The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Free-(College)-For-All

Elizabeth Warren has a plan to cancel student debt, make public college free, and create a fund for HBCUs. Plus: Seth Moulton is officially running for president.

Cheryl Santer / AP

What We’re Following Today

It’s Monday, April 22.

‣ The death toll from the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka is now 290 people. The Sri Lankan government said that the National Thowheed Jamath, a local Islamist group, was behind the bombings.

‣ The House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed former White House Counsel Don McGahn, who played a key role in the Mueller report.

2020 Watch: Senator Elizabeth Warren, one of the Democratic candidates for president, released a comprehensive college-affordability plan this morning. She wants to cancel student debt, make public college free, and create a fund for HBCUs. And, reports Adam Harris, she even has a plan to pay for it.

+ Democratic Representative Seth Moulton of Massachusetts announced that he’s officially running for president. Who’s that, you ask? Consult our cheat sheet on the dozens of other 2020 contenders.

The Last One in Camelot: Joe Kennedy was born rich and white, with a famous last name and a multimillion-dollar trust fund. “He also believes that if capitalism isn’t radically rethought, democracy will collapse,” writes Edward-Isaac Dovere. Kennedy, whose focus on economics echoes his mentor Elizabeth Warren’s, is well liked in Congress and well known nationally. Some powerful Democrats wanted him to run for president. But after consulting with his family, Kennedy said no.

Doctors Too: In the 1990s, Lou Ortenzio, a doctor in West Virginia, was one of his region’s leading prescribers of pain killers. He didn’t see anything wrong with that. In the years following, he watched his community, and himself, become cripplingly addicted to opioids, embroiled in one of the deadliest drug epidemics in U.S. history. In the May issue of The Atlantic, Sam Quinones writes about Ortenzio’s efforts to rescue his community from a crisis he helped create.

The Future Mayor of Boston?

(Elise Amendola / AP)

Boston, a populous, majority-minority city, has never elected a mayor who isn’t a white man. The 34-year-old Taiwanese American City Councilor Michelle Wu might change that. Rachael Allen profiles Wu, who “has emerged as one of the city’s most effective and diplomatic politicians:

Michelle Wu wanted to free the T. On a subfreezing February morning, the Boston city councilor was handing out flyers at the Park Street subway station. In a soft voice, she urged bundled commuters to sign a petition opposing the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s proposal for a 6.3 percent fare hike, part of her campaign to make the T free. The gold-domed state house rose behind her. Below, one of the notoriously failing trains slowed to a stop.  → Read on.


Chloebella Frazier, 4, takes part in the annual White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House. (Andrew Harnik / AP)

Ideas From The Atlantic

America Is Fine With Collusion (David A. Graham)
“Not only has there been no 9/11 Commission–style attempt to understand what happened in 2016; there’s been no serious federal initiative to harden vulnerable election infrastructure, even after Russia once again meddled in the 2018 elections. By deciding not to act, the American government has effectively decided that foreign interference is acceptable.” → Read on.

A Supreme Court Case That Will Affect Every Aspect of National Life (Garrett Epps)
“Are there good reasons to include a citizenship question on the questionnaire? Maybe, but the administration hasn’t made a serious effort to cite them … Every statistical authority in the [U.S. Census Bureau], and virtually all of those outside it, agree that the question will result in fewer responses and less reliable data.” → Read on.

Worry About the Black Students Who Get In (Kimberly Reyes)
“My disorientation was compounded by the fact that I didn’t have black female teachers to ask for support. My mother, who grew up in a neighborhood where most of the women looked like her, could never understand my low self-esteem, which, she told me, was the most unwarranted case she had ever seen.” → Read on.

Impeachment Is Not the Answer. At Least Not Yet. (Norm Ornstein)
“Democrats cannot risk the kind of 2020 backlash that would come if a large share of the voting public came to see the House as Javert-like, abandoning its focus on health care, jobs, and the other issues that dominate most Americans’ lives in a monomaniacal quest to get Trump.” → Read on.

When a Treatment Costs $450,000, It Had Better Work (Sarah Elizabeth Richards)
“Value-based agreements … are a departure from standard practice in American health care. They respond to a basic moral dilemma in the system: If insurers cover every possible treatment, the cost of coverage will skyrocket. But if insurers won’t pay for experimental drugs for uncommon diseases, those drugs may never be invented at all, or they’ll be available only to the richest patients.” → Read on.

What Else We’re Reading

‘Liz Was a Diehard Conservative’: Why Elizabeth Warren Left the GOP (Alex Thompson, Politico Magazine)
Capitalism in Crisis: U.S. Billionaires Worry About the Survival of the System That Made Them Rich (Greg Jaffe, The Washington Post) ( 🔒 Paywall)
Trump Team Should Atone for Slandering Mueller, Rosenstein (Quin Hillyer, Washington Examiner)
I Work With Suicidal Farmers. It’s Becoming Too Much to Bear. (Mike Rosmann as told to Emily Atkin, The New Republic)

One More Thing …

Check out our reader responses to the March Issue of The Atlantic, especially to Yoni Appelbaum’s piece making the case for starting the impeachment process.

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