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

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...

Is Media Coverage of the 2020 Campaign Repeating the Old Mistakes?

The race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination is officially on. And it's already not going well. I don't mean that as a knock on the candidates, who are an impressive (and large!) collection of officeholders. I'm talking about the way the media cover the race. And heaven help us, they seem to have learned nothing from what happened in 2016. Or any year before that, for that matter. All this has me thinking back to the aftermath of the 1988 election, when news organizations decided that they had been manipulated into focusing the discussion on things like Willie Horton instead of more substantive issues. They held panel discussions and wrote essays about what had gone wrong in their coverage, and promised to do better. One of the results was the creation of the "ad watch," in which candidates' TV ads would be dissected to judge if they were accurate and fair. Reporters and editors promised that next time they'd focus less on the horse race and more on what the election would...

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