Kalena Thomhave

Kalena Thomhave is a writing fellow at The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

The Untapped Voting Power of Single Women

Unmarried women are less likely than their married counterparts to register and to vote but they could be a key Democratic voting bloc in November if candidates get moving to address their issues.

Women helped propel Virginia Democrat Ralph Northam into the Old Dominion’s Executive Mansion in last year’s off-year gubernatorial election: Northam won their vote by 22 points . In 2016, Hillary Clinton prevailed among women by a smaller margin, 17 points. But the vote breakdown also shows that unmarried women actually helped elect Northam: Although unmarried women comprised just 16 percent of voters in the gubernatorial election, a majority of those women, 77 percent , cast their ballots for Northam (54 percent of married women did). Clinton won 61 percent of unmarried woman voters in 2016. A new report from the Washington-based Voter Participation Center, an organization that registers voters and studies voting habits, finds that unmarried women could be a powerful political force, but many don’t vote or aren’t registered to vote. Yet single women make up half of all women and 26 percent of the adult population. One of the report’s key findings hinges...

Scott Walker and the Failure of Trickle Down

In Minnesota, progressive taxes and social spending have created more and better-paying jobs than next-door neighbor Wisconsin has created through tax and spending cuts.

(AP Photo/Scott Bauer)
In January 2011, two new governors took office in the neighboring states of Minnesota and Wisconsin. Minnesota’s new governor, Democrat Mark Dayton, had campaigned largely on a platform of taxing the rich to provide the services the state needed. By contrast, Wisconsin’s new governor, Republican Scott Walker had pledged to cut taxes in order to create jobs. Over the course of the past seven years, these two governors have taken their states on vastly different trajectories: Minnesota to the left, and Wisconsin to the right. How these two diametrically opposed approaches have played out has been chronicled before, including by the Prospect , where in 2015, as the governors embarked on their second terms, Ann Markusen wrote how “Minnesota and Wisconsin offer something close to a laboratory experiment in competing economic policies.” Now, nearing the completion of those second terms, the merits and problems of these two philosophies of governance can be tallied...

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...

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