Monica Potts

Monica Potts is a senior writer for The American Prospect and 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

Sometimes There Are Facts, Journalist Says.

One of the most annoying things about the way the health-care battle has played out in the press is the way arguments of fact are presented as arguments of politics. That happened today, when, in a roundabout way of reporting on the CBO's score of the latest iteration of the reform bill, The New York Times attributed the savings to the words of top Democrat officials instead of the Congressional Budget Office, which it later called "authoritative." In the first ten years, the legislation would reduce deficits by $130 billion, Rep. James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the House majority whip, said after a meeting of the party’s caucus. The effect on deficits over the following decade would be much greater, a total of $1.2 trillion, he said. The savings would come largely from reductions in the growth of Medicare spending, with new fees and tax increases also contributing. It seems clear that the reporter simply hadn't seen the report, which was released after the story was published...

A Decline in Prison Populations.

For the first time in 40 years, the number of prisoners in state prison systems has dropped , according to a new report from the Pew Center on the States. During the past four decades, the number of prisoners rose precipitously -- by more than 700 percent -- as more people were sent to prison and kept there longer. While the financial crisis helps explain some of the drop, as states released some prisoners as a way to cut costs in the face of budget deficits, the study from Pew notes that the population began to decline in 2007, before the crisis really took hold. Many states began to realize their tax dollars could be more effectively spent through diversionary and other programs. While the number of prisoners rose so fast, the direct costs of incarcerating them rose as well. That doesn't even count the opportunity costs of all those people spending years in prison. And while the center hedges a bit and says the very small decline could be a seasonal adjustment, the study notes that...

Attacking the Producers.

Yesterday, Michelle Obama gave a speech to the Grocery Manufacturers of America, as part of her campaign against childhood obesity. She told the assembled group -- executives responsible for products from Coca-Cola to ConAgra to McDonald's -- to stop hiding unhealthy ingredients behind health-claim labels and to start marketing healthy foods as effectively as unhealthy ones: Mrs. Obama acknowledged that the changes she called for can’t happen overnight, but said that it doesn't excuse attempts to disguise unhealthy food. “Adding a little bit of vitamin C to a product with lots of sugar, or a gram of fiber to a product with tons of fat, doesn’t suddenly make those products good for our kids," she said. The message represents what I like most about the campaign. While efforts include food education for parents and children, the campaign is also aimed at the people who make and market cheap, unhealthy food. Kids are bombarded with ads and candy displays, and parental involvement only...

Sex and the Pulitzers

The National Enquirer's bid for recognition of its Edwards coverage is undeserved. Not because of the quality of the publication, but because of the relevance of the story.

Rielle Hunter leaving the Terry Sanford Federal Building and Courthouse in Raleigh, N.C. (AP Photo/Jim R. Bounds)
It's easy to mock Rielle Hunter's Q&A with GQ . The interview, posted online this week, is the first time she has spoken to the press about her affair with John Edwards. "Before I met Johnny, I had a lot of judgment about infidelity," she told Lisa DePaulo. "Now I have a much deeper understanding and acceptance of people's processes. It's hard and complicated for a lot of people to pull the Band-Aid off." Most postmortems were particularly unforgiving about the accompanying photos, which show Hunter without pants, lounging amid her daughter's stuffed animals. "If you're gonna involve Kermit, Barney, and Dora, put your pants on!" scoffed Elizabeth Hasselbeck on The View . Hunter's reveal is rolling out against the backdrop of a Pulitzer campaign by the National Enquirer for breaking the news of the affair and the secret child Hunter conceived with John Edwards during his 2008 presidential bid. The paper has submitted the articles for consideration in the investigative and national...

States' Rights and the President.

A rising number of states are asserting their authority over that of the federal government, making states' rights or nullification arguments in anticipation of policies like increased gun control from the Obama administration, even though there’s no evidence stricter gun policies are coming. There’s also anticipated resistance to health-care reform, though the legislation will likely allow states to opt-out if they want to. According to The New York Times : Other scholars say the state efforts, if pursued in the courts, would face formidable roadblocks. Article 6 of the Constitution says federal authority outranks state authority, and on that bedrock of federalist principle rests centuries of back and forth that states have mostly lost, notably the desegregation of schools in the 1950s and ’60s. It’s impossible to view state’s rights -- a compromise forged by a fledgling nation that was half-slave and half-free, and since then typically invoked to support anti-progressive stances --...

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