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“The Rand Corporation”: Old-School Southern Segregationist’s Who Still Believe Negroes Should Know Their Place

Hey, wait a minute–didn’t Rachel Maddow already disqualify Rand Paul as a serious presidential candidate five years ago?

It appears the Beltway has long since forgotten about Paul’s disgusting May 2010 interview with Maddow, during which he made clear his belief in separate and unequal treatment for people of color in the private sector. Back then, I was horrified to see Paul defend his 21-century segregationist views, and was convinced that the man would be a clear and present danger to American democracy if he were elected to the United States Senate.

At the time, I was also surprised that prominent figures on the right didn’t stand up to denounce Paul’s views in the name of being logically consistent. After all, the right’s thought leaders had long pushed the idea that Republicans were the real leaders on civil rights. Consider this 1997 letter to the New York Times from conservative Harvard professor Stephan Thernstrom:

”Political Right’s Point Man on Race” (news article, Nov. 16) describes Clint Bolick of the Institute for Justice as typical of a generation of white Republicans who ”readily say their party was on the wrong side” in the civil rights struggles of the 1960’s. This equates the Republican Party with Barry Goldwater, its 1964 Presidential candidate, who opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

But 80 percent of House Republicans voted for the 1964 legislation, as did 82 percent of Republican senators. In the House, three of four votes cast against the bill came from Democrats, as did four of five votes in the Senate. Likewise, 82 percent of House Republicans and 93 percent of Senate Republicans backed the Voting Rights Act the next year.

Now, you would figure that the “Republicans-were-the real-party-of-colorblindness!” crowd would rise up and denounce Paul for suggesting that the Republicans who voted for the 1964 Civil Rights Act voted for an unconstitutional piece of legislation. Of course, the right’s thought leaders—with rare exceptions—gave Paul a pass, and largely denounced the “liberal media” for making a big deal about Paul’s abhorrent remarks.

Nothing I’ve seen out of Rand Paul’s mouth in the past five years has changed my view that in his heart, he is an old-school Southern segregationist who believes Negroes should know their place, and that the white man should be in a place above them. In Rand Paul’s America, business owners could still have signs on their doors saying, “We Do Not Serve Coloreds.” In Rand Paul’s America, black people would have no rights that white people must respect.

Speaking of respect, Rachel Maddow deserves our continued respect for ripping the mask right off Paul’s face five years ago and exposing him as the bigot’s best buddy… and Paul deserves nothing but our continued contempt.

 

By: D. R. Tucker, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, April 18, 2015

April 20, 2015 Posted by | Bigotry, Rand Paul, Segregation | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Searching Her Own Soul”: Hillary Clinton’s Evolution On Marriage Equality Shows How Change Happens, And Why Parties Matter

Over the last few days, Chris Geidner of Buzzfeed has been documenting Hillary Clinton’s evolution on the issue of same-sex marriage, an evolution that may now finally be complete. First Geidner posted some interesting documents from the 1990s showing Clinton and her husband explaining their opposition to marriage rights, then he got the Clinton campaign on record saying that she now hopes the Supreme Court will rule that there is a constitutional right to marriage for all Americans, which is actually a change from what she was saying just a year ago, when her position was that this was an issue best decided state by state.

So does this all tell us that Hillary Clinton is a chameleon willing to shift with the political winds, lacking in any moral core? Not really. Like every politician, she’ll tell you that her shift on this issue was a result of talking to people and searching her own soul, not some political calculation. If that’s true, then it mirrors how millions of Americans have changed their own minds. But even if it isn’t true, it doesn’t matter. She is where she is now, and if she becomes president, her policies will reflect her current position, whether it’s sincere or not. That’s how change happens.

We spend a lot of time in campaigns trying to figure out if politicians are honest or authentic or real, and one of the supposedly important data points in that assessment is whether they’ve changed their positions on any important issues. “Flip-floppers” are supposed to be feared and hated. But most of the time, that judgment is utterly irrelevant to what they would actually do in office.

For instance, few party nominees had in their history the kind of wholesale ideological reinvention that Mitt Romney went through. But what does that actually mean for the kind of president he would have been? Does anyone seriously believe that had he been elected, Romney would have flipped back to becoming a moderate Republican, just because deep down he’s a flip-flopper? Of course he wouldn’t have. Romney changed when his sights moved from liberal Massachusetts to the national stage, which also happened during a period when his party became more conservative. He would have governed as the conservative he became.

