Kalena Thomhave

Kalena Thomhave is a writing fellow at The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

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...

Fighting for $15—and a Union

The Fight for $15 has compelled states, cities, and businesses to set a $15 minimum wage. But its workers also want—and have yet to win—a union.

(AP Photo/Craig Ruttle, File)
A wave of fast-food worker protests and strikes, led by the Fight for $15, unfolded across the country two weeks ago. But more than just fighting for a raise, the movement has an additional goal, though their name doesn’t suggest it: winning unions. Specifically, getting unions at low-wage employers; the recent protests targeted fast-food giants like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Burger King. At the beginning of the month, the Fight for $15 hosted a week of actions in the Midwest explicitly focused on demanding union rights, which led to about 100 arrests of workers as well as allied elected officials. Workers went on strike in Detroit and Flint, Michigan, on Tuesday, October 2, and workers in Milwaukee shut down a McDonald’s during the lunch hour on October 3 and then marched to the interstate, closing lanes. On Thursday, October 4, more than 1,000 workers descended upon McDonald’s headquarters in Chicago. “I do think we’re closer to the union...

Pressuring Bosses Is Good. Policy Change Is Better.

Amazon raised its minimum wage to $15 an hour, but shouldn’t get a pat on the back just for doing what the government should have done long ago.

trickle-downers_54.jpg After years of bad press about Amazon’s treatment of its workers, the company announced Tuesday that it is raising its employees’ wages to $15 an hour, effective next month. The new wage will cover all employees, including temporary and seasonal workers. It’s clear that the company succumbed to public pressure from worker movements as well as criticism from progressive politicians, particularly Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. The announcement comes amid growing agitation for higher wages and better working conditions. This week, the Fight for $15 is coordinating protests and strikes among fast food workers seeking better pay and union representation. Just last week, airport workers at the three New York-area airports won a $19 minimum wage—which will be the highest targeted minimum wage in the country—after years of union pressure. Amazon has been a common target of criticism for its workplace policies, for both its office and...

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