Commentary

NEW YORK -- As Congress debates next year's budget, alarm bells are sounding among groups that work with the poor. Every day, it seems, brings a new report about drastic cuts at the state level to health insurance, child-care, and other programs that help low-income families. Advocates predict that Republican budget proposals, with their meager aid to the states, will mean ever more pain for Americans at the bottom of the economic ladder.

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President Miles Rapoport looks at the challenge of implementing the new Federal election law in a way that will maximize voter participation.

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Senior Fellow David Callahan discusses how charities and other nonprofits radically tighten their belts, marking a heady golden age for America's nongovernmental sector as coming to an end. Emerging hopes that this sector could do better than government at easing social ills -- hopes championed by the right, but not uncommon on the left -- seem naive in the context of recent funding trends.

The endowments of many US philanthropic foundations have declined by a third or more in the past several years, and individual giving is also way down.

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Senior Fellow David Callahan suggests that the anti-war movement hints at growing disenchantment with American democracy and a new concern about sustainable energy policy.

What might today's antiwar movement say about domestic politics? Two undercurrents of the protests hint at larger critiques of United States society that seem to be gaining momentum. One relates to consumption, the other to democracy.

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In making the case for war, there is one thing on which President Bush and his critics agree: It's all about trust. The leaders of eight European countries who signed on to the war effort in a commentary in the Wall Street Journal and European papers last week didn't make a judgment on the evidence; they argued that history and the North Atlantic alliance demanded that Europe trust America.

But if the case for war rests on trust, there are good reasons why this president, like any powerful democratic leader, needs to be distrusted.

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This report deals with the role Mexican immigrant organizations are playing in promoting or inhibiting immigrant political incorporation into the U.S. political system.

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studentorgs

America has lived for two centuries with the myth of its independence, sure that its sovereignty would protect it from outside aggression. After all, before Sept. 11, the last major assault by foreigners on mainland American soil was the British attack on the White House and the Capitol in 1814. But our sovereign independence, already under siege from new forms of global disease, global technology, global crime, global ecology and global markets, came under direct assault on Sept. 11.

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NEW YORK -- Over the last year and a half, Federal Reserve rate cuts have dramatically lowered interest rates on consumer loans, setting off a stampede of home refinancing, as well as new home and auto purchases. But such Fed inspired rate relief is not happening everywhere: credit card rates remain staggeringly high. It's almost inconceivable -- yet true -- that in 2001, the Federal Reserve cut interest rates 11 times, yet the average credit card rate dropped by less than 1 percentage point.

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Congress passed sweeping legislation to reform corporate conduct and governance last week, and President Bush has pledged to sign it. A mere two months ago, the prospects for such broad reform were grim, as Congressional Republicans and the president himself favored a more limited approach.

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DODGE CITY -- As Congress debates President Bush's welfare plan, they are hearing a lot of complaints about the plan from the nation's governors. The White House proposal, which would increase work requirements and encourage marriage among poor women, has Mr. Bush's former colleagues in state houses protesting that it will reduce their flexibility. But Bush's proposal is even more out of touch with a far larger constituency: the American public.

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