President Obama's stated objective to reduce inequality, as laid out in public addresses and budget plans, is a noble one. The growing income gap – not only between rich and poor, but also between the ultra-affluent and the middle class – poses a threat both to the economy and the long-term viability of our republic.
But ironically, what seems to be the administration's core proposal, ratcheting up the burden on "rich" taxpayers earning over $250,000, could have unintended consequences. For one thing, it would place undue stress on the very places that have been Obama's strongest supports, while providing an unintended boost to those regions that most oppose him. read more »
This is the Democratic Party's moment, its power now greater than any time since the mid-1960s. But do not expect smooth sailing. The party is a fractious group divided by competing interests, factions and constituencies that could explode into a civil war, especially when it comes to energy and the environment.
Broadly speaking, there is a long-standing conflict inside the Democratic Party between gentry liberals and populists. This division is not the same as in the 1960s, when the major conflicts revolved around culture and race as well as on foreign policy. Today the emerging fault-lines follow mostly regional, geographical and, most importantly, class differences. read more »
On the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, C-SPAN watchers nationwide saw an especially poignant symbolic moment. Assembled on the floor of the Capitol Rotunda, along with House and Senate members, were hundreds of guests. Behind every speaker stood the marble statue of Abraham Lincoln, bending benignly, holding in his outstretched hand a folded Emancipation Proclamation. read more »
It was during the inaugural days that an article appeared in The Washington Post about the predominantly black Mississippi Delta going for Obama – no surprise! But juxtaposed in the same time period there appeared in a Kentucky newspaper the story of predominantly white Menifee County, my birthplace – deep in the heart of Appalachia – defying the red sea of Kentucky all around it and also going for Obama. read more »
A recent widely-read piece in the Washington Post, “The Height of Power,” noted the great prospects of Washington's rise to the top, not only in politics but in publishing, media, business and the arts. In this way, it said, Washington's evolution will follow the pattern of other great capitals like London, New York, Paris or Tokyo. read more »
Personal experience made me a skeptic about racial progress. When I was 8, I was upset when our Japanese neighbors in Los Angeles were sent off to internment. In 1963, I traveled across the Deep South, awed by the totality of poverty, segregation and discrimination.
But the election of Barack Obama restored a degree of faith in the American experiment, and hope for an economic and social turnaround. I was inspired by the inauguration and am encouraged by initial and intended actions. I’m reasonably sure that significant reforms will occur. read more »
An article published in the Chicago Tribune on June 29, 1992 is entitled “The Great Society’s Great Failure.” It profiles the Inez, Kentucky family that appeared in the famous front porch photo that launched LBJ’s War on Poverty in 1964. Suffice it to say without revealing the particular gory details of their thwarted lives, the family’s fate was as dismal as the outcome of the War on Poverty. Mike Duncan, an Inez banker and now chairman of the Republican National Committee – battling to retain his position – put it mildly: “The War on Poverty did not succeed.” read more »
For a generation, conservatives have held a lock on the so-called "values" issue. But Barack Obama is slowly picking that lock, breaking into one of the GOP's last remaining electoral treasures.
The change starts with the powerful imagery of the new First Family. The Obamas seem to have it all: charming children; the supremely competent yet also consistently supportive wife, and the dynamo grandma, Marian Robinson, who serves as matriarch, moral arbiter and babysitter in chief. read more »
If this were the 1950s, a buzz would be going through the African American community right about now because, come Tuesday, another small milestone would be reached in our progression from involuntary to voluntary servitude. The milestone? A black man is going to appear on television.
Sightings of black people on the tube back then were rare. Hence, there was always some excitement when it occurred. You had Beulah and Amos and Andy on regularly – singer Hazel Scott once had her own show as did singer Billy Daniels. Nat King Cole had a very popular show for a while but lack of national sponsorship and the fact that they didn’t give him any money to pay his guests forced him to fold it. But you’ll notice these people were all entertainers. Real black people, those who couldn’t sing, dance, play an instrument or tell jokes, were never seen on television. read more »