When public opinion on an important issue is in flux, politicians are emphatic followers. They figure out what’s happening, particularly within their own party, and then accommodate themselves to that change. It often looks like they’re leading when what they’re actually doing is taking the change in sentiment that has occurred and translating it into policy change. For instance, Barack Obama has taken a number of steps to expand gay rights, like ending the ban on gays serving in the military and pushing the Supreme Court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. But he did all that after public opinion demanded it, not before.

In the end, what’s in a politician’s heart may be interesting to understand, but it doesn’t make much of a practical difference. Does it matter that Lyndon Johnson was personally a racist who spent his early career as a segregationist? No, it doesn’t: When his own party and the American public more broadly moved to support civil rights for African Americans, he passed the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act and became an advocate for equality.

It’s possible that Hillary Clinton believed in marriage equality all along, but didn’t have the courage to advocate it publicly until she finally did so in 2013. Or maybe every shift in her public stance was a perfectly accurate reflection of her views at that moment. Either way, now that the Democratic Party is firmly in support of marriage equality for everyone in every state, that position is going to guide her if she wins.

And let’s not forget that almost every major Republican politician has gone through their own evolution on this issue as well. The first time it was a major issue in a presidential race, in 2004, Republicans advocated a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage everywhere. Most of them even opposed civil unions. But today, the opinion supported by every presidential contender who has been explicit on the topic is that the decision should be left up to the states, meaning it’s OK with them if some states have marriage equality while others don’t. A few do advocate a constitutional amendment—but not one to ban same-sex marriage nationwide, just one to preserve the ability of individual states to ban it if they choose.

That’s where the Republican Party is now, so that’s what the next Republican president’s policies will reflect. Until they evolve again.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect, April 16, 2015

April 19, 2015 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates, Hillary Clinton, Marriage Equality | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Winning Against The Oligarchs”: Getting Just A Fraction Of The 94 Million Adults Who Didn’t Vote In 2012 To Start Casting Ballots

Last week our Supreme Court let stand Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s voter suppression law, one of a host of such laws enacted in the North from Idaho to Michigan to New Hampshire, and everywhere below the Mason-Dixon Line.

Do not be lulled into inaction by that decision. Do not accept that a rich minority will rule America and remake it to their liking. Even with faithful allies on the Supreme Court, the oligarchs win only if you let them.

The factual basis for this and other decisions upholding voter suppression laws is specious, especially for the kind of photo identification requirements at the polling booth that Walker signed into law. Rigorous research into voter impersonation, the only illegal voting technique which photo identification can stop, found just 10 cases in America from 2000 to summer 2012.

Walker is, of course, a loyal vassal of the Koch brothers and their confreres, who works diligently to impose their minority views through laws under which all of us must live.

Those rules include low taxes for oligarchs and enabling dynastic wealth; diminishing worker rights, job safety laws and reliable pensions; repealing environmental protections while tightly restricting your right to challenge polluters in court; and gutting public education at every level while converting universities from centers of inquiry into job-training programs.

All of this can be stopped. All that is required is getting just a fraction of the 94 million adults who did not vote in 2012 to start casting ballots.

Poll after survey after focus group shows little public support for Kochian ideas, especially when they are described in neutral and accurate language.

A plethora of polls shows broad support for progressive policies including higher tax rates on million-dollar-plus incomes and stopping corporate welfare. Three of four Republicans favor increasing Social Security benefits, yet congressional Republicans — and scared Democrats — are moving to cut them at the behest of the ultra-wealthy and their minions.

Making majority wishes into law will be more difficult in the near term thanks to a series of Supreme Court and lower court rulings since 2008. The courts have shown expansive tolerance for a wide variety of voter suppression laws. And the judiciary has done nothing to stop voter-roll purging so ham-handed that former congressman Lincoln Davis was among 70,000 Tennesseans barred from voting in 2012.

Two years ago, on a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court nullified a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Chief Justice John Glover Roberts Jr. declared, “Our country has changed.”  We saw change immediately. Southern state legislatures changed their laws to make sure fewer black Americans voted or did so in heavily black jurisdictions.

The important lesson here is that just sitting back and accepting these rulings, behaving as if you are powerless, would be a disaster for five and possibly all six noble purposes of our nation.

