Harold Meyerson

Harold Meyerson is the editor-at-large at The American Prospect and a columnist for The Washington Post. His email is hmeyerson@prospect.org

Recent Articles

No One to Demonize

In the absence of an antiwar movement, the American people have turned against the war in Iraq. Those two facts, I suspect, are connected. There was a very real antiwar movement early on. In the months before, during, and immediately after our invasion, hundreds of thousands of Americans took to the streets to oppose the intervention. Then chaos, followed by insurgency, enveloped Iraq, and the need for a constable to restore some order became indisputable. Those who had opposed the war -- this columnist included -- argued that the occupation would be less of a lightning rod if conducted by an international force under U.N. aegis. But the Bush administration insisted on U.S. control (a decision that grows less explicable with each passing day), and other nations with real armies made clear that they wanted no part of what was becoming a bloody occupation. Confronted with a choice between U.S. occupation and chaos, millions of Americans -- chiefly liberals and Democrats -- who'd been...

The Reform That Isn't

Accustomed though they were to Republican abuses of legislative practice, Democrats were nonetheless taken completely by surprise at the April 27 meeting of the Senate Rules Committee. With senators still settling into their seats, the “markup” session to revise the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance reform law had barely begun when Alaska Republican Ted Stevens, noting that he had to leave early, moved to report the bill to the Senate floor -- before the committee actually took up its language and considered amendments. The Democrats were stunned -- so stunned that initially they didn't react at all. In best Alice-in-Wonderland fashion, Chairman Trent Lott called the question, and the bill -- its contents yet to be determined -- was forwarded to the floor. After a few minutes, Democrats Dick Durbin of Illinois and Chuck Schumer of New York (who arrived after the vote) objected, Schumer going so far as to remove his name as a co-sponsor. It wasn't just the cart-before-the-horse aspect of...

The Reform That Isn't

Accustomed though they were to Republican abuses of legislative practice, Democrats were nonetheless taken completely by surprise at the April 27 meeting of the Senate Rules Committee. With senators still settling into their seats, the “markup” session to revise the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance reform law had barely begun when Alaska Republican Ted Stevens, noting that he had to leave early, moved to report the bill to the Senate floor -- before the committee actually took up its language and considered amendments. The Democrats were stunned -- so stunned that initially they didn't react at all. In best Alice-in-Wonderland fashion, Chairman Trent Lott called the question, and the bill -- its contents yet to be determined -- was forwarded to the floor. After a few minutes, Democrats Dick Durbin of Illinois and Chuck Schumer of New York (who arrived after the vote) objected, Schumer going so far as to remove his name as a co-sponsor. It wasn't just the cart-before-the-horse aspect of...

Divided and Falling

The dissident unions of the AFL-CIO are meeting in Washington today to announce that they are building a halfway house. The Change to Win Coalition -- and boy, is that ever a provisional-sounding and utterly clunky name -- will begin life neither entirely within nor without the AFL-CIO. One of its founders, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the AFL-CIO's largest affiliate, passed a resolution last weekend authorizing its top officers to take the union out of the federation when they deem it appropriate. All signs indicate that will happen soon. The other founders -- the Teamsters and United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), both million-member unions; UNITE-HERE (the apparel and hotel workers union); and the Laborers -- have each (well, all but the Laborers) made noises about decamping from the federation unless more money is devoted to organizing and incumbent President John Sweeney is replaced at the AFL-CIO's July convention. But Sweeney and his allies command a...

Public-Sector Enemies

America has a problem with its public employees. They are not downwardly mobile enough. Policemen, firefighters, teachers, hospital nurses -- they still belong to the one part of the U.S. economy where the New Deal hasn't been repealed. Fully 90 percent of them have defined-benefit pensions as of old. In the private sector, just 60 percent of employees have retirement plans, and a scant 24 percent still cling to defined-benefit plans. Fully 86 percent of public employees are covered by on-the-job health insurance; in the private sector, the rate has fallen to 66 percent. According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, public employees make on average $49,275 a year. A sub-princely sum, that, but better than the $34,461 that is the average annual income of private-sector workers. There are a number of reasons public employees have been able to preserve the kinds of benefits and, in some instances, living standards that were once more common to American workers generally, but...

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