Jamelle Bouie

The Titanic Wealth Gap Between Blacks and Whites

Brandeis University
The gap between black and white wealth is nothing new. Researchers have studied it for decades, people have lived it for longer, and comedians—from Chris Rock to Dave Chappelle—have used it to craft biting humor. What's novel is the extent to which its has exploded over the last 25 years. According to a recent study from the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University, in which researchers followed 1,700 working-age households from 1984 to 2009, "the total wealth gap between white and African-American families" has nearly tripled, "increasing from $85,000 in 1984 to $236,500 in 2009." And more than 25 percent of the gap is attributable to homeownership and other policies associated with housing. Indeed, the disproportionate influence of housing on black wealth is reflected in this staggering statistic: "Overall, half the collective wealth of African-American families was stripped away during the Great Recession." It's fitting Brandeis released this report during a...

Conservatives Shun Popular GOP Governor

Bob Jagendorf / Flickr
Bob Jagendorf / Flickr New Jersey's Chris Christie is now the eighth Republican governor to back Obamacare's Medicaid expansion. Jeffrey Young, writing for the Huffington Post , gives the details : Expanding Medicaid in New Jersey would provide new health care coverage to an estimated 291,000 people through 2022, according to an analysis released by the Urban Institute and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation in November. New Jersey would spend an additional $1.5 billion and receive $15.4 billion from the federal government to finance the expansion during that time period, the report predicted. Politically, there's no question that this will improve his (already impressive) standing with New Jersey voters. What it won't do is help his case with conservative activists, who are angry enough with his position on guns—he supports a new, restrictive proposal in his state—to exclude him from this year's Conservative Political Action Conference. Here's the National Review with more : New...

Victory for the Friends of Hamas!

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff / Flickr
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff / Flickr By a vote of 71 to 27, the Senate closed debate on Chuck Hagel's nomination to lead the Department of Defense, thus beating a Republican filibuster on his confirmation. He is now poised for a final confirmation vote later Tuesday or early Wednesday, even as Republicans continue to object to his views on foreign policy and Middle East security. The " Friends of Hamas " will be pleased.

Does the GOP Have a Forward Vision?

Pew Research Center
Yet another poll shows a public unhappy with the Republican Party's political positioning. According to a new survey from the Pew Research Center, 62 percent of Americans say the GOP is "out-of-touch" compared to 46 percent who say the same for the Democratic Party. Likewise, 52 percent of Americans say Republicans "too extreme"—only 39 percent say that's true of Democrats. Overall, as this graph shows, the public has a pretty negative view of the Republican Party: More important than the GOP's overall popularity, I think, is this finding: Only 45 percent of Americans say that the GOP is looking out for the country's future. It's hard to know exactly what that means—I'd love to see Pew explore the question further—but odds are good it refers to the complete absence of a positive agenda from the GOP. Republicans have returned to their position as the "party of no." In rejecting tax increases of any kind, for any reason, they have all but refused to compromise—either President Obama...

Conservatives Seek to Blot Bob McDonnell's Name from the Book of Reagan

Jamelle Bouie / The American Prospect
Jamelle Bouie / The American Prospect I wrote yesterday that Ken Cuccinelli was the clear winner of the fight over Virginia's new transportation bill. Yes, it passed the General Assembly and is on its way to becoming law, but Cuccinelli successfully positioned himself as an opponent of new spending and higher taxes, and in a low-turnout election where energized supporters are key, Cuccinelli bought himself a small advantage. As did Terry McAuliffe, who—in supporting the bill—positioned himself in the sensible center of Virginia politics. The only loser in this fight, so far, is the governor, Republican Bob McDonnell. In his campaign for the governorship, as Scott Galupo points out for The American Conservative , McDonnell pledged not to raise taxes to pay for new transportation projects. When fully implemented, however, the current bill would raise taxes on Virginians by $6.1 billion over the next five years . Given the trade-off—better roads, bridges and mass transit for more than 8...

Ken Cuccinelli Makes Smart Moves in Virginia's Transportation Fight

Gage Skidmore / Flickr
Gage Skidmore / Flickr Attorney General of Virginia Ken Cuccinelli speaking at the 2012 Liberty Political Action Conference in Chantilly, Virginia. On Saturday, the Virginia General Assembly ended its session by passing a landmark transportation funding bill that would overhaul how Virginians pay for roads, highways and mass transit. The new plan would replace the 17.5 cents-per-gallon tax on gasoline—unchanged for 26 years—with a new 3.5 percent tax on motor fuels that would keep pace with inflation and growth. It allows for lawmakers to divert as much as $200 million in general fund revenue toward transportation instead of other services, and it charges a registration tax on hybrid, electric, and alternative fuel vehicles. Finally, it raises the state sales tax to 5.3 percent, and creates a special funding mechanism for the Hampton Roads area, where sales taxes are bumped to 6 percent to pay for regional transportation improvements. Merits of the law aside (it all but subsidizes...

Better Technology Won't Save the GOP

NewsHour / Flickr
It's hard to argue there isn't a large technology divide between Republicans and Democrats. The Obama campaign was lightyears ahead of Team Romney in terms of its online sophistication, including its presence on social media. As a result, some Republicans argue for a greater focus on technology as a way to appeal to younger voters and recover lost support in national elections. Stuart Stevens, chief guru for the Romney campaign, disagrees. Writing in The Washington Post , he argues that Republicans need a new message—and not just new technology—if they want to make inroads: In this fourth decade of the Internet, one of the original truisms is still true: Content is king. The ugly, clunky Drudge Report site still harvests record numbers of eyeballs because it serves up a hearty meal at a good price: free. The content rule is true across mediums. How many graphic makeovers and relaunches has CNN attempted to arrest its slow slide? The simple truth is that most people feel there is no...

Shorter White House on the Sequester: "It Will Destroy Everything"

At this point, odds are low for a deal to avert the sequester. Republicans want an agreement to replace the planned across-the-board spending cuts—which include cuts to defense spending—with ones that target social spending and entitlements. President Obama is willing to compromise on spending cuts, but insists on new revenues. "Balanced" deficit reduction—a key part of his reelection platform—is still a priority for the administration, and it commands wide support from the public. It's unclear what happens next, but the administration is attempting to build support for its position with a new lobbying campaign, aimed at the states. Just last night, the White House released detailed descriptions of how the sequester would affect each state. If it hits, says the administration , 70,000 children would lose access to Head Start, 2,100 fewer food inspections could occur, up to 373,000 mentally ill adults and children would go untreated, and small businesses may see $900 million in reduced...

Why Black Voters Are Critical for the GOP

New York Times
New York Times If there's a corollary to the idea that GOP reform is unnecessary, it's that further outreach is less important than advertised. A little less turnout from minorities, and a little more support from whites, and you have a President Romney. With that said, if Republicans are going to invest in new outreach, they should at least make smart decisions about it. So far, the collective opinion of the Republican Party is that it needs to win Latino votes in order to become competitive again. In the long-term, as Latinos become a growing portion of the American electorate, that's probably true. In the short-term, however, it's not clear Republicans are well-served by focusing on Hispanic voters. Remember, Latino attachment to the Democratic Party goes beyond immigration—Latino voters are more liberal than the median American, favoring greater government intervention in the economy. To win a significant portion of Latino voters, Republicans would have to moderate on core issues...

The Weak Political Case for GOP Reform

Marion Doss / Flickr
Marion Doss / Flickr In today's Washington Post , Republican scribe Michael Gerson makes yet another case for Republican reform : A Republican recovery in presidential politics will depend on two factors. First, candidates will need to do more than rebrand existing policy approaches or translate them into Spanish. Some serious rethinking is necessary, particularly on economic matters. In our Commentary essay, we raise ideas such as ending corporate welfare, breaking up the mega-banks, improving the treatment of families in the tax code, and encouraging economic mobility through education reform and improved job training. Whatever form Republican proposals eventually take, they must move beyond Reagan-era nostalgia. The more I think about it, the more I think this is wrongheaded. Obviously, there's a substantive case for Republican reform—eventually, the GOP will win the White House, and it will need a serious governing agenda. But the political case for reform is much weaker. Yes,...

Beltway Pundits Mysteriously Forget Barack Obama's Deficit Hawkery

Center for American Progress
Center for American Progress Today has seen several columns from frustrated pundits who want President Obama to "lead" Republicans to a deal on the automatic spending cuts scheduled for next month (i.e. "the sequester). The cuts, if implemented, will cause a huge slowdown in economic growth, and throw the federal government into disarray. Pace the recent column from David Brooks, the president has offered a deal on the sequester. It's a "balanced" package that achieves $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction through savings, spending cuts, and tax increases. The only obstacle is the Republican Party, which refuses to accept any new taxes. Some pundits, like National Journal 's Ron Fournier, insist GOP intransigence is the product of poor "leadership." If Obama would lead, the argument goes, Republicans would fall in line. But it's not leadership to accede to unreasonable demands, in this case, a short-term austerity package of immediate spending cuts. Imagine a child who demanded a dinner...

Extremist Republicans Don't Want to be Attacked for Extremism

Google Images
Google Images President George W. Bush signing the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. The National Review 's Andrew Stiles is still upset with Democratic messaging on reproductive rights: Welcome to the scorched-earth phase of the Democrats’ “war on women” campaign, and the beginning of a ruthless offensive to hold their Senate majority, and possibly to retake the House, in 2014. Democrats have nearly perfected the following exercise in cynical electioneering: 1) introduce legislation; 2) title it something that appeals to the vast majority of Americans who have no interest in learning what is actually in the bill, e.g., the “Violence Against Women Act”; 3) make sure it is sufficiently noxious to the GOP that few Republicans will support it; 4) vote, and await headlines such as “[GOP Lawmaker] Votes No On Violence Against Women Act”; 5) clip and use headline in 30-second campaign ad; and 6) repeat. I'm not sure if Stiles knows this, but the Violence Against Women Act...

The Sequester Blame Game

A key part of the GOP's strategy on the sequester is to blame President Obama for the fact it exists at all. One good example is House Speaker John Boehner's op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal : With the debt limit set to be hit in a matter of hours, Republicans and Democrats in Congress reluctantly accepted the president's demand for the sequester, and a revised version of the Budget Control Act was passed on a bipartisan basis. Ultimately, the super committee failed to find an agreement, despite Republicans offering a balanced mix of spending cuts and new revenue through tax reform. As a result, the president's sequester is now imminent. The big problem with this narrative is that it directly contradicts Boehner's rhetoric at the time. After the deal was crafted, in July 2011, Boehner told GOP House members that "There was nothing in this framework that violates our principles." Later, in an interview with CBS News following the House vote on the bill, he described the deal as...

Americans Really Want the GOP to Knock It Off

fakelvis / Flickr
fakelvis / Flickr If the public is unhappy with anything, it's the crisis-driven governing of the last two years. Between the debt ceiling stand-off—when House Republicans threatened to sink the economy if they didn't get spending cuts—and the recent fiscal cliff battle—where, again, Republicans threatened economic disaster if they didn't get spending cuts—the United States has lurched from fight to fight, crisis to crisis, in an ongoing game of domestic brinksmanship. This strategy might appeal to the Republican base—which has no interest in the Obama agenda—but it's been a nonstarter with the broader public, which just wants government to function. Indeed, GOP intransigence is almost certainly the reason for its dismal ratings in the latest poll from USA Today and the Pew Research Center. Republican leaders, for example, receive a 25 percent approval rating from the public, with a sharp divide between Democrats and independents (who give them a 22 percent and 15 percent rating,...

Why 2016 is the Year of Republican Reform

Bobby Jindal might say that the GOP needs to stop being the " stupid party ," and Eric Cantor might call for a new agenda that helps ordinary Americans , but the fact of the matter is that the Republican Party hasn't changed much since November, when it failed to capture the White House or make gains in Congress. So far, the Republican "reform" project has been an attempt to clothe old policies—income tax cuts, tight monetary policy, large discretionary spending cuts—in new rhetoric. Insofar that there's been a genuine attempt to rethink the GOP, it has come from the party's intellectual class. Over the last three months, Ramesh Ponnuru, David Frum, Reihan Salam, Michael Gerson, and others have attempted to provide a path out of the wilderness for the Republican Party, one that turns away from old dogmas and attempts to craft a conservatism that's responsive to today's conditions. As Ponnuru put it in a recent piece for the New York Times , today's Republicans "slavishly adhere to the...