First Read Flash: Detroit in Decline

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, left, Gov. Rick Snyder and Kevyn Orr, right, listen to a question during a news conference in Detroit, Thursday, March 14, 2013....
Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, left, Gov. Rick Snyder and Kevyn Orr, right, listen to a question during a news conference in Detroit, Thursday, March 14, 2013....
AP Photo/Paul Sancya

Big City Bankruptcy. Detroit became the largest city in U.S. history to file for bankruptcy Thursday. Once the nation’s fourth most populous city, the Motor City has been through a painful rise and fall in recent years with unemployment rates often double the national average. Many observers are now asking if this is a sign that not all of the great American cities of the 20th century can also be the great American cities of the 21st or if it is the first major shoe to drop.

Few lawmakers in Washington or Michigan objected to the filing, a sign at just how bad the troubled city’s financial situation has gotten. After the state took financial control of the city earlier this year, Gov. Rick Snyder (R) wrote in a letter authorizing the bankruptcy that this filing is better than the alternative of suffering under extreme debt.

“Without this decision, the city’s condition would only worsen,” Snyder wrote.

Rocky Mountain Recall. Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado set up the first recall effort in the state’s history on Thursday  by setting the date for recall election of two state senators on September 10.  These Democratic lawmakers are being criticized for supporting tougher gun legislation in Colorado.

Supported by the National Rifle Association, organizers filed petitions, gathering enough signatures to initiate the recall process.

Colorado has been a focal point for gun legislation as it has suffered through two mass shootings– at Columbine High School in 1999 and at a movie theater in Aurora in 2012.

EPA Head Confirmed. New EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy was sworn in Thursday thanks to the Senate’s recent agreement between Democrats and Republicans to leave Senate rules in place and allow presidential appointees to go through.

President Obama has a lot riding on McCarthy. He hopes she implement many of the climate change initiatives that he’s promised but has not been able to deliver, like creating tougher power-plant regulations.

Even Republicans know that McCarthy will spearhead the president’s promised change. “The EPA will play a pivotal role in the implementation of the president’s recently announced climate action plan,” Louisiana Sen. David Vitter said on the floor Thursday.

IRS Playing Defense. IRS inspector general J. Russell George returned to Capitol Hill Thursday to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

George defended himself against Congressional Democrats who have criticized him for reporting that the IRS had targeted conservative political groups without also highlighting the liberal groups that were also targeted.

“We need to stop making baseless accusations, and we need to get full information about the treatment of all of these groups, conservative, liberal, and everyone in between,” said Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) at Thursday’s hearing.

Though the hearing was nearly six hours long, the reasons why IRA targeted political groups are still unclear.