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

Will the Payroll Tax Cut Threaten Social Security?

The latest argument against the tax deal goes like this: After the payroll tax, which funds Social Security, is temporarily cut to stimulate the economy, Republicans will never let it go back up again, and indeed, that's what they're telling Ryan Grim on the Hill. This is all just a secret plan to roll Obama and go after the social safety net. Jon Walker writes at Firedoglake, "The payroll tax holiday was never a progressive idea." Wasn't it? Rep. Jan Schakowsky's progressive budget plan included a payroll tax cut, and the Campaign for America's Future called it " A Proposal That Actually Strengthens Social Security ." Josh Bivens of EPI endorsed a payroll tax cut in February, 2010, as a good method to stimulate the economy. Progressive Sen. Dick Durbin made the deficit commission include a payroll tax holiday to stimulate the economy. This is an idea that has a fairly prominent progressive pedigree. Now, the payroll tax cut is not the most efficient path to fiscal stimulus or even...

Ron Paul Is Your New Fed Watchdog.

True, he's always been a Fed watchdog, but now it's official: America's most prominent Fed critic is now the chair of the House subcommittee that oversees the Fed. I previewed this transition, and the strange bedfellows it's producing, a few weeks ago: Republicans, led by Rep. Paul Ryan, are mounting an extensive critique of the Fed's latest policy, even suggesting it's time to rewrite the institution's operating mandate. But Paul is still not exactly on the same page. "I think they're missing the whole point," he says. "I don't want the Fed to have any power!" While the right's embrace of Paul's critique of the Fed is revealing of how far right Republicans have shifted on economic issues in the last few years, Paul is correct that few in the GOP entirely share his perspective. The Republican establishment hopes to use Paul's aggressive critique of the Fed to bolster their political ambitions, while Paul hopes Republican politicos can create broader support to abolish the institution...

The Problem Isn't Fox News.

Media Matters has obtained a leaked memo from Fox News, where an executive advises producers to use GOP-pollster approved language during their newscast : 1) Please use the term "government-run health insurance" or, when brevity is a concern, "government option," whenever possible. 2) When it is necessary to use the term "public option" (which is, after all, firmly ensconced in the nation's lexicon), use the qualifier "so-called," as in "the so-called public option." 3) Here's another way to phrase it: "The public option, which is the government-run plan." 4) When newsmakers and sources use the term "public option" in our stories, there's not a lot we can do about it, since quotes are of course sacrosanct. Jon Chait , crooked Gendarme, is " shocked, shocked to find partisan messaging" at Fox News. But this, I think, reveals a deeper problem for the left than simply Fox News' Republican favoritism. This language only favors Republicans insofar as the public thinks the government is bad...

A Million Consultants Crying Out in Unison, and Suddenly Silenced.

Via Ben Smith , New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg gets Shermanesque: "I'm not going to run for president, period," he said. "End of story." Replied Couric: "Ever?" "I think at my age ever is the easy thing to say," Bloomberg, who is 68, responded with a laugh. What about all the Mark Penns and Joe Trippis of the world, who make their money convincing self-funding vanity candidates to run (c.f. Jeff Greene ) so they can make off with hefty fees? What about all the third-party hopefuls who want to push a center-left agenda without associating with the actual left? Where will they go? Lincoln Chaffee , the nation turns its lonely eyes to you. -- Tim Fernholz

Lobbyists Never Lose.

Would you believe that anti-lobbyist candidates have transformed, like caterpillars into butterflies, and arrived in Washington to hire lobbyists to work for them ? The hypocrisy play here is obvious, but of course, but members of Congress need to find people to help them influence the legislative process, and that's what lobbyists do for a living. And lobbyist PR people pointing out that public advocates are lobbyists, too, isn't off the mark. The problem isn't lobbyists themselves, but the structure they work in -- the lack of transparency around who's lobbying for whom and the amount of money lobbyists spend that isn't properly documented. People and organizations are able to petition Congress, and there's no reason we shouldn't have professional petitioners. We need better rules so that lobbyists don't just become fronts to launder corporate money to legislators or to disguise the origins of our laws. -- Tim Fernholz