Jamelle Bouie

Jamelle Bouie is a staff writer at The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

Pain or "Austerity" Need Not Apply.

If you haven't already, you should head over to The New York Times ' website to try out their interactive " budget puzzle ." The calculator charges you with closing the budget gaps for 2015 and 2030, using a mix of spending cuts and tax increases. My plan was pretty straightforward; in the reverse of your typical conservative plan, 66 percent of my savings came from tax increases, while the remaining 34 percent came from spending cuts. On the cuts side, I eliminated farm subsidies, cut an army of government contractors, reduced spending on nuclear weapons, canceled some weapons programs, reduced the military to its prewar size, and ended the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Also, I enacted malpractice reform and reduced the tax break for employer-provided insurance. On the tax side, I returned everything -- estate taxes, investment taxes, and income taxes -- to Clinton -era levels. I also added a millionaire's tax on income over $1 million, eliminated tax loop holes, closed the mortgage-...

Are Lame-Duck Sessions Undemocratic?

As anyone at TAP can tell you, I'm prone to long, angry rants against various figures and groups in 19th-century American history. Invariably, one of my targets is the original Progressive movement of the early 20th century. For all the good work they did to improve life for workers and their families, it's also true that they had a lot of misguided ideas about how American democracy should operate. One of them, as Bruce Ackerman approvingly notes in The Washington Post , is the notion that a midterm election heralds the end of that Congress' democratic legitimacy: This emergency rationale continues to be valid: If terrorists attack after Election Day, it's appropriate for a lame-duck session to consider the need for emergency legislation. But there's no need for a lame-duck Congress to meet when it comes to less-pressing matters. Here the old Progressive reasons motivating the 20th Amendment still apply with full force. It is utterly undemocratic for repudiated representatives to...

The Intractable Achievement Gap

Earlier this week, the Council of the Great City Schools released a report on the academic performance of African American students. Two things stand out: Black students still measure very poorly on tests of reading and writing, and black students still lag behind their white peers, even after adjusting for income. Here is The New York Times with more : Only 12 percent of black fourth-grade boys are proficient in reading, compared with 38 percent of white boys, and only 12 percent of black eighth-grade boys are proficient in math, compared with 44 percent of white boys. Poverty alone does not seem to explain the differences: poor white boys do just as well as African-American boys who do not live in poverty, measured by whether they qualify for subsidized school lunches. This is going to sound really banal, but one of the most frustrating things about the achievement gap between black and white students is that we don't actually have a clear culprit. It goes without saying that it's a...

Standing Your Ground.

I'm not sure that Republicans will have any success at this : With a big new majority in the House, Republicans will have little trouble passing whatever they want – including a full repeal of the health care reform law. But Republicans don't have a majority in the Senate, so even modest changes to the law will require the help of centrist Democrats – or at least scared ones. Manchin is the Republicans' top target – because he campaigned against part of the law, and because he'll have to face the voters again in 2012 if he wants to serve a full term. I'll say this, if Democrats had 52 or 51 votes in the Senate -- as opposed to the 53 votes they will have in the 112th Congress -- then I would put good money on a party switch by Ben Nelson or Joe Manchin . As it stands, they don't have much room for leverage against the Democratic caucus. That said, there isn't anything to stop them from voting with Republicans on attacking the Affordable Care Act, in which case, Democrats should really...

Liberals and Simpson-Bowles.

Paul Krugman gets to the heart of the liberal objection to Simpson-Bowles : It will take time to crunch the numbers here, but this proposal clearly represents a major transfer of income upward, from the middle class to a small minority of wealthy Americans. And what does any of this have to do with deficit reduction? As Krugman notes, Simpson and Bowles begin with a firm commitment to "lower rates" and cap spending at 21 percent of GDP. "Deficit reduction" is the last on their list of priorities, despite the fact that this is a deficit-reduction commission. Every "hard decision" is shifted to poor people, and every new burden is heaped on working- and middle-class Americans. The wealthy lose their deductions? Great, but like most of the (few) good ideas in Simpson-Bowles, it's outweighed by the fact that the proposal is guided by the basic assumption that rich people deserve the lowest possible taxes, for the simple reason -- I suppose -- that they are rich. What's more, is obviously...

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