Mark Schmitt

Mark Schmitt is director of the program on political reform at the New America Foundation and former executive editor of The American Prospect

 

 

Recent Articles

INVESTIGATE, OR GOVERN?

INVESTIGATE, OR GOVERN? If you remember back to the days immediately before and after the Democratic victory in November, the sensible, thoughtful , responsible position was to stroke one's chin and insist that Democrats had a choice: "They can investigate, or they can govern." Of course this was a false choice all along. To do two things at once is why they have committees. Al Gore may not have invented the internet, but senators practically invented multitasking. And you can't govern effectively if you don't understand what your government has been doing for the last six years, so investigations have purposes other than accountability. Still, even some liberals were right to have trepidations about an over-emphasis on the subpoena power. Investigations can backfire: Whistleblower witnesses can sometimes seem like unappealing cranks, even when they're right. Hostile witnesses can turn themselves into improbable martyrs, like Ollie North . And, let's face it, the occasional lapses...

Freakopolitics

If you start to read the policy proposals of the Democratic presidential candidates and the mainstream Democratic think tanks, you will quickly get the impression that, while Democrats see lots of problems, there's always just one solution: a tax credit. John Edwards proposes an "American Dream Tax Credit" -- up to $1,000 a year for five years to help buy a first home. Barack Obama has a new tax credit to promote fatherhood. Outside of the candidates, competition for the tax-credit championship is fierce: The leaders are Senator Chuck Schumer's four-part "Middle-Class Opportunity Act," which has new child-tax credits, a new tax credit for college tuition, and a new credit for families caring for older parents; and the Hillary Clinton–linked group, Third Way, which offers some of the same, plus a new-baby tax credit. Everyone wants tax credits to encourage savings and energy conservation. It's easy to see why tax credits are appealing. The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), for example,...

THOSE AREN'T RETIREES -- THEY'RE LOBBYISTS.

THOSE AREN'T RETIREES -- THEY'RE LOBBYISTS. I couldn't hope to match Ezra 's skewering of the Bipartisan Policy Center , a new think tank whose $7 million in funding achieved its obvious goal, which was to produce a single glowing David Broder column. But I will note two things: 1. What portion of the $7 million was spent to hire the graphic designer who came up with the very elegant logo made up of two half-arcs, one red and one blue, aligned roughly like the dome of the Capitol? Visually -- gorgeous. But the red half-arc and the blue half-arc don't meet. There is a gap between them. If the point is bipartisanship, and that's your only point, shouldn't the red part and the blue part actually touch ? 2. More importantly, the whole premise of Broder's column and the organization is that people like these former partisan leaders ( Howard Baker, Bob Dole, George Mitchell and Tom Daschle ) never talk to each other or collaborate. But they most certainly do. Where? In the lobbying firms...

DOGS AND CATS LIVING TOGETHER! MICHAEL BARONE MAKING SENSE!

DOGS AND CATS LIVING TOGETHER! MICHAEL BARONE MAKING SENSE! Relax, all is right with the world. In a previous post , I contrasted Michael Barone 's acknowledgment that a U.S. senator intimidating a federal prosecutor is deeply corrupt with his hilarious reinterpretation of Watergate, which I'll quote again because I love it like a favorite poem: " Richard Nixon ... unwittingly colluded in the successful attempt to besmirch his administration." Fortunately, it turns out the end times aren't near. Michael Barone didn't get bonked on the head again and suddenly turn back into a person with a normal moral compass. It turns out his web site was hacked . He's as reliably crazy as ever. UPDATE: [ editors' note ] "Hacked" doesn't seem to be right, either -- see comments . Just a screw-up at the U.S. News site. --Mark Schmitt

WAY WORSE THAN...

WAY WORSE THAN WATERGATE. A few years ago, Michael Barone wrote a column about how conservative presidents are always under attack by us ultra-powerful liberals who refuse to accept their legitimacy. It included a dazzlingly audacious one-line historical reinterpretation of Watergate: " Richard Nixon ...unwittingly colluded in the successful attempt to besmirch his administration." Compare that with what Barone wrote today : The emerging scandal surrounding the dismissals of eight former U.S. attorneys should signify to American voters the depth, breadth, and permeation of corruption in the Bush administration. When a U.S. senator (to wit, Pete Domenici, a New Mexico Republican) feels free to call a prosecutor at home and hang up on him for resisting political pressure in the course of executing his prosecutorial duties, the line between politics and law enforcement has been so thoroughly violated that it no longer exists. Domenici would not have made that call had either a Democrat...

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