Jamelle Bouie

Jamelle Bouie is a staff writer at The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

Everything Remains Raw.

Is the tax deal a sign of new cooperation between the GOP and Barack Obama ? The short answer is no. And the longer answer? As long as Obama is president and Democrats control one chamber of Congress, the incentives that drove Republican behavior over the last two years remain in place. It's still the case that poor economic performance will harm Obama and the Democratic Party, and it's still the case that Republicans can force many concessions by holding the government hostage to their whim. Indeed, with the omnibus dead and START on life support, this lame-duck session is basically a trial run for the next two years, where Republicans kill anything potentially beneficial to Democrats. Republicans have little interest in working with Obama, but they do love tax cuts for the rich. And that's why the deal passed. The GOP is nothing but ideologically committed to lowering rates on high earners, and renewing the Bush tax cuts is the central item on its agenda. Hell, it's the only item on...

No Love for the 99ers.

Understandably, most of the chatter around the tax deal revolves around taxes. By contrast, the extension to unemployment benefits has mostly gone under the radar, with some enthusiasm from liberals and progressives. Well, as The Wall Street Journal suggests , liberals (myself included) might have made a mistake by not subjecting the extension to more scrutiny, since -- for all of its good -- it doesn't actually provide aid to anyone who's been out of work for more than 99 weeks: The number of people who have received their final payments from extended-benefits programs this year through the end of October — the most recent month for which data are available — is over one million, and that number has been steadily increasing. Separately, the Labor Department reported that nearly 10% of the unemployed in the third quarter of 2010 — more than one million people — had been out of a job and looking for work for about two years or more. Meanwhile, initial claims for unemployment have been...

Don't Call It a Comeback.

Now that the House has passed the president's tax deal, the story today -- it seems -- is how Obama has bounced back after a supposedly terrible year. Here is Politico : Yet for all that drama, President Barack Obama closed the most impressive sales job of his presidency a few minutes before the clock struck midnight on Thursday -- winning House approval of a broadly popular tax-cut and unemployment extension opposed by the extremes of both parties. If the past two years has been spent ramming though Obama’s ambitious and often unpopular policy agenda, whatever the cost, the past two weeks has been an exercise in salesmanship and compromise -- some would say capitulation -- unlike anything he’s pulled off as president. And Charles Krauthammer , writing in The Washington Post op-ed page: Remember the question after Election Day: Can Obama move to the center to win back the independents who had abandoned the party in November? And if so, how long would it take? Answer: Five weeks. An...

Getting Over Earmarks

TAP talks to an earmark defender.

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann during a rally in April.(AP/Jim Mone)
For Republicans, as well as some Democrats and the media, earmarks are a symbol of wasteful spending and harmful quid pro quo. Recently, Republican leaders agreed to place a moratorium on these spending requests, with support from the White House. Sean Kelly and Scott Frisch, political scientists at California State University, Channel Islands, have a friendlier view of earmarks. In their book Cheese Factories on the Moon , named after a quip from former Sen. Phil Gramm, they make the case that earmarks are important. TAP recently spoke with Kelly on the role these unfairly maligned tools play in American democracy. Earmarks are actually a fairly arcane subject. What inspired you to write a book about them, and more important, what inspired you to write a defense of them? Scott, who worked for the Treasury, [Office of Management and Budget], and for Frank Lautenberg back in the early 1990s, actually wrote his dissertation (later a book) on earmarks, doing then what is very common now...

Nightmares in Appointment-Land.

I have a column up today on the deep problems in the presidential appointments process and what it will take to solve them. Here is a lay of the land, for people unfamiliar with the subject: Progressives have been vocal about the Senate's obstruction of legislation and, recently, judicial nominees. But few people have noticed the Senate's obstruction of the executive branch and it's ability to function effectively. Indeed, at the 18-month mark of Obama 's presidency -- this summer -- more than 20 percent of executive-branch positions were unfilled. At the moment, there are 177 pending nominations. Some, like Sargeant's, have been filled by recess appointment. But the vast majority have been left to languish. This isn't new. Over the last two decades, the appointments process has become a wonky version of the beast with five heads; presidents are responsible for filling thousands of positions, nominees are forced to endure endless background checks and intense personal scrutiny, and...

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