Jamelle Bouie

Jamelle Bouie is a staff writer at The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

Race and the Political Economy of the South

Today's Christian Science Monitor has a really insightful piece that frames Scott Walker 's work in Wisconsin as part of an attempt to model the state's economy along Southern lines. In the South, states tend to work with a combination of "weak unions, a business-friendly climate, a thin social safety net, and lower taxes." To wit, Walker's union-busting has been coupled with large tax cuts for wealthy interests and deep cuts in education and local aid. If the modern Republican Party is mostly a Southern creature, then Walker is something of a poster boy for its ongoing effort to export the South's "methods" to the rest of the country. One quick criticism, though: CSM is totally wrong on the origins of the South's preferred economic system: That core idea – that tax-cut opportunity trumps tax-paid benefits – is built into the South's Jeffersonian society, which backs limits on federal power and promotes the state's role in safeguarding individual property and rights. It comes at a...

Debt as a Moral Issue

As states move to save themselves from fiscal doom, they are beginning to target health-insurance programs for the working poor, as a way to significantly cut costs: Pennsylvania is one of several destitute states seeking to help balance budgets by removing adults from government health insurance programs. Gov. Christine Gregoire of Washington, a Democrat, recently removed 17,500 adults covered under Basic Health, a state-financed plan for the working poor. In Arizona, Gov. Jan Brewer , a Republican, proposes to remove up to 250,000 childless adults who have been insured by her state’s Medicaid program under a decade-long agreement with the federal government. To restate a point from yesterday, rising health costs are most responsible for state deficits, and unfortunately, cutting participation is the easiest way to reduce those costs in the immediate short-term. That said, this is why it's silly to think of "debt" in moral terms. For the last two years, we've run large deficits to...

Careful What You Wish For

Obama's plan to let states waive the federal health-care law gives Republican governors what they want -- and increases the chance that the law itself will survive.

On Monday, President Barack Obama met with the nation's governors and announced his support for the first major amendment to the Affordable Care Act since the bill was signed last March. The proposal, crafted by Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Republican Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, would allow states to opt out of key planks of the health-care bill provided they met the administration's benchmarks. Given the political heat Obama has taken from Republican governors over health-care reform, you could think that this proposal represents a small step toward capitulation. But that would be wrong. In truth, this measure is a major first step toward securing the Affordable Care Act's short-term viability. First, the details: Under the original bill, states could not receive waivers until 2017, three years after the initial implementation date. The Wyden-Brown amendment would shorten the wait time to zero and allow states to apply for waivers as soon as implementation began, in...

Sticking It to Liberals, One Styrofoam Cup at a Time

For further evidence that the Republican Party is motivated entirely by anti-liberal grievance, here is some unwelcome news out of the Capitol's cafeteria: When the House returns Monday from a week-long recess, members and staffers will see something that hasn't been in the Capitol for four years: Styrofoam. In the first move toward phasing out part of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi 's (D-Calif.) "Green the Capitol" program, polystyrene cups were reintroduced this week as an option for coffee drinkers in the Capitol Carry-Out, the building's mini-cafeteria. According to Rep. Dan Lungren , chairman of the Committee on House Administration, the program “is neither cost-effective nor energy-efficient,” despite the fact that it reduced energy and water consumption in Capitol buildings by 23 percent and 32 percent, respectively. Given the speed with which Republicans moved to end the program, shortly after entering office, I have no doubt that this is just a way to stick it to Democrats and...

Black People and Gay Marriage

If this Washington Post piece is any indication, African Americans are basically “meh” about President Obama ’s decision not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act: Two and a half years later, religious African Americans are having a more nuanced response to an announcement last week by the Obama administration that the government will no longer defend a federal law banning same-sex marriage. Some say the decision is dismaying, though not damning. Others may be rethinking their views, given the influence Obama has in the African American community. And there are those who don't seem to care much at all. The broader question is this: Why aren’t black people energized about gay marriage, despite having high rates of religious attendance? Easy answer: It’s class, stupid. To channel Princeton political scientist Larry Bartels for a moment, the culture wars are mostly fought between Republican and Democratic elites; after all, it’s easy to obsess over gay people when you’re not worried...

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