Legal challenges to the Biden administration’s mass student loan cancellation scheme faced multiple setbacks on Thursday, with Justice Amy Coney Barrett denying a conservative Wisconsin taxpayer group’s request the Supreme Court temporarily block the program and District Court Judge Henry Autrey for the Eastern District of Missouri dismissing a lawsuit brought by six Republican-led states seeking an injunction. Although Autrey—a George W. Bush appointee—agreed the states presented “important and significant challenges to the debt relief plan,” he held that they did not have standing to sue—and Barrett’s denial was for a similar reason. The ruling will allow debt forgiveness—for which more than 12 million Americans have already applied, according to the Biden administration—to start being processed as early as Sunday.
Citing the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued an order Thursday directing the Pentagon to establish new transportation allowances for service members and their dependents looking to travel to access “non-covered reproductive health care that is unavailable within the local area of a service member’s permanent duty station.” The order—which also seeks to establish a program to support Pentagon health care providers facing civil or criminal penalties for providing abortions—seeks to head off legal challenges by paying for travel expenses associated with an abortion, rather than for the abortion itself.
A three-judge panel on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s unique funding mechanism—which was concocted by congressional Democrats a decade ago to circumvent the traditional appropriations process—violates the Constitution. “Congress’s decision to abdicate its appropriations power under the Constitution, i.e., to cede its power of the purse to the Bureau, violates the Constitution’s structural separation of powers,” the panel held. It’s unclear whether the CFPB plans to appeal the ruling.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted unanimously Thursday to recommend adding COVID-19 shots to the 2023 child and adult vaccination schedule. The panel can’t enforce its decision, but states and local jurisdictions often require its recommended shots for students entering daycare and school.
The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center reported Thursday that U.S. college enrollment dropped for the third straight year in 2022—down 1.1 percent from 2021—but at a slower pace, approaching pre-pandemic rates of decline. Highly selective schools saw a 5.6 percent decrease in freshman enrollment year-over-year, while community colleges, historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), and primarily online institutions saw enrollment increases.
Ethiopia’s army has stepped up an offensive against rebel Tigrayan fighters, with thousands of soldiers gathering around the northern city of Axum after capturing three nearby towns. Diplomats have been negotiating the terms of peace talks—scheduled to begin in South Africa October 24—to stop the conflict, which re-escalated after a five-month humanitarian cease-fire ended in August. The fighting has killed more than 50,000 people, and famine and disease exacerbated by the war have killed hundreds of thousands more.
The average number of daily confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States declined about 17 percent over the past two weeks according to CDC data, while the average number of daily deaths attributed to the virus—a lagging indicator—fell 7.5 percent. About 20,700 Americans are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, down from approximately 22,200 two weeks ago.
The Labor Department reported Thursday that initial jobless claims—a proxy for layoffs—decreased by 12,000 week-over-week to a seasonally adjusted 214,000 last week. The measure is up from earlier this year, but it remains near historic lows, signaling the labor market—though cooling—continues to be tight.
After putting in decades of hard work, we naturally expect to have financial security in our golden years. But not all Americans can look forward to a relaxing retirement. According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute’s 2022 Retirement Confidence Survey, 7 in 10 workers reported feeling at least somewhat confident that they will have enough money to retire comfortably, but fewer than 3 in 10 said they were “very confident.”
