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

Pulling Punches

GOFFSTOWN, N.H. -- The spin room of a desultory debate doesn't really offer much in the way of spin. The Democrats are frozen in the grip of niceness just now; the specter of the penitent Howard Dean (D-Vt.), reciting his record as governor in hopes of arresting his fall, has put them all on painfully good behavior. Thursday night's debate offered precious little red meat of any kind. Democrats refrained from attacking one another, a dynamic that surely helped front-runner Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.). Worse yet, because their questioners confronted them ad nauseum with one Republican attack after another -- so you raise taxes, senator, or waffle on the war, or mock your Catholic God (Brit Hume's question on abortion rights, posed not once but twice to retired Gen. and practicing Protestant Wesley Clark) -- the candidates had practically no opportunity to go after George W. Bush on the economy or any number of other real issues. Spin rooms are the province of restatements and...

People Person

NASHUA, N.H. -- Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) came here Wednesday afternoon speakin' and shoutin' populism. Well, not shoutin' exactly. More like enthusiastically declaimin'. "I'm running for president so you will have a president who's on your side," he said, "and who will take on the powerful interests that stand in your way." He named those interests: "the drug industry, big oil and HMOs." He brought up Enron and WorldCom, Tyco and Tyson, corporations that "take advantage of [the president's] creed of greed." He vowed to repeal last year's Medicare bill -- a bill that established "a benefit for prescription-drug companies" -- in favor of one that allows the state and federal governments to negotiate lower drug prices. He promised to repeal the ban on reimporting drugs from Canada. And Kerry was just warming to the occasion. He next took up "the fight to make our workplace fair." He pledged "to remove every single loophole, every single incentive, every single provision that rewards...

Second-class citizens

If you work for a living in George W. Bush's America, you're a sap. Take a quick look, or a long one, at the tax code as Bush has altered it during his three years as president, and you're compelled to conclude that work has become a distinctly inferior kind of income acquisition in the eyes of the law. Bush tax policy rewards investment and inheritance. Relying on work for your income, by contrast, turns you into a second-class citizen. In his first round of tax cuts in 2001, Bush got Congress to phase out the estate tax by 2010. Last year, with Republicans in control on Capitol Hill, he reduced the top tax rate on dividends from 39.6 percent to 15 percent, and brought the capital gains tax rate down from 20 percent to 15 percent as well. This year, his new budget proposes that families be allowed to shield as much as $30,000 yearly on their investment income, which will abolish all remaining taxes on such income. Meanwhile, the income tax cuts to most middle-class families don't...

Dean and the Duke

I've got this Howard Dean problem, and it's not that I think he's George McGovern. Actually, I think he's John Wayne. And not just any John Wayne, but the Duke in his greatest performances, in some of John Ford's later movies. I know -- it's bad enough to tell my fellow liberals that I still have reservations about Dean, but to say that John Wayne was capable of great performances immediately subjects all my judgment and, perhaps, eyesight, to pitiless scrutiny. Nevertheless. I have in mind the Wayne characters in "The Searchers" and "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance." In these movies, Wayne plays historically transitional figures -- the ultimate tough guy who defeats the forces of darkness and disorder, in no small part by becoming, or just being, very like them himself, but for whom the forces of light then have no further use. In "The Searchers," he spends five years hunting down a Comanche tribe, and when he finds it, he scalps the chief. The conclusion of "The Searchers" sees...

Un-American Recovery

Why is the Bush recovery different from all other recoveries? A slump is a slump is a slump, but it's during recoveries that the distinctive features of a changing economy become apparent. And our current recovery differs so radically from every other bounce-back since World War II that you have to wonder whether we're really talking about the same country. After inching along imperceptibly for quarter after quarter, the economy is, by some measures, roaring back. The annual growth rate last quarter topped 8 percent, while productivity increased by more than 9 percent. To be sure, employment is still down by 2.4 million jobs since Bush took office, but it's finally begun to rise a bit. And there are some indices that make even the productivity increases pale by comparison. Corporations have been having a bang-up recovery all along, it turns out; they are about to experience their seventh straight quarter of profit growth. The operating earnings of the 500 companies on the Standard and...

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