Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman is a weekly columnist and senior writer for The American Prospect. He also writes for the Plum Line blog at The Washington Post and The Week and is the author of Being Right Is Not Enough: What Progressives Must Learn From Conservative Success.

Recent Articles

Beto O'Rourke and the Unity Problem

Just six months ago, Beto O'Rourke was basking in the love of Democrats from across America as he ran for Senate. Videos of him answering questions and giving speeches went viral, he built an enormous grassroots organizing machine, and hopeful supporters showered him with a mind-boggling $79 million in contributions . Even though he lost that race, his thoughts inevitably turned to the White House. And why not? He could run for Texas' other Senate seat, but the result might be the same. People keep comparing him to Barack Obama, who was also 46 when he launched his presidential run in 2007. As Obama demonstrated, if you have talent and good timing, anything is possible. But there's a way in which O'Rourke may be too much like Obama, specifically the Obama of 2008. Because it isn't 2008 anymore. We have to be honest and say that as appealing as O'Rourke is, he doesn't quite deserve the comparison. Obama became a national figure with a speech at the 2004 Democratic convention that was...

What the Presidential Candidates Aren't Telling You About Medicare For All

While the essential positions of the two major parties on issues don't change much, every once in a while a party will have to decide not just what it believes in on a particular subject, but exactly what it wants to do about it when it takes power. The more complex the issue is, the longer that process can take. Right now, Democrats are debating where they should go on health care—one of the most critical and knotty policy challenges that exists—but they're doing it faster than they've ever had to before, even as the solutions they're moving toward are more ambitious than anything the party has previously embraced. In the process, they may be gliding past one of the most critical questions they'll face if they actually get the chance to pass Medicare For All, or whatever it will ultimately be called: not just which policy would be preferable if it became law, but how they can get it to become law. A bunch of politicians aren't demonstrating that they've thought through...

Why Republican Cries of 'Socialism!' Won't Work

In his patented stepdad-telling-you-this-is-for-your-own-good style, Mike Pence came to warn the attendees at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference that their already boundless hatred for Democrats doesn't quite match the evil the opposition party now represents. "Under the guise of 'Medicare for All' and a 'Green New Deal,' Democrats are embracing the same tired economic theories that have impoverished nations and stifled the liberties of millions over the past century," Pence told them. "That system is socialism." Meanwhile, a related narrative is taking hold in a media that finally got over its need to write the 10,000th "In Trump Country, Trump Supporters Still Support Trump," story full of breathless reports from Rust Belt diners where middle-aged white men gather to muse on the president's heroic efforts to defend the country from the immigrant horde. Now, the story is "Moderate Democrats Worry About Party's Move Left," (see here or here or here ), in which...

It's the Economy, Stupid -- Again

As you may remember, when Bill Clinton ran for president in 1992 someone put up a sign in his campaign headquarters reading, "It's the economy, stupid," reminding the candidate and everyone working for him to keep the focus on that issue. With the country still recovering from the last recession, Clinton framed much of his campaign that year in terms of a conflict between ordinary people on one side and the wealthy on the other, with slogans like "Fighting for the forgotten middle class" and "Putting people first." That's despite the fact that Clinton was a centrist in many ways. And of course, it worked. Democrats usually succeed when they wage what Republicans angrily call "class warfare," an objection to both the substance and politics of going after the rich on behalf of the non-rich. It's not surprising, since working so assiduously for the wealthy, as the GOP does, requires some delicate maneuvering. It's best if no one calls too much attention to it. Which makes it all the more...

Why Democrats Need to Save the IRS

Of all the supposedly radical ideas newly audacious Democrats have suggested, none may be more broadly popular than raising taxes on the wealthy. In whatever form it might take—raising the top marginal tax rate to 70 percent as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has suggested , or instituting a wealth tax as Elizabeth Warren proposes , or raising the estate tax as Bernie Sanders would like , there's almost nothing that would be an easier sell to the public, as polls have shown for years. As a recent Politico headline put it, "Soak the rich? Americans say go for it." That doesn't mean that the rich themselves, and their representatives in the Republican Party, wouldn't react with horror and fight any such proposals with the teeth-baring fury of a cornered animal. One Fox Business host, upon hearing some of the poll results, lamented that "The idea of fairness has been promoted in our schools for a long time," and this has warped the minds of the young toward such abhorrent idea. But should...

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