Adjusted Cost of Living
1. Brownsville, TX
2. Laredo, TX
3. Fort Smith, AR
4. Amarillo, TX
5. Jackson, MS
T-165. San Jose, CA
T-165. Pearl City, HI
T-165. Honolulu, HI
T-165. New York, NY
T-165. San Francisco, CA
Best City vs. Worst City: 3x Difference
Brownsville, TX vs. San Francisco, CA
Annual Cost of In-Home Services
1. Brownsville, TX
2. Laredo, TX
3. Shreveport, LA
4. Jackson, MS
T-5. El Paso, TX
T-5. Corpus Christi, TX
T-176. Minneapolis, MN
T-176. St. Paul, MN
178. San Jose, CA
T-179. Portland, OR
T-179. Vancouver, WA
181. Bismarck, ND
Best City vs. Worst City: 3x Difference
Brownsville, TX vs. Bismarck, ND
% of Employed Population Aged 65 & Older
1. Plano, TX
2. Irving, TX
3. Sioux Falls, SD
4. Burlington, VT
5. Columbia, MD
178. Columbus, GA
179. Peoria, AZ
180. Lewiston, ME
181. Detroit, MI
182. Gulfport, MS
Best City vs. Worst City: 2x Difference
Plano, TX vs. Gulfport, MS
Recreation & Senior Centers per Capita
T-1. Philadelphia, PA
T-1. Chicago, IL
T-1. Honolulu, HI
T-1. Washington, DC
5. Los Angeles, CA
97. Madison, WI
98. Durham, NC
99. St. Louis, MO
100. Lexington-Fayette, KY
101. Kansas City, MO
Fishing Facilities per Capita
T-1. Charleston, SC
T-1. St. Petersburg, FL
T-1. Fort Lauderdale, FL
T-1. Juneau, AK
T-1. Tampa, FL
138. Pittsburgh, PA
139. Henderson, NV
140. Fresno, CA
141. Oklahoma City, OK
142. El Paso, TX
Museums per Capita
T-1. Washington, DC
T-1. St. Louis, MO
T-1. San Francisco, CA
4. Atlanta, GA
5. New York, NY
173. Port St. Lucie, FL
174. Santa Clarita, CA
175. Hialeah, FL
176. Chesapeake, VA
177. Chula Vista, CA
Best City vs. Worst City: 80x Difference
Washington, DC vs. Chula Vista, CA
% of Population Aged 65 & Older
1. Pearl City, HI
2. Scottsdale, AZ
3. Cape Coral, FL
4. Warwick, RI
5. Hialeah, FL
178. Laredo, TX
179. Moreno Valley, CA
180. West Valley City, UT
181. Fontana, CA
182. Irving, TX
Best City vs. Worst City: 3x Difference
Pearl City, HI vs. Irving, TX
‘Mild Weather’ Ranking
1. Glendale, CA
2. Riverside, CA
3. Bakersfield, CA
4. Scottsdale, AZ
5. Henderson, NV
T-178. Providence, RI
T-178. Warwick, RI
180. Rochester, NY
181. Buffalo, NY
182. Juneau, AK
I left out the rankings feeling this was more important. Here’s the link.
Individual Investors Ramp Up Bets on Tech Stocks – The Nasdaq Composite Index has fallen 21% in 2022. Yet many of its biggest stocks remain popular among individual investors, who say they expect the companies to continue powering the economy. B1
The baby formula plant whose February shutdown exacerbated a nationwide formula shortage resumed production over the weekend. “We will ramp production as quickly as we can while meeting all requirements,” Abbott Nutrition said in a Saturday statement.
Dr. Mehmet Oz secured his victory in Pennsylvania’s Republican Senate primary Friday after former hedge fund CEO David McCormick, who trailed Oz by less than 1,000 votes in the initial vote count, conceded that an in-progress recount would not eliminate that margin.
John Fetterman—Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor and Oz’s November opponent—is facing new questions about his health going into the general election, following a stroke last month that required hospitalization and the installation of a pacemaker. In a Friday statement, Fetterman, a Democrat, revealed he suffered from a heart condition and had “avoided going to the doctor,” and as a result he “almost died.”
Republicans and Democrats in the Senate say they’re making progress on gun legislation following a rash of mass shootings in recent weeks, although Sen. Pat Toomey said on Face the Nation Sunday that the discussions do not “guarantee any outcome.” The Washington Post reports that such legislation would potentially include encouraging states to implement red-flag laws that would allow courts to bar people thought to be a threat to themselves or others from accessing firearms.
Three people were killed and 11 more injured in a shooting in Philadelphia’s South Street nightlife corridor Saturday night. Police said two men got into a fight, then both produced guns and began firing at each other on the crowded street. One of the two shooters was killed in the initial confrontation; the other was wounded and fled the scene.
Former Trump adviser Peter Navarro was arrested on two misdemeanor charges of contempt of Congress Friday after Navarro refused to testify before or supply documents to the committee investigating the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021. Another former Trump associate, Steve Bannon, is scheduled to go on trial for comparable charges next month.
