Jamelle Bouie

Jamelle Bouie is a staff writer at The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

Christianity and Capitalism

With Christian ethics in the news -- by way of the "Is there a hell?" debate among conservative evangelicals -- it's worth highlighting this interesting survey result from the Public Religion Research Institute: PRRI explains: Overall more Americans believe that Christian values are at odds with capitalism and the free market than believe they are compatible. This pattern also holds among Christians. Among Christians in the U.S., only 38% believe capitalism and the free market are consistent with Christian values while 46% believe the two are at odds. There are significant differences by gender, party and income. Assuming this result is accurate, I'm actually surprised by the number of Americans unable to reconcile capitalism with Christianity. As it happens, they are absolutely correct; the Gospels are incredibly short on issues we associate with modern "values voting" -- abortion and homosexuality, mostly -- and incredibly long on reverence for the poor and disdain for the wealthy...

Poor People and Cell Phones

Conservatives, in their drive to deny services to leeches low-income people, are overly fond of this formulation, "Poor people aren't really poor, because they own cell phones and big-screen TVs." Ignoring, for a moment, the fact that TV/cell phone ownership isn't particularly indicative of wealth or income, it's also true that for a lower-income household, cell phones are probably cheaper than the alternative, a landline. To wit , in two of the nation's poorest states -- Arkansas and Mississippi -- 35 percent of adults depend solely on cell phones for voice communication: About 35 percent of adults in Arkansas and Mississippi have cellphones and lack traditional wired telephones, according to estimates released Wednesday by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In New Jersey and Rhode Island, that figure is only 13 percent. "The answer's obvious. No one has money here," said John N. Daigle, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Mississippi who...

What Voters Think When They Hear "Deficit"

For the record, since I've written about this recently, I think Jonathan Bernstein is absolutely right on the question of deficits and public opinion: I find it quite plausible that (many? most?) independents have no idea that "deficit" refers to the difference between federal government revenues and federal government expenditures, but instead use it as a synonym for "bad things in the economy." The basic text for this assertion, which I've referred to many times, is a question to George H.W. Bush , Ross Perot , and Bill Clinton about how the deficit affected them personally, asked at a town-hall style 1992 debate. If you don't remember the exchange , here it is: Q. Yes, how has the national debt personally affected each of your lives? And if it hasn't, how can you honestly find a cure for the economic problems of the common people if you have no experience in what's ailing them? [...] President Bush. Well, I think the national debt affects everybody. Obviously, it has a lot to do...

The Gang of Six, Part Deux

The New York Times reports on the new "Gang of Six," which is working to deliver a bipartisan plan on debt reduction: The senators have weathered criticism from bloggers and even colleagues, including the leaders of their own parties, who oppose tampering with Social Security or taxes. The gang nearly collapsed several times, including two weeks ago. The group’s oldest members — Senator Richard J. Durbin, 66, a progressive from Illinois who counts the Senate’s only socialist as a friend and ally, and Senator Saxby Chambliss, 67, a genial Georgia conservative whose nasty first campaign left lingering bad feelings among Democrats, and who is a confidant of Speaker John A. Boehner — illustrate that even with the mounting federal debt intensifying the partisan divide over spending and taxes, the severity of the fiscal threat is forging unlikely alliances. If Mr. Durbin and Mr. Chambliss can cut a deal on Social Security and new tax revenues, their associates say, then just maybe all of...

Federal "Debt" Means Absolutely Nothing to Most People

This , from Andrew Sullivan , is just ... wrong: The president's approval numbers have also taken a 5 point tumble over the last month. I wonder if his rather transparent deferral of courage to the GOP on the debt has anything to do with it. My own view is, unsurprisingly, un-Krugmanesque. If Obama seeks to win re-election by playing on fears about cuts in Medicare, he'll falter, because people know the crisis is real. Best to stick with the message of fairer debt reduction, shared sacrifice, and some real Medicare cost-cutting that doesn't simply rely on the bend-the-cost-curve experiments whose success is as yet unprovable. [Emphasis mine] Here is some nifty data, in chart form, from the latest Washington Post /ABC News poll: Normal people -- that is, the vast majority of Americans who aren't well-off political pundits -- aren't actually that concerned with the debt qua the debt. Insofar that debt has any resonance with the public, it's because of persistently high unemployment...

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