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The New York Times breaks down continued degradation of voting rights in Ohio:
Someday, after they figure out how to appeal to a broader swath of the electorate, Republicans will probably be embarrassed by how much time they have spent making it harder for Americans to vote. For now, though, the beat just goes on. In a misguided effort to hold on to power despite an ever-shrinking base of older white voters, Republican lawmakers around the country continue to impose all sorts of barriers to the ballot box.

One of the most egregious examples is happening in Ohio, a critical swing state in presidential elections and the scene of many recent disenfranchisement attempts.

In February, state legislators quickly pushed through a law removing the first week of Ohio’s 35-day early-voting period — which was also the only week that permitted same-day registration. Days later, Ohio’s secretary of state, Jon Husted, issued a directive further cutting back on early voting by eliminating voting during evening hours, on Sundays, and on the Monday before Election Day. Previously, county election boards had the power to set polling hours based on local needs, which vary widely — one rural county has just 13,000 residents, while more than 1.2 million live in Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland.

Robert Reich at The Christian Science Monitor:
Mississippi used its new voter-identification law for the first time Tuesday — requiring voters to show a driver’s license or other government-issued photo ID at the polls.

The official reason given for the new law is alleged voter fraud, although the state hasn’t been able to provide any evidence that voter fraud is a problem.

The real reason for the law is to suppress the votes of the poor, especially African-Americans, some of whom won’t be able to afford the cost of a photo ID.

More on the day's top stories below the fold.

Stephanie Woodward at In These Times takes an in-depth look at the Native American vote:

Though measures that curtail minorities’ voting rights, such as stringent ID requirements and limited voting time, have made headlines in recent years, the challenges Native Americans face when they go to the polls have never been on the national radar. In the second decade of the 21st century, nearly 50 years after the Voting Rights Act of 1965 outlawed discriminatory voting practices, American Indians are still working to obtain equal voting rights.
David Firestone looks at the quid-pro-quo controversy in Virginia:
Republicans “will do anything and everything to prevent low-income Virginians from getting health care,” Scott Surovell, a Democrat in the House of Delegates, told The Post. “They figure the only way they could win was to give a job to a state senator.”

In various forms, this kind of smashmouth politics is played in statehouses across the country by lawmakers who know that most voters don’t care or aren’t paying any attention. It gives the lie to the idea, usually promoted by Republicans, that state legislatures are a great laboratory for government innovation. They may be a lab, but only sunlight and voter anger can cure what is growing there.

The Army Times says that the president was right in rescuing Bowe Bergdahl:
What cannot be a matter of debate, however, is the Army’s — and America’s — promise to leave no warrior behind.

There are some who suggest that Bergdahl should have been left behind, heedless of the reality that the facts of the case are far from settled and he hasn’t yet had a chance to defend himself.

That’s not America. We must always bring our sons and daughters home — just as we must always ensure justice is served.

Tom Keane at The Boston Globe examines how lottery systems bank on the poor:
Data collected by Globe reporter Catherine Cloutier show the Lottery is often a Robin Hood in reverse, taking from the poor and giving to the rich. Chelsea, for instance, is one of the state’s worse-off cities, with a poverty rate of 25 percent. Its residents spend an average $1,178 a year on lottery tickets. Meanwhile, those in ultra-wealthy Weston spend a scant $45 a year. [...]

Lotteries prey on the gullible, desperate, and poor, amounting in essence to a highly regressive tax. True, unlike with taxes, no one is compelled to purchase a lottery ticket. But the distinction is hollow. For all intents and purposes, lotteries are used for the same purposes as taxes.

Julia Grant, writing at The Detroit Free Press, writes about the value of college and student loan reform:
It is ironic that amid the complaints about the uselessness of college, organizations such as the Michigan College Access Network are avidly working to get more students to apply to college, including those who are least likely to enroll. We need more, not fewer, college graduates. The U.S. has fallen from its place as the country with the most college graduates — a status it held as recently as 1990 — to No. 12, a situation that is certainly not enhancing our economic competitiveness.

Rising student debt and tuition make many leery about the value of the degree. In 2010, President Barack Obama set into place a plan that would allow students to use only 10% of their income to repay student loans. On Monday, Obama rolled out a new plan that would extend this benefit to a broader range of students, including those who received loans before 2007 and or stopped borrowing by October 2011. In addition, Sen. Elizabeth Warren has proposed legislation that would permit about 25 million Americans to refinance their loans at lower rates, significantly decreasing the debt burden.