Yes, the voting standards the court majority has set, often by a one-vote margin, make it easier for a shrinking minority to impose its will. But it does not mean that minority will impose its will.

The unlimited money that the Supreme Court ruled can legally be poured into election campaigns under Citizens United is a threat to democracy.

That 2010 decision expanded campaign finance loopholes so much that the ban on government contractors donating to politicians has evaporated. Oil giant Chevron was among those contractors making huge contributions to politicians loyal to them by funneling the money through affiliates called LLCs, limited liability corporations.

Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey said last October that if Republicans won 2014 gubernatorial elections, they could control “voting mechanisms.”

“Would you rather have Rick Scott in Florida overseeing the voting mechanism, or Charlie Crist? Would you rather have Scott Walker in Wisconsin overseeing the voting mechanism, or would you rather have Mary Burke? Who would you rather have in Ohio, John Kasich or Ed FitzGerald?” Christie, the president of the Republican Governors Association, told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce last October.

About the only thing the courts will not abide is honesty by those who sponsor laws to rig elections by suppressing voters.

Anyone who doubts that should click on this brief 2012 video of Mike Turzai, the Pennsylvania House Republican leader. Turzai told the party faithful that his state’s voter ID law “is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”

A state judge struck down that law and savvy GOP politicians decided not to appeal. Romney then lost Pennsylvania by more than 5 percentage points, evidently because the majority was not suppressed.

The awful truth is this: So long as politicians don’t boast about their real intentions, they can enact voting laws that rig elections in favor of an influence-buying minority that cannot win any other way.

So that’s the lesson.  What are you going to do about it? Yes, you. Not somebody else. You.

You have more than enough power to make sure that we do not head back toward the rules of the late 19th century, when hunger and disease ravaged the poor, as Jacob Riis documented in How the Other Half Lives.  We need not indulge the vanity and greed of men like Henry Clay Frick, which grew so unrestrained that on a single day his pleasures cost more than 2,200 lives.

People just like you got women the right to vote, child labor laws, collective bargaining laws, and environmental laws. It took time. Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton devoted their whole lives to suffrage. But in the end they and others persuaded male office holders to extend voting rights to women.

Will you do what is required to reverse our slide into the awful grip of a 21st-century oligarchy?

It’s not that hard. Really. And it does not require much money, either.

What it does require is these virtues — focus, diligence, and persistence.

There is one more crucial element: persuasion. That means winning people over by showing them a better alternative than the slickly marketed Kochian vision that sounds appealing unless you understand that it means a future in which a few gain at the expense of the many.

Making fun of the often laughable and crazy statements of Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Michele Bachmann, Mike Huckabee, and their like is counterproductive. It makes people think they are being looked down upon, including many people who do not share those laughable and crazy ideas, but are put off by the way progressives talk.

A better vision is a society where we all gain if we work, save, and act prudently, and where we all share the burden of caring for those who cannot care for themselves.

A better vision is one in which the bottom 120 million Americans own more than a third of one percentage point of all assets. A better vision is one where corporations are vehicles to encourage risk taking and wealth creation, not tools to mine the public treasury, pick consumer pockets, and stealthily prosper on the dole.

What is required to achieve a vibrant, free and broadly prosperous America is this:

  • Register millions of people to vote, paying scrupulous attention to both the registration rules and following up to make sure the names actually show up on the voting rolls.
  • Maintain contact with these new voters, which can be done at low cost with emails, neighborhood meetings and knocking on doors.
  • Get people to the polls on Election Day and, where it is still allowed, help them vote in advance.
  • Tell politicians you support to stop wasting money on television and radio ads, which are sold at the highest rates, and to invest most of their campaign dollars into getting out the vote.

Going along with the television and radio ad game is playing by the Koch brothers’ rules. That is a contest they will win because they have the money. Instead, do what the Kochs and other smart businesspeople do: Change the game. Play your own game. And don’t worry about right-wing voter registration drives, because numerous polls show that among those not voting, their appeal is narrow, while yours is broad.

It would also help to organize supporters to follow watchdog news outlets, an issue for a future column.

As a guest on call-in radio and answering audience questions after my many lectures across the country, I hear a constant refrain that nothing can be done, that the anti-democratic interests are so rich and powerful that they must win.

Wrong. That’s utter nonsense. Don’t think like a victim. Take charge.

