Harold Meyerson

Harold Meyerson is executive editor of The American Prospect. His email is hmeyerson@prospect.org.

Recent Articles

What Will the FBI Actually Investigate — If Anything?

(Melina Mara/The Washington Post via AP, Pool)
(Melina Mara/The Washington Post via AP, Pool) Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on September 27, 2018 S ince, as I write this, three swing-vote senators on the Brett Kavanaugh nomination—Arizona’s Jeff Flake, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin—have all called for an FBI investigation of the allegations against the Supreme Court nominee, I’m guessing the investigation will go forward. Absent such an investigation, it’s by no means clear the Republicans have the votes to confirm. That said, what will the scope of the investigation be? Will it concern only Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s charges in the narrowest sense, and therefore come back saying there’s no third-party confirmation for them? Will it talk to the other people in the house where the attempted rape happened that night? Will it go into such contextual matters as whether Kavanaugh was a heavy drinker, and abusive and out of control when drunk? Whether it...

Donald Trump, Fiscal Conservative

On Thursday, President Trump sent a letter to Congress making clear he wants to freeze federal employees’ pay for 2019. Here’s what his letter said:

Under current law, locality pay increases averaging 25.70 percent, costing $25 billion, would go into effect in January 2019, in addition to a 2.1 percent across-the-board increase for the base General Schedule. We must maintain efforts to put our Nation on a fiscally sustainable course, and Federal agency budgets cannot sustain such increases. 

How prudent that our president wants to maintain a fiscally sustainable course. Imagine, a budget increase costing $25 billion! Of course, that pales somewhat when compared with the $1.8 trillion tax cut Trump and the Republicans enacted late last year, but then that was largely directed to the wealthiest Americans, many of whom are now recycling those funds productively by donating a share of them to Republicans’ election campaigns, and since Republicans are fiscally prudent, the tax cut, though at first glance blowing a hole in the budget 72 times larger than the amount of the raise to federal employees that Trump cites in his letter, was actually an exercise in fiscal prudence. 

No?

One More Chicago ’68 Story!

(AP Photo/Michael Boyer)
(AP Photo/Michael Boyer) Chicago police attempt to disperse demonstrators outside the Democratic National Convention headquarters in Chicago on August 29, 1968. F ollowers of this column may have hoped that I had sufficient self-control not to inflict yet another of the endless 50th anniversary remembrances of 1968 on unsuspecting readers. You hoped wrong. Here goes: Fifty years ago this week, on the final night of the cataclysmic Democratic Convention that left the New Deal order permanently shattered, I was sitting glumly in a hallway on the 15th floor of the Conrad Hilton Hotel in Chicago—the headquarters hotel for the convention, the hotel where the staff of Eugene McCarthy’s campaign was domiciled, the hotel that looked down on what was left of Grant Park after the police had run amok there for the past two evenings. I had plenty of glum company. This floor (I remember it as the 15th, but Jamie Galbraith insists it was the 14th) was the one for junior staff, among whom, at age 18...

Elizabeth Warren Proposes a Second New Deal

(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
(AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Senator Elizabeth Warren speaks in Woburn, Massachusetts, on August 8, 2018. W hen Bernie Sanders offered up his definition of socialism in a speech at Georgetown University in 2015, he basically equated it with the governmental programs created by the New Deal. Sanders cited Social Security, and New Dealer Lyndon Johnson’s three-decades-later follow-up, Medicare, as the primary U.S. examples of publicly funded universal programs that provided older Americans with income and access to health care. That, said Sanders, was a tradition he sought to renew, by creating single-payer health care for all, free public university educations, and a host of other programs. The historic ground on which Sanders took his stand was the experience of the United States when New Deal programs were most effectual. Before they’d been eroded by the financialization and globalization that commenced in the 1970s, FDR’s New Deal gave the nation its one and only period of broadly...

Capitalism? Democrats Say, Pfoo!

The biennial Gallup poll on Americans’ sentiments toward capitalism and socialism came out this week, and the numbers tell us a lot, particularly about today’s Democrats. As in the 2016 poll, the share of Democrats who have a favorable view of socialism remains both high and essentially unchanged: 58 percent two years ago, 57 percent today.

In this year’s poll, however, for the first time the share of Democrats who view socialism favorably has taken a non-trivial lead over the share who feel the same way about capitalism. Two years ago, 56 percent of Democrats had a positive view of capitalism, essentially tying it with socialism (however much that meant that some Democrats had a positive view of both, and, for all we know, a positive view of a whole lot of things). This year, by contrast, the share of Democrats viewing capitalism positively tumbled to 47 percent—a full ten points beneath the share looking kindly on socialism.

It’s easy to read too much into these numbers (after all, yesterday’s poll showed that 16 percent of Republicans had a positive view of socialism, though this finding, like much of quantum mechanics, runs counter to reality as humans have experienced it). When many Democrats hear the word “socialism,” they think of such popular social democratic programs as Social Security and Medicare, or the single-payer systems and free public universities that exist in Western Europe. When many Republicans hear the word “socialism,” they think of Joseph Stalin.

That said, it’s not hard to see why even minimally sentient beings would be increasingly wary about capitalism, most certainly as it’s currently practiced in the United States. Just yesterday, as Gallup was releasing its data, the Financial Times produced its own analysis of profits, profit margins, and wages in the United States. With 90 percent of the companies in the S&P 500 now having filed their second-quarter reports, profits have risen by 25 percent over the same period last year, and profit margins—how much companies profit from their gross revenues—have hit 11.8 percent, which the FT says is “the highest level since financial information provider FactSet began recording the data in 2008.”

How very nice. Of course, as corporations rake in more profit from their sales, the share of those sales going to wages likely declines—and indeed, that’s exactly what’s happened. That partly explains why real wages have actually gone down over the past year when the rate of inflation (which by historic standards is still pretty low) is taken into account.

So—record-high profit margins, with record amounts then being shoveled to major shareholders through all-time-high share buybacks, while wages stubbornly sag despite low unemployment levels. Americans—Democratic Americans in particular—likely aren’t able to quote you the numbers, but they certainly sense that big money is being generated, and most Americans aren’t getting it.

No wonder Democrats are more and more dubious about capitalism. They should be.

Tax Cuts for the rich. Deregulation for the powerful. Wage suppression for everyone else. These are the tenets of trickle-down economics, the conservatives’ age-old strategy for advantaging the interests of the rich and powerful over those of the middle class and poor. The articles in Trickle-Downers are devoted, first, to exposing and refuting these lies, but equally, to reminding Americans that these claims aren’t made because they are true. Rather, they are made because they are the most effective way elites have found to bully, confuse and intimidate middle- and working-class voters. Trickle-down claims are not real economics. They are negotiating strategies. Here at the Prospect, we hope to help you win that negotiation.

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