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What We’re Reading: Commission on Political Reform, July 11

Thursday, July 11, 2013

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Obama Pushes “Smarter, Quicker” Government Management
By Alexis Simendinger, RealClearPolitics

“It’s notoriously inefficient. It could save a lot of money. It could be more responsive to its customers. On Monday, 170 days into his second term, President Obama refocused his attention on the management of the bureaucracy he leads. And like many presidents before him, he said he wants to tap new technologies, unleash innovations and learn from successful private companies and his own campaigns.” Read the full article here.

Race and voting after the Voting Rights Act: What you need to know
By John Sides, The Washington Post

“Last Tuesday, a narrow Supreme Court majority struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act. Section 4 determined which parts of the country must, as stipulated by Section 5 of the VRA, submit changes in their election laws for federal approval. The formula was based on local election laws and voter registration statistics as of 1964. As the VRA was altered and expanded over the years, it still relied on these data from 1964. The Court’s majority ruled that it was outdated and unconstitutional. Chief Justice John Roberts’ opinion said, in essence, times have changed.

“Any revisiting of this formula has to take into account how race affects elections and, in turn, how election laws affect racial groups. Here are six findings from political science that should be in everyone’s mind.” Read the full article here.

Supreme Court is Correct on the Voting Rights Act
By George Will, The Washington Post

“Progressives resent progress when it renders anachronistic once-valid reasons for enlarging the federal government’s supervisory and coercive powers. Hence they regret Tuesday’s Supreme Court ruling that progress has rendered Section 4 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act unconstitutional.

“This section stipulates the formula by which nine states and some jurisdictions in others are brought under Section 5, which requires them to get federal permission — “preclearance” — for even the most minor changes in voting procedures. The 15th Amendment empowers Congress to enforce with “appropriate legislation” the right to vote. Sections 4 and 5 were appropriate 48 years ago, when the preclearance provisions were enacted for five years. They have been extended four times, most recently in 2006 for 25 years.

“The data would have been 59 years old when the most recent extension expired in 2031. Tuesday’s decision prevents this absurdity that Congress embraced.” Read the full article here.

Gerrymandering and the Republican House
By Sean Trende, RealClearPolitics

“Politico leads its website Monday with an article pressing the argument that Republican gerrymandering could actually end up hurting the party. By creating safe districts where Republicans have to worry more about losing a primary than losing the general election, the GOP is being pushed rightward, potentially hurting its national prospects.

“These types of arguments are nothing new. Neither are the fairly compelling arguments against them.” Read the full article here.

Eight-year-old Prince George’s girl serves as governor for a day
By Julie Zauzmer, The Washington Post

“When Maryland’s one-day governor was sworn in at the State House on Tuesday morning, she didn’t just raise her right hand. She lifted it high in a curlicue flourish. “Like Beyoncé,” commented the man with whom she would briefly share the state’s executive office, Gov. Martin O’Malley (D).

“Genea Harrison set herself apart as governor by more than just her exuberant gestures. She wore patriotic red, white and blue, down to her beaded bracelet and alternating nail polish. And as she repeated the oath of office, tripping over a couple of the bigger words, she became the first Maryland resident to ever hold the title of governor for a day.” Read the full article here.

Tough Place to Fill Job Openings: U.S. Senate
By Janet Hook, The Wall Street Journal

“Both political parties are encountering a surprising problem as they prepare for next year’s battle to control the U.S. Senate: Some of their top choices are turning down invitations to run for seats in a body with a reputation that has been tarnished by bickering and gridlock. In states as disparate as Iowa, Michigan, Georgia and Nebraska, men and women considered top-tier candidates are declining to jump into races.” Read the full article here.

Do Americans want to see their kids work in politics when they grow up? Nope.
By Sean Sullivan, The Washington Post

“Kids, don’t get into politics. At least that’s the message from Americans surveyed in a new Gallup poll released Friday.

“By a 2-1 margin, Americans said they would not like to see their child go into politics as a career. The results are the same whether the question is asked about a son or a daughter.

“It’s not all that surprising, considering the low regard in which Americans hold their government these days — and also considering that there has been pretty consistent opposition from Americans to the idea of their children getting into politics since at least the middle of the 20th century. So it seems to be more than a comment on the current state of politics.” Read the full article here.

In Congress, Gridlock and Harsh Consequences
By Jonathan Weisman, The New York Times

“Even in some of the worst years of partisan gridlock, a deadline has meant something to Congress — until 2013. Drop-dead dates have come and gone this year, causing real-world consequences. On Jan. 1, tax rates went up not only for affluent families, but also for virtually all workers when lawmakers looked the other way and let a payroll tax cut expire. On March 1, after leaders from both parties declared that automatic, across-the-board spending cuts would never happen, they happened anyway because of inaction.

“One hundred percent of Congress opposed it, and we’re doing it,” said Representative Peter Welch, Democrat of Vermont. “That’s a sign of a dysfunctional institution.” Read the full article here.

BPC’s Commission on Political Reform highlights news articles, videos and other relevant works which provide coverage on the partisan political divide and those that promote specific electoral and congressional reforms to help Americans achieve shared national goals. We circulate these articles to provide a broad view of bipartisanship, reforms and reactions. The views expressed in these articles do not necessarily represent the views of the commission, its co-chairs, commissioners, or BPC.

Compiled by Maria Krupenkin, Democracy Project Intern

2013-07-11 00:00:00