An attack on a Catholic church in southwest Nigeria has left more than 50 people feared dead, including many children, authorities said Sunday. It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack, which involved both firearms and explosives.
A Jobs Report from the Goldilocks Zone
Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Goldilocks who really should’ve been booked for home invasion. Instead, she wound up granting her name to anything that’s “just right”—such as May’s job report.
We know that joke’s a stretch, but we’re running out of new ways to introduce solid jobs reports like the one the Labor Department released Friday. After nearly a year of the pandemic rebound with at least 400,000 new jobs per month, in May employers added 390,000 jobs—hardly cold, but not quite white-hot. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had predicted a slower uptick of 318,000 new jobs.
We’re still about 822,000 jobs short of pre-pandemic levels, but the gap could close by the end of summer. Meanwhile, labor force participation edged up 0.1 percent to 62.3 percent in May, still 1.1 percent below February 2020.
Unemployment stayed at its near fifty-year low of 3.6 percent, and there are still nearly two open jobs for every one job-seeker. Coupled with high inflation, that ridiculously tight labor market has driven strong wage growth in recent months, causing economists to fret rising wages would in turn force businesses to increase prices, creating a wage-price spiral.
But average hourly wages for private, non-farm employees rose 0.3 percent in May from the previous month, a smidge shy of the 0.4 percent economists expected. And the three-month average of year-over-year wage growth hit 4.6 percent—about 1.7 percent above the pre-pandemic average but well below the peak of 7 percent in mid-2021, according to the nonpartisan Peterson Institute for International Economics.
That’s a lot of numbers just to say: Employers are still raising pay to attract workers, but they’ve chilled out a bit. “Firms seem to be less willing to raise wages sharply in order to fill openings than they were last winter,” as Peterson analysts put it. That’s not pleasant for the individual worker looking for a boost to the old paycheck, but it’s a good sign that the economy overall remains robust but not berserk. Meanwhile, as we’ve written previously, inflation seems to have peaked, at least for now.
All in all, a solid jobs report—but the markets reacted like they’d been served a bowl of chilly, lumpy porridge. The S&P 500 dropped 1.7 percent Friday after the report’s release, while the Dow Jones Industrial average fell 1 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite outdid them both by losing 2.6 percent. Meanwhile, Tesla owner and maybe someday Twitter owner Elon Musk declared he has a “super bad feeling” about the economy and needs to cut 10 percent of Tesla’s staff, Reutersreported.
We’re not sure what to tell you about Musk’s super bad feeling, but the market’s overall reaction is a perverse sign of the job report’s strength. “The economy’s doing quite well,” Brendan Walsh, co-founder of Markets Policy Partners, told The Dispatch. “The worry is that because the economy is doing well, the [Federal Reserve] will over-tighten and drive us into recession.”
In a bid to bring down inflation by taking its foot off the economy’s gas pedal, the central bank has already hiked interest rates twice this year, making loans to buy homes or expand businesses more expensive, discouraging demand. It’s signaling it plans a couple more hikes before September, and Fed vice chair Lael Brainard said Thursday the central bank would check its plan against the jobs report (among other markers). “We’ll be looking closely to the data to see that kind of cooling in demand, and moderation—better balance—in the labor market,” Brainard toldCNBC. “With our number one challenge being the need to get inflation down, we do expect to see some cooling of a very, very strong economy over time.” The solid jobs report is another indicator that the economy can handle the Fed’s cooling measures.
In remarks trumpeting the report, President Joe Biden said it was an indicator that the economy can handle the Fed’s cooling measures. “As we move to a new period of stable, steady growth, we should expect to see more moderation,” Biden told reporters Friday. “We aren’t likely to see the kind of blockbuster job reports month after month like we had over this past year, but that’s a good thing. … That stability puts us in a strong position to tackle what is clearly a problem: inflation.”
Which returns us to the market worry that after letting inflation shoot up the Fed will overcorrect and strangle U.S. economic growth into a recession. “Right now, it’s kind of sunny, things are doing fine,” JPMorgan Chase head Jamie Dimon warned Tuesday at an investors’ conference, arguing that the combination of pandemic stimulus, Fed policy, and the war in Ukraine are bearing down on the economy. “Everyone thinks the Fed can handle this. That hurricane is right out there, down the road, coming our way. We just don’t know if it’s a minor one or superstorm Sandy.”
