Kalena Thomhave

Kalena Thomhave is a writing fellow at The American Prospect. Her email is kthomhave@prospect.org.

Recent Articles

Who Gets to Tell Stories About Poverty?

The Economic Hardship Reporting Project is redefining how we cover inequality.

This article appears in the Fall 2018 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . It should not be all that difficult to report on economic inequality. It’s a fixture, after all, of modern American life. And yet, the journalism industry, charged with analyzing and conveying news of wage stagnation, persistent poverty, and downward mobility, has itself crumbled alongside much of the middle class. Over the past several decades, more and more journalists have been laid off, while the rates paid freelancers have fallen, too. As the chasm of inequality has only continued to grow, the very journalists who cover it have not always been able to escape it. In 2012, when the country was still reeling from the economic recession and when reporting about inequality was needed perhaps more than ever, author Barbara Ehrenreich started the Economic Hardship Reporting Project (EHRP). The idea was to change the media landscape, and support reporters—by then, many low-income...

Wisconsin Voters Show Scott Walker the Door

Walker's anti-worker policies finally caught up to him.

(Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
Good riddance, Scott Walker: Democrat Tony Evers bested the incumbent Republican in yesterday’s race for the Wisconsin governorship. Though Walker has refused to concede, Evers’s 31,000-vote margin is just large enough to make the race ineligible for a recount under state law. The Fight for $15, the SEIU-backed activist campaign, may have helped contribute to that margin. As I reported this week , the organization coordinated a massive canvass across Milwaukee to encourage turnout in low-income communities, mostly of color, where turnout fell in 2016 compared with earlier years. They knocked on 273,659 doors and spoke with 37,173 registered voters, focusing on encouraging voters to go to the ballot box with the salient, worker-friendly issues in mind that the Fight for $15 has become known for—higher wages, union rights, affordable health care—and that Walker outright attacked. Walker actively made low-income people’s lives worse in Wisconsin through a...

Can Low-Income Voters Make the Difference in Wisconsin?

With the state's governor's race at a dead heat, progressive activists focus on boosting turnout. 

As Election Day arrives, the Wisconsin governor’s race between incumbent Republican Scott Walker and Democrat Tony Evers is, according to some polls, a virtual tie . As the ubiquitous saying goes, “It all comes down to turnout,” and progressive groups in Wisconsin are working to make sure low-income voters can make that difference. Low-income voters often sit out elections—especially midterms—for a number of reasons: They’re much less likely to have a government-issued ID, which can dampen turnout in states with strict voter-ID laws, as it did in Wisconsin in 2016. Various policies further restrict access, like rigorous address requirements that make it more difficult for a person that may move frequently—which low-income people are more like to do—to register to vote. They also might have to work on Election Day, sometimes more than one job, at places with unstable scheduling where it’s hard to get time off. Or they might have...

What Taxing the Rich Could Yield

America’s 15 wealthiest families are worth a combined $618 billion. That’s not good for our economy—or our democracy.

trickle-downers_54.jpg T he New York Times investigation into the Trump family’s financial misdeeds recently revealed what had been obvious to most: The president is no self-made man. Like so many bombshell stories about the president, this story has been largely overlooked as new and more flagrant Trump indignities erupt nearly every day. Yet the tactics that the report shines a light on are hardly peculiar to the Trumps. Many wealthy families use similar tactics to stockpile their wealth and keep it from taxation that could reinvest it to meet the nation’s needs. And in doing so, these families keep building wealth with which they can wield political power. A new report from the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) takes a close look at the billionaire multi-generation families who wield that power—the American dynasties. Taking their cue from the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest people in the United States, the report, "Billionaire Bonanza," by Chuck Collins,...

Work Requirements Seep into Policy, the Evidence Be Damned

And Trump counts on this failed set of policies to cut vital public assistance.

(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
trickle-downers.jpg On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell revealed what many had already predicted: Republicans would place blame for the deficit, which was ballooned by the $1.5 trillion Republican tax cut of 2017, on public assistance programs. McConnell told Bloomberg News that the deficit is “very disturbing, and it’s driven by the three entitlement programs that are very popular—Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid.” Indeed, conservatives are already putting forth policies to trim social programs, even as they are expanding work requirements to keep millions of low-income Americans from receiving assistance, and appointing people to administer such programs who have histories of mutilating them. In their zeal to impose work requirements, they are serenely undaunted by the vast body of research that shows such requirements are stunningly ineffective. In their bill reauthorizing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food...

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