Police officers stand in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., June 22, 2015.
Photo by Drew Angerer/Bloomberg/Getty

Supreme Court decisions expose America’s starkest divide

Urban America vs. Rural America: Two different reactions to last week’s news… Supreme Court today set to deliver last three decisions, and we’re watching the Arizona case… Greece is the word… Puerto Rico: Not so “rico” anymore?… Final three GOP announcements are now set: Christie June 30, Walker week of July 13, Kasich July 21… Jeb’s past business deals get scrutiny… Pro-Jindal group up with ad buy in Iowa… And Rand Paul finally reacts to Supreme Court’s gay-marriage ruling.

FIRST THOUGHTS

*** Urban America vs. Rural America: Two different reactions to last week’s news: Maybe the best way to look at last week’s ground-shifting political news – on gay marriage, health care, and trade – is through the country’s oldest and starkest divide: Urban America vs. Rural America. Our colleague Dante Chinni has crunched the numbers: 62% of those living in urban areas wanted to see the U.S. Supreme Court legalize gay marriage, while a plurality of rural residents (47%) opposed it, according to the latest NBC/WSJ poll. In Urban America, 57% believe the federal health-care law is working well or needs just minor modifications, versus 63% in Rural America who wanted it overhauled or totally eliminated. And 50% of rural residents think free trade has hurt the United States, compared with just 27% who believe that in urban areas.

Bottom line: New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles were thrilled by last week’s news; Jamestown, NY; Litchfield, IL; and Redding, CA weren’t. Given this divide, we’re going to see a political backlash, especially on the Supreme Court’s gay-marriage and health-care rulings. And it’s going to play out inside the GOP since the Republican Party has largely become the party of rural America. Indeed, the same NBC/WSJ poll finds 55% of urban respondents identifying as Democrats, versus just 31% of rural respondents who are Dems.

*** Rand Paul finally reacts to Supreme Court’s gay-marriage ruling: Rand Paul now has a habit of reacting VERY slowly to big news developments. Forty-eight hours after the Supreme Court’s gay-marriage ruling, he finally issued a response: Government should get out of the marriage business altogether.

*** Supreme Court today set to deliver last three decisions, and we’re watching the Arizona case: As NBC’s Pete Williams reminds us, the Supreme Court is set to deliver three more decisions on its final day of the current term. And this one could be another big political story: Can states try to end partisan gridlock by having independent commissions – and not the legislatures – draw the boundaries for congressional and state legislative districts? The state of Arizona is challenging an independent commission there, Williams says.

*** Greece is the word: It’s not going to be a good day for the stock market – and reason is the situation in Greece. “The deepening Greek crisis hit global markets on Monday, as the country imposed capital controls ahead of a national referendum on creditors’ bailout conditions,” CNBC writes. And the New York Times’ Neil Irwin argues that the next few days in Greece – with a referendum taking place on July 5 – will likely transform the country and Europe. “A ‘Yes’ vote means that Greece will continue the grinding era of austerity that has caused so much pain to its citizens over the last five years, in exchange for keeping the euro currency and the monetary stability it provides. A ‘No’ vote almost certainly means that the country will walk away from the euro and create its own currency (which will surely devalue sharply), bringing financial chaos in the near term but creating the possibility of a rebound in the medium term as the country becomes more competitive with its devalued currency.”

*** Not so “rico” anymore? Greece isn’t the only place with serious financial problems. Just look a bit closer to home: “Puerto Rico’s governor, saying he needs to pull the island out of a ‘death spiral,’ has concluded that the commonwealth cannot pay its roughly $72 billion in debts, an admission that will probably have wide-reaching financial repercussions,” the New York Times says. “The governor, Alejandro García Padilla, and senior members of his staff said in an interview last week that they would probably seek significant concessions from as many as all of the island’s creditors, which could include deferring some debt payments for as long as five years or extending the timetable for repayment.”

*** Final three GOP announcements are now set: Turning to the 2016 race, the last three Republican presidential announcements are set for the next month, and they’re all three sitting Republican governors. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announces tomorrow in his home state. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is set to go the week of July 13. And last night, MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt confirmed that Ohio Gov. John Kasich will be holding his announcement on July 21 at Ohio State. “The July launch gives Kasich a shot at raising his national profile enough to qualify for the first GOP debate, on Aug. 6 in his home state. But participation in the Cleveland debate will be based on national polling, and Kasich advisers admit that qualifying will be tough, even with his announcement bump,” Politico says.

