international creditors, Yanis Varoufakis also insisted he would 'wear the creditors’ loathing with pride.' ... A reshuffle of Greece’s negotiating team with lenders in April largely sidelined him after he antagonized peers and was no longer seen as acceptable negotiating partner. But he has remained an influential adviser to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, advocating a hard line against creditors in the belief that Germany and others will relent in their austerity demands rather than risk a breakup of the eurozone. Mr. Varoufakis said in a statement that after the announcement of the referendum results he was told that some eurozone finance ministers asked that he not appear at meetings, an idea that the prime minister 'judged to be potentially helpful to him in reaching an agreement.' " Stelios Bouras in The Wall Street Journal.
Greece might have to begin issuing scrip as an alternative to the euro this week. "Monday is the real test. Investors may well refuse to lend Greece money at almost any cost, as banks and the government lack essential funds to operate. ... If the European Central Bank ultimately won't give Greece's banks the money they need, then there are only two ways for them to get it. Otherwise they'll crash and burn. That's to either take it from depositors or to print it. The first option, what's known as a bank bail-in, is what Cyprus did when the ECB stopped propping its banks up two years ago. But the second option is available only if Greece has a currency it can print. It doesn't right now. It has the euro. So Greece would have to ditch it and bring back the drachma if it wanted to recapitalize its banks via the printing press." Matt O'Brien in The Washington Post.
Shortages are imminent. "One Athenian doctor... explains that his hospital's inability to import specialised supplies, such as stents used in emergency heart surgery and life-saving medicines, such as cancer drugs, means patients’ lives will soon be at stake. ... Food shortages are a looming threat too, and not simply on supermarket shelves. The Greek Association of Fodder Industries has warned there could be animal feed shortages within days because farmers (like many Greek businesses) rely on imports from abroad. If animals don’t get fed, this would have a knock-on on the production of basic agricultural products such as eggs, cheese, meat and fish within weeks. And it’s not just raw materials that are at risk. Greece also imports over half of its food but the current banking limits means that such supply chains are cut off." The Economist.
KRUGMAN: Abandoning the euro might be Greece's only hope. "The truth is that Europe’s self-styled technocrats are like medieval doctors who insisted on bleeding their patients — and when their treatment made the patients sicker, demanded even more bleeding. A 'yes' vote in Greece would have condemned the country to years more of suffering under policies that haven’t worked and in fact, given the arithmetic, can’t work: austerity probably shrinks the economy faster than it reduces debt, so that all the suffering serves no purpose. The landslide victory of the 'no' side offers at least a chance for an escape from this trap. ... There is now a strong argument that Greek exit from the euro is the best of bad options. ... At this point that financial crisis has already happened, so that the biggest costs of euro exit have been paid. Why, then, not go for the benefits?" The New York Times.
IRWIN: Will Europe try to keep Greece on board? "The decision for European leaders... is whether they believe the goals of maintaining a united Europe are worth yielding to Greece’s demands: maintaining a spigot of cash (through E.C.B. bank lending programs) and ultimately a new bailout that lets the Greeks write down meaningful debt and relax some of the cuts to pensions and government worker pay of past deals. ... If they tolerate the Greek government’s demands, they will be setting a bad example for every other country that might wish to challenge the strictures of the European Union, telling voters in Portugal and Spain and Italy that if they make enough fuss, and elect extremist parties, they too will get a much sweeter deal. ... If they refuse the Greek government’s demands and cut off funds, the Greek banking system will collapse and the country will no longer be part of the eurozone, sending a signal that the European Union is deeply fragile." The New York Times.
MEMARIAN: Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, wants a deal. "Despite his image as a hard-liner—and his occasional fulminations against Western perfidy—it is Khamenei who has been the guardian angel for Iran’s nuclear negotiators for the past 18 months. And if the negotiations end in a final agreement by July 7—the new deadline set as the original June 30 deadline expired last week—it will be Khamenei who makes the deal. Or breaks it. Thus, as we head into the final stages, it’s important for the West to see beyond the supposed 'red lines' that Khamenei has laid out in his remarks to understand the tricky domestic politics his comments are meant to navigate." Politico.