But at least for the next few months, Walsh is sanguine. “The economy is too strong,” he said. “The risk is much more [for] 2023, that the Fed does over-tighten, we come off of this COVID rebound.” But, he predicted, “It’s a bit of a lull. It’s not like a crisis.”
So… a lukewarm economic porridge? We’ll see ourselves out.
Worth Your Time
So-called red-flag laws have emerged as a rare point of possible bipartisan agreement on gun issues in recent years, particularly following the crush of shootings this Spring. But they’ve also been criticized as a potentially spotty countermeasure, with several prominent mass shooters in states with red-flag laws having been able to obtain firearms despite making public threats of violence ahead of time. A New York Times feature over the weekend examines one county that has taken its red-flag ordinance seriously: Suffolk County in New York, where more than 160 guns have been removed by court order since 2019. “The filings are filled with people threatening to shoot up courthouses or schoolhouses, amped-up men in cars with weapons and ammunition, people behaving erratically at a gun shop or military-base checkpoint or firing randomly into a neighbor’s yard,” the reporters write. “People who text friends and loved ones ‘Goodbye forever’ or ‘I have a gun next to my bed bro’ or post, ‘When I kill everyone know it’s my dad’s fault.’”
Speaking of the Times, Maggie Haberman’s latest contains remarkable new reporting about former Vice President Mike Pence’s experience of the January 6 riot: “The day before a mob of President Donald J. Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol … Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff called Mr. Pence’s lead Secret Service agent to his West Wing office. The chief of staff, Marc Short, had a message for the agent, Tim Giebels: The president was going to turn publicly against the vice president, and there could be a security risk to Mr. Pence because of it.” Haberman goes on to detail the remarkable pressure Pence was put under by a rogue’s gallery of Trump supporters in the days leading up to his Jan. 6 decision not to obey Trump’s command to interfere with the counting of the electoral vote: “At the end of December, Mr. Pence traveled to Vail, Colo., for a family vacation. While he was there, his aides received a request for him to meet with Sidney Powell, a lawyer who promoted some of the more far-fetched conspiracy theories about flaws in voting machines, and whom Mr. Trump wanted to bring into the White House, ostensibly to investigate his false claims of widespread voter fraud.”
In his Sunday French Press, David draws a distinction between the healthy safety- and rights-focused gun culture that America has long enjoyed and the reactionary gun fetishism that has grown more ubiquitous in recent years. “The gun fetish rears its head when politicians pose with AR-15s in their campaign posters, or when a powerful senator makes ‘machine-gun bacon’ to demonstrate just how much he loves the Second Amendment,” he writes. “Spend much time at gun shows or at gun shops, and you’ll quickly become familiar with something called the ‘tactical’ or ‘black gun’ lifestyle, where civilians intentionally equip themselves in gear designed for the ‘daily gunfight.’ It’s often a form of elaborate special forces cosplay, except the weapons (and sometimes the body armor) are very real.”
In his Friday G-File, Jonah took aim at “the most fatal flaw of Democrats”: “that they take it as a given that government can do the normal stuff well.” “If progressives really wanted to restore faith in government, they’d concentrate all of their energies on tackling the stuff already on the government’s plate,” he writes. “Execute the job you’ve been given well, and then we’ll talk about giving you more responsibility. Walk, then run, and then we’ll get into a fun argument about whether it’s stupid you think you can fly.”
Don’t forget the podcasts: In Friday’s Remnant, Jonah dove solo into topics ranging from the somber to the downright bizarre: television, republicanism, superstition, and the like. In this week’s Good Faith, David and Curtis discuss the tensions between gun rights and gun control and the hyper-polarization that engulfs the issue. And on the Dispatch Podcast, the gang discusses the first 100 days of war in Ukraine, the gun question, and next week’s January 6 hearings on Capitol Hill.
Let Us Know
When you read the sentence “Republicans and Democrats in the Senate say they’re making progress on gun legislation following a rash of mass shootings in recent weeks,” what color did your mood ring turn?
