Kalena Thomhave

Kalena Thomhave is a writing fellow at The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

Stop Talking About SNAP Fraud

The country spends millions of federal dollars to combat an extremely rare problem—food stamp abuse.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) ads in the District of Columbia were hard to miss. Posters begging passersby to help “STOP SNAP FRAUD!” replaced the usually more innocuous ads in Washington’s Metro system. While many of the ads were in underground subway stations, buses were also wrapped in fraud prevention ads. They plastered the Capitol South metro station, too—the one used by many legislative staffers—as Congress is gearing up to renew the farm bill, the massive legislation that may contain sweeping changes to SNAP, the program commonly known as food stamps. The nation’s capital has a progressive population (just 4 percent of the city’s votes went to Trump in 2016), so these ads did not go over well. SNAP fraud, after all, is a relatively uncommon phenomenon in the District of Columbia and elsewhere. In 2016, out of 1,000 completed investigations of the city’s roughly 134,000 SNAP recipients, officials found only...

West Virginia Teachers Won Their Strike. Now, They’re Rebuilding the Local Economy.

How the American Federation of Teachers has taken the lead in reinvigorating the poorest county in the state

AP Photo/David Goldman
This article appears in the Spring 2018 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . It’s early January, but the high tunnel at Mount View High School in McDowell County, West Virginia, is sweltering. High tunnels are inexpensive greenhouses, unheated but covered in plastic, that make it easier for farmers to extend the growing season for their fruits and vegetables. In this case, it’s strawberries: About 300 strawberry plants, donated by a McDowell farmer, are growing in raised beds. The students at Mount View chose to plant the strawberries, says Jenny Totten, who works with the high school students as the McDowell County Community Development Coordinator at the West Virginia Community Development Hub. The students don’t get to make a lot of their own decisions, she says. So she lets them choose what they want to do, whether it’s the work that they’ll do in the high tunnel or what they’ll make with the harvested plants. The kids don...

Rent Increases and Work Requirements for the Poor, Mortgage-Interest Deductions for the Rich

The Trump administration’s proposal to reduce housing assistance for the poor couldn’t contrast more sharply from the housing assistance showered on the rich. 

The Trump administration’s proposal to reform housing programs for the poor, unveiled last week, is just one among its many plans to gut anti-poverty programs, even as its authors bleat platitudes about getting people “back to work.” The proposal from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), outlined in the 2019 president’s budget, would raise rents on around four million families who receive federal rental assistance. HUD proposes increasing recipients’ rent payments from 30 percent of gross income to 35 percent, and also triples the minimum required rent payment from a $50 cap to about $150. On average, people would see their rents raised by about 44 percent . In addition to forcing people living in poverty to hand over money that’s probably already earmarked for other basic necessities, the administration is moving to allow public housing agencies—a s well as landlords —to implement work requirements on those receiving...

Even the CBO Says the GOP Tax Reform Will Incentivize Corporate Offshoring

The Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the new tax law suggests it could incentivize companies to offshore investments and jobs, which is directly at odds with GOP claims about the tax law.

Lars Halbauer/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
After the release of the GOP’s tax reform plan, several outlets, including the Prospect , noted that new tax provisions would incentivize corporate offshoring, instead of protecting jobs and raising wages as promised. But recently, even the Congressional Budget Office, the independent entity charged with nonpartisan analysis for Congress, agreed that tax reform could encourage companies to stash profits overseas—and also offshore American jobs. In December, House Speaker Paul Ryan published on his website that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act benefits “job creators of all sizes” as it “Prevents American jobs, headquarters, and research from moving overseas by eliminating incentives that now reward companies for shifting jobs, profits, and manufacturing plants abroad.” Observers like the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy and the Tax Policy Center pointed out that that wasn’t the case. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities,...

Audits Endanger Tax Credits for the Working Poor

When workers who claim the Earned Income Tax Credit are audited, they’re less likely to claim the credit, a powerful anti-poverty tool, in the following years.

(AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
In 2017, 27 million families received the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a refundable tax credit available to people with low incomes who work. While the EITC has been described as a subsidy for low-wage employers, the credit still materially puts, on average, $2,445 in the pockets of low-income people. But a new paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) finds that EITC claimants who are audited are less likely to claim the credit in the following years. This is particularly significant because House Republicans recently proposed expanding Internal Revenue Service review of EITC returns. The NBER researchers looked at the behavior of taxpayers who received the EITC—both those who were audited (through correspondence audit ) and those who weren’t. Their study found that, after receiving a correspondence audit, people who claimed the EITC in a particular year were 30 percent less likely to claim it the following year. EITC claimants were also 20 percent...

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