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.Robert Reich at The Christian Science Monitor:
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.
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.More on the day's top stories below the fold.
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.
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.”The Army Times says that the president was right in rescuing Bowe Bergdahl:
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.
What cannot be a matter of debate, however, is the Army’s — and America’s — promise to leave no warrior behind.Tom Keane at The Boston Globe examines how lottery systems bank on the poor:
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.
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. [...]Julia Grant, writing at The Detroit Free Press, writes about the value of college and student loan reform:
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.
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.The Los Angeles Times likes both proposals, but urges adopting a different funding mechanism for Warren's bill to ease its way through Congress:
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.
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.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:
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.
[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.