An Associated Press investigation published Wednesday found Russia’s March 16 bombing of the Donetsk Academic Regional Drama Theater in Mariupol actually killed closer to 600 civilians, about double the number of casualties originally reported. The United Nations’ Human Rights Office has confirmed 3,238 civilian deaths and 3,397 civilian injuries since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began—but it continues to believe the actual figures are “considerably higher.”
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday outlined the bloc’s sixth Russian sanctions package, proposing an EU-wide ban on imports of Russian crude oil within six months and a ban on more refined oil products by the end of 2022. The package—which will require sign off from all 27 member states—would also remove three major Russian banks from the SWIFT financial-messaging system, ban several Russian state-owned broadcasters from the EU, and impose sanctions on Russian military officials accused of war crimes in Bucha and elsewhere. Hungary and Slovakia have signaled they won’t support a broader ban on Russian energy.
Several thousand Finnish troops are conducting a two-week military exercise alongside American, British, Estonian, and Latvian soldiers in anticipation of Finland’s forthcoming NATO application. Major General Joe Hartman—head of U.S. Cyber National Mission Force—told reporters yesterday the United States sent cyber forces to Lithuania to help defend against Russian cyber threats.
North Korea conducted another ballistic missile test on Wednesday, according to Japanese and South Korean military officials. The projectile reportedly traveled about 310 miles before landing in the sea, and the launch comes just days before South Korea is set to inaugurate its new, more hard-line president.
President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed an executive order and issued a national security memorandum aiming to advance the United States’ development of quantum computing technologies, establishing a National Quantum Initiative Advisory Committee and directing federal agencies to “pursue a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach” toward harnessing the economic and scientific benefits of quantum information science. The memorandum also directs government agencies to update their cybersecurity capabilities by transitioning to quantum-resistant cryptographic standards.
The Census Bureau reported yesterday the United States’ international trade deficit in goods and services hit a record high in March, increasing 22.3 percent month-over-month to $109.8 billion. Imports increased more than 10 percent in March, with clothing, computers, and cars driving much of the surge.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell had some shocking news yesterday: “Inflation is much too high.”
In fairness, Powell wasn’t trying to break new ground. He was emphasizing the Fed’s shift from months of “don’t worry, this inflation is transitory” to the more recent “OK, yikes, inflation is eating Americans’ wallets and we should do something.”
“We understand the hardship it is causing, and we’re moving expeditiously to bring it back down,” Powell said. “We have both the tools we need and the resolve it will take to restore price stability.” And so, as previously telegraphed, the Fed hiked interest rates on Wednesday by 50 basis points, or half a percent—the highest jump since 2000.
The Fed had already raised rates a quarter percent in March, its first hike since 2018. But it’ll take much more than that to bring inflation under control. The central bank’s favored price index reported 6.6 percent year-over-year inflation in March, more than triple the Fed’s goal of 2 percent. Powell said continued strong employment numbers—U.S. job openings reached a record-high 11.5 million in March—give him confidence the Fed has room to cool the market and slow hiring without triggering mass unemployment.
Punditry With Sen. Mitt Romney
Sen. Mitt Romney had some choice words for the Federal Reserve on Wednesday. “The Federal Reserve is primarily responsible for maintaining the integrity of our monetary system,” he told Steve on yesterday’s Dispatch Podcast. “They were far too loose, far too long.” Here are some additional highlights from the conversation:
On the Biden administration’s contributions to today’s inflationary environment.
My guess is that would not have been the problem it was but for the fact that COVID threw off the supply chain in ways that were far more extreme than any would’ve anticipated. But then added to that, you had the president do a couple of things that really added fuel to the fire. One was the $1.9 trillion that went out in March, and that was just after the $900 billion that had gone out in January. So just a couple of months after $900 billion went out, he sent out $1.9 trillion.
I was speaking yesterday with the Secretary of Health and Human Services in one state, not my state, but another state. She said that her state’s budget for childcare for the indigent was $55 million a year. She received a check on the American Rescue Plan for $500 million for that program. She said, “What are we supposed to do with all this money?” And that happened in state after state.