America is still the democratic republic where the majority of people who cast ballots choose our elected leaders. Get more people to the polls on the only day that counts – Election Day – and we can change everything for the better.

All that is necessary is for you to do the work.

 

By: David Cay Johnston, The National Memo, March 28, 2015

March 30, 2015 Posted by | Election 2016, Oligarchs, Voter Suppression | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Rare Victory For Black Voting Rights In The South”: SCOTUS, Individual Majority-Minority Districts Were Racially Gerrymandered

In 2010, Republicans gained control of the Alabama legislature for the first time in 136 years. The redistricting maps drawn by Republicans following the 2010 election preserved the thirty-five majority-minority districts in the Alabama legislature—represented overwhelmingly by black Democrats—and in some cases actually increased the number of minority voters in those districts.

For example, State Senator Quinton Ross, a black Democrat elected in 2002, represented a district in Montgomery that was 72 percent African-American before the redistricting process. His district was under-populated by 16,000 people, so the Alabama legislature moved 14,806 African-Americans and thirty-six whites into his seat. The new district was now over 75 percent black and excluded white neighborhoods that were previously in Ross’s district.

Republicans claimed they were merely complying with the Voting Rights Act. Black Democrats challenged the redistricting maps as an unconstitutional racial gerrymander and took the case to the Supreme Court. Today the Court, in a 5-4 decision written by Justice Breyer, sided with the black plaintiffs and ordered a district court in Alabama to reexamine whether specific districts, like Ross’s, were improperly drawn with race as the predominant factor. The decision was released, interestingly enough, on the same day as the fiftieth anniversary of the march from Selma to Montgomery.

“The record indicates that plaintiffs’ evidence and arguments embody the claim that individual majority-minority districts were racially gerrymandered, and those are the districts that the District Court must reconsider,” Breyer wrote. Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (which the Supreme Court gutted in 2013, in another case from Alabama) did not compel the legislature to preserve the exact number of minority voters in a given district or inflate those numbers. “Section 5 does not require a covered jurisdiction to maintain a particular numerical minority percentage. It requires the jurisdiction to maintain a minority’s ability to elect a preferred candidate of choice,” Breyer said. The court’s majority—joined by Justice Kennedy—sympathized with the plaintiffs’ claim that Alabama’s interpretation of the VRA may “harm the very minority voters that Acts such as the Voting Rights Act sought to help.”

Justices Scalia and Thomas dissented. “We have somehow arrived at a place where the parties agree that Alabama’s legislative districts should be fine-tuned to achieve some ‘optimal’ result with respect to black voting power; the only disagreement is about what percentage of blacks should be placed in those optimized districts. This is nothing more than a fight over the ‘best’ racial quota,” wrote Thomas.

The ruling could have important ramifications, since the strategy followed by Alabama Republicans—packing minority voters into heavily Democratic seats in order to weaken white Democrats—was replicated throughout the South after the 2010 elections. I wrote about this trend in a 2012 feature for The Nation, “How the GOP Is Resegregating the South”:

In virtually every state in the South, at the Congressional and state level, Republicans—to protect and expand their gains in 2010—have increased the number of minority voters in majority-minority districts represented overwhelmingly by black Democrats while diluting the minority vote in swing or crossover districts held by white Democrats. “What’s uniform across the South is that Republicans are using race as a central basis in drawing districts for partisan advantage,” says Anita Earls, a prominent civil rights lawyer and executive director of the Durham-based Southern Coalition for Social Justice. “The bigger picture is to ultimately make the Democratic Party in the South be represented only by people of color.”

White Democrats have become the biggest casualty of the GOP’s new Southern strategy. As Jason Zengerle wrote in The New Republic, “Prior to the 2010 election, the Alabama House had sixty Democratic members, 34 of them white and 26 black. Afterward, there were 36 Democrats—ten white, 26 black. Meanwhile, in the Alabama Senate, the number of black Democrats remained seven, while the number of white Democrats fell from 13 to four.” After the 2014 election, there are now only seven white Democrats in the Alabama legislature—one in the Senate and six in the House.

There are no longer any white Democrats from the Deep South in Congress, following the defeat of Georgia Congressman John Barrow in 2014. Georgia Republicans moved 41,000 black Democrats out of his Savannah-based district to make him more vulnerable to a Republican challenge.

