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

Scapegoating Federal Workers

As conservative deficit hawks go looking for new targets, expect to hear a lot about outsized federal paychecks.

(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
In late 2008, as the government began debating whether to save General Motors and Chrysler from bankruptcy, conservatives saw an opportunity to open a new front in their decades-long war on labor unions. So a new talking point emerged, repeated first by representatives of conservative think tanks, then by conservative talk-show hosts and columnists, then by Republican members of Congress. The Big Three auto companies had been crippled, they said, by greedy United Auto Workers members whose absurd union contracts had them making an astonishing $70 per hour on average. You won't be surprised to learn that the figure was utterly bogus -- the average pay of an auto factory worker at the time was actually around $28 an hour, or a decidedly middle-class salary of $58,000 a year. But even as a little-remembered component of a short-lived debate, it is a good case study in why the right is so effective. An idea like the mythical $70-an-hour autoworker can be created out of whole cloth, then...

On Not Creating Your Own Reality.

By now it seems pretty certain that President Obama and congressional Democrats will cave to Republicans and extend all the Bush tax cuts, even for billionaires. After all, as David Axelrod recently said, "We have to take the world as we find it." Compare that to the Bush aide who told Ron Suskind, "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors ... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do." But before the capitulation is made final, it's worth taking a moment to contemplate what might have been if the administration had decided not to accept the world as they found it, but instead created their own reality. What if instead of accepting that there would be a debate on whether to extend the Bush tax cuts, they had fashioned a new debate on the Obama...

Meet the New Congressmembers, Most of Whom You'll Never Hear From Again.

Today's New York Times takes up something I've been pointing out for a while, the fact that many of the newly elected Tea Partiers have no experience in elected office: But his perseverance intersected with incumbent disenchantment and now Mr. Schilling, who owns a pizza restaurant, is among roughly 35 incoming members of the House — and four new senators — who have never been elected to anything. "I'm a story that never should have happened," said Mr. Schilling, 46, soon to represent a giant squiggle of west Illinois. The new class of lawmakers will contain the highest number of members with no experience of elective office in decades, likely since 1948, when there were 44 such House members elected, according to Gary C. Jacobson, a professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego, and probably above 1952, when there were 34 such members. In 1994, the last big citizen revolution led by Republicans, there were 30 political-novice House members elected. The...

Proof of Nothing.

In a post titled "Proof That Obamacare Sunk the Democrats—Even Though It Saved Their Souls" , William Galston attempts to show that health-care reform -- which he acknowledges was "morally correct" -- is what was behind the party's big loss. This isn't too surprising coming from Galston, a centrist to whom the media often turn for a reliable quote explaining how Democrats are being incredibly foolish by pursuing progressive policies. But his argument here is singularly unpersuasive: When asked an open-ended question about the factors that had the biggest influence on their votes, 17 percent of respondents named health care. Of those voters, 58 percent had an unfavorable view of the health-reform law, 58 percent thought it would make the country worse off, and 56 percent thought it would leave them and their families worse off. Not surprisingly, health care voters went for Republican over Democratic candidates by a margin of 59 percant to 35 percent. (Non health-care voters were...

Capitalists Are People.

What I mean by that headline is this: In Econ 101, you're taught that firms endeavor to maximize profits, coolly examining various options and always choosing what is best for the bottom line. But the truth is that companies, just like other organizations, are made up of people. And people often misunderstand things, ignore things, and act against their own interests when their personal beliefs and prejudices get in the way. Which brings us to this rather amazing Bloomberg article (via Kevin Drum ): Investors Show Obama No Respect in Poll as Profits Surge Investors around the world say President Barack Obama is bad for the bottom line, even though U.S. corporations are on track for the biggest earnings growth in 22 years and the stock market is headed for its best back-to- back annual gains since 2004. ... Investors are evenly split over their overall impression of the president, though 62 percent of those in the U.S. view him negatively. Worldwide, 63 percent of all respondents say...

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