I don’t think the White House anticipated the impact of what they had done, what the Fed had done, and the supply chain would be as great as it is. And the American people are suffering as a result of that.
Worth Your Time
It may seem like everything’s coming up Republican ahead of November’s midterms, but Noah Rothman argues in Commentary the GOP could very well still blow it. “Despite the many advantages Republicans enjoy today, a bad candidate can still lose a winnable race,” he writes. Robert Regan—GOP candidate for a Michigan House seat—pushed to decertify the 2020 election, suggested Ukraine deserved to be invaded by Russia, pushed antivaxx rhetoric, dabbled in anti-Semitism, and “joked” about telling his daughters to “lie back and enjoy it” if they are raped. And this week, he lost a special election in a +26 Republican district that had never elected a Democrat. “The GOP’s primary voters got what they wanted: not a lasting political victory at the polls but a thumb in the eye of those who dared warn against touching that hot stove. This cautionary tale could have broader relevance with primary season now fully upon us.”
In a piece for National Review, Kevin Williamson does his best to answer pro-choice critiques of overturning Roe v. Wade. “The Constitution says what it says even if 70 percent of Americans wish it said something else. The Constitution says what it says even if 99 percent of Americans wish it said something else,” he writes. “If 95 percent of Americans don’t like the First Amendment or 100 percent want to reinstitute slavery, that doesn’t change what the Constitution says. It means that the majority can go jump in a lake—which is what constitutions are there to do. That being said, if it really were the case that overwhelming majorities of Americans wanted the same abortion rules that Planned Parenthood wants (meaning, essentially, none) then having the elected representatives of the people take up the question in the legislatures and vote on it seems like it would be a winning outcome for the pro-abortion side. The fact that the pro-abortion side is terrified of working out the question democratically tells you that they know they do not have the support they claim to have.”
In this week’s Capitolism (), Scott is starting to wonder if the Biden administration is actively trying to boost inflation. “Inflation may be the nation’s top economic challenge and may be top of mind for most American voters, but it plays second fiddle to the narrow interests of certain groups—unions, environmentalists, college grads, etc.—that the White House sees as essential for political success this fall and beyond,” he writes. “So those squeaky wheels will continue to get the oil, regardless of the insular decisions’ broader economic effects.”
President Biden publicly said the word ‘abortion’ out loud this week for the first time in his presidency. “I think the reason for this is pretty obvious. Most people don’t like abortion,” Jonah writes in Wednesday’s G-File(). “[Biden] may be locked in, as a political matter, to abortion rights maximalism, irrespective of his personal views. But the White House has decided that this is not the way it wants to frame the issue. Democrats want to say that if ‘they’ come for abortion tomorrow, ‘they’ll’ also come for privacy, gay marriage, etc., tomorrow. … And because Biden can’t say ‘safe, legal, and rare,’ he’s blocked off from a popular position on abortion.”
What can J.D. Vance’s victory in Ohio tell us about Trump and the 2022 midterms? “Based on my read of the available data, Trump’s endorsement was worth about 3-5 percentage points in terms of people who immediately switched their vote,” Sarah writes in this week’s Sweep (). “But the real value was with undecided voters.” Plus: The electoral effects of overturning Roe, 2024 GOP primary “lanes,” Evan McMullin and Mike Lee in Utah, and which political coalition has shifted more in recent years.
In a bonus Wednesday Uphill, Haley uncovers another House Democrat abusing proxy voting to campaign for higher office back home. “[New York Rep. Tom Suozzi] has voted in person only five times since the start of the year, over the course of three days in January,” she writes. “Suozzi voted in person once on January 18, once on January 19, and three times on January 20. Beyond those three days, Suozzi has had colleagues cast votes on his behalf under the House’s proxy rules 134 times out of 141 roll call votes in 2022 thus far.”
I used to do these recaps a few years back. I’m going to try this again to see how it works. Fell free to comment on all or one or two.
Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed yesterday that the leaked draft of an opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade is authentic—though not final—and ordered the Marshal of the Court to conduct an investigation into the source of the leak.
