Primer: The DOJ’s Voting Purge + Other Things You Need to Know Today | News

Primer: The DOJ’s Voting Purge + Other Things You Need to Know Today


Hello, everyone. Welcome to Thursday. Let’s get started. —Jeffrey C. Billman


THE GIST: It’s not as benign as it sounds. Last week—the same day President Trump’s voter fraud commission sent letters asking states for detailed information on every voter on their rolls—the U.S. Department of Justice sent letters to all forty-four states covered by the 1993 National Voting Registration Act, including North Carolina, asking about their compliance with a section of the law that specifies when voters can be kicked off the voting rolls.
  • Money quote: “These two letters, sent on the same day, are highly suspect, and seem to confirm that the Trump administration is laying the groundwork to suppress the right to vote. It is not normal for the Department of Justice to ask for voting data from all states covered by the National Voter Registration Act. It’s likely that this is instead the beginning of an effort to force unwarranted voter purges.” — Vanita Gupta, former head of DOJ’s civil rights division.
WHAT IT MEANS: The NVRA was passed to make it easier to vote. But it also requires states to make “a reasonable effort to remove the names of ineligible voters from the official lists.” This usually entails sending letters to addresses, and then, if people don’t reply, waiting until they fail to vote in two consecutive federal elections before removing them. The DOJ, under Jeff Sessions, apparently wants to ensure that states are following through aggressively on this requirement.
  • Money quote: “When you see DOJ send a bunch of letters like this requesting information about compliance with the law, that’s usually a sign that they’re kicking an enforcement campaign into gear. It looks like what they’re doing is they’re laying the groundwork to file lawsuits against states that, in their view, aren’t kicking enough people off of the rolls.” —Sam Bagenstos, principal deputy assistant attorney general for civil rights, 2009–11.


THE GIST: Wall Street forecasters are lowering their growth projections for the second quarter. While the June jobs report tomorrow is expected to be decent, consumer spending, construction, and auto sales have been less so. Consequently, growth for the year appears on track to be a little over 2 percent, or about what’s it’s been over the eight years of the economic recovery. In other words, so much for the “Trump bump.”
  • Nut graph: “Mr. Trump himself declared upon taking office that his policies would produce 4 percent annual growth, and just this week said on Twitter to affirm that ‘things are starting to kick in now.’ But the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s widely followed GDP Now expects the second-quarter growth figure to come in at 3 percent, more than a full percentage point below where it was in May. The New York Fed’s Nowcast is even more bearish, with an estimate of 1.9 percent for the quarter just ended and 1.6 percent for the current quarter.”
WHAT IT MEANS: Trump inherited Obama’s recovery and, having done essentially nothing, is now trying to take credit for it. But the same institutional factors restricting growth—an aging population, a slower-growing workforce, political stagnation, etc.—are there for him, too.

SCARE QUOTE: “Despite lip service about the ‘new normal,’ economists continue to forecast growth of 3 to 3.5 percent. We’re eight years into the recovery—that’s not when things accelerate. It’s when they die.” —Stephanie Pomboy, New York economist

Caveat: “To be sure, most mainstream economists do not foresee an imminent recession.”

In other national news: U.S. Representative Steve Scalise is readmitted to the ICU with an infection.


Over at the N&O, Politifact NC has a cool postmortem on the how Governor Cooper fared in his first budget season, in which he (quite symbolically) vetoed the legislature’s $23 billion budget and then saw the legislature quickly override his veto, underlining his impotence in the face of GOP supermajorities. His promises to reinstate a teacher pay policy that rewards advanced degrees and child care and film tax credits went nowhere. But the legislature did include a raise for teachers, though not as much as Cooper wanted, and created a new apprenticeship program that sets up partnerships between industries and local high schools, which Cooper also prioritized.

WHAT IT MEANS: Here is the simple reality of the next few years: the legislature doesn’t want to give Cooper any wins. They want to minimize him, treat him like an irrelevant nuisance, and take credit for whatever good things happen. So long as they have a supermajority, they can largely do that.



Primer this week is sponsored by Inner Engineering, which will be hosting courses later this month in Raleigh. Check it out by clicking the image below.

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