Stephanie Mencimer

Stephanie Mencimer

Reporter

Stephanie works in Mother Jones' Washington bureau. A Utah native and graduate of a crappy public university not worth mentioning, she has spent several years hanging out with angry white people who occasionally don tricorne hats and come to lunch meetings heavily armed.

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Stephanie covers legal affairs and domestic policy in Mother Jones' Washington bureau. She is the author of Blocking the Courthouse Door: How the Republican Party and Its Corporate Allies Are Taking Away Your Right to Sue. A contributing editor of the Washington Monthly, a former investigative reporter at the Washington Post, and a senior writer at the Washington City Paper, she was nominated for a National Magazine Award in 2004 for a Washington Monthly article about myths surrounding the medical malpractice system. In 2000, she won the Harry Chapin Media award for reporting on poverty and hunger, and her 2010 story in Mother Jones of the collapse of the welfare system in Georgia and elsewhere won a Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism.

DLC Prez Wins Romney Ad-Making Contest

| Mon Sep. 24, 2007 2:39 PM EDT

Democratic Leadership Council President and Slate blogger Bruce Reed answered the call last week when the Romney for President campaign launched a "create your own ad" contest. Team Mitt promised to buy air time for the ad with the most "love" and page views. Reed apparently couldn't resist. He used the campaign's official materials (provided by the contest), cut and pasted, and— voila!—created "Way!," a funny riff on how Mitt dissuaded son Tagg from becoming a Democrat.

The Romney people were not amused and have banned Reed's creation from the contest (which got all of 137 entries, according to Reed). Nonetheless, Reed's creation has generated vastly more love than anything the Mitt supporters have come up with. See it for yourself here:
jumpcut movie:"Way!"

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Why Banks Want Your Checks to Bounce

| Mon Sep. 24, 2007 10:13 AM EDT

Back in the day, writing bad checks used to be a criminal offense. Now, it's a profit center. Banks make an eye-popping $17.5 billion a year by encouraging us to overdraw our checking accounts. Banks hold on to deposits and clear checks in a way that ensures the maximum number of bounces, regardless of when the checks were actually cashed. They let us use ATM and debit cards even when there's no money in our accounts. Then they charge us $34 a pop for the favor. Some banks even charge extra fees for every day an account is in the red, turning overdraft "protection" into a form of loansharking, with interest rates that would make Tony Soprano blush. Except when banks do it, it's all legal.

Tomorrow, the U.S. House Financial Services Committee will vote on a bill that might change some of this. Among other things, H.R. 946 would prohibit banks from manipulating check-clearing to enhance overdraft fees and require banks to warn customers that their accounts are overdrawn before allowing them to make a purchase with a debit card or make an ATM withdrawal. Seems sensible enough, but expect a major fight over this one, given the money involved. You can read more about overdraft abuses here.

Mukasey: A Giuliani Republican?

| Fri Sep. 21, 2007 3:21 PM EDT

Attorney General Michael Mukasey isn't a big giver when it comes to politics. He has donated only to a single federal candidate since 1989: his old pal Rudy. Mukasey and his wife have donated $5,600 to Giuliani's presidential campaign, reports the Center for Responsive Politics.

Mukasey and Giuliani have been friends since the 1970s, when the two worked together in the U.S. Attorney's office. When Giuliani became mayor, Mukasey, by then a federal judge, swore him in. Mukasey's son Marc also worked in Giuliani criminal law practice and has donated to Giuliani's campaign, and both Mukaseys have served on Giuliani's campaign advisory committees. No wonder conservatives don't like the guy!

Another Reason to Skip the Muffin-Top Tattoo

| Fri Sep. 21, 2007 12:34 PM EDT

Which hurts more, getting a tattoo or giving birth without drugs?

The Wall Street Journal ($) reports this week that there's some evidence to suggest that those ever-so-popular lower-back tattoos may cause complications from spinal epidurals given for pain-relief during childbirth. Unless they plan someday to make do with hee-breathing, young women contemplating the needle might want to forgo the permanent pink butterfly...

Bush's Latest Big Fib

| Fri Sep. 21, 2007 9:19 AM EDT

In his press conference yesterday, President Bush let loose some whoppers in defending his plan to veto a popular, bipartisan bill that would extend health insurance to 4 million poor kids. Bush claimed that the bill would allow the program (known as SCHIP) to cover too many rich people, i.e., families earning up to $80,000 a year. Not only would this burden the taxpayers, but, he declared, it would lead all those families to (gasp!) drop private insurance in favor of the public program, making the bill "an incremental step toward the goal of government-run health care for every American."

Most of this just isn't true. A recent Urban Institute study found that the vast majority of the families covered under the pending bill have incomes less than $42,000 (for a family of four!). And even kids covered by SCHIP get their actual insurance from private companies that contract with the states, so no socialized medicine there.

That's why Bush's veto threat may be pretty irrelevant. Most of his own party is behind expanding the children's insurance program, including stalwart conservative Utah Republican senator Orrin Hatch, who provided perhaps the best quote of the debate so far. When asked by the Washington Post whether he would vote to override a Bush veto, he replied, "You bet your sweet bippy I will."

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Tue Sep. 9, 2014 6:30 AM EDT | Updated Tue Dec. 16, 2014 10:10 AM EDT