Lessening the student debt load is absolutely essential if we are to foster college attendance. Further expansions of Pell Grants and tying them to the cost of living should also be on our agenda in order to give the phrase “equal opportunity” real meaning.

The Los Angeles Times likes both proposals, but urges adopting a different funding mechanism for Warren's bill to ease its way through Congress:
Both measures are positive, justified steps to ease the financial pinch from student loans. It's a significant issue, propelled by three decades of stagnant family incomes while average tuition at a four-year public university tripled (problems that, unfortunately, neither of these measures address). Warren wants to implement the so-called Buffett Rule, raising taxes on people earning more than $1 million a year. Whatever the merits of such a rule, it is likely to be a deal-killer in the Senate, where Republicans would be sure to filibuster it, and certain to go down in the House, where Republicans hold a majority and are committed to opposing new taxes.

What that means is that right now, at least, Warren's bill won't graduate. Warren should work with her colleagues to find another funding mechanism they can support, and enact this bit of relief.

Chris Weigant at The Huffington Post looks at the strengths of Senator Elizabeth Warren's student loan proposal and urges the president to take the next step:
[W]hile it is nice to see President Obama doing what he can, on his own, to tweak a few rules on student loans, it really doesn't go far enough. Wholeheartedly getting behind Senator Warren's idea to charge students the same rate as we charge banks would signal a much more fundamental reform of the entire student loan system. It would make it easier for students to repay their loans, and by doing so it would allow them to spend more of their earnings on goods and services, which would help boost the economy. These students are the brightest America has to offer, and making it easier for them to gain a higher education will help guarantee a well-educated workforce for the future. Making student loans more affordable means making college more affordable for all but the wealthiest families. President Obama should champion Warren's plan to make a much more significant reform to the way America's students pay for their education. After all, if America can afford to loan banks money at such a low interest rate, then we should also be able to afford to offer the same rate to students.


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Comment Preferences

  •  See what happens when Dems don't vote... (34+ / 0-)

    ...people lose their right TO vote.

    GOTV every time  there is an election.  Or you may be the next one with voting rights and the ability to vote taken away.

    Whatever the Foxteapublicans say, the opposite is the truth.

    by Forward is D not R on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 04:47:52 AM PDT

  •  On immigration reform.....This is great news for (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tampaedski, DRo

    (insert GOP candidate here).....

  •  The 10% of income rule will help, but with the (9+ / 0-)

    high rates on existing and current student loans it means students will be paying forever to get these loans paid off. We must get interest rate reductions as proposed by Warren and make student loans dischargeable in bankruptcy among other reforms to return some equity to the student loan business.

    Now commenting as Eric Eitreim aka ratcityreprobate.

    by ratcityreprobate on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 05:05:24 AM PDT

    •  Another good idea I heard (12+ / 0-)

      was to allow students to refinance at lower rates, like people who have mortgages. The more I hear about this student loan business, the more BS rules I hear about.
      How did we let it get this bad?
      They can't discharge the loan if they file for bankruptcy.
      They can't go to another bank that's offering lower rates and get refinanced.
      They pay the same amount whether they have a job or not, and the interest rates are ridiculous.
      And we have to address the rising tuition and fees of state colleges and universities as well.

      If trees gave off WIFi signals, we would probably plant so many trees, we would save the planet. Too bad they only produce the oxygen we breathe.

      by skohayes on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 05:23:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I know several people who just gave up (3+ / 0-)

        Paying on the hundred grand they owe.  While I don't advocate not paying debt I don't see any option for these people.  They will never pay it back and they can't get their life going because of it.  The cost of college and the student debt crisis is the true look through the window at the 1%.

        Everyone! Arms akimbo! 68351

        by tobendaro on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 05:34:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  That bankruptcy clause was added in the 2005 ba... (4+ / 0-)

        That bankruptcy clause was added in the 2005 bankruptcy "reform", as I recall.

        •  Republican "reforms" always shift the risk (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          skohayes, ohiolibrarian

          of being an American to the lower income worker and family, and shift the rewards of being an American to the top of the heap, the 1% and the 0.1%.

          Pick a Republican "reform", be it tax "reform", education "reform" voting "reform" or any other "reform", and the same pattern exists.  Risks to the bottom, rewards to the top.

          With taxes, it's big cuts for the rich, tiny cuts for those not rich, which causes government borrowing that the wealthy use their tax cut income to purchase government debt which allows them to reap tax-free income, and of course, the interest is paid by those to whom the tax burden was shifted.

