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

Defense and the Deficit

Democrats could actually cut the deficit and redefine foreign policy by going after defense spending -- if only they were brave enough to try.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates. (Sipa via AP Images)
You might think that with the Iraq War thoroughly discredited and recent polls showing that a majority of the public favors reducing defense spending, cutting the Pentagon's bloated budget would finally be on the table. Or at least you'd expect Democrats would propose cutting military spending instead of home-heating subsidies for the poor. But you'd be wrong. Leaders in both parties profess to care about the $14 trillion national debt and the current $1.4 trillion deficit, yet when President Barack Obama proposed his budget for the coming fiscal year, he offered to cut miniscule domestic programs such as the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program while merely offering to slow the growth of the Department of Defense. Republicans countered by demanding further cuts to discretionary domestic spending. Rest assured, that isn't because our defense expenditures are modest: They exceed our nearest competitors (China, France, and the U.K.) by a factor of almost 10 and make up 20 percent...

Ignoring the Public on Social Security

After years of browbeating, conservatives have succeeded in convincing Americans that Social Security is in trouble, but that doesn't mean it is.

Social Security checks (AP Photo/Bradley C. Bower)
To hear the deficit doomsayers, you would think the U.S.' fiscal collapse were imminent unless Democrats immediately agreed to painful cuts in core anti-poverty programs like Social Security. Last week, No Labels -- a supposedly nonpartisan group that seems to exist to promote Alan Simpson's austerity agenda -- blasted Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid for refusing to join in the deficit hysteria. "Senator Reid's position is out of step with the majority of [the] country when it comes to our financial woes. Most Americans want bipartisan action that goes to the heart of the fiscal crisis," said Lisa Borders, a No Labels' "founding leader." (Apparently, the organization's effort to avoid labels includes job titles.) What is the supposed evidence that most Americans want cuts in Social Security, one of the most popular and successful domestic programs in the history of the federal government? A Washington Post /ABC poll that shows 81 percent of Americans "see the country's Social...

On Energy, GOP Doesn't Know What the Problem Is

The logical flaw at the heart of Republicans' proposals to solve the energy crisis

(Flickr/verifex's photostream)
Capitalizing on instability in the Middle East, last week House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell blamed high gas prices -- which have shot up in response to fears of prolonged disruptions in the supply of crude oil -- on President Barack Obama's supposed reluctance to "drill, baby, drill." "Americans looking at the price of gas at the pump these days are justifiably upset," McConnell said. "What they may not realize is that some in the administration are actively working to prevent us from increasing our own oil production here at home." Aside from the factual inaccuracies -- domestic oil production rose to its highest level since 2003 last year -- at the heart of Republicans' long-standing approach to energy and transportation issues is a basic logical flaw: Republicans assume we can resolve shortages -- and continue to rely on automobiles to the degree that we do -- by increasing supply. In Republican fantasyland, opening up enough deep-sea oil wells...

Should Disability Funding Be Part of Health Reform?

When it comes to their top legislative priority, disability activists fear later will mean never.

With an estimated 37.5 million eligible voters with a disability -- and the aging baby boom generation means the ranks of the disabled will grow -- disability rights is an emerging brand of identity politics. The Democratic Party has been attuned to the change. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) disability caucus is growing in size and prominence. The Obama campaign had a comprehensive disability-issues platform, and President Obama hired Kareem Dale to be the first White House special assistant for disability policy. On July 21 the president also announced the U.S. will sign on to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. So why are disability activists in an uproar? Instead of celebrating Obama's announcement, on July 21 a coalition of disability-rights organizations held 26 simultaneous protests at the DNC headquarters, local Democratic Party offices, and at Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus' state office in Missoula, Montana. In April,...

A Tale of Two Exurbs

Most outer-ring suburbs are being developed into unwalkable sprawl. But it doesn't have to be that way.

Leesburg, Virginia, is the archetypal American exurb. Named after an ancestor of Robert E. Lee, it is the seat of Loudoun County, 35 miles northwest of Washington, D.C. -- the farthest true suburb west of Washington. To its west are small towns and a few remaining farms; to its east are highways lined with chain hotels, mega-malls, and the office towers of the defense contractors powering the recent growth in Northern Virginia's economy and population. In 2004, Loudoun was the nation's fastest-growing county, and median home prices were rising by about one-fifth every year. In 1990, Leesburg had only 16,000 people. Now it has 38,000. Ask denizens of Leesburg what they love most about the town and they are almost certain to mention the downtown -- a quaint outpost of the antebellum South, with the requisite ancient diner known for its peanut soup. Downtown Leesburg is a small warren of narrow streets laid out at right angles with brick buildings housing shops on the ground floor and...

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