Harold Meyerson

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

Recent Articles

The Legacy of Paul Schrade

Today’s New York Times has a story on the 50th anniversary of Robert Kennedy’s murder, featuring interviews with Kennedy staffers and supporters. But the piece misidentifies Paul Schrade, who was also critically wounded when Kennedy was shot, as “a campaign aide” (in the caption) and doesn’t quite get it right in calling him “a labor organizer who worked on the campaign” in the text of the article. It’s important to get Paul Schrade’s actual identity right, though—because he was a key figure in California and union history during the pivotal decade of the ‘60s. As a young man, Paul had worked as an assistant to United Auto Workers (UAW) President Walter Reuther, who headed what today has to be viewed as by far the most important progressive union in American history. In the 1950s, Paul headed a UAW local at North American Aviation in Los Angeles, and became the UAW’s western regional director in the early 1960s...

The Last New Frontiersman

(John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum)
Richard Goodwin, who may have been the last surviving New Frontiersman, and who was actually a good deal better than that, died Sunday at 86. As a young man, Goodwin checked every meritocratic box there was to check, including valedictorian at Harvard Law, clerk to Felix Frankfurter, and congressional investigator who helped expose the rigged TV game shows of the 1950s. In 1960, he joined Ted Sorensen to write John Kennedy’s campaign speeches, and then shaped U.S. policy toward Latin America in Kennedy’s administration. With Goodwin’s death, virtually every significant figure who worked with Kennedy is now gone. But Goodwin didn’t go—didn’t leave the administration—when Kennedy was killed. Lyndon Johnson asked him to join Bill Moyers to write his speeches, and Goodwin did, in the process authoring what is clearly the greatest single presidential speech of the second half of the 20th century. In the spring of 1965, as Martin Luther King Jr. led...

Why the Cause of Full Employment Is Back from the Dead

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is introducing a government-guaranteed full employment bill this week. New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand issued a tweet in support of the concept earlier this month. New Jersey Senator Cory Booker has proposed setting up pilot full employment programs in 15 urban and rural areas with persistently high levels of unemployment. In other words, full employment—once a staple of Democrats’ rhetoric and on occasion an element of Democrats’ substance—has returned to their lexicon and their policy proposals. Government-sponsored employment programs are nothing new; indeed, they were a centerpiece of the New Deal’s efforts to reduce the catastrophic unemployment of the 1930s. These weren’t full employment programs, to be sure; they were improvised emergency programs to fend off the dislocations and, indeed, the threat of starvation that confronted millions of Americans in the depths of the Depression. In the autumn of 1933,...

The Vapid Defense of Share Buybacks

AP Photo/Richard Drew, File
This past Sunday, with the share buybacks of American corporations at an all-time high, The Washington Post business section ran a major piece documenting buybacks’ rise and giving the arguments for and against the practice. And the arguments for, I’m compelled to say, look mighty flimsy. Those arguments have never been more important, since the Republican tax cut supercharged the irresistible force (greed) that compels CEOs to authorize buybacks—as their pay is commonly linked to the share values that buybacks inflate. And “supercharged” may be understating it: “In February alone,” the Post reported, “U.S. corporations announced a record $150.7 billion in buybacks.” The problem with buybacks—the problem their defenders are obliged to address—is that they simply funnel corporate profits into shareholders' pockets rather than into investment. The defenders’ argument is that once the shareholder gets a hold of that...

A Tale of Two Labor Movements

(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Last Thursday, the more than 500 delegates to the convention of the California Labor Federation—the state’s AFL-CIO—voted to endorse liberal Democratic State Senator Kevin de León’s insurgent and uphill bid to unseat longtime incumbent Senator Dianne Feinstein, whom the federation had supported in all her previous U.S. Senate elections, dating back to 1992. Coming from a pillar of the state’s Democratic establishment, the endorsement—which required a two-thirds vote of the delegates—was a stunning development. The following day, the leaders of New York’s progressive unions announced that they were severing ties with the state’s Working Families Party—an organization that many of those unions had founded and supported, and that has backed, with notable success, a range of pro-labor progressive candidates in Democratic primaries over the past two decades. The announcements came on the eve of the party’s Saturday...

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