Monica Potts

Monica Potts is a freelance writer, and former staff member of The American Prospect. A fellow with the New America Foundation Asset Building Program, her work has appeared in The New York Times, the Connecticut Post and the Stamford Advocate. She also blogs at PostBourgie.

Recent Articles

Poverty Stays Static, But Income Inequality Widens

As economists keep telling us, the Great Recession is officially over. The U.S. gross domestic product grew by a sad 1.8 percent last year. Here's why you probably don't know it: Just about every ounce of economic gain went to the top. The Census Bureau released 2011 numbers from the annual population survey: The median household income was $50,100, which is 1.5 percent lower than in 2010. Overall, it has fallen 8.1 percent since 2007, the last year before the Great Recession. Robert Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and Jared Bernstein, an economist and senior fellow there, noted in a conference call with reporters that, before 2007, middle-level incomes were stagnant—so they were holding steady before falling. If we go back to 1997—remember those heady Clinton years?—median household income was $51,704 in 2011-adjusted dollars. Poverty didn't increase—it held steady at 15 percent—which wasn't expected because it had increased for every one of the...

Moving Down

The number of Americans who say they are in a lower economic class is going up.

(AP Photo/Rothstein)
Last week, during the Democratic National Convention, in a rare display of party message discipline, viewers heard Bill Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, and a raft of other speakers talk about the best way to “grow” the economy—“from the middle-class out and from the bottom up.” They were careful, though, to avoid certain phrases to describe that bottom—including “lower class” and “lower middle class”—and for good reason. Most people don’t like to identify themselves as low-income, even when they are. That’s changing, though, according to a report out yesterday from the Pew Research Center. The percentage of American adults who say they are lower-middle- or lower-class has risen to 32 percent, up from just 25 percent of adults in 2008. People younger than 30 are more likely to put themselves on the economic bottom rung, and the number of whites who identify as lower-middle or lower-class has grown faster than the number of blacks or Latinos who identify that way. These people are also more...

Warren's Bump

The big story late last week, after the Democratic National Convention ended, was that President Obama had received a monster bump— Nate Silver put it at almost eight points —made all the more dramatic when compared to Republican challenger Mitt Romney's measley plus one. But Obama isn't the only one leaving the party in Charlotte on an upward path: a new poll today shows Elizabeth Warren pulling even with Scott Brown, the Massachusetts Republican who she wants to replace in the Senate. (Full disclosure: Amelia Warren Tyagi, Elizabeth Warren's daughter, is chair of The American Prospect ’s board of directors and is chair of the board of the magazine’s publishing partner, Demos.) The Republican-aligned firm Kimball Political Consulting shows Warren gaining five points from their last poll on August 21, giving her a slight lead, with 46 percent of likely voters favoring her to Scott Brown, who gets 45 percent. That lead is easily swallowed by the poll's margin of error of plus or minus...

Warren the Big Shot

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Make no mistake: One of the major themes at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) was invented by one of its keynote speakers. A little more than a year ago, Elizabeth Warren* told a supporter in a living room in Andover, Massachusetts, that “there is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody.” What she meant was that American business thrived because it took root in a stable democracy that looked after the common good and invested in roads and education. She expanded that: Anyone who’s benefited has an intergenerational responsibility to pay the fruits of that investment forward. That idea has been borrowed by nearly every speaker at the DNC, and Warren repeated it last night when she teed up for former President Bill Clinton. “I grew up in an America that invested in its kids and built a strong middle class; that allowed millions of children to rise from poverty and establish secure lives,” she said. “An America that created Social Security and Medicare so that...

The Political Education of Elizabeth Warren

(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Illustrations by Victor Juhasz I n early October 2011, Shannon Sherman, a pregnant nurse who was two weeks from her due date, met Elizabeth Warren, though she didn’t know it at the time. All Sherman knew was that a friendly woman said hello to her in the ladies’ room at the Massachusetts Nurses Association’s annual conference, asked how far along she was, and shared a chuckle about the difficulties and indignities of the ninth month of pregnancy. Sherman had heard of Warren; the previous summer, the nurses' union had been among the first to endorse the Democrat in the 2012 Senate race, just after she left a job in Washington overseeing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.* Like many progressive groups, the union was eager to encourage Warren to jump into the race for the Senate seat Ted Kennedy had held for 47 years until his death in 2009. Scott Brown, a Republican, had won a special election in January 2010, and Democrats were still aghast over it. Spotlight: Liz Warren's...

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