Jeff Faux

Jeff Faux is a distinguished fellow at the Economic Policy Institute, which he founded. His latest book, The Servant Economy (Wiley), was published in June 2012.

Recent Articles

Viva López!

The dramatic political crisis that had menaced Mexico's nascent democracy for the past month is settled. As a result, the country's next president may well be a populist from a left-wing party -- a prospect that gives heartburn to Washington and Wall Street. For the past year, Andrés Manuel López Obrador , the mayor of Mexico City, has consistently led all other potential candidates in polling match-ups for the 2006 election. To counter this threat, the two major conservative parties in Mexico's congress -- President Vicente Fox's Partido Acción Nacional and its erstwhile rival, the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), which ruled Mexico for 71 years before Fox's election in 2000 -- passed a law in early April aimed at indicting López Obrador on a trumped-up charge involving a minor land dispute. This would have prohibited him from running. The plot backfired when citizens became outraged at such a transparent attempt to undercut López Obrador's right to be on the ballot and,...

The Mess In Mexico

Mexico's fragile democracy is under attack from its own government -- and may not survive. Yet the Bush administration's neoconservatives, who almost daily proclaim their commitment to protect -- and indeed impose -- free elections in the world's every nook and cranny, are silent. Turns out that their defense of democracy extends only to candidates who meet their approval. For more than a year now, polls have shown Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the populist, left-of-center mayor of Mexico City, leading all potential candidates in next year's presidential election. In response to this populist threat, the two major parties, both heavily supported by Mexican big business, have colluded to deny López the right to run for president. On April 7, their combined majority in Mexico's Congress in effect ordered the federal government to indict López Obrador on a transparently trumped-up charge. He is accused of approving a city project to widen a road to a public hospital on a small piece of...

All Action, No Talk

A California Labor Union leader once described to me the 1966 campaign to re-elect Democrat Pat Brown as governor. “We had a massive campaign to identify our voters,” he said, “we contacted everyone at least twice, and we did a tremendous job of getting them to the polls on election day -- where they voted for Ronald Reagan.” This year, labor and its Democratic allies mobilized their voters more effectively than ever before. They began early, raised lots of money, and recruited thousands of inspired volunteers who helped raise the turnout for the Democrats in the battleground states. Moreover, the political stars seemed to be in alignment: the flat economy, sky-high gas prices and health-care costs, and corporate scandals -- and the incompetence of the administration every day on issues from Iraq to flu vaccine. “We know how to do the ground campaign,” explained a campaign official on election night, when we regrouped at a campaign headquarters in suburban Philadelphia as early...

Losing Ground

During the 2000 presidential TV debates, George W. Bush relentlessly repeated the tired Republican mantra that government, especially the federal government, is the enemy of American workers. As president, he's turned that rhetoric into reality. Actually, Bush is as much a big-government guy as was Lyndon Johnson or FDR. But in his case, Bush has used federal power to undercut workers' bargaining power, dumping workers out of the middle class and kicking the ladder away from those trying to get in. Jobs in factories and services that pay good wages and offer decent benefits are disappearing. As a result, the overwhelming majority of Americans -- those who must work to put food on their tables and roofs over their heads -- are more financially insecure and have seen their living standards erode. In 1980, Ronald Reagan famously asked the American people, "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?" When John Kerry poses that question later this year, the answer, by virtually...

Talk Back

Bradford DeLong wrote about Robert Rubin in the February issue of The American Prospect . Here, Jeff Faux addresses some of the issues raised by DeLong. Brad DeLong is a smart guy and a good economist. He makes the best argument one can that Bill Clinton and Bob Rubin did the best economic-policy job they could have under the political circumstances of the 1990s. But it does not convince. The "double-or-nothing" social-democratic alternative, says Mr. DeLong, was politically infeasible. This, of course, is the classic political conversation stopper. But as the probabilistic thinking of Rubin that Mr. DeLong so admires tells us, nothing is certain. Political feasibility is in the eye of the beholder. In recent years, Ronald Reagan and George Bush Senior managed to ram through right-wing agendas that the conventional Washington wisdom told us were infeasible. Anyway, isn't making things feasible the function, and the test, of leadership? Clinton and Rubin gave so much to the Republican...

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