September 13, 2011 — If there is a cap on eligibility for unemployment benefits, who will feel the impact and its reverberations most acutely? If food stamps are reduced, who will feel the greatest impact? And what about Pell Grants for education? Or health insurance for the children of the poor and the working poor?
These and other questions will be tackled during a panel discussion, "The Politics of the Debt Ceiling Crisis," to be held Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. in Minor Hall auditorium, room 125. The event – free and open to the public – is organized by the University of Virginia's Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies, part of the College of Arts & Sciences.
The panel discussion, which will include leading scholars from U.Va. and elsewhere, is part of the Woodson Institute's occasional series, "Currents of Conversation." The series aims to bring together members of the University and broader community to offer perspectives on topics plucked from the headlines that stimulate sustained public debate.
The U.Va. panelists include Derrick Alridge, a professor in the Curry School of Education's Department of Leadership, Foundations and Policy; law professor Mildred R. Robinson; and politics professor James Savage.
Clarence Lang, associate professor of African-American Studies and history at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Andrea Simpson, a U.Va. alumna who chairs the political science department at the University of Richmond, will join the panel.
"Although we hope to explore the broad implications of the politics of the debt ceiling, we are especially concerned to have panelists address the racial implications of the debt-ceiling debate," Woodson Institute director Deborah McDowell said.
The recent and controversial public debates attached raising the federal debt ceiling not only to balancing the budget, but also to cutting spending, especially on entitlement programs, said McDowell, Alice Griffin Professor of English.
The panel will discuss questions and issues connected to implications of the debt ceiling debate and "consider the ways in which all the talk of caps, cuts, deficit reductions and balanced budgets has real consequences for real people," especially minorities and poor people, McDowell said.
"We must think seriously – and critically – about the consequences of withdrawing the social safety nets that exist to protect the most vulnerable members of our society," she said.
Biographies of the panelists:
• Derrick Alridge
Before coming to U.Va. in August, Alridge was professor of education and African-American Studies at the University of Georgia, as well as director of the Institute for African-American Studies and co-director of the Foot Soldier Project for Civil Rights Studies, an oral history and documentary film project.
He has published "The Educational Thought of W.E.B. Du Bois: An Intellectual History" and "Message in the Music: Hip Hop, History and Pedagogy," an edited volume with James B. Stewart and V.P. Franklin, among other publications.
• Mildred R. Robinson
Robinson, Henry L. and Grace Doherty Charitable Foundation Professor of Law and E. James Kelly Jr.-Class of 1965 Research Professor of Law, joined the faculty in 1985 after a year as a visiting professor. She teaches federal income tax, state and local tax, and trusts and estates.
Her article, "The Current Economic Situation and its Impact on Gender, Race and Class: The Legacy of Raced (and Gendered) Employment," is forthcoming in the Iowa College of Law's Journal of Gender, Race & Justice.
A member of the American Law Institute, Robinson was on the inaugural board of directors for Law Access Inc., currently The Access Group. She was a commissioner representing Virginia at the National Conference on Uniform State Laws from 1990 to ''94 and served as a member of the executive committee of the Association of American Law Schools from 2000-03.
• James Savage
A politics professor, Savage specializes in American politics and economics, and researches and teaches on comparative budgetary, fiscal and economic policy, with an emphasis on the U.S., the European Union and Japan.
His book, "Making the EMU: The Politics of Budgetary Surveillance and The Enforcement of Maastricht," from Oxford University Press, analyzes the European Union's 1992 Maastricht Treaty, which introduced the concept of European citizenship and launched economic and monetary union (creating the "euro"). He conducted the research for the book as a Fulbright-European Union Affairs fellow with the European Commission.
Savage's studies of the development of Japanese budgetary procedures and policy stem from research conducted at the Japanese Ministry of Finance.
Currently, he is working on a project that explores the reconstruction of Iraq's budgetary system.
• Clarence Lang
Lang, who was Langston Hughes Visiting Professor at the University of Kansas in spring 2011, is the author of "Grassroots at the Gateway: Class Politics and Black Freedom Struggle in St. Louis, 1936-75" and dozens of articles and book essays on the Civil Rights Era and other types of black activism, such as the Black Power Movement.
He received a B.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia, where he minored in black studies. He earned his M.A. in history from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville and his Ph.D. in history from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Lang has been an intern and reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times and a summer research fellow at the Missouri Historical Society Library and Research Center.
• Andrea Simpson
An associate professor of political science, Simpson earned her master's degree in public administration from U.Va. in 1989 and then earned a Ph.D. in political science from Emory University. She was a faculty member at the University of Washington from 1993 to 2004. Simpson was the first black woman to become program chair and president of the Western Political Science Association.
Her first book, "The Tie that Binds: Identity and Political Attitudes in the Post-Civil Rights Generation," was named the "Best Book of 1998 on Racial Identity" by the Race, Ethnicity and Politics section of the American Political Science Association.
Simpson is currently completing a book on the environmental justice movement to be published by Oxford University Press.