Mark Schmitt

Mark Schmitt is director of the program on political reform at the New America Foundation and former executive editor of The American Prospect



Recent Articles

The GOP the Democrats Built.

Yes, the Republican Party seems to have gone a little nuts, at least in Delaware, or as Jon Chait explains it well, it is “reaping the whirlwind” for its choice to cast political debate in the Obama era in apocalyptic terms. But let’s recognize, as Mike Castle apparently didn’t, that it’s not just an existing set of Republicans losing their minds. It’s a very different, and much smaller, group of people. And at least in certain states, especially in the Northeast, that’s due to Democratic successes that flipped traditional suburban old-line Republicans over to the Democrats. Obama had a lot to do with that, but so did George W. Bush, congressional candidates, and local issues, especially involving development. As a result, the electorate made up of suburban moderate Republicans and conservative rural Republicans in Delaware and Pennsylvania, the coalition that supported Castle and Arlen Specter (who knew he was doomed), no longer exists. Here...

When It All Went Wrong

The 1970s were a decade of lost opportunities to reconstruct the New Deal order.

President Jimmy Carter on inauguration day, Jan. 20, 1977 (AP Photo)
Right Star Rising: A New Politics, 1974-1980 , by Laura Kalman, W.W. Norton, 473 pages, $27.95 Stayin' Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class , by Jefferson Cowie, The New Press, 480 pages, $27.95 Pivotal Decade: How the United States Traded Factories for Finance in the Seventies , by Judith Stein, Yale University Press, 367 pages, $32.50 The last years of the 1970s, as depicted in novels such as Ann Beattie's Falling in Place , were a hazy, anxious time. Skylab was falling (a powerful metaphor in Beattie's hands), Three Mile Island was melting, and people were literally dazed and confused, nervously drifting away from one another. The U.S. divorce rate reached its all-time peak in 1979, as did the rate of self-reported marijuana use. Beneath the haze, though, something bigger than Skylab was falling. As Paul Krugman put it in his 2007 book, The Conscience of a Liberal , it was the moment when the world he had taken for granted, the middle-class paradise of postwar...

Uncertainly Wrong

Republicans caused our economic uncertainty. Progressives have answers.

Rep. John Boehner (Flickr/republicanconference)
The buzzword of this election year, at least for Republicans, is "uncertainty." House Republican Leader John Boehner uses the word at every opportunity: "Small-business operators ... are filled with massive uncertainty." "When there is that much uncertainty employers just freeze. ... They are afraid to move forward because they don't know what is coming next." The expiring Bush tax cuts, implementation of financial regulation and health reform, and the lingering possibility that Congress will pass cap-and-trade climate legislation are all blamed for this paralyzing doubt. Unlike other Republican election-year lines, this one makes superficial sense. These are scary times for anyone thinking about investing or hiring, or anyone looking for a job and trying to decide whether to take a pay cut or change careers. Who isn't aware that the economy's next move could be up, down, or sideways? And as a political theme, "uncertainty" is also brilliantly evasive. Republicans who are willing to...

John Judis' Weak Defense.

At The New Republic , John Judis today offers a lengthy “Response to My Critics” -- those of us who challenged his hyperbolic account of the president’s “Unnecessary Fall.” While I’m one of four critics he links to, Judis barely touches the points in my “Tale of Three Presidencies,” which mainly concerned his failed attempt to show that Obama’s pattern of sagging support looked more like Jimmy Carter’s fatal fall than like Ronald Reagan ’s short-term drop during the severe recession of 1982. On Reagan, both Brendan Nyhan and I had pointed out that Judis’ claims that the public had greater confidence in Reagan’s ability to turn the economy around than they do in Obama’s, and that Democrats would do better in November “if Obama could command [Reagan’s] numbers” were not supported by evidence. In fact, with one exception, Obama’s ratings on the economy are comparable to or better...

A Tale of Three Presidencies

Sorry TNR, but Obama is still more Reagan than Carter.

President Barack Obama. (White House Photo/Pete Souza)
"The Unnecessary Fall," John Judis' premature diagnosis of the demise of the Obama administration published in The New Republic , has generated a lot of approving buzz, even though it is mostly familiar. The thesis that Obama should have asked for a bigger stimulus, should have been more confrontational with Wall Street, shouldn't have appointed Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, and should be more "populist" (always using a vague definition of the term that explicitly excludes any actual populism except Franklin Roosevelt's patrician version) has become entirely conventional wisdom on the left -- you've read it here, at The Huffington Post , The Nation , and elsewhere -- in fact, much the same article was written dozens of times during the 2008 primaries, as the case for a different candidate. Judis adds a few new features to the argument. He dares to cross a new line by comparing Obama to Jimmy Carter. (And to Herbert Hoover, too, just to lay it on thick.) And he compares Obama...