Monica Potts

Monica Potts is an Arkansas-based writer, currently writing a book about the women of her rural hometown.

Recent Articles

Putting Partisanship Aside, Arkansas Voters May Raise the Minimum Wage

And, reverting to partisan form, are also likely to vote for the Republican slate of candidates

(Thomas Metthe/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette via AP)
This November, Arkansas voters will decide whether to increase the state’s hourly minimum wage from its current $8.50 to $11 by 2021. Only California and Massachusetts currently have minimum wages that high, and only Washington state and the District of Columbia have higher minimum wages. The measure is popular—a state poll shows 60 percent of voters are in favor of the idea. It’s nevertheless struggled to survive: The state’s attorney general, Leslie Rutledge, at first tried to keep the initiative from appearing on the ballot because of what she called imprecise language, and now it’s being challenged by the state’s Chamber of Commerce. But if it survives the court challenge, it will likely pass. The Fairness Project, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that helped get the Arkansas measure to the ballot, is sponsoring 11 progressive, popular measures around the country , five in states that have recently been reliably Republican. These include...

How the GOP Plans to Cut Affordable Housing (Again)

A 2008 program to help tens of thousands on housing waitlists is finally set to be funded, but House Republicans have other plans.

(Photo: AP/Bloomington Herald-Times/Jeremy Hogan)
In almost every part of the country, families struggling to pay rent and seek help find themselves at the end of a very long line. In California, I spoke to a woman who told me she was assigned a number higher than 57,000 on the waiting list when she applied for a subsidized apartment. In the suburbs of Denver, Colorado, where the lottery opens every few years for Section 8, which gives recipients money to pay rent and is the biggest of the programs, only 30 or 40 of about 2,500 applicants will receive vouchers. And that’s just when local agencies are even accepting applications. In many years, local housing authorities close their lists because there’s no real way of pulling people off them. There’s no national waiting list where we count, for certain, the amount of very low-income families who need help but aren’t getting it. “The waiting lists are basically lists of desperation,” says Sheila Crowley, president of the National Low Income Housing...

Hillary Clinton's New Image: Cool Grandma. Can She Maintain It?

Her attitude—unabashedly feminist, casually in charge—was captured most effectively toward the end of her stint as secretary of state. Can she keep it as a candidate?

Illustration by Steve Brodner
Illustration by Steve Brodner When did Hillary Clinton become cool? Was it during her globe-trotting as secretary of state in caftans or with her hair pulled back in an ironically hip scrunchie? Was it when she traded funny letters with the actor Jason Segel? Or when she starred in her own Tumblr meme ? Whenever her ascent began, it reached a peak in March, when GQ published an interview with musician Pharrell Williams . In one of the most convoluted sentences ever recorded in the English language, he not only endorsed Clinton for president in 2016 but also predicted her win, one that would usher in purple-tinted national unity and a worldwide pro-choice matriarchy: “When we are a country and we are a species that has had a Martian Rover traveling up and down the crevices of this planet looking for water and ice, okay, and we’ve had a space station that’s been orbiting our planet for sixteen years—but we still got legislation trying to tell women what to do...

In an Obamacare Experiment, Maryland Aims to Make Its Poor More Healthy

In the rural area around Cumberland, the obesity rate is almost 29 percent, nutrition is poor and food insecurity is high. With a waiver from the federal government to experiment with preventive care, state officials hope to reverse those trends.

Monica Potts/The American Prospect Residents wait for their turn at a food bank in Cumberland, Maryland. Cumberland, Maryland, is in the western handle of the state, sitting atop Virginia near the narrows that once funneled settlers through the mountains and into the West. It’s the biggest city in the area, with about 20,000 people. The railroads were once the largest industry here, and freight trains still rumble through the downtown, past an old sign for the Cumberland Steel Company and a hilly jumble of old red-brick factories, two-story offices, and church spires. Now, as in almost every other rural part of the country, the biggest employer is the local hospital. The hospital, Western Maryland Health Systems, is participating in a statewide experiment that officials hope will control hospital costs and also make the state’s population healthier. The State of Maryland has been trying to control health-care costs since the 1970s, but its efforts are getting new attention...

Yes, Being a Woman Makes You Poorer

AP Images/Susan Walsh
Senate Republicans blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act yesterday, a bill that would make it illegal for employers to punish workers for discussing wages and would require them to share pay information with the Employment Opportunity Commission. President Barack Obama has already signed an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from punishing employees who talk about their pay. These two actions were pegged to the somewhat made up holiday called “Equal Pay Day” celebrated Tuesday, and were discussed by many in Washington in merely political terms : evidence of attempts by Democrats to woo women voters and a continuing sign of Republicans' “difficulties” with them. Elsewhere, pundits and writers wanted to discuss whether the pay gap really existed. A few years ago, some conservatives and a few liberals began to attack the much-talked-about fact that women make 77 cents to every man’s dollar as untrue, based largely on the idea that the gap itself was...