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

What Matters on the Economy.

The New York Times has two stories today on the stimulus package, now a year old. One is an analysis from David Leonhardt on how the stimulus has actually worked pretty well. It's just hard for the average American to tell because President Obama oversold it a tad -- how else would he get Congress to vote for so much spending? -- and because much of the its success was in keeping unemployment and the economy from getting worse, which is hard to see. Another is on how Mississippi and 20 other states, after waiting to see what the economy would do on its own, finally started to use some of the stimulus money to pay the wages of private employees directly. The debate over a new jobs bill in Congress — where the Senate is considering a wavering agreement supported by the Obama administration — largely centers on other approaches, like modest payroll tax breaks for businesses that hire and more spending on infrastructure. Lately, however, with the unemployment rate stubbornly hovering near...

Arguing Against the Facts.

Megan McArdle has been questioning the benefits of health insurance and has been attacked for some pretty lazy reasoning. The basis of her argument is that one study showed there wasn't a big difference in mortality when 64-year-olds go on Medicare -- and that somehow shows having health insurance doesn't provide much benefit. Now, after Ezra Klein and Kevin Drum went in, her argument seems to be that her life wouldn't be that much worse without health insurance because she's rich and connected. I have immense resources at my disposal, most of them non-monetary. There are many ways in which I would like to even out those differences, but privilege cannot be transferred into someone else's checking account. What McArdle misses is what so many of her critics spend time pointing out -- that for various reasons health care is needlessly expensive because we don't have a sane insurance system, that people with preventable problems end up with catastrophic illnesses because they delay care...

How Much Does Bayh Matter?

Not only did Evan Bayh rob Democrats of a sure election bet for Indiana, but he did it in such a way they'll have a hard time recovering: The senator announced his resignation days away from a deadline to qualify for the primary ballot and without informing senior Democratic leadership. Nate Silver points out how important Bayh was for Democrats, and, therefore, how bad his loss is for the party. But the panic over this announcement also shows just how shaky a foundation the idea of a Democratic party unity was. Democrats depend on this guy, someone willing to leave in a heartbeat because being a legislator is hard? And Bayh was pretty centrist, Matt Yglesias points out, with a record similar to that of his Republican co-senator, Dick Lugar . How different will a centrist Republican -- if that's who takes Bayh's place -- be? These points might be especially important to keep in mind as Democrats get further away from the illusion of a supermajority that can get things done. As my...

How Much Should a Government Employee Make?

Sen. Scott Brown is the latest to mount an attack on "lavish" federal wages. It's yet another version of the conservative attack on government.

The Wethersfield, Connecticut, Department of Motor Vehicles. (AP Photo/Bob Child)
On his inaugural spin on the Sunday talk show circuit, Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts called for a freeze on federal-employee pay, which he said was twice that of private-sector counterparts. It was an issue he campaigned on as a way to bring government spending under control. "Lavish pay and benefit packages have unfortunately become a way of life for public employees," he said at an event in January. "It's time to bring fiscal sanity to Washington. I support a temporary freeze on federal wages until the Congress devises a plan to control spending and debt." The obsession with government-employee pay is surfacing at the state and city levels as well. Colorado Springs is cutting services in the face of mounting budget deficits. Tax increases can only be approved by referendum, and residents recently voted one down. In November, a city councilman proposed reducing employee pay. A local business leader named Stephen Bartolin has criticized a city employee pay and benefits package...

Funding Teacher Training.

Teach for America is poised to lose its dedicated $18 million grant from the federal government and will instead have to compete for a bigger pool of money with other organizations that train teachers, reports the Washington Post today. The Department of Education presents the proposal as a good thing for the nonprofit, since they could receive more money. But, of course, the agency spokesperson says losing the guaranteed level of funding for the risk of competition is hard. It's difficult to think of many teacher-training programs on the scale of Teach for America, which placed 4,100 teachers in schools around the country last fall, according to the Post . In New York, the city government pays for new teachers to earn their master's degrees if they teach for public schools through the New York City Teaching Fellows program, and before heading D.C. public schools Michelle Rhee , a TFA alum, founded the New Teacher Project to help career changers make the transition into teaching. But...

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