Supreme Court Strikes Down Texas Abortion Restrictions

New York Times: “The Supreme Court on Monday struck down parts of a restrictive Texas law that could have reduced the number of abortion clinics in the state to about 10 from what was once a high of roughly 40.”

“The 5-to-3 decision was the court’s most sweeping statement on abortion rights since Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992. It applied a skeptical and exacting version of that decision’s ‘undue burden’ standard to find that the restrictions in Texas went too far. The decision on Monday means that similar restrictions in other states are most likely also unconstitutional, and it imperils many other kinds of restrictions on abortion.”


Congress’ Harshest Critics Identify Their Complaints

A new Gallup poll identifies the factors that the 53% of Americans that rate Congress’s job performance poor or bad point to when complaining about the institution.

The majority say that Congress is distracted from helping its constituents and instead pays “too much attention to financial contributors” (56%) or “too much attention to special interests and lobbyists” (55%).

Anti-establishment sentiments are clear as well: 43% believe Congress “spends too much time campaigning and raising money,” while 32% believe congressmen “pay too much attention to party leaders.”


Trump’s Immigration Policies May Cause Trouble Among Independents, Poll Shows

New York Times: “Despite intense support among his followers for his proposals for a Mexican border wall and a ban on Muslim immigration,Donald J. Trump will face trouble with independent voters on immigration in the November election, according to a survey published on Thursday by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institution, nonpartisan research organizations.”

Of independent voters, “58 percent of respondents said they opposed a border wall… 78 percent of independents — and the same percentage of Americans over all — said those [11 million illegal] immigrants should be allowed to become American citizens or legal residents.”

Robert P. Jones, chief executive of the Public Religion Research Institute, said Trump’s proposals are “a winning strategy for the Republican primary but are not connected to where the country is as a whole. If Trump continues to double and triple down on that message, he may run into a wall with independent voters.”


Deadlocked Supreme Court Blocks Obama On Immigration

The Hill: “The Supreme Court dealt a critical blow to President Obama’s immigration policies on Thursday, deadlocking in a 4-4 decision over two controversial programs the White House wants to implement.”

“The tied vote leaves in place a lower court ruling that blocks a program allowing undocumented immigrants who are parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents to remain in the United States for three years and apply for work permits. It also prevents the administration from otherwise expanding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program issued by Obama in 2012.”

Democrats, led by President Obama, decried the high court’s ruling, while House Speaker Paul Ryan called it “another major victory in our fight to restore the separation of powers.”

Obama Fracking Rules Are Struck Down by Court

New York Times: “A federal judge on Tuesday night struck down an Obama administration regulation on the use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for oil and gas on public lands, a blow to President Obama’s muscular stand on the extraction of fossil fuels on government lands.”

The rule, released by the Interior Department in March of last year and scheduled to take effect this Friday, was designed to increase the safety of fracking. It would have required companies to comply with federal safety standards in the construction of fracking wells, and to disclose the use of some chemicals in the fracking process.”

“Judge Scott W. Skavdahl of Federal District Court in Wyoming ruled that the Interior Department lacked the authority from Congress to issue the regulation, and also noted that fracking is already subject to other regulations under state and federal law.”

“The blocked rule would not have affected most fracking operations in the United States, since it would have applied only to fracking on federal lands. The vast majority of fracking in the United States — almost 90 percent — is done on state and private land and is governed by state and local regulations.”

Medicare’s Main Trust Fund Is Running Out of Money Fast

The Hill: “Medicare’s main trust fund will run dry by 2028, two years earlier than previous estimates, according to a review released Wednesday by the Obama administration.”

“‘Medicare faces a substantial, long-term shortfall that needs to be addressed,’ Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told reporters.”

“The long-term financial picture for Medicare is worsening despite a spate of government actions to reduce healthcare costs system-wide.”


Why We Have, And Probably Will Keep Having, Sluggish Job Growth

The American Enterprise Institute’s Michael Barone: “If the number [of jobs] destroyed persistently exceeds the number created, you have a recession. If the number created only narrowly exceeds the number destroyed, you have what we’ve been living with for the last nine years.”

“Higher federal tax rates have hurt… Taking money away from existing enterprises and potential entrepreneurs to pay for skyrocketing pensions for retired public employee union members is not a recipe for job growth.”

As for the 2016 election, Barone criticizes the likely economic policies of the two presumptive nominees.

“Hillary Clinton would increase regulatory burdens and increase the cost of employing people.”

“Donald Trump’s promise to ‘make America great again’ promises restoration of a rosily remembered but largely mythical past. Abrogating trade agreements won’t create half a million auto and steel jobs. Trump’s penchant for dealmaking and crony capitalism means propping up insiders and preventing job creation.”

There Are More White Voters Than People Think. That’s Good News for Trump.

New York Times: “New analysis by The Upshot shows that millions more white, older working-class voters went to the polls in 2012 than was found by exit polls on Election Day. This raises the prospect that Mr. Trump has a larger pool of potential voters than generally believed.”

“The data implies that Mr. Obama was not as weak among white voters as typically believed. He fared better than his predecessors among white voters outside the South… He would have won even if he had done as poorly among Latino voters as John Kerry.”

“This is all good news for Mr. Trump. There’s more room for him to make gains among white working-class voters than many assumed — enough to win without making gains among nonwhite or college-educated white voters.”

Public Opinion and Politics Out of Step With Realities of ACA 

The Hill’s Lawrence R. Jacobs: “It’s policymaking 101: When a policy delivers benefits to people, support for the policy grows. Political scientists call situations like these “policy feedback loops,” and they are a big part of the story of how Social Security and Medicare became so entrenched in American life. But what happens if hyper-partisanship stops the loop? Consider the Affordable Care Act (ACA).”

“The numbers are stark. Monthly tracking polls show that 49 percent hold unfavorable views of the ACA versus just 38 percent holding favorable views. These assessments fly in the face of the ACA’s accomplishments.”

“Why have overall assessments of the ACA remained so divided and largely negative? The culprit, we found, is the political environment. Prevailing attitudes of distrust in government, strong partisanship and ingrained attitudes — not features of the law itself — are perpetuating the public’s negative opinion.”