First, the background from John Hanna at The Associated Press:
Federal officials must help Kansas and Arizona enforce laws requiring new voters to document their U.S. citizenship, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, in a decision that could encourage other Republican-led states to consider similar policies.The New York Times:
Republican lawmakers who work to impose higher bars to voting — either through proof-of-citizenship or voter ID laws — are well aware that many of those otherwise-eligible voters who struggle to come up with the required documents, which include a birth certificate, passport or driver’s license, are more likely to vote Democratic. Sometimes they even say it out loud, as Mike Turzai, the majority leader in the Pennsylvania statehouse, did in 2012 when he bragged that the state’s voter ID law was going to “allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”Jay Bookman at The Atlanta Journal Constitution looks at the myth of voter fraud:
In recent months, it seemed that judges were beginning to see through the pretense of such laws, whose proponents insist they are necessary to protect “election integrity” despite the lack of any significant evidence that voter fraud of any kind exists. In reality, as Judge Richard Posner of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit wrote last year about voter ID efforts, these laws are “now widely regarded as a means of voter suppression rather than of fraud prevention.”
Nevertheless, Judge Melgren accepted at face value the claim by Kansas and Arizona that only “concrete proof of citizenship” can allow them to determine whether a voter is eligible.
On its face, that's not an unreasonable requirement, particularly if an actual problem can be found to exist. But of course a problem does not exist. There is no evidence of voting fraud, particularly by noncitizens, on any scale even close to justifying either the imposition it places on people or the expensive bureaucracy needed to administer it.More on the day's top stories below the fold.
For example, in an attempt to answer such concerns, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach claimed that he had found 221 cases of attempted voter fraud in his state. That's not very many, particularly when those 221 cases were accumulated over a period of 17 years.
And once the Kansas press began to look into those cases, almost all of them turned out to be mirages. One man who voted twice turned out to be suffering from early-stage dementia. In another case, Kobach claimed one man had died in 1996 yet somehow voted in 2010. The Wichita Eagle found the man very much alive.
Joe Conason at Salon:
In the segregationist South of Clinton’s youth, the enemies of the universal franchise were Democrats, but times have changed. Not just below the Mason-Dixon Line but across the country, it is Republicans who have sought to limit ballot access and discourage participation by minorities, the poor, the young and anyone else who might vote for a Democratic candidate.Next up, David Firestone looks at the latest Republican attempt to block jobless benefits:
No doubt this is why, at long last, the Democratic Party has launched a national organizing project, spearheaded by Clinton, to educate voters, demand reforms, and push back against restrictive laws. Returning to his role as the nation’s “explainer-in-chief,” Clinton may be able to draw public attention to the travesty of voter ID requirements and all the other tactics of suppression used by Republicans to shrink the electorate.
His first task is to debunk the claims of “voter fraud,” fabricated by Republican legislators and right-wing media outlets, as the rationale for restrictive laws. Lent a spurious credibility by the legendary abuses of old-time political machines, those claims make voter suppression seem respectable and even virtuous.
There was never much doubt that Speaker John Boehner would try to block the deal to extend unemployment benefits that was reached in the Senate last week. The only real question was what ridiculous justification he would come up with, and the one he chose on Wednesday exceeded expectations.Meanwhile, on the topic of growth and austerity, Paul Krugman, as usual, is spot on:
It turns out that giving five months of additional aid to 2 million desperate unemployed people can’t possibly happen because, he said, it would be too complicated to administer. [...] Fraud and abuse… where we have we heard that one before? Only every time Republicans have to justify their opposition to a social program, or explain why they have to make it harder for certain people to vote. [...]
The real reason for Mr. Boehner’s objection is that many in his caucus simply don’t believe in unemployment insurance, because they believe these benefits discourage people from working. If he put the Senate deal on the floor for a vote, it would pass easily with Democratic and some Republican support, but his hard-right members would be furious. The flimsiness of these excuses is a pretty good indication of the pressure he is under.
Yeats had it right: the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.
About the worst: If you’ve been following economic debates these past few years, you know that both America and Europe have powerful pain caucuses — influential groups fiercely opposed to any policy that might put the unemployed back to work. There are some important differences between the U.S. and European pain caucuses, but both now have truly impressive track records of being always wrong, never in doubt.
Thus, in America, we have a faction both on Wall Street and in Congress that has spent five years and more issuing lurid warnings about runaway inflation and soaring interest rates. You might think that the failure of any of these dire predictions to come true would inspire some second thoughts, but, after all these years, the same people are still being invited to testify, and are still saying the same things.
Finally, Catherine Rampell at The Washington Post makes a good point:
Yes, anti-inequality rhetoric has grown in recent years. But it’s not the growing wealth of the wealthy that Americans are angry about, at least not in isolation. It’s the growing wealth of the wealthy set against the stagnation or deterioration of living standards for everyone else. Polls show that Americans pretty much always want income to be distributed more equitably than it currently is, but they’re more willing to tolerate inequality if they are still plugging ahead. That is, they care less about Lloyd Blankfein's gigantic bonus if they got even a tiny raise this year. [...]
Calculations based on a recent Pew Research Center survey likewise found that people who believed their family’s income was falling behind the cost of living were more likely to say the government should do “a lot” to “reduce the gap between the rich and everyone else.”
[...] One implication of these polling trends is that if the 0.1 percent want to be left alone — or at least not pursued by pitchforks and guillotines — they should probably support policies that promote the upward mobility of other Americans. That would include things such as early childhood education, more generous Pell grants and a higher minimum wage, for example. While some of these policies might require higher taxes, it’s not clear that marginally improving mobility or raising the living standards of the most destitute would do much to hinder the very richest Americans’ ability to continue getting even richer. So far, little else has.