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

THERE'S A WORD FOR THAT "TENSION." IT ALSO BEGINS WITH "T."

THERE'S A WORD FOR THAT "TENSION." IT ALSO BEGINS WITH "T." I know that the words Deficits Don't Matter are engraved over the doorway to the American Prospect offices, so I'll put a little at risk here by pointing out that while the current deficit is entirely manageable, as Ezra says, the fiscal outlook for the next ten years is much bleaker -- an additional debt of $3.5 trillion, under current policies, even without accounting for the costs of the war. At that level, deficits certainly will matter. They are economically unsustainable, they leave no cushion to respond to a recession or other emergency, and they certainly leave very little room to push the deficit up even further to finance public investment, social spending, health care, or other goods. Anyone who wants to argue that we should move to invest more in those public goods, without addressing in some way the medium- and long-term deficit, is implicitly arguing that this country can handle deficits of $500 billion a year...

THE EX-PRESIDENT FACTOR

THE EX-PRESIDENT FACTOR . I see the point of Garance's defense of Senator Clinton against the argument that she is too compromised by her husband to win/deserve election to the presidency, but comparing her to 1984 vice-presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro does Clinton no favors! As it happens, I also just read an account of Ferraro's brief and unhappy months on the national stage, in Steven Gillon 's 1994 book, The Democrat's Dilemma, which uses the career of Walter Mondale as a lens to tell the story of the death of mid-century liberalism. By Gillon's account, Ferraro was woefully unprepared for the scrutiny that went with being her party's nominee. She stonewalled the questions about her family's finances, which she had omitted from her congressional financial-disclosure filings. And as more came out, her husband, John Zaccaro was revealed to have some extremely dubious dealings, one of which involved taking a $100,000 loan from the estate of an elderly woman to whom he had been...

OBAMA-ADJUSTED POLLS.

OBAMA-ADJUSTED POLLS. Observing all due caveats about early horserace polls, it's possible to learn something if you remember that these polls are basically distorted by unequal name recognition. When I was a kid, the polls used to always say that Ted Kennedy was going to be the next president, later it was Mario Cuomo , etc. But since name ID is itself a measurable thing, it's possible, if you're not bound by the strict code of professional ethics governing the polling industry, to extract some useful information by factoring it in. In the current polling, there are four candidates who are almost universally known among voters: Senator Clinton , Senator McCain, Giuliani and Gore . (And John Edwards , probably somewhat less so, but for some reason he isn't in the Newsweek or CNN polls.) And there are two who are not at all well known, Senator Obama and Governor Romney . (By the way, that thing about the ethical code was a joke. Don't panic, Mr. Penn , .) In the Newsweek poll , 81%...

PARTY OF BIG IDEAS WATCH.

PARTY OF BIG IDEAS WATCH. A colleague sends word of what should be quite an interesting lecture next month: The Poverty Issue at the End of History Lawrence M. Mead, New York University Monday, January 8, 2007, 5:30 � 7:00 p.m. Wohlstetter Conference Center, Twelfth Floor, AEI 1150 Seventeenth Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20036 Please register for this event at www.aei.org/event1374 The politics of poverty have shaped -- and been shaped by -- the end of history, meaning Francis Fukuyama�s idea that divisions of principle have faded from Western politics. While partisan rivalry remains, it no longer rests on opposed world views to the extent it used to. The end of deep ideological differences over capitalism and race in the 1960s helped to create poverty as an issue in need of attention. Poverty as such could only be addressed once the essential claims of unionists and civil rights marchers had been granted. At the same time, poverty disproved the idea that the market economy was a...

The Overrated Swing Voter

One lesson of the 2006 vote was so obvious that Ron Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times was able to write about it two days before the election: the return of the swing voter. Karl Rove's strategy of mobilizing a conservative Republican base while ignoring the flippable voters in the middle "lay shattered in pieces," exactly as pollster Stan Greenberg told Brownstein it would. It is with a sense of relief that we welcome back the swing voter. The craziness is ending. The arc of politics again points toward the center. David Broder can exhale. And yet, before we hoist the swing voter up on a chair and parade him around the room, let's take a moment to point out some of his uglier qualities. And let's have a few words of praise for the strategy of mobilizing the base and even for dear old Karl Rove. Remember what it was like when elections were about swing voters and no one else? It wasn't long ago and it wasn't pretty. The election of 1996, the only presidential election in which...

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