*** Jeb’s past business deals get scrutiny: The Washington Post has a tough look at Jeb Bush’s past business deals and relationships. “[R]ecords, lawsuits, interviews and newspaper accounts stretching back more than three decades present a picture of a man who, before he was elected Florida governor in 1998, often benefited from his family connections and repeatedly put himself in situations that raised questions about his judgment and exposed him to reputational risk.” It’s another reminder how many of Hillary Clinton’s weaknesses – the wealth, the Clinton Foundation donations – are potentially canceled out if Jeb Bush is the GOP nominee.

*** Pro-Jindal group up with ad buy in Iowa: The pro-Bobby Jindal Super PAC Believe Again tells NBC News that it’s up with a $500,000 advertising buy in Iowa (over two weeks) promoting Jindal’s candidacy. Here’s the TV ad. This very early buy is likely a consequence of the first GOP presidential debates being limited to the Top 10 Republicans in national polls. If you want to make the debate stage, you better start spending – now.

OBAMA AGENDA: Re-focusing on the Iran nuke talks

Here’s where things stand with the nuclear talks today, from NBCNews.com.

Republicans in Congress are preparing their opposition to a potential Iran accord, POLITICO reports.

From the Wall Street Journal: “Iran secretly passed to the White House beginning in late 2009 the names of prisoners it wanted released from U.S. custody, part of a wish list to test President Barack Obama’s commitment to improving ties and a move that set off years of clandestine dispatches that helped open the door to nuclear negotiations.”

The Supreme Court has three more decisions to issue Monday, including big rulings on power plant emissions, congressional redistricting and execution methods.

Joe Biden attended a prayer service at Emanuel AME church on Sunday, NBC reports.

Author Don Winslow writes that marijuana isn’t coming across the U.S.-Mexico border as rapidly as it once was. “Seizures of marijuana at the border are down almost 40% since several states in the U.S. have legalized it, The Washington Post reported. Mexican marijuana traffickers will tell you that it’s not worth it anymore – they can’t compete with the domestic American price and quality… That’s the good news. The bad news is that the cartels have responded to this loss by shipping more coke, meth and especially heroin.” More: “In essence, when we stop fighting, we win. When we keep fighting, the cartels win.”

OFF TO THE RACES: Kasich set to announce on July 21
BIDEN: Before his death, Beau Biden urged his father to run for president, the Wall Street Journal reports.

BUSH: A Washington Post investigation shows that “records, lawsuits, interviews and newspaper accounts stretching back more than three decades present a picture of a man who, before he was elected Florida governor in 1998, often benefited from his family connections and repeatedly put himself in situations that raised questions about his judgment and exposed him to reputational risk.”

CHRISTIE: His presidential campaign web site is live.

POLITICO, on his game plan: “The hope, according to advisers — who spent the weekend in a flurry of last-minute planning meetings — is that by exceeding expectations in debates and town hall events, and by performing well in a few select primary contests, he can reestablish himself as a top-tier candidate.”

CRUZ: He told NPR that his opposition to same-sex marriage will be “front and center” in his campaign.

He’s feuding with Karl Rove over a 2009 endorsement by George H.W. Bush.

GRAHAM: He said on Meet the Press that the GOP should change its official position on same-sex marriage.

JINDAL: The pro-Bobby Jindal Super PAC Believe Again tells NBC News that it’s up with a $500,000 advertising buy in Iowa (over two weeks) promoting Jindal’s candidacy.

He told one of us(!) on Meet the Press that his state will abide by the court’s decision on same-sex marriage even though he disagrees with the ruling.

KASICH: He’ll make his presidential announcement on July 21, Kasie Hunt reports.

PAUL: His response to the same-sex marriage ruling: “Perhaps the time has come to examine whether or not governmental recognition of marriage is a good idea, for either party.”

TRUMP: He says he wouldn’t have time to maintain his famous hairstyle in the White House.

WALKER: He says he can beat Hillary Clinton because “We are the anti-Washington” and because “we need a name from the future.”

And around the country…
MAINE: Gov. Paul LePage has alienated his state’s lawmakers, and a dispute over a charter school has led some foes to discuss impeachment.

PUERTO RICO: The island is $72 billion in debt, and its governor says that the debt isn’t payable.

VIRGINIA: The Richmond Times-Dispatch: “The Republican Party of Virginia will choose a presidential candidate in a statewide primary open to all voters on March 1, 2016, also known as Super Tuesday.

The 42-39 vote, with one abstention, by the GOP’s state central committee at a meeting here Saturday dealt a blow to the party’s more conservative wing that favored a party-run convention.”

Additional reporting by Carrie Dann.

Marriage Equality and Rand Paul

Supreme Court decisions expose America's starkest divide