          Education "reform" takes the form of creating local tax subsidies for charter schools (for-profit in many cases), lifts accountability from the charter operators, drains money from the public schools, and through a process of increasing numbers of unaccountable charter schools, and increasing drains on the marginal revenue of the public school system, once again socializes the risk to the local taxpayers, causes degradation of the public school finances, cuts in programs, athletic fees (yes, another drain on family finances) and sends more boatloads of money and profits to unaccountable charter school operators, putting the public school systems into a financial death spiral.

          As we all know, voting "reform" disenfranchises voters likely to vote against Republicans, stealing our freedoms, and enhancing their own, or at least in Milton Friedman terms, increasing their  "economic freedom" which is the only kind of freedom that matters to the radical republicans.

          It goes on.  Any time a Republican suggests a "reform", look at the details and you will find that the "reform" is intended to send risk down the economic ladder, and rewards up.  This is the Radical Republican way.

          Republicans are like alligators. All mouth and no ears.

          by Ohiodem1 on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 09:57:34 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Unsecured loans are the "Payday Loan" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Of the student loan market also.

      It is for this reason that we are paying off all of our children's educational expenses so that they do not incur this crushing debt.  We are lucky enough to be able to do this.

      Also the student debt is the mortgage debt of the housing crisis.  I can see that banks are going to be bundling and selling these "securities" since the debt cannot be discharged via bankruptcy.

  •  "Different funding mechanism" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skillet, rl en france

    MSM-speak for "Leave the 'Job Creators' alone!!"

    Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. --Martin Luther King Jr.

    by Egalitare on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 05:37:37 AM PDT

  •  Soooo...we can give banks billions and billions of (11+ / 0-)

    dollars free of charge but student loan interest can't be reduced on existing loans to 3%....which will help free up money to circulate in the economy, unlike bankers who have been hoarding it.

    There isn't any need to increase any taxes to fund a cut in existing student loans so people can refinance.  The reduction in loan burden will pay for itself by putting more of those earning back into the economy.

    Hell, write off the debt and watch the economy pop.  The government will make the money back through increased taxes.

    •  But can you feel some empathy, at least for... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Heart of the Rockies

      a moment, for the POOR POOR BANKERS who would be devastated, yes DEVASTATED, by this?  I mean, they'd have to cut back on the 3rd vacation home...


    •  Aren't loans used for Pell Grants? (0+ / 0-)

      Doesn't the profit from student loans (federal ones, anyways) go towards funding Pell Grants? I don't think it just goes into the general fund.

      So either we reduce Pell Grants, or we pay for it some other way.

      I definitely support student loan reform - I'm sitting on a healthy amount of loans myself. But we should be factual on the effect it would have on the budget.

      ‎"The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion." - Thomas Paine

      by jobobo on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 09:33:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't think so (0+ / 0-)

        Pell Grants come out of general federal budget funds, as far as I know, and would not be directly impacted by reducing the interest rate on federal student loans.

        The amount at issue here is a piddly part of the Federal budget, compared to, say, the cost of funding weapons systems that the Pentagon doesn't even want or need but some legislator wants manufactured in his district. (John Boehner, I'm looking at you.) Or for that matter, the cost of bailing out the too-big-to-fail banks.

        So "the effect it would have on the [federal] budget" is not the problem here. It's the GOP determination to make sure that the privilege of getting a good education doesn't get distributed to the "undeserving" kids who need financial aid.

        •  I'm not concerned about the budget ... (0+ / 0-)

          I just want to make sure the debate is factual.

          Anyways, I found a story that describes some of what I was talking about - when the ACA passed, there was a part in it that cut the banks out of federal loans, which saves the US Gov't money. That money saved is reinvested into Pell Grants ...

          The upshot is that the government is lending the money directly. Ergo, if students pay less on their loans, it's less money to the federal government. Yes, the ensuing economic activity could lead to an increase in taxes, but it's a little like saying that tax cuts pay for themselves. It'd have to be quite the virtuous cycle.

          The reason that we should have student loan reform is that those with debt need it. The economy needs it. It won't help the federal budget (in the short term), but that's fine, we could use some more stimulus out here.

          ‎"The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion." - Thomas Paine

          by jobobo on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 01:51:53 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  MS- if Holder and Obama not acting to uphold (0+ / 0-)

    the right to vote in Mississippi, why should we be concerned?

    If Mississippi is requiring voters to purchase ID cards necessary to vote, then that is akin to a poll tax, which was banned by the courts many decades ago.

