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

Let Them Eat Rates

Ever since George W. Bush announced that he subscribes to something called "compassionate conservatism," people have been trying to figure out just what this slogan really means. There are two broad possibilities. The first is that conservatism is inherently compassionate, in which case the adjective simply points out one of conservatism's lesser-known qualities. (The descriptive function of "compassionate," in this case, would be the same as that of "tough-actin'" in "tough-actin' Tenactin"—i.e., not to imply the existence of a weak-acting Tenactin but rather to accentuate a quality already present in the basic product.) The second possibility is that "compassionate" conservatism actually differs from garden-variety right-wingery (in the way that, say, Diet Coke differs substantively from regular Coke). "I'd probably pick the first one," says Larry Lindsey when offered a choice between the two possibilities. He ought to know. As chief economic adviser to...

Clinton's Bequest Reconsidered

Will Bill Clinton's brand of fiscal prudence save liberalism—or kill it? An economist and a journalist discuss the president's economic policies and the hidden dangers of fiscal conservatism. Barry Bluestone on Fiscal Conservatism's Hidden Dangers It was wonk heaven. Flush from his victory over George Bush in 1992, President-elect Bill Clinton convened more than 300 economists, social scientists, labor leaders, and corporate executives for a two-day economic summit in Little Rock to prepare for his January inauguration. The incoming president focused on the big questions. How important were the budget deficit and interest rates? How much pump-priming could we get from a middle-class tax cut? What could be done to stem the runaway cost of health care? How much should we be investing in education, basic research, and public infrastructure? In Putting People First , his campaign manifesto, Clinton had stressed the importance of public investment in the economy and an active partnership...

Shoeless Joe Stiglitz

Joseph Stiglitz can't be a very popular figure within President Clinton's circle of power. When he first arrived in Washington in 1993 to join Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), he had a persistent habit of saying what he thought instead of what he was supposed to think. After leaving that position to become chief economist and executive vice president at the World Bank, Stiglitz publicly challenged the International Monetary Fund's prescriptions for the Asian economic crisis, which embarrassed the White House economic team and shattered the usual unity of the two sister institutions. To the White House, Stiglitz is a loose cannon, thwarting its efforts to craft a coherent international economic policy under American auspices. It is not so much that Stiglitz has set out to become a thorn in Clinton's side. Rather, he goes about his troublemaking with a bemused detachment, as if he were oblivious to the consequences of his heresy. Though he has become a powerful policymaker...

The Ideologically Invested

W hen President Clinton announced his economic plan in 1993, Wall Street Journal editor Robert Bartley had no doubt about what would happen. Clinton's proposals, he predicted in a column in February 1993, would "cripple" the economy. While the plan was debated, this absolute certainty about its effects pervaded the Journal 's discussion on both its editorial and op-ed pages. By the time the plan passed the House, the recession had already begun: "[W]e are seeing," the Journal editorialized, "the early signs of the stagflation that we knew so well during the Carter presidency." The only "debate" the editors saw was whether this would cause another Great Depression or merely a severe recession. Nor was the Journal editorial page alone in predicting doom. Shortly after Clinton's plan passed, Forbes ran a cover featuring investment officer Barton Biggs's advice to move assets overseas. "We want our clients' money as far away from Bill and Hillary as we can," he said. "The president is a...

State of the Debate: Quayle Hunting

Dan and Marilyn Quayle send--uh, try to send--a message on family values.

Works Discussed in this Essay: Dan Quayle, The American Family: Discovering the Values that Make Us Stay Strong (HarperCollins, 1996). Marilyn Tucker Quayle and Nancy Tucker Northcott, The Campaign (HarperCollins, 1996). W hen chosen by George Bush to run as the Republican vice presidential candidate in 1988, J. Danforth Quayle—as he was known at the time—was considered almost universally to be a buffoon. Journalists, pouncing on his privileged background, draft avoidance, and lack of intellectual heft, widely speculated that Bush had selected him in the hope that his handsome appearance would attract women to the ticket. Democrats, in response, tried to make him a top campaign issue. The rap against Quayle, though probably accurate, was unfair; he is not radically less intelligent than other national political figures. If instead of being vice president, he had been, say, a member of Oklahoma's congressional delegation, he might have been considered almost enlightened. Sensing this...

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