Patrick Caldwell

Patrick Caldwell is a writing fellow at The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

Romney's Race-Based Initiative

"There's a woman in Chicago," Ronald Reagan told an audience in New Hampshire while campaigning in 1976. "She has 80 names, 30 addresses, 12 Social Security cards and is collecting veterans benefits on four nonexisting deceased husbands. And she's collecting Social Security on her cards. She's got Medicaid, getting food stamps and she is collecting welfare under each of her names. Her tax-free cash income alone is over $150,000." The story—an exaggerated account of a 47-year-old black woman on the South Side of Chicago—played on racial stereotypes that struck a chord with white, suburban voters. The specter of the “welfare queen” has been with us ever since. Despite high hopes, the election of a black president has done little to quell racial resentment. If anything, Obama’s election, the recession, and the changing demographics of America have heightened the fear that “real Americans” are losing their country—and their money—to undeserving minorities. It is precisely this anxiety...

In Iowa, a Big To-Do over "I Do"

Can progressives stop conservatives from bringing down judges who ruled in favor of same-sex marriage?

(Flickr/Serdar Kaya)
Iowa Republicans aren't ready to cast aside their anger over the state Supreme Court’s 2009 decision legalizing same-sex marriage. After successfully unseating three of the justices who joined the unanimous decision in 2010, they’re going after Justice David Wiggins, who is up for a retention vote this year. The new conservative campaign won't change Iowa's same-sex marriage law, but it further politicizes the state’s once-independent judiciary and may boost turnout for Mitt Romney in a key swing state. Iowa conservatives were left with little recourse after Varnum v. Brien , the court's decision that legalized same-sex marriage; as opposed to states like California, the Iowa constitution is difficult to amend. Instead, conservative activists set their sights on the court itself, launching a first-of-its-kind campaign against three of the judges. Yes-or-no retention votes for state Supreme Court justices had always been routine, with no active political campaigning. After all, the...

Read Mitt's Lips

After months of leaving practically every element of his policy proposals on the level of abstraction, Mitt Romney has finally offered a bit of clarity. According to his policy director, a President Romney would overturn all of the cuts to Medicare included in the Affordable Care Act, a figure that initially totaled $500 billion but has increased to $700 billion in the three years since the bill became a law. The bulk of these cuts are noncontroversial—Paul Ryan's budget, notably, maintains them—and they don't harm seniors' care one bit, despite Romney's wild claims . But hey, any chance to fear-monger with old white folks about that scary man in the White House, right? As our own Jamelle Bouie wrote today, Romney needs to win a large majority of the elderly vote if he hopes to win in November. What would it mean to leave Medicare untouched? Ezra Klein dug into the implications of Romney's promise, combined with his other budget plans. You will be shocked, no doubt, to learn that the...

Too Long, Didn't Read My Rights

A new website helps consumers understand legal agreements

(Flickr/farouq_taj)
I'm not a huge fan of the internet acronym tl;dr. For those who are unaware, it stands for "too long; didn't read." As someone who writes long features for a magazine, I like to think readers will read a longer piece of writing if it is properly engaging. However, there is one form of writing that certainly doesn't meet that standard: terms-of-service agreements. Sure, you'll likely page through the agreements for longer, seemingly weightier agreements like mortgages and credit cards. But what about the daily legal pacts you sign as a matter of course? Want to buy something from the iTunes store? You'll have to wade through over 15,000 words of legalese. Even then, should you want to download an app for your iPhone, you'll need to consent to yet another agreement. Most consumers agree to these without bothering to read the handful of clauses in which they sign away the bulk of their legal rights. Thankfully, a new website is crowdsourcing the task of translating complex lawyer speak...

Cordray Goes to Congress

House Republicans can’t stop fuming about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Job creators, job creators, job creators. That's all you hear from Mitt Romney and Congressional Republicans these days. For the most part, Republicans trot out the job creator (a figure spoken about with great veneration, but in fact a term coined and crowd-tested by GOP talking-point guru Frank Luntz) whenever large discussions on government spending or tax cuts come into play. But a quiet little hearing Wednesday on Capitol Hill showed that this veneration trickles down to the most minute details of policymaking. The House Small Business Committee had summoned Richard Cordray, director of the upstart Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) , to testify on a series of regulations the agency proposed to drastically simplify the forms you see before you close a deal on a mortgage. Theoretically, the hearing was a chance for the representatives to scrutinize these regulations and propose subtle (or not-so-subtle) tweaks if things weren't working. But the types of changes...

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