The elimination of white Democrats has also crippled the political aspirations of black Democrats. For years, black Democrats served in the majority with white Democrats in state legislatures across the South. Today Republicans control every legislative body in the South except for the Kentucky House. Before the 1994 elections, 99.5 percent of black Democrats served in the majority in Southern state legislatures. After the 2010 election, that number dropped to 4.8 percent, according to the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. “Black voters and elected officials have less influence now than at any time since the civil rights era,” the report found.

In the 1990s, some black Democrats formed an “unholy alliance” with white Republicans to create new majority-minority districts in the South. Republicans supported these districts for black Democrats in select urban and rural areas in exchange for an increased GOP presence elsewhere, especially in fast-growing metropolitan suburbs. With Democrats grouped in fewer areas, Republicans found it easier to target white Democrats for extinction.

But that unholy alliance ended after 2010, when black Democrats across the South, like Georgia Senate minority leader Stacey Abrams, denounced the GOP’s redistricting strategy. They found it especially ironic that Republicans were using the VRA as a rationale for marginalizing black voters while at the same time pushing the Supreme Court to gut the most important part of the VRA—the requirement that states with the worst history of voting discrimination, like Alabama, clear their voting changes with the federal government.

Even though Southern states like Alabama no longer have to have their redistricting maps approved by the federal government, the Court’s decision today could open the door for additional challenges to GOP-drawn racial gerrymanders in states like Virginia and North Carolina. “Today’s Alabama decision gives these challengers a new tool, making it harder for states to use compliance with the Voting Rights Act as a pretext to secure partisan advantage,” writes Rick Hasen.

It’s a modest victory, but perhaps the best that can be expected from the current Supreme Court.

 

By: Ari Berman, The Nation, March 26, 2015

March 29, 2015 Posted by | Deep South, Democracy, Gerrymandering, Racism | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Those Bad Things Are Gone Now”: How The Supreme Court Is About To Explode America’s Racial Wealth Gap

When discussing race, the conservative argument is best expressed by the famous words of Chief Justice John Roberts: “The best way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” Translation: America has done bad things in its history, but those bad things are gone now, so we should move past those horrors and look forward.

Conservatives believe that if blacks and Latinos simply work hard, get a good education and earn a good income, historical racial wealth gaps will disappear. The problem is that this sentiment ignores the ways that race continues to affect Americans today. A new report from Demos and Brandeis University, “The Racial Wealth Gap: Why Policy Matters,” makes this point strongly. The report shows that focusing on education alone will do little to reduce racial wealth gaps for households at the median, and that the Supreme Court, through upcoming decisions, could soon make the wealth gap explode.

Wealth is the whole of an individual’s accumulated assets, not the amount of money they make each year. As such, in his recent book, “The Son Also Rises,” Gregory Clark finds that the residual benefits of wealth remain for 10 to 15 generations. To understand why that matters, consider the fact that Loretta Lynch, Obama’s recent nomination for U.S. attorney general, is the great-great-granddaughter of a slave who escaped to freedom. (That’s four generations). Consider also that most people on Social Security today went to segregated schools. (That’s two generations.) If Clark is correct in his thesis, then the impacts of wealth built on the foundations of American slavery and segregation will continue to affect Lynch’s great-great-great grandchildren.

It is therefore unsurprising that addressing just one aspect of this disparity cannot solve racial wealth gaps. Demos/Brandeis find that equalizing graduation rates would reduce the wealth gap between blacks and whites by 1 percent, and between Latinos and whites by 3 percent at the median. Equalizing the distribution of income would only reduce the wealth gap by 11 percent for blacks and 9 percent for Latinos. Part of the durability of wealth gaps is the disproportionate benefits that whites still enjoy: They face less job market discrimination and are more likely to reap a big inheritance, for example. This means that the returns to education and income are generally higher for whites. But even after controlling for these returns, income and education can’t explain the entire wealth gap.

