In the News

Flaw-proof election machines. Easy-to-read ballots. Registration systems that catch double-voters or dead voters still on the rolls. For top state election officials meeting here, the pressure is on to make sure the election changes demanded after President Bush's disputed 2000 victory are in place by the Jan.
Senior Policy Associate Javier Silva examines the new financial insecurities created as more Americans refinance their homes.
That's the short version of a new and disturbing study by Silva called "House of Cards: Refinancing the American Dream." It shows how millions of U.S. households are falling into a vicious cycle of tapping their credit cards and then refinancing their mortgages to extract needed cash from the equity in their homes.
Gen Xers yearn to carve a new direction for society. Unfortunately, the direction appears to be straight into debt. Americans between the ages of 25 and 34 now boast the second-highest rate of bankruptcy, just behind the 35-44 group. The average credit card debt for this group increased by 55 percent between 1992 and 2001, with the average young adult household now spending approximately 24 percent of its income on debt payments. Really want to worry?

As tuition costs and enrollment rose through the 1990s, grant money did not keep pace, meaning students have been shouldering an ever-increasing share of their education costs. While before, most were able to finance their studies with grants and part-time work, loans are now inescapable for many.

"This generation is the first to shoulder the costs of their college primarily through interest-bearing loans rather than grants," Draut said.

Forget the flu. From Wall Street to Main Street, from academia to the locker room, America's greatest epidemic may be cheating.
David Callahan, author of The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead, detects "a pattern of widespread cheating throughout U.S. society." He defines cheating as "breaking the rules to get ahead academically, professionally, or financially."
A group of New York City councilmembers released a report last week highlighting the pitfalls of credit card use.
"Too many Americans are drowning in credit card debt as a way to deal with the rise in the cost of living as their incomes have stagnated or dropped," said Tamara Draut, Director of the Economic Opportunity Program at Demos. "It's really has been the band-aid holding the family budget together since the 90s."
Steve Carbo, director of the Democracy Program, said voters should be allowed to cast provisional votes even if they vote in the wrong precinct, a practice many states now forbid.
A combination of escalating student loan and credit-card debt, rising costs, slow wage growth and underemployment have accumulated debt "unmatched in modern history" undermining the economic security and financial health of young Americans aged 18-34, according to a new study.
The report, "Generation Broke: The Growth of Debt Among Younger Americans," was released by Demos, a nonpartisan, public policy group, based on the Federal Reserve's Survey of Consumer Finances as well as dozens of other sources.

Senior Fellow George Packer explains how the Bush Administration failed to plan for post-war problems in Iraq and lost the peace.

The ongoing debate over the war in Iraq has rarely moved beyond abstract terms to take into account the human beings-Iraqis and Americans alike-whose lives are affected by decisions in Washington.

"These young adults are doing everything society tells them to do," says Tamara Draut, coauthor of a new study, "Generation Broke: The Growth of Debt Among Young Americans," published by Demos, a public-policy group in New York. "They're going to college, taking on tremendous student-loan debt, and working longer hours than ever before while in college.