Jonathan Chait

Jonathan Chait is a senior editor at The New Republic and former assistant editor at The American Prospect. Has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Slate, Reason, and other publications.

Recent Articles

Devil in the Details

DEFICIT HYPOCRITES, I The classic definition of "pork barrel" is spending that members of Congress load onto bills to benefit their constituents. Now it has become the choice term in attacks on public spending of all kinds. And, with the summer 1994 debate over the crime bill, "pork" acquired racial overtones and took on the meaning of expenditures targeted at the inner city. Seizing upon examples such as midnight basketball, Republican opponents of the bill indiscriminately declared all urban social programs unkosher. Do these cries of pork come from tight-fisted budget hawks? Hardly. Take a few items from a recent appropriations bill, the classic serving plate for political pork: The incoming Republican chair of the Senate Budget Committee, Pete Domenici, who lambasted the crime bill for "excessive pork barrel spending," was able to secure a $3 million grant to the National Center for Genome Resources to help small businesses in New Mexico and a $250,000 grant to the city of...

Clinton's Bequest:

If there is one thing that most everybody agrees upon regarding the ideological legacy of the Clinton presidency, it is that there is none. President Clinton, left and right typically concur, is a man of polling and expediency, and almost infinite flexibility of viewpoint. A subset of this thinking, indigenous to the left, holds that Clinton does stand for something, sort of, but it's really nothing more than warmed-over Republicanism. A number of liberal economists have indicted Clinton's fiscal policies on these grounds, and even Clinton himself famously complained in 1993 that his administration had turned into "Eisenhower Republicans." As a characterological indictment of Clinton, this is all true, alas. But the well-known fact of Clinton's political inconstancy has obscured a more complicated reality. Quite accidentally, and with little notice, the Clinton White House has given rise to a new economic synthesis on the center left. It does not have a name, but for the purposes of...

Lynne Cheney, Policy Assassin

T hey are stories of despair, heartrending and outrageous. A young boy with hopes of becoming a doctor is told by his school that "it would be more appropriate for him to be a gas station attendant or a truck driver." Another girl, an honor student, is instructed to consider a career in sanitation. Elsewhere, a young girl named Stacy is continually frustrated with math—she has never been taught to multiply. But she is fortunate compared to a student named Joey, who went off to college only to discover he scored at the remedial level—he, too, had never learned basic skills. And a woman in California, Mrs. McDaniel, tells her confused children to look for help in their math textbook—but there is no textbook. A common thread runs through this litany of woe. All of these poor souls lay the blame for their plight upon the doorstep of liberal pedagogy. And all of these stories have been brought to us by Lynne Cheney. Cheney, the former chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities...

Dick Morris's The New Prince

Dick Morris's The New Prince Machiavelli Updated For The Twenty-First Century 11.01.99 | reviewed by Jonathan Chait Here are some of the chapter headings in Dick Morris's latest book: Issues over Image, Strategy over Spin, Generosity over Self-Interest, Racism Doesn't Work. No, really. Dick Morris, inventor of triangulation, who advised President Clinton to alter his vacation plans on the basis of polling data, and who was forced out of politics for sucking a call girl's toes, has now decided to reincarnate himself as David Broder. What we had long mistaken for conniving, scheming, and duplicity, Morris assures us, was actually his sincere effort to make the world a better place. As Morris explains it, "If American politicians were truly pragmatic and did what was really in their own best self-interest, our political process would be a lot more clean, positive, nonpartisan, and issue oriented... If Machiavelli were alive today, he would counsel idealism as the most pragmatic course."...

Devil in the Details

TAKING STOCK Washington has a curious intellectual dynamic: The less understood an idea is, the faster it spreads. On May 9, a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Lawrence Kudlow announced that cutting the capital gains tax would balance the budget immediately. Within days, a panelist on the PBS program Washington Week in Review repeated this remarkable finding while the assembled talking heads nodded sagely. Whence this windfall? Kudlow explains: The capitalized asset value of U.S. stocks has increased more than $3 trillion since 1994. Should only 15% of investors decide to realize their gains at the new 20% rate, then the Treasury could reap a conservatively estimated $90 billion in windfall revenues, more than enough to cover the projected deficit. Everything in that passage is true, in the same sense that the sentence "Should only 15 percent of the foreign population voluntarily decide to turn its life savings over to the U.S. Treasury, the national debt would quickly disappear" is true...

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