Because America’s primary vehicle for wealth accumulation is our homes, much of the explanation of the racial wealth gap lies in unequal homeownership rates. According to the Brandeis/Demos analysis, equalizing homeownership would reduce the racial wealth gap by 31 percent for blacks and 28 percent for Latinos. This effect is muted because centuries of discrimination—including racial exclusion from neighborhoods where home values appreciate, redlining, and discriminatory lending practices—mean that people of color are segregated into relatively poor neighborhoods. Indeed, in 1969, civil rights activist John Lewis bought a three-bedroom house for $35,000 in Venetian Hills, Atlanta. He and his wife were the first black family in the middle-class neighborhood. In his book, “Walking with the Wind,” he notes that, “within two years… the white owners began moving out.” Had the value of his house simply kept up with inflation, it would be worth $222,881 today. But Zillow shows that three-bedroom houses in Venetian Hills, Atlanta, are currently selling for around $65,000 to $100,000.

Systematic disinvestment in communities of color means that even when blacks and Latinos own their homes, they are worth far less than white homes. In addition, blacks and Latinos are targets of shady lending. They are more likely to be offered a subprime loan even if they are qualified to receive a better rate. In the wake of the financial crisis, big banks like Blackstone scooped up foreclosed homes and are now offering them to people of color to rent, further pulling wealth out of these communities to benefit rich whites.

The financial crisis had a disparate impact on people of color. A Center for Responsible Lending report examined the loans originated during the subprime boom (2005 to 2008), and found that blacks and Latinos were almost twice as likely to have foreclosed during the crisis. The New York Times reported that Wells Fargo “saw the black community as fertile ground for subprime mortgages, as working-class blacks were hungry to be a part of the nation’s home-owning mania.” They discovered that loan officers “pushed customers who could have qualified for prime loans into subprime mortgages” and “stated in an affidavit… that employees had referred to blacks as ‘mud people’ and to subprime lending as ‘ghetto loans.’”

These problems are troubling, but, as unlikely as it seems, things are about to get even worse. The Supreme Court is set to decide Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, a landmark case challenging the disparate impact test, which allows a practice to be considered discriminatory if it disproportionately and negatively impacts communities of color, even if a discriminatory intent can’t be proven.

The case involves an excellent example of why disparate impact is so important: Nearly all of the tax credits that the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs had approved were in predominantly non-white neighborhoods. At the same time, the department disproportionately denied the claims in white neighborhoods. A federal judge decided that regardless of racial intent, the result had a “disparate impact” and increased neighborhood segregation. As Nikole Hannah-Jones has extensively documented, disparate impact has been crucial in holding banks accountable. For instance, the Justice Department used it to settle with Bank of America for $335 million after it was discovered that a mortgage company purchased by BofA had been pushing blacks and Latinos into subprime loans when a similar white borrower would have qualified for a prime loan. Because there was no official policy that required blacks and Latinos to get worse loans, the case would not have been won but for the disparate-impact statute.

The Supreme Court has already decimated the Voting Rights Act, opening the door for onerous restrictions on voting. They upheld a law banning affirmative action at state universities and have already crushed integration efforts at K-12 schools. Worryingly, as Demos Senior Fellow Ian Haney López told ProPublica, “It is unusual for the Court to agree to hear a case when the law is clearly settled. It’s even more unusual to agree to hear the issue three years in a row.” Given the importance of neighborhood poverty to upward mobility and wealth building, this case had the potential to be the most destructive, dramatically curtailing opportunity and making the wealth gap into a chasm. As Patrick Sharkey notes, “Neighborhood poverty alone accounts for a greater portion of the black-white downward mobility gap than the effects of parental education, occupation, labor force participation, and a range of other family characteristics combined.”

Demos and Brandeis suggest policies to boost homeownership, like better enforcement of anti-discrimination laws, lowering the cap on the mortgage interest deduction so blacks and Latinos can benefit and authorizing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to allow homeowners to modify their loans. In addition, America needs to systematically invest in poor neighborhoods. Equalizing public school education funds for poor and nonwhite schools would increase home prices in poor neighborhoods. In addition, a baby bond program would directly reduce wealth gaps by giving children money that could be used for a down payment on a house or an investment in their education. What’s clear is that we cannot simply hope that wealth gaps will disappear. These gaps were created by racially biased federal policies and need to be remedied by public policy as well. Government created the white middle class in the 1950s; now it’s time to create a black and Latino middle class. The Supreme Court, with its supposedly race-neutral philosophy, will only make it more difficult to close racial wealth gaps.

 

By: Catherine Ruetschlin, a Senior Policy Analyst at Demos & Sean McElwee, Research Assistant at Demo: Salon, March 14, 2015

March 16, 2015 Posted by | Discrimination, SCOTUS, Wealth Gap | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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