Ben Adler

Ben Adler writes on national politics and domestic policy. Ben has been a staff writer for Politico and an editor at Newsweek and the Center for American Progress. His writing has also appeared in The Atlantic, The Nation, The Daily Beast, Columbia Journalism Review, Salon, The Washington Monthly, The New Republic, The Guardian and Next American City among other publications. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Recent Articles


DENSITY ADDENDUM: Matt provides a useful addition to my post on congestion pricing. He notes, "It's absolutely impossible to discuss transportation or planning issues in the Greater Washington area without pointing out that it would be a really, really good idea to facilitate higher-density construction in the District." Absolutely. While increasing density would not necessarily mitigate congestion on its own, it would make mass transit a more viable alternative. And, for a variety of reasons , higher density is more energy efficent and causes less environmental damage. It also seems to be good for economic development (hence all the high-rises springing up across the river in Arlington.) While not every city is bound by D.C.'s height restrictions, many have zoned for lower-density by instituting parking requirements and such. Changing this would be at least as valuable in reducing harmful emissions and the stress of long drives as introducing congestion pricing. --Ben Adler


CONGESTION PRICING COMES TO D.C.: After New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg released a forward-thinking proposal to counter global warming that included congestion pricing for Manhattan below 86th Street, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty raised the possibility of doing the same for Washington, but has not actually endorsed it. Marc Fisher , in his blog, argues vociferously in favor: The need in Washington is clear: The D.C. suburbs have the second-longest average commuting time in the nation, after New York.... Unlike London or New York, a congestion tax here would serve more than one purpose; it would not only control the flow of traffic, but it would also be an answer to the single greatest fiscal frustration facing the District: its inability to impose a commuter tax on suburbanites who earn their living in the city. I couldn't agree more, and would only add that I would like to see congestion pricing introduced far and wide. As Nick Paumgarten's wonderful recent piece on...


HONESTY IN ADMISSIONS: Though I admire Alan Wolfe , I have to disagree with his most recent post on Open University. Wolfe argues that Marilee Jones, the admissions director at MIT who was recently exposed for having lied on her resume about having attained a college degree when she first applied for a job there, should not have had to resign. Wolfe argues, "We are as a country too much given to the absurd idea of zero tolerance." While I'm sympathetic to Wolfe's sentiment that a simple apology for youthful mistakes ought to often suffice in public life, I think the nature of Jones' lie, and her job, make her actions inexcusable. Jones is, after all, in the business of assessing the applications of ambitious people that often contain unverified claims of extra-curricular activities and so forth. The temptation to lie on your college applications is considerable, and so for a college to allow its admissions director to do so would send the message that it is OK for applicants to do the...


WHAT EDWARDS SHOULD HAVE SAID: I agree with Ezra that Edwards could have responded more aggressively to Giuliani's comments. But rather than personalizing it as Ezra suggests ("we're not going to take counsel on health care and poverty from someone who hasn't even seen fit to include them on his issues page?") I'd make a larger critique. If you go after Giuliani for not having policy specifics it's certainly stronger than some pabulum about "not dividing the country." But the campaign just started. When Giuliani does come out with specifics that critique is going to lose all its reasonance. Instead, Edwards--and all Democrats--should go after any Republican with a larger critique of their party's record. In other words, if I were an Edwards flack I would have said, "we're not going to take counsel on health care and poverty from someone whose party has presided over an increase in the number of Americans living in poverty and without health insurance." --Ben Adler


NY ROCKS PART DEUX: Apropos of my other recent New York pride post , Gov. Eliot Spitzer is proposing a major liberalization of New York's outdated abortion laws. The New York Times reports : Mr. Spitzer�s bill, the Reproductive Health and Privacy Protection Act, would update current law, which, for example, does not include a provision allowing for abortions late in pregnancies to protect a woman�s health. New York state laws on the books also treat abortion as a homicide, but with broad exceptions that allow the procedure in many cases. But, alas, the Republican controlled State Senate appears unlikely to pass the bill as it is currently written. Sen. Majority Leader Joe Bruno issued a fairly negative reaction. This just reinforces the point I made previously: progressives must focus on state legislative races if they are to effect social change at the statewide level. --Ben Adler