Jonathan Cohn

Jonathan Cohn is senior national correspondent at The Huffington Post. He served as an editor and writer at The American Prospect from 1991 to 1997, and is the author of Sick: The Untold Story of America's Health Care Crisis—and the People Who Pay the Price.

Recent Articles

Children's Crusade

They're at it again -- conservatives are masquerading as the patrons of the young. Before you buy it, think carefully about how much kids and young adults depend upon activist government.

Where, where but here have Pride and Truth That long to give themselves for wage, To shake their wicked sides at youth Restraining reckless middle-age? - W.B. Yeats H eather, a jeans-clad 26-year-old with long curly hair, is worried about the deficit. "Last year I paid an additional $800 in taxes just for the interest on the federal debt," she says. "At this rate, I'll be spending my whole life paying off the bills run up by our parents and grandparents." Pacing across a spacious loft high above some major city, Heather warns that it is time to balance the federal budget. "Budget deficits hurt all Americans," she says angrily, "but it's our generation that gets hit the hardest." If you haven't seen Heather, you probably don't watch MTV. In the weeks leading up to the November budget showdown, Heather appeared frequently on the youth-oriented music video network thanks to the Coalition for Change, a consortium of four well-heeled interest groups that favor balanced budgets. Formally...

Money Talks, Reform Walks

Last time around, campaign finance reform failed because it lacked public financing. Twenty years later, Congress seems determined to make the same mistake.

E ven by Washington-in-July standards, political consultant Steven Stockmeyer should have been sweating plenty this summer. In June, the Senate passed a bill banning campaign contributions from political action committees (PACs). Although the bill was weaker than many reform advocates had hoped, and although it still faced tough political obstacles in the House, the prognosis for Stockmeyer seemed grim. Stockmeyer is the spokesperson for several of Washington's largest PACs, and if the Senate bill were to become law, those clients presumably would face extinction. But Stockmeyer wasn't that worried. A veteran fundraiser for the Republican Party, he knew that the business of campaign finance would for the most part continue, even if the Senate bill did become law. The reason: for all its seemingly impressive provisions-- a ban on PAC money, limits on "soft money," restrictions on lobbying--it still lacked public financing. "The demand for money will still be there from candidates and...

The Fleece Police

I t's Wednesday night on the NBC Nightly News —time for yet another installment of "The Fleecing of America," the weekly series on government waste. Tonight's episode stars a job training program in Puerto Rico, designed to move seasonal farm workers off welfare and into better-paying, permanent work. "Nothing wrong with that, right?" Tom Brokaw asks. "Well," he frowns, "in Puerto Rico it can be much more expensive than effective." Correspondent Robert Hager reports that much of the money earmarked for job training each year goes for teaching routine farm work: "chores most farm hands, even backyard gardeners, learn on their own—work so basic you'd hardly expect the U.S. government to spend millions training people to do it." Sure enough, of the 1,125 workers who participated, only 37 got new, higher-paying jobs—and just 17 of them managed to keep those positions. That's $305,000 per job, Hager tells us, with a helpful graphic in case the point wasn't clear. A brief interview with...

Diary of the American Nightmare

T he Book of Revelations does not say whether the apocalypse will be televised. But if it is, WSVN in Miami will not have to interrupt its regular programming. It's July 18 -- the day of a visit by President Clinton to Miami -- and WSVN, the nation's most notorious tabloid station, is leading its ten o'clock newscast with yet another lurid murder story. "Let me let you take a look at the body of Carmen Rodriguez, still laying next to her car," reporter Glenn Milberg says as the camera zooms in on a white, body-shaped shroud with a pool of blood at one end. "That's exactly where she was shot a few hours ago." WSVN cuts from Milberg to film of the victim's son arriving at the scene and bursting into tears, then to taped footage of the body that shows the arm of Carmen Rodriguez extending out from under the canvas. WSVN manages to get five more bodies on screen within the next seven minutes, including the partially uncovered corpses of four teenagers killed in a car accident. We also see...

Perrier in the Newsroom

There was a day not far distant, you know, just before World War II, when nearly all of us news people, although perhaps white collar by profession, earned blue-collar salaries. We were part of the "common people." We suffered the same budgetary restraints, the same bureaucratic indignities, waited in the same lines, suffered the same bad service. We could identify with the average man because we were him. - Walter Cronkite S peaking to students at Rutgers University in 1993, President Clinton unveiled his plan to offer all Americans up to $10,000 a year in college loans. The students, many struggling with rising tuition bills, roared with approval. The press contingent shrugged. As Steven Waldman recounts in his recent book The Bill , one reporter muttered, "Ten thousand dollars? What's that gonna buy you?" Quipped another, "Yeah, I mean it costs four thousand to send your kid to nursery school." The networks barely covered the speech, and the next day most of the major dailies...

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