John Judis

John B. Judis is an editor at large at Talking Points Memo and the author of The Populist Explosion: How the Great Recession Transformed American and European Politics.

Recent Articles

Below the Beltway: Whistling Past the Trade Deficit

S oon after he was nominated to be Secretary of Commerce, Bill Daley called in several prominent trade experts to brief him. What, he asked them, was the most important thing he should know? Claude Barfield from the American Enterprise Institute was quick to reply, "You should understand that the trade deficit doesn't matter." Barfield's advice appeared to defy common sense. The trade deficit has been climbing steadily since 1991. Last year's total of $114.2 billion (including services as well as goods) is the highest since 1988. The merchandise trade deficit of $187.6 billion is the highest ever. Yet Barfield's opinion is shared by top Clinton administration officials and by most policy experts in Washington—from the Heritage Foundation to the Brookings Institution. To find dissenters, you have to call up smaller outfits like the Economic Policy Institute and the Economic Strategy Institute, or maverick economists like Charles McMillion of MBG Information Services. The dissenters don...

Fix It or or Nix It

I n the past, the great post-World War II institutions of international economics--the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the enforcement bodies of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)--have operated under the cover of bureaucratic darkness. Some lobbyists in Washington knew about them, but few voters knew what the Kennedy Round was or what the IMF did. But in the past year, the operation of these international institutions has become a major issue in Congress and the presidential campaign, and their conduct has already sparked the kind of militant left-wing demonstrations not seen for three decades. Why have these issues come to the fore now, and what are the choices facing Americans? Were the demonstrators in Washington last month right to single out the World Bank as well as the IMF for attack? Is the AFL-CIO justified in trying to derail China's entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO)? These public battles over the role of international...

It's the EPA and OSHA, Stupid!

T he Bush campaign would like you to think this election is about taxes and character; the Gore campaign is focusing on the dangers of debt and the promise of expanded health insurance; and the various interest groups in Washington are pushing their own favorites--from abortion to gun control. But who wins might not make that much difference in what happens on any of these issues. Where the election could have the biggest impact is in how well the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and other federal regulatory agencies charged with making capitalism more humane, livable, and fair do their job. It comes down to this: Under the Democrats, the agencies would be likely to do pretty well, while under the Republicans, they could be crippled. A few regulatory agencies were established during the Progressive Era and New Deal, but most of them were created between 1964 and 1975, and reached the zenith of their power in the...

Two More Years

K arl Rove, George W. Bush's chief campaign strategist, has compared this year's election to that of 1896 and Bush himself to victorious Republican presidential candidate William McKinley. Rove argued that just as McKinley's election created a new political alignment that reflected the industrial revolution of the late nineteenth century, Bush's election in 2000 would create a new political alignment that reflected the new high-tech economy of the twenty-first century. "We're at a unique moment where the governing philosophy and government model that we choose in this election is likely to be the philosophy and model for the next 20 years," Rove said. These were splendid words, but if you look at the tortured results of this year's election, they are very far from the truth. If the vote in Florida holds up, George Bush will have won the presidency. But Vice President Al Gore should have won fairly easily. He didn't because he is a horrific politician, the worst since...

Round Midnight

A s Bill Clinton prepared to leave office and public attention swiveled toward the incoming administration, the outgoing president spent his last months in the Oval Office making recess appointments and issuing a flurry of new regulations and executive orders. Many of these have been in the works for years but were blocked by the Republican Congress. With very few exceptions, these orders and appointments represented the suppressed liberal aspirations of the Clinton administration. But will President George W. Bush sit by and allow such aspirations to be realized? He can't simply revoke the measures. As the Supreme Court ruled in 1983 when President Ronald Reagan tried to rescind a postelection auto safety regulation issued by Jimmy Carter, a new administration must go through the usual elaborate rulemaking procedures (with hearings and review) before revising regulations issued by the previous administration. But a new president can undermine new rules by staying their...

Pages