Ohio and Indiana conducted their 2022 primary elections on Tuesday, with competitive races taking place in both states. Republican author and venture capitalist J.D. Vance will face off against Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan in Ohio’s U.S. Senate race, and incumbent GOP Gov. Mike DeWine will be challenged by Nan Whaley, the Democratic former mayor of Dayton. In Indiana, state Sen. Erin Houchin won the GOP bid to succeed the retiring Rep. Trey Hollingsworth.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Tuesday that U.S. job openings reached record highs at the end of March, when there were 11.5 million unfilled jobs nationwide, up from 11.3 million a month earlier. The quits rate—the percentage of workers who quit their job during the month—hit a record high 3 percent as well, though many of these workers quit for different or better opportunities.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced Tuesday it will extend the work permits of most immigrants whose authorization recently expired or is about to expire, citing the agency’s inability to process applications quickly enough to keep pace with existing labor shortages. The extension—up to a year and a half—is expected to affect about 420,000 immigrants over the course of the policy.
That doesn’t mean the ruling itself is set in stone—justices could still change their votes or narrow the decision’s scope before it’s issued later this summer—but Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed yesterday the document published by Politico this week was written by Justice Samuel Alito and circulated in early February.
“To the extent this betrayal of the confidences of the Court was intended to undermine the integrity of our operations, it will not succeed,” he said in a statement. “The work of the Court will not be affected in any way.” The marshal of the court will launch an investigation into the source of the leak.
If the final numbers reflect the split as seen in the leak—again, an important if—Alito’s opinion will overrule nearly five decades of abortion jurisprudence. But as we noted in a recent TMD, a full overturning of Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey wouldn’t outlaw abortion nationwide—it would return the power to regulate the procedure to state legislatures and governors, who can be as permissive or restrictive as their voters will allow. At least 17 states have preemptively moved to guarantee abortion’s legality, while at least 13 others have passed “trigger laws” that would implement new restrictions in the event Roe and Casey are reversed. Monday’s news will certainly spur more into action, one way or the other.
Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, for example, called on the legislature this week to amend California’s constitution—a process that requires voter approval—so “there is no doubt as to the right to abortion” in the state. “We know we can’t trust the Supreme Court to protect reproductive rights, so California will build a firewall around this right in our state constitution,” he said in a statement. California accounted for about 15 percent of all abortions in the United States in 2017, and in 2019, Newsom signed a proclamation “welcoming women to California” for the procedure.
For as much attention as Monday’s leak has understandably received, it’s far from certain how such a ruling would affect the overall abortion rate. What percentage of women seeking an abortion in states where it’s illegal will undergo the procedure illicitly, or travel to another jurisdiction? Will states actually be able to crack down on abortion pills, in light of last December’s Food and Drug Administration decision allowing providers to prescribe the pills—used up to 10 weeks’ gestation—via telemedicine and mail them to women?
A 2019 analysis from the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute and university researchers estimated the United States’ abortion rate would fall between 25 and 40 percent in the year after a Roe reversal, but that potential drop fell to about 14 percent when the researchers updated the analysis in 2021. Thanks to Texas’ implementation of a six-week abortion ban last year, we have some real-world data on how this might play out. Two groups of researchers at the University of Texas released studies this spring showing the state’s new restrictions reduced the total number of abortions in the state by about 10 percent when accounting for women traveling to nearby states or ordering abortion pills online.
“A post-Roe United States isn’t one in which abortion isn’t legal at all,” Middlebury College economist Caitlin Knowles Myers told the New York Times. “It’s one in which there’s tremendous inequality in abortion access.”
Progressives expressed immense frustration with Alito’s leaked draft. “How dare they tell a woman what she can and cannot do with her own body?” Vice President Kamala Harris said at an EMILY’s List conference on Tuesday. “How dare they try to stop her from determining her own future? How dare they try to deny women their rights and their freedoms?” President Joe Biden issued a statement promising his administration would be prepared to respond to “the continued attack on abortion and reproductive rights.”
But a series of similar articles published yesterday pointed to a purported silver lining for the Democratic Party.
