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 Iran Wedge

Between the GOP's wave of congressional retirements and its lackluster presidential candidates, the party's prospects are looking dim. But they have one cheerful possibility on the horizon: war with Iran.

Now is the season of Republican lethargy and discontent. A wave of retirements is dimming GOP congressional prospects, while the Republican presidential candidates have generated so little excitement that they are running behind the Democrats in fundraising and in the opinion polls. But there is one cheerful possibility on the horizon, and that is war with Iran. Until recently, I had thought that an attack on Iran, besides being strategically reckless for America, would be politically suicidal for the Republican Party. I am still convinced an attack would be reckless for the country, but I am beginning to see how it could work for the GOP. That the Bush administration might launch an airstrike to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities has for some time been the subject of intense speculation. During recent months, however, the administration has increasingly emphasized the claim that Iran is arming insurgents in Iraq. In the Oct. 8 issue of The New Yorker , Seymour Hersh reports that...

Hillarycare Mythology: Did Hillary Threaten Democratic Senators?

Carl Bernstein's oft-repeated account of Hillary Clinton during the push for health care reform in 1993 is of doubtful origin.

This piece is a companion to our October 2007 cover story "The Hillarycare Mythology." Carl Bernstein's biography of Hillary Clinton, A Woman in Charge , is the source of a story about her from 1993 -- including a threat she allegedly made to Democratic members of the U.S. Senate -- that has been cited repeatedly in the media in recent months as an illustration of her character. The real story, however, is that the episode probably never occurred as Bernstein reports it, and that mainstream publications have taken Bernstein's account on faith without double-checking the facts. According to Bernstein, at a political retreat for Senate Democrats in Virginia in late April 1993, Senator Bill Bradley asked whether the delay in submitting the president's health care legislation would require any changes to the plan. Hillary then responded "icily" that "there would be no changes because delay or not, the White House would ‘demonize' members of Congress and the medical establishment who would...

Hillary's Own Plan

Senator Clinton's health proposal signals a new phase in the long struggle for universal health insurance. Here's how her new plan compares to the 1993 Clinton Health Security Plan.

Hillary Clinton's "American Health Choices Plan," released September 17, opens a new chapter in the struggle for health care reform, though you would never know it from the predictable reactions on both sides of the political spectrum. From the Republicans came the usual cries of "socialized medicine," even though the proposal builds on the existing system and calls for three features that have long been part of some conservative proposals: a mandate for individuals to carry insurance coverage, choice among competing health plans, and the use of tax credits to help make coverage affordable. From the left came the usual charges that anything less than a single-payer plan is a boondoggle for the insurance industry, even though Senator Clinton proposes a new Medicare-like public plan to be offered as an option to employers and individuals and new national rules for insurers that would dramatically change how they operate. The novelty of Senator Clinton's plan is not in its broad...

Iraq Trap 2

Democrats should not promise an impossible victory, only an honorable end to the Iraq War as expediently as possible.

"Americans only want tragedies with happy endings," the novelist and critic William Dean Howells once said, and that strain in our culture seems to be at work once again in the debate about Iraq. Many of the war's original supporters now concede it was a tragic mistake, but they're still holding out for it to end happily. Like the president, they grasp at a few positive statistics or favorable developments in one province, struggling to sustain the hope that bad decisions can be made right if only our troops stay in Iraq until we turn things around. And so they lend their assistance in the laying of a trap. Iraq Trap 1 was the war itself -- America stuck in the sands of Mesopotamia, lured there by false claims about weapons of mass destruction and promises of a conflict that would be quick and easy. Iraq Trap 2 is a political trap -- a way that the Republicans may have found to win the war at home by setting up the next president to take the blame when that president is likely to be a...

The Hillarycare Mythology

Did Hillary doom health reform in 1993? Here's the real story, from the Prospect co-editor who was a White House senior health policy advisor at the time.

Five days after his inauguration in 1993, Bill Clinton named his wife to chair a newly established President's Task Force on National Health Care Reform. From that moment, the public had the impression that Hillary Clinton and the task force under her direction were responsible for coming up with the administration's reform plan. And when that plan went down to defeat, many people assigned her a large share of the blame. Now that Hillary Clinton is a candidate for president, the health-reform debacle is again receiving attention, this time as a basis for judging what kind of a president she might be in her own right. The trouble with such judgments, however, is that they are usually rooted in a series of misunderstandings about the Clinton health plan, Hillary's role in the reform effort, and the reasons for its failure. The mythology of "Hillarycare," as the Republicans like to call it, is only partly the result of right-wing misrepresentations of the plan as a "government takeover"...