    We have an African-American President and an African-American Attorney General. If they are not interested in enforcing the law in Mississippi to ensure that poor people, including many African-American Mississippians, can vote, why should we be worried about this?  

    If we had a right wing GOP President and Attorney General declining to take any action, I would be upset over their refusal to act.  So what's with our African-American President and Attorney General ....?

    •  The Federal govt has no legal (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      reginahny, SoCalSal

      authority over local election laws.  The Supremes gutted the voting rights act. If you want change, GOTV, register voters, never miss a local election, pressure Congress to re authorize the Voting Rights Act.  Protest.  Carry banners.  Drive people to the polls.  Don't be a typical off-year Democrat.  

      I'm not looking for a love that will lift me up and carry me away. A love that will stroll alongside and make a few amusing comments will suffice.

      by I love OCD on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 06:34:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Probably because (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      they don't see a winnable case since SCOTUS gutter VRA.

  •  Ask Bill McCollum (R-FL) retired (4+ / 0-)

    He ran for Congress on "reform" of student loans.  Remember the "welfare queen" from Ronald Reagan?  McCollum's was the doctor or lawyer who used student loans for their educations and then declared bankruptcy or other way out of not repaying.  The very first thing he did was pushing the loan "reforms".  He was my Congressman, in fact he was a neighbor, who bragged about putting his 3 sons through college debt free.  He was also an impeachment manager who eventually lost his primary bid for FL governor to skeletor.  Way to go FL!

  •  I hate to be that guy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    A couple of weeks ago I said I was stunned at the confidence that the Bergdahl release wouldn't backfire on the president because the GOP smear machine is too great.


    A poll released Monday by the Pew Research Center and USA Today found that 43 percent of Americans overall said the Obama administration did the wrong thing in trading Taliban prisoners for the detained U.S. soldier while 23 percent said the deal was the right decision to make.

    Republicans were overwhelmingly negative about the prisoner swap, with 71 percent responding that the exchange was the wrong thing to do, according to the poll. By contrast, 55 percent of Democrats said the swap was the right thing to do.

    The poll also found a partisan divide among respondents who thought the U.S. was responsible for securing a captive soldier's release, no matter the circumstances. Seventy-five percent of Democrats versus just 39 percent of Republicans said the U.S. was obligated to do all it could to secure a captive's freedom.

    Forty-eight percent of Republicans also answered that the U.S. was not obligated to do all it could to secure Bergdahl's freedom because he left his post, compared to 16 percent of Democrats who shared that opinion. Those figures reflect some doubts on the Bergdahl prisoner exchange in particular.

    A CBS News poll released Tuesday found 45 percent of Americans disapprove of the Bergdahl deal, with opinion splitting similarly down party lines. Most Republicans and independents disapproved of the prisoner exchange while just over half of Democrats approved.

    Still, 56 percent of Americans said the U.S. paid too high a price to secure Bergdahl's freedom, according to the CBS poll.
    •  probably a wash, not a backfire (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Actually, TPM got the numbers slightly wrong: It was 43% wrong thing, 34% right thing, 23% no opinion — not 43/23.

      That doesn't say to me that Obama is getting clobbered over this; it says that people tend to divide along party lines, and probably not many people are changing their minds about anything.

      That is a disappointment to anyone who thought that this time, surely, the Republicans had gone too far.

      "Democracy is a political system for people who are not sure they are right." —E. E. Schattschneider

      by HudsonValleyMark on Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 07:46:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Mississippi resident here. (0+ / 0-)

    One practical wrinkle in the new ID laws is that poll workers aren't uniformly aware that it's inappropriate to quiz voters on what their photo IDs say--as in the sort of thing a bouncer does if you look like you might not have memorized the fake middle name or fake date of birth on your fake ID.

    I live in a Democratic stronghold (yes, they exist) and this was apparently an issue in our recent Senate primary. I genuinely don't believe this is the result of partisan or person-specific malice on the part of the poll workers--all the people I know who reported this were voting in the much more interesting Republican primary, and I didn't get any sense that anyone was being singled out in this case.

    But of course you can imagine it happening with malice aforethought, which means it WILL happen to some extent in all the places that now have these nifty little laws. Something to look forward to.

  •  Regarding lotteries (0+ / 0-)

    I don't like them, I don't play them, ... But, isn't this criticism more about how the money is spent? If Chelsea was to see some really great public spaces, like parks and recreation centers and libraries - whatever, that are paid for by the lottery, wouldn't that be a good? Instead, the money is spent with a different formula from where it is raised and that is a very sinister problem.

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