Politico: Democrats hope draft abortion opinion will jolt midterm elections
NBC News: Democrats energized after leaked abortion decision jolts midterms
Washington Post: A decision to overturn Roe v. Wade might upend the midterms
Reuters: Democrats look to abortion-rights threat to boost midterm election prospects
Roll Call: Democrats see midterm election boost from abortion ruling leak
Axios: Dems look to abortion fallout to salvage midterms
Maybe. Most of the stories point to recent polling—from Washington Post/ABC News, CNN, etc.—that shows a majority of voters oppose overturning Roe v. Wade, and it’s certainly possible a sweeping Supreme Court decision could prove a vulnerability for the GOP in November. Several elected Republicans were cagey about the implications when asked about it on Tuesday. “I don’t know [that] it’s necessarily a party issue,” Sen. John Thune of South Dakota told CNN. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas wouldn’t say whether he backed his own state’s restrictions, simply saying it’s up to the legislature.
Well, Republican primary voters in Ohio still very much care what Donald Trump has to say. “Without the Trump endorsement, we’re not talking tonight about Vance winning the nomination,” said David Cohen, political science professor at the University of Akron. “He would’ve had no shot.”
Vance, in this instance, refers to J.D. Vance, the U.S. Senate candidate who was polling at 10 percent three weeks ago—a distant third place—when the former president decided to make his choice in the race. The author-turned-venture-capitalist-turned-populist-bomb-thrower won the state GOP primary last night with slightly more than 32 percent of the vote, handily beating former state Treasurer Josh Mandel (24 percent), state Sen. Matt Dolan (23 percent), businessman Mike Gibbons (12 percent), and former Ohio GOP Chair Jane Timken (6 percent). All of the losing candidates conceded the race—that’s not a given anymore!—and each pledged their support to Vance in November, when he’ll take on Rep. Tim Ryan, the Democratic nominee who ran away with his own primary on Tuesday.
Vance was magnanimous in victory, expressing gratitude to each of his opponents for the races they ran. “A lot of disagreements with Matt Dolan—let’s just be honest,” Vance said of the only major candidate in the race who wasn’t courting Trump’s endorsement. “He could have ran an ugly campaign, but instead he ran a campaign about issues, about substance. He has been a great public servant for this country, and I think our party was better for the campaign that Matt Dolan ran.”
But that magnanimity comes after a vicious campaign that saw a record $66 million spent on TV and radio ads—many of them negative. In a particularly suggestive 30-second clip, Timken accused her rivals of trying to “overcompensate” for their “inadequacies.” A Gibbons ad labeled Mandel as a “con man.” The conservative Club for Growth—which was supporting Mandel—dropped millions on TV spots reminding Ohioans that Vance in 2016 called himself a “NeverTrump guy,” said he “might have to vote for Hillary Clinton,” and suggested that some of Trump’s voters “definitely” supported him for racist reasons.
Vance sought to neutralize those attacks early in the campaign. “I ask folks not to judge me based on what I said in 2016, because I’ve been very open that I did say those critical things and I regret them,” he told Fox News last summer. “I regret being wrong about the guy.”
It was good enough for Trump—who not only believed Vance to be Republicans’ best shot in November, but reportedly viewed Mandel as “f—— weird”—and the pretty transparent flip-flop may have actually worked to Vance’s advantage. “A lot of Ohioans had the same feelings about all of this, which is, ‘You know, I changed my mind on Trump after he was president, because he was a fighter for the team,’” David Kochel—a Republican political strategist—told The Dispatch. “John Kasich won the primary there in 2016, and he’s a NeverTrumper. There were a lot of NeverTrumpers in Ohio in that coalition, and they all had the same sort of conversion that J.D. did.”
Speaking at the Reagan Library as part of its Time for Choosing series, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Tuesday presented what he sees as the GOP’s best path forward. “Republicans will likely make big gains this year, simply because of the complete failures of the Democrats in Washington, but we can’t let that fool us into complacency,” he said. “The problems that have caused our party to repeatedly lose have not been addressed. It’s easy to make excuses for the failures on our side by simply pointing out that the other side is often worse. But better than the Democrats isn’t good enough. That is not a winning strategy or a long-term roadmap to success. Americans are completely disgusted with the toxic politics, and they’re sick and tired of all the lies and excuses. Excuses, lies, and toxic politics will not win elections or restore America. Only real leadership will do that.”