Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman is the Prospect's daily blogger and senior writer. He also blogs for the Plum Line at the Washington Post, and is the author of Being Right is Not Enough: What Progressives Must Learn From Conservative Success.

Recent Articles

Republicans, Democrats, and Transparency.

Is this good news or bad news? The new Republican chairman of the House oversight committee is demanding details of every request for federal records made by citizens, journalists, and others during the last five years under the Freedom of Information Act. It's part of a broad congressional inquiry into President Barack Obama 's promises to improve government transparency. The chairman, Representative Darrell Issa of California, said the committee wants to make sure that "all federal agencies respond in a timely, substantive and non-discriminatory manner" to requests for records under the information law. Well, there could be a number of things going on here. This could have a purely partisan intent – Issa may suspect that the Obama administration has been discriminating in the way it fills FOIA requests against conservative groups, or corporations, or something. He may therefore be hoping to uncover something he can use to bludgeon the administration with. Or he may be hoping to find...

Well, That Should Settle Things.

Hawaiians are so sweetly naïve : Moving to dispel claims that President Barack Obama was not born in Hawaii, his supporters in the state's legislature have introduced a bill that would allow anyone to get a copy of his birth records for a $100 fee. The idea behind the measure is to end skepticism over Obama's birthplace while raising a little money for a government with a projected budget deficit exceeding $800 million over the next two years. "If it passes, it will calm the birthers down," said the bill's primary sponsor, Rep. Rida Cabanilla. " No, no it won't calm them down. You see, birthers aren't birthers because they looked carefully at the evidence and are legitimately suspicious that Obama was not actually born in the U.S. There is no piece of evidence you could show them that would convince them otherwise. As Richard Hofstadter explained in "The Paranoid Style In American Politics," when you show conspiracy theorists evidence that contradicts their conspiracy theory, it only...

Why Conservatives Ought to Love the Postal Service.

Bear with me here, this isn't really about Mitt Romney . But I was recently reading his book No Apology: The Case For American Greatness (summary: America is great), and at one point, while describing the virtues of the free market and the pathologies of government, Mitt says, "It has been my experience that almost always government is far less productive than enterprises in the private sector. That's why private companies build roads for government and make equipment for the military. It's also part of the reason why FedEx and UPS can make a profit shipping and delivering packages while the U.S. Postal Service loses money, even with its inherent competitive advantages." This is a common refrain among conservatives -- if you want to see why government stinks, compare money-losing USPS to money-making UPS and FedEx. There are multiple reasons why this argument is bogus, the most important of which is that unlike any private corporation (or any government agency, for that matter), the...

Do We Need a Manager in the White House?

There are only two major Republicans who are absolutely, positively running for president in 2012, Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty . And Romney is honing his pitch : I don't know who all's going to get in the race but I do believe that it would be helpful if at least one of the people in the Republican field had extensive experience in the private sector, in small business, in big business, working with the economy. Because frankly not just solving the near-term problems of unemployment -- people not getting checks -- is going to require someone with that experience but also long-term, we've got to have a strong economic foundation to make sure we can stay ahead of the challenges we face like a growing China and a militarily aggressive China. Romney can legitimately claim to be the only candidate with extensive business experience (though running Palin, Inc., is surely no small task). I've argued at length before that the idea that business experience translates to successful governing...

The IRS Gets Mobile.

As tax time approaches, you've probably been asking yourself: Can I track the status of my refund on my smartphone? Well, the answer is, you betcha! Get yourself on over to the App Store or the Android Market, and download the IRS' slammin' new app, IRS2Go ! OK, maybe you haven't been asking yourself that. It's true that everything in the world need not be turned into a mobile app – there are some things that can wait until you get home or to the office to access. But it's good to see the tax man making efforts to be user friendly. Now if they can do something about their ghastly web site , they'd really be getting somewhere. As you may know, the Obama administration has been making serious efforts to web-ify as much of the federal government as possible, with things like Recovery.gov , Data.gov , and HealthCare.gov . It makes one wonder what the state of the government's technology efforts would be had John McCain – who in 2008 said , "I am learning to get online myself, and I will...

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