Monica Potts

Monica Potts is a freelance writer, and former staff member of The American Prospect. 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

More on the Soda Tax.

After I wrote a column supporting New York's latest effort to tax sugary drinks, I read RaceWire's column on how it's just another tax to hurt poor people. While, yes, sales taxes are regressive, decrying this tax as a social justice issue misses the point. For starters, as I wrote in my piece, this sales tax hits producers who use concentrated syrups to add a lot of calories to their drinks. That might sound like a moot point, since the tax will be passed on to consumers as a higher-priced drink, but it's important to note that it also includes fruit juices with added sugar. In those instances, consumers can very easily shift their purchases to juices with more natural fruit that are slightly less sweet and have higher nutritional value per calorie. (The science on how bad sugary drinks are for us is pretty clear, but for some reason the RaceWire author, Michelle Chen , calls it uncertain. To support that, she links to a newspaper article that notes scientific consensus but quotes...

Taxing for Schools.

It's always amusing when conservatives try to portray increasing government revenue as fiscally irresponsible. But the ridiculousness reached its height in Carly Fiorina 's Demon Sheep ad against her Senate opponent Tom Campbell , which portrayed his past support of tax increases to balance California's budget as such. But of course, when lawmakers are actually faced with the real consequences of governing, tax increases are an important tool for maintaining important things, like schools. That's the choice facing Illinois lawmakers, who are considering Gov. Patrick Quinn 's budget, which raises income taxes by 1 percentage point, from 3 percent to 4 percent. A targeted increase for higher earners might be better, but it's a minor increase that would preserve the education budget at current levels. The article in The New York Times said Democrats in the state Legislature, which are the majority party, were so far noncommittal. But it's telling that the biggest criticism came from the...

Sugar High

New York's latest food campaign would impose a tax on the syrup added to soda and sweetened drinks.

(Flickr/caffine and malice)
There's one thing on which nearly everyone can agree: The overconsumption of soda and sugar-sweetened drinks is harmful to our health, especially for kids. That's why New York state's budget measure to tax those drinks is a win for public health. Gov. David Paterson of New York dropped a similar proposal last year after the bill garnered little support among lawmakers and received a lot of pushback from the beverage industry. This year, a new and improved effort that is part of Paterson's upcoming budget has a better shot. Still, many state senators, and some unions, oppose the tax. They say that touting it as a measure to curb obesity is just an excuse to tax. "This year, my rule is I'm not voting for any new taxes. None at all, at any time," state Sen. Joseph Robach told News 10 in New York. The measure would raise nearly half a million dollars and as much as $1 billion per year after that, all of which would go directly to the state's Department of Health. Because the measure is...

Time to Pass Paid Sick Leave Bills.

Connecticut might be closer to passing a bill that would require employers to provide paid sick leave, an effort that is similar to a bill proposed in the fall by Connecticut Sen. Christopher Dodd. But the Senate is tied up with bigger bills. The Connecticut Business and Industry Association helped stop the bill the last time it passed committee, and, as Daniel Schwartz at the Connecticut Employment Law Blog notes, the bill might not have a better chance in the state General Assembly this time around. It's easy to see why businesses would be against such a bill, since at first blush it looks like a higher cost, but it's hard to see how legislators can justify voting against it. As Shani O. Hilton wrote on the blog in the fall, only 40 percent of private-sector workers have paid sick leave. And as Jodie Levin-Epstein wrote a few years ago, more flexible workplaces, including those that allow sick leave, are better for businesses too. Employers like to think of low-income workers as...

Providing a Benchmark.

States may soon adopt national core standards for education that were designed by state governors and state school leaders, The Washington Post reports . It's part of President Obama's efforts to improve academics across the country. When the No Child Left Behind Act tried to make schools accountable for educating their students, perhaps the biggest misstep was penalizing schools that failed and relying on school choice and competition as the mechanisms for school improvement. That led to some states lowering their standards, since easier tests would be easier for students to pass, thus preventing a school from being labeled as failing. Part of the backlash against No Child Left Behind has been criticism that teachers can best determine what and how their students can learn, and some are now trumpeting the idea that a sense of community might matter more than providing school choice. But those can still be valued while recognizing there are national standards toward which every school...

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