Matthew Yglesias

Matthew Yglesias is a senior editor at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a former Prospect staff writer, and the author of Heads in the Sand: How the Republicans Screw Up Foreign Policy and Foreign Policy Screws Up the Democrats.

Recent Articles

The GOP's Broken Record

For the eight years of the George W. Bush presidency, economic policy in the United States had as its lodestar the view that we needed to lower taxes. Liberals objected that Bush-era tax-policy proposals were regressive, tilting the majority of their benefits to high-income taxpayers who had the least need for additional funds. The retort at the time was that this was a misleading way to think about it: The lower taxes weren't simply designed to bolster individual incomes; they were supposed to bolster overall economic growth. Higher growth rates would result in higher incomes for people up and down the economic ladder. The results of this policy have been disappointing, to say the least. Even those who claim that the economic health of the middle class is being understated are producing charts that show ten years of flat incomes for the median American household . In response, Republican presidential candidates are uniformly proposing new rounds of regressive tax cuts. The right's...

(Pre-)Occupied

Why isn't the Fed doing more to shore up the economy?

In Chicago last week, for an event in honor of the 100 birthday of Milton Friedman, I briefly stopped by the Occupy Chicago protest to get a breath of fresh air. Since I'm interested in monetary policy, I was interested in why they'd chosen the Chicago branch of the Federal Reserve (there are 12 branches) as the venue for their demonstration. There turned out to be no particularly clear ideological reasoning behind the choice and, in fact, some sentiment that they really ought to decamp in favor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Nobody had especially strong views on monetary policy. It made me wish Chicago Fed President Charles Evans would come down and speak to the protesters. He, though by no means a drum-circle type, is just about the best central banker we have at this point and recently gave a speech that, in my view, is the best explanation of why we need a 99 Percent Movement today. The speech, to be clear, isn't the stuff of protest rallies. It includes math. Specifically,...

Cleaning Up the Capitol

Lawrence Lessig wants to change the corrupt campaign-finance system. His solution, though, is wanting.

(Sneak peak at our upcoming November issue.) As a fan of Lawrence Lessig's pioneering work on copyright and digital culture, I was saddened when, a few years back, he shifted his focus to congressional corruption and campaign finance. Efforts to take the money out of politics—as opposed to playing the underdog's hand as well as possible—had long struck me as a sucker's game. Either way, you have to beat the moneyed interests. My skepticism deepened at a dinner where Lessig presented his ideas and, in response to hostile questions, seemed unfamiliar with an extensive academic literature casting doubt on the commonsense theory that campaign contributions buy policy results. Smart people, it turns out, learn a lot from hostile audiences. Not only does the dinner in question earn a mention in Republic, Lost , the latest fruit of Lessig's work on money in politics; Lessig has also developed a reply that packs a lot of theoretical punch and should be must-reading for anyone who's tuned out...

Cleaning Up the Capital

As a fan of Lawrence Lessig’s pioneering work on copyright and digital culture, I was saddened when, a few years back, he shifted his focus to congressional corruption and campaign finance. Efforts to take the money out of politics—as opposed to playing the underdog’s hand as well as possible—had long struck me as a sucker’s game. Either way, you have to beat the moneyed interests. My skepticism deepened at a dinner where Lessig presented his ideas and, in response to hostile questions, seemed unfