Jamelle Bouie

Why Ken Cuccinelli Might Be Virginia's Next Governor

Gage Skidmore / Flickr
Gage Skidmore / Flickr Attorney General of Virginia Ken Cuccinelli speaking at the 2012 Liberty Political Action Conference in Chantilly, Virginia. Ideology matters much less to electoral outcomes than you’d think. Yes, there are obvious examples of where it matters—see: Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock, Sharon Angle, and Christine O’Donnell—but by and large, it plays a marginal role. The fundamentals of an election will do more to drive outcomes than a candidate’s ideology. Or, put another way, a double-dip recession and double-digit unemployment would have doomed Barack Obama regardless of who Republicans nominated. In that world, even Michele Bachmann could win the White House. The point of this is to frame the upcoming Virginia gubernatorial election, which—barring a third-party contender—will pit Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli against Terry McAuliffe, former chair of the Democratic National Committee. Cuccinelli has built his national brand as a hard right, Tea Party...

The Ridiculous, Unprecedented Filibuster of Chuck Hagel

Secretary of Defense / Flickr
Secretary of Defense / Flickr A s of this afternoon, Republicans have vowed to filibuster Chuck Hagel’s nomination to head the Department of Defense. It’s not hyperbole to say this is unprecedented—the Senate has never filibustered a president’s Cabinet nominee. It would be one thing if the nominee were clearly unqualified—if Obama had nominated Diddy to lead Defense, then Republicans would have a point. But Hagel is a decorated Vietnam veteran who served two terms in the Senate and built a reputation for seriousness on defense issues. This isn’t to say Republicans can’t oppose Hagel—they can vote against him, and if they have a majority, they can defeat his nomination. But refusing to allow the full Senate to vote on this is a huge departure from congressional norms. And why are Republicans breaking from years of Senate tradition? Because the administration hasn’t released specific intelligence about the September attacks on the U.S’s diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya. Here’s...

Obama's Plan for Universal Pre-K

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White House / Flickr If you haven’t already, you should read Sharon Lerner on Oklahoma’s attempt to provide high-quality preschool education to all of its students. It offers a glimpse into what the Obama administration intends with its universal pre-K push, and it’s a hopeful story to boot. In the meantime, it’s worth look at the administration’s proposals, which were released this morning. Here is an extended excerpt from the White House fact sheet : The President’s proposal will improve quality and expand access to preschool, through a cost sharing partnership with all 50 states, to extend federal funds to expand high-quality public preschool to reach all low- and moderate-income four-year olds from families at or below 200% of poverty. The U.S. Department of Education will allocate dollars to states based their share of four-year olds from low- and moderate-income families and funds would be distributed to local school districts and other partner providers to implement the program...

Q&A: How Do You Measure Value in Higher Education?

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P. Morrissey / Flickr The Rotunda at the University of Virginia. In the State of the Union, President Obama gave a brief mention to higher-education reform, asking “Congress to change the Higher Education Act, so that affordability and value are included in determining which colleges receive certain types of federal aid.” Across the country, researchers are working hard on just this question: What “value” do colleges and universities add, and how do we measure it? The Center for American Progress recently released a paper on performance-based funding for higher education , and last year, the Gates Foundation—in collaboration with HCM Strategists—began a project called “ Context for Success .” Its goal? To give policymakers and colleges tools to better judge what works in higher education. To find more about what this entails, I had a brief conversation with Charles T. Clotfelter, a professor of public policy, economics and law at Duke University, who worked on the project. Last night...

Republicans Will Appeal to Latinos by Opposing Policies They Support

Alex Campbell / Medill News Service
In something that shouldn’t come as a surprise, at all Republicans have already announced their opposition to a minimum-wage hike. Here’s House Speaker John Boehner, throwing cold water on the proposal: “I’ve been dealing with the minimum wage issue for the last 28 years that I’ve been in elected office,” Boehner told reporters at a press conference, arguing that raising the minimum wage would hurt people trying to climb the “ladders of opportunity” that Obama mentioned in his speech. “When you raise the price of employment, guess what happens? You get less of it. At a time when Americans are still asking the question, ‘where are the jobs?’ why would we want to make it harder for small employers to hire people?” he said. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell complained that President Obama “spoke of workers’ minimum wages, instead of their maximum potential,” and Florida Senator Marco Rubio did the same when asked about the issue on CBS This Morning: “I don’t think a minimum-wage law...

How Would a Minimum-Wage Increase Affect the Economy?

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Besides universal preschool , the most overtly progressive policy proposed by President Obama last night was a large minimum-wage hike, from the current rate of $7.25 per hour—instituted in 2009—to a new rate of $9 per hour. Not only is this higher than the minimum wage in every state other than Washington, but when adjusted for inflation, it’s the highest minimum wage since 1981. As is true whenever politicians propose a minimum-wage hike, there is concern over the effect on business and hiring. The traditional line —pushed by Republicans and business groups—is that an increase will cost jobs and harm small businesses. But if two decades of research are any indication, the actual effects of a minimum-wage hike are minimal and in some cases, positive. In 1992, economists Alan Krueger (now co-chair of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors) and David Card took advantage of a natural experiment —New Jersey increased its minimum wage by 18.8 percent, while neighboring Pennsylvania remained...

African Americans and Immigration, Continued

Jamelle Bouie / The American Prospect
A few weeks ago , I noted the extent to which President Obama’s push for immigration reform created real tension with some African Americans, who see Latino immigrants as direct competitors for jobs and other resources. Writing for McClatchy, William Douglas and Franco Ordonez examine this tension , highlighting Al Sharpton (who supports immigration reform) and a radio host whose listenership oppose new immigration: Ingram says many of his listeners see Obama’s attempt to push forward on immigration as a reminder of what the president hasn’t done to improve economic conditions for African-Americans. “I would say a bulk of my listenership is anti-immigration,” he said. “You have to understand that in the community in which I live the percentage of African-Americans who are unemployed. They look at what’s going on with immigration as an affront to African-Americans who can’t pay their mortgages because many of the immigrants come here, they are hired at less than minimum wage.” The...

The President's Dream State

AP Photo/Charles Dharapak
AP Photo/Charles Dharapak President Obama at last night's State of the Union address B y any measure, President Obama’s first term was consequential. In four years, he signed an $800 billion stimulus program into law, laid the foundation for universal health insurance, secured new regulations governing the financial sector, repealed "don't ask, don't tell," and put the United States on the path back to economic recovery. For his second term, he has an agenda that’s just as ambitious and—reflecting the coalition that re-elected him—unambiguously progressive. Other than a de rigeur nod to deficit reduction—he mentioned “the deficit” ten times—the speech ticked off a litany of liberal policies: Universal pre-school, a cap-and-trade system to limit carbon emissions, a higher federal minimum wage (set at 9$ an hour, the highest it’s been since 1981), and billions more in new infrastructure spending to repair roads and bridges. That’s to say nothing of comprehensive immigration reform (with...

Full Text of the State of the Union

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In case you can't find it, here is tonight's State of the Union, as it was delivered: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, fellow citizens: Fifty-one years ago, John F. Kennedy declared to this Chamber that “the Constitution makes us not rivals for power but partners for progress…It is my task,” he said, “to report the State of the Union – to improve it is the task of us all.” Tonight, thanks to the grit and determination of the American people, there is much progress to report. After a decade of grinding war, our brave men and women in uniform are coming home. After years of grueling recession, our businesses have created over six million new jobs. We buy more American cars than we have in five years, and less foreign oil than we have in twenty. Our housing market is healing, our stock market is rebounding, and consumers, patients, and homeowners enjoy stronger protections than ever before. Together, we have cleared away the rubble of crisis, and can say with renewed...

Why Asian Americans Are So Democratic—In Three Charts

Jamelle Bouie / The American Prospect
Apropos of this morning’s post on the Democratic Party’s overwhelming strength with Asian Americans, it’s worth looking at why Asians are so supportive of Democrats in general, and President Obama in particular. One answer is the anti-immigrant politics of the Republican Party. It’s not that Asians are liberal as much as it is that—as a largely foreign-born community—they’re turned off by the GOP’s overt hostility toward immigration. But a poll taken before the election complicates that picture. In the survey , conducted by the Asian American Legal Defense Fund, only 7 percent of respondents saw Mitt Romney as hostile toward Asian Americans. Romney used anti-immigrant rhetoric, but it didn’t create an impression of hostility toward the Asian American community writ large. And even if it did, rhetoric alone isn’t enough to explain Obama’s wide advantage with Asian Americans For that, you have to look to ideology. In its 2012 survey on the beliefs and views of Asian Americans, the Pew...

America's Long Experiment in Racial Quotas

Wikipedia
Wikipedia A 1937 redlined map of Philadelphia by the city's Home Owners' Loan Corporation. Racial inequality in housing, health, and education is still a fact of American life, but many of the programs and policies meant to combat it are on the chopping block. This year, for instance, the Supreme Court will rule on a challenge to the University of Texas’ affirmative action program—from a white student denied admission —and in doing so, is expected to end race-based preferences in college admissions. Likewise, conservative Republicans have mounted an effort to gut the Voting Rights Act . Their position? That it’s unfair to place greater federal scrutiny on states with a history of racial discrimination. This, despite the fact that—over the last two years—those same states have passed a host of laws that make voting more difficult for African Americans and other minorities. At the other end of the hemisphere, however, politicians and activists are working to combat racial inequality,...

The Public and the Drone War

Jamelle Bouie / The American Prospect
It’s a near certainty that President Obama will continue his drone war, including targeted strikes against American citizens. Why? Because, at the moment, there’s not much of a political price to pursuing the strategy. To wit, today’s survey from CBS News is just the latest in a list of polls that show wide support for drone strikes, and smaller—but still significant—support for strikes against American citizens. Overall, 57 percent of Americans approve of how President Obama has handled terrorism, as opposed to the 31 percent that disapprove. Seventy-one percent favor drone attacks against suspected terrorists, with overwhelming support from all partisan groups: The picture is different when it comes to killing Americans suspected of terrorism. There, the broad public is ambivalent—just a plurality of Democrats and independents support the policy. Republican support—reflecting the party’s aggressive approach to foreign policy—is still strong, though substantially smaller than support...

The GOP's Big Asian-American Problem

Jamelle Bouie / The American Prospect
Still overlooked in the immigration discussion are Asian Americans, who are the fastest growing demographic group in the country—and one of the most diverse. The bulk of Asian American immigrants (83 percent) come from China, the Philippines, India, Vietnam, Korea, and Japan. At present, they’re 5.8 percent of the total population, nearly half of whom live in the West, with a large concentration on the Pacific coast. Seventy-four percent of Asian American adults were born outside of the United States, and in 2009—according to the Pew Research Center—Asian American immigration outpaced Hispanic immigration for the first time in recent history: The Republican Party’s standing with Latinos is solid compared to where it is with Asian Americans. A whopping 73 percent of Asians supported Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election, up 11 percent from four years ago. When you disaggregate by nationality, the difference between Asian support for Obama and Romney is even more stark and...

Why the GOP Has a Hard Road Ahead (In Four Charts)

Pew Research Center
Today’s New York Times does a great job of highlighting something that’s been under-discussed in the conversation over Latino voters and immigration reform—Insofar that the GOP has a minority problem, it’s a subset of a much larger young person problem. Here’s the Times with more: Nationally, voters under 30 accounted for 19 percent of the electorate last year, up from 18 percent in 2008. These millennials are by far the most ethnically and racially diverse voter cohort; whites account for just 58 percent of them, according to the Pew center, while 76 percent of older voters are white. That diversity is partly why young voters skew liberal, said Scott Keeter, the center’s director of survey research. As more young people come of age, the electorate will grow more diverse. Unless Republicans break the bonds between Democrats and minorities, Mr. Keeter said, “this alignment is going to be baked into the younger generation.” The Pew Research Center’s 2011 and 2012 surveys on Millennials...

Marco Rubio Can't Save the GOP

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Gage Skidmore / Flickr T he rapid rise of Florida Senator Marco Rubio makes one thing clear about the Republican Party: They’ve convinced themselves that outreach (or the lack thereof) is their issue with Latinos. Solve the communications problem—with gentler language and high-status Hispanic politicians—and you’ll solve the electoral problem. It’s why Fox News CEO Roger Ailes has committed himself to making the network more friendly to Latino voters—an abrupt shift for a place that refers to immigrants as “illegal aliens”—and why Rubio will give his State of the Union response in English and Spanish . None of this is bad. The GOP’s new push to win Latino voters includes growing support for comprehensive immigration reform, which will be a huge humanitarian boon to millions of undocumented immigrants if it’s passed. But Republicans are fooling themselves if they think this will fix their problem with Latino voters or if they think immigration is the beginning and end of the issue. The...

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