Handing out cash reduces crime, writes the director of neighborhood safety in Richmond, Calif., Devone L. Boggan. "An estimated 70 percent of shootings and homicides in Richmond in 2009 were caused by just 17 individuals, primarily African-American and Hispanic-American men between the ages of 16 and 25. ... We offered those young men a partnership deal: We would pay them — yes, pay them — not to pull the trigger. ... If they kept their commitment to us for six months — attended meetings, stayed out of trouble, responded to our mentoring — they became eligible to earn up to $1,000 a month for a maximum of nine months. Predictably, this was controversial: Not everyone was a fan of this cash-for-peace strategy. ... In five years of our program, through 2014, we have seen the number of homicides in Richmond, which had averaged 40 a year, more than halved; firearm assaults in general fell by a similar proportion." The New York Times.
Lower the drinking age, argues a former captain in the U.S. Marine Corps, William McAloon. "America tells its 18-year-olds that they are adults. They can vote. And they can join the military. We send thousands of these men and women into combat and tell them that they are mature enough to die for their country but not mature enough to drink. Here’s a suggestion for people who complain that the current generation of young people is too babied: Start treating them like adults." The Wall Street Journal.
Aetna and Humana are merging. "The two insurers disclosed their $34.1 billion tie-up after 2 a.m. EDT Friday, as the holiday weekend was beginning and after reports that rivals Anthem Inc. and Cigna Corp. had rekindled talks. If Anthem and Cigna also strike a deal, three big companies, each with annual revenue of more than $100 billion, would sit atop the industry, with the third being UnitedHealth Group Inc., currently the biggest by revenue and market capitalization. The frenzied talks, sparked earlier this year by an overture to Humana, reflect managed-care companies’ desire to diversify and cut costs in the wake of the federal Affordable Care Act and other changes in the health-care industry." Anna Wilde Mathews, Liz Hoffman and Dana Mattioli in The Wall Street Journal.
Congress has a busy schedule this summer. "The House plans to take up two appropriations bills during its remaining summer stint in D.C., funding the Department of the Interior and filling the coffers for financial services, the White House, and a handful of other related agencies. Passing those two bills will get the House a third of the way through its appropriations process before the August recess, giving the lower chamber just three weeks to deal with eight additional bills—and coordinate passage through the Senate—before the government's funding runs out on Sept. 30. The Senate is much further behind and has not passed a single appropriations bill yet this year. Whether the upper chamber will attempt to pass any of the 12 spending bills in July is unclear, given the current stalemate between the two parties. Democrats have not backed off their vow to block each of them until Republicans agree to raise the coming sequestration on nondefense programs. ... The only true deadline this session is July 31, when the nation's Highway Trust Fund—which gives federal funding to states to build and maintain roads and other infrastructure projects—runs dry." Sarah Mimms in National Journal.
The Obama administration has abandoned a plan to rate colleges. "President Barack Obama dearly wanted to get the government in the business of rating colleges and universities based on value and affordability, promising a new system by 2015. Now that goal is shriveling under the weight of a concerted opposition from universities, lawmakers and bureaucrats in Obama’s own administration. ... No longer does the federal government intend to use a formula to score schools based on factors like price, average student debt and graduation rates, as Obama had envisioned." Josh Lederman for the Associated Press.
The IRS isn't likely to enforce the law on money in politics. "Hobbled regulators at the Internal Revenue Service appear certain to delay trying to curb widespread abuses at nonprofits until after the 2016 election. In a shift from past elections, at least eight Republican presidential candidates, including leading contenders like Jeb Bush and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, have aligned with nonprofit groups set up to raise hundreds of millions of dollars. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s supporters are considering a similar tactic. ... While the nonprofit groups are supposed to limit their political activity, the I.R.S. appears powerless to stop the onslaught of money coursing through them. The tax agency remains deeply wounded by the scandal that began two years ago over its scrutiny of nonprofits tied to the Tea Party and other political causes, both conservative and liberal." Eric Lichtblau in The New York Times.