Tim Fernholz

Tim Fernholz is a former staff writer for the Prospect. His work has been published by Newsweek, The New Republic, The Nation, The Guardian, and The Daily Beast. He is also a Research Fellow at the New America Foundation.

Recent Articles


Is it too soon to pronounce Obama an economic failure? A different take on The Escape Artists.

The sophisticated political observer doesn’t need public opinion polls to weigh the odds of President Obama’s re-election. Economic indicators drive voters, and if the president and his party come up short in November, the recriminations won’t be aimed at campaign headquarters in Chicago but at the staffers and wonks tasked with turning around the American economy. The Escape Artists: How Obama’s Team Fumbled the Recovery , provides just that opportunity. Noam Scheiber, an editor at The New Republic , susses out the Obama administration’s most important internal debates to find exactly where the supposed dream team of economic wonks failed. As a fair account of opportunities missed, the book is exceptional. As an explanation of our current economic woes, it suffers from a perhaps unavoidable bias: A book so focused on the actions inside the Treasury building and White House can’t help but elide the factors that pop up outside the policymaking bubble...

Dems to Watch

A rising crop of Democrats looks to the middle.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
After last fall's electoral defeats, a shaken Democratic Congress returned to Washington to assess its political position and leadership, during what would turn out to be a surprisingly productive lame-duck session. Following a close look at the roster, both the House and the Senate Democratic caucuses elected the same leadership slates that oversaw punishing losses in 2010. Yet with so many veterans culled in November -- 63 in the House and six in the Senate -- a new generation of leaders needs to step up inside the Democratic Caucus to regain electoral ground and continue pushing their party's priorities in the face of an increasingly conservative Republican Party. That's why Democrats are raising the profile of some newer members and emphasizing a congenial caucus where moderate and conservative members can still find a home. "Many members of the Democratic Caucus voted against the health-care bill, and I expect many of them might vote for repealing the health-care bill," sophomore...

Now, You Can Have Your Own Facts.

What's missing from this Politico story , and indeed from Republican rhetoric around the health-care reform bill, is any evidence that the Affordable Care Act will increase the deficit. Republicans have exempted their ACA repeal bill from scoring by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office because the CBO's analysis is that ACA will save the government $143 billion over 10 years, and repealing it will increase the deficit. Sure, some of those savings depend on Congress behaving responsibly, but it's the best estimate of the bill's budgetary effects out there. Still, according to Speaker John Boehner's spokesperson, Michael Steel , “No one believes that the job-killing healthcare law will lower costs, because it won’t." Politico thinks that public opinion polling "highlighting the wide gulf between how the proposal plays in Washington and in the rest of the country." But polls aren't economic analyses, whether or not Politico or politicians believe the two are equivalent...

Republicans Would Rather Not Cut the Budget If They Can Avoid It.

Despite what you hear, It's not necessarily true that Republicans want to cut the budget. Or rather, that they want to face the consequences of doing so. Take the new rule that gives House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan the ability to essentially write a budget resolution himself should the House fail to pass one normally. While many have criticized the plan as a power grab, the move appears to be less about giving Ryan unilateral control and more about finding a way for Republicans to avoid tough votes on the specifics of their austerity vision -- no committee wrangling over the tough choices, just lower preset spending levels from the budget chairman. And the vote to do so happens at the beginning of the year, before any of the debate begins -- it doesn't sound like the new majority is all that interested in getting into the nitty-gritty of shared sacrifice, to borrow President Obama's favorite phrase. Similarly, House Republicans have suddenly discovered that their promise to...

Five Positive Economic Signs for '11

Key indicators suggest we may have a more positive economic-growth picture for 2011.

(AP Photo/David Goldman)
The new year is a time for optimism, regardless of the circumstances in which we find ourselves. Economically speaking, 2010 was a year spent in the doldrums of a recovery. Unemployment held steady at just under 10 percent, and growth was positive but anemic -- each new piece of data tantalized us with the potential for improvement without reducing the scale of our problems. Despite all that, and maybe it's a week of vacation talking, I haven't been so optimistic about recovery in months. A number of key indicators, and the combination of the Federal Reserve's new direction in monetary policy with the stimulative effects of the lame-duck tax deal, suggest we may have a more positive economic-growth picture for 2011. That's not to say there aren't dozens of lurking economic threats, but in the spirit of positive thinking, here's what we can look forward to in 2011. Lower Unemployment. In December, initial jobless claims -- first-time reports of unemployment -- fell to their lowest...