Paul Starr

Paul Starr is co-founder and co-editor of the The American Prospect. and professor of sociology and public affairs at Princeton University. A winner of the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction and the Bancroft Prize in American history, he is the author of seven books, including most recently Remedy and Reaction: The Peculiar American Struggle over Heath Care Reform (Yale University Press, revised ed. 2013). Click here to read more about Starr.

Recent Articles

The False Lure of the Sanders Single-Payer Plan

Why a seemingly attractive proposal doesn’t make sense.

(Photo: AP/Evan Vucci)
(Photo: AP/Evan Vucci) Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders speaks during a campaign rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on January 30. W ouldn’t it be great if we could just go to the doctor and not pay any bills? After all, isn’t that what they do in other countries, and don’t those countries have lower health-care costs than the United States does? And aren’t private insurance companies the only reason we don’t have that kind of system? This is the appeal of the Bernie Sanders single-payer health plan. Free health care, with none of the frustrating paperwork of today’s insurance, and with taxes that cost less than insurance premiums—what could be better than that? Of course, the single payer in the Sanders plan is the federal government, which implies concentrating payment and therefore power over health care in Washington. But, at least in this area, many Democrats don’t seem worried about that prospect. Sanders doesn’t just call for incremental steps toward single-...

Accelerating the Fight Against ISIS

Going into 2012, Obama had Osama. Going into 2016, the Democrats need the fall of Raqqa and Mosul.

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin President Barack Obama addresses the nation from the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, Sunday night, December 6, 2016. The president's speech followed Wednesday's shooting in San Bernardino, California, that killed 14 people and wounded 21. This article will appear in the Winter 2016 issue of The American Prospect magazine . Subscribe here . W e are at a dangerous moment in the interplay of foreign and domestic politics. Jihadist attacks are a boon to the right in Europe and America, and the right’s indiscriminate threats against Muslims at home and abroad are a boon to the jihadists. This is a familiar cycle, a spiral of violence and fear in which the extremes feed off each other. During the next year, there is no greater challenge than stopping that spiral. In the United States, the challenge takes on particular urgency because of the 2016 election. Donald Trump and other Republican candidates play upon public anxieties, fanning hostility to...

We Need Clarity about ISIS, and the Democratic Candidates Didn’t Provide It

AP Photo/Jacques Brinon
AP Photo/Jacques Brinon Rescue workers gather at victims in the 10th district of Paris, Friday, November 13, 2015. M any Democrats—including the candidates for president at Saturday night’s debate in Iowa—are not registering the full import of the attacks in Paris. When French President Francois Hollande declared the massacre “an act of war” and ISIS claimed responsibility and announced that the attacks were the “first of a storm,” the conflict with ISIS entered a new stage. In responding to the advance of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, the Obama administration has tried to rely on local proxies—Syrian moderates, Kurds, the Iraqi army—to do the fighting on the ground, while the United States has supplied air power, intelligence, equipment, and other resources. Obama’s reluctance to commit ground troops is understandable. But with clear evidence his strategy was insufficient, the president announced on October 30 that several dozen special operations forces would go into Syria. Although the...

A Shocking Rise in White Death Rates in Midlife -- and What It Says About American Society

Drugs, alcohol, and suicide have taken an unparalleled toll on middle-aged whites, especially those with a high school degree or less.

I n a reversal of earlier trends, death rates among white non-Hispanic Americans in midlife increased sharply between 1999 and 2013, according to a new study by economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton, winner last month of the Nobel Prize for economics. The increased deaths were concentrated among those with the least education and resulted largely from drug and alcohol “poisonings,” suicide, and chronic liver diseases and cirrhosis. This midlife mortality reversal had no parallel in any other industrialized society or in other demographic groups in the United States. Case and Deaton’s analysis, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , also shows increased rates of illness, chronic pain, and disability among middle-aged whites. The findings have important implications for American politics and public policy, particularly for debates about economic inequality, public health, drug policy, disability insurance, and retirement income. The data also suggest...

Frustration Is Driving Both Parties' Voters Toward Radical Make-Believe

Frustration is driving voters on both sides of the partisan divide toward radical make-believe

AP Photo/Cliff Owen
AP Photo/Cliff Owen Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders speaks to supporters during a campaign rally at Prince William Fairground in Manassas, Virginia, Monday, September 14, 2015. R epublican primary voters, we are told, are furious about the failure of their party’s elected leaders to deliver on their promises. Despite controlling Congress, those leaders have done nothing about illegal immigration and have failed to repeal Obamacare, defund Planned Parenthood, or prevent the agreement with Iran from going through. Fed up with career politicians and fearing dire changes in American society, the party’s rank and file have instead gravitated to candidates who have never held public office—Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina. At least, that has been the story in the early going of the presidential race. On the left, there is an analogous impatience. Just as Republicans are frustrated with the Republican Congress, so progressives are frustrated with the...

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