The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: On This Day in June

It’s Juneteenth. Cory Booker, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and others testified about reparations at a House hearing. Plus: Joe Biden faces heat for remarks about two segregationist senators.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP
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What We’re Following Today

It’s Wednesday, June 19.

‣ The Environmental Protection Agency rolled back a Barack Obama–era regulation and announced that states can now set their own carbon-emissions standards for coal-fired power plants.

‣ Several members of the House Judiciary Committee criticized Hope Hicks, the former communications director for President Donald Trump, for allegedly refusing to answer basic questions during her closed-door meeting with the panel today.

‣ Senator Cory Booker called on former Vice President Joe Biden to apologize after Biden reminisced positively at a fundraiser on Tuesday evening about working with two segregationist senators.

Here’s what else we’re watching:

Carlos Javier Ortiz

Making the Case for Reparations: During his 1984 and 1988 presidential campaigns, Reverend Jesse Jackson made reparations to African Americans a central plank of his platform. Now, decades later, the issue is back in the national conversation: Several 2020 candidates support the idea, and today on Capitol Hill, the House held a hearing on H.R. 40, a bill that aims to create a committee to study and develop proposals for reparations. But how long will this momentum hold?

+ In his testimony before the panel, the writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, whose own work for The Atlantic helped reignite the national conversation about the issue, offered a rebuttal to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said yesterday that present-day Americans should not be held liable for something that happened 150 years ago. “We are American citizens, and thus bound to a collective enterprise that extends beyond our individual and personal reach,” Coates said. Read his full congressional testimony here.

A Day to Remember: Juneteenth, which commemorates the abolition of slavery in the United States, is a day of contradictions, writes Vann R. Newkirk II: “The idea of reparations is somehow both avant-garde and extraordinarily old. Its reemergence stems from a broad reassessment of the trajectory of black America’s material conditions, and a realization that even with the extraordinary efforts of individual black people and some political and economic protections, true equality always appears just out of reach.”

Take Two: Trump’s Tuesday-night rally in Orlando, where he “officially” launched his reelection bid, was markedly different from his first presidential announcement back in 2015, writes Elaina Plott, who interviewed Trump supporters at the event: “To attend his second [announcement] is to have conversations with steadfast loyalists who,” she writes, “now represent the power of the incumbency.”

Making the Most of It: In our July 2019 issue, Arthur C. Brooks explores how to handle professional decline—which will likely hit you sooner than you think—and outlines four specific commitments one can make to stay happy later in life. “Decline is inevitable, and it occurs earlier than almost any of us wants to believe,” he writes. “But misery is not inevitable.”


Senator Cory Booker greets the actor Danny Glover before they testify about reparations during a hearing on H.R. 40 before a House panel. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP)

Ideas From The Atlantic

There Is No Middle Ground on Reparations (Ibram X. Kendi)
“These Americans claim they oppose racism and reparations. They support the drive for economic equality between the races at the same time they are pumping the brakes on the only foreseeable policy that can dramatically close the growing racial wealth gap.” → Read on.

Legal Abortion Isn’t the Problem to Be Solved (Pasquale Toscano and Alexis Doyle)
“Beyond undermining women’s autonomy unfairly, bans on selective abortion also worsen the stigma against people with disabilities—while doing nothing to address the practical issues they and their families face.” → Read on.

Los Angeles Is in Crisis. So Why Isn’t It Building More Housing? (Reihan Salam)
“While the Garcetti administration was helping to move 380 people off the street each week, some 480 others were joining the ranks of homeless Angelenos. Put another way, until someone does something about the city’s larger housing crisis, homelessness will be as much a part of the city’s landscape as Runyon Canyon.” → Read on.

The Astonishing Rise of Existential Threats Among 2020 Hopefuls (John McWhorter)
“Existentialism is now one of the key shibboleths of being, or sounding, educated, summoning memories of how challengingly chilly and odd—yet clearly fundamental to human nature—The Stranger seemed when we were assigned it in college or an Advanced Placement class.” → Read on.

What Else We’re Reading

Facebook Moderators Break Their NDAs to Expose Desperate Working Conditions (Casey Newton, The Verge)
18 Questions. 21 Candidates. Here’s What They Said. (The New York Times(🔒 Paywall)
Warren Emerges as Potential Compromise Nominee (Natasha Korecki and Charlie Mahtesian, Politico)

About us: This newsletter is a daily effort from The Atlantic’s politics writers: Elaine Godfrey, Madeleine Carlisle, and Olivia Paschal. It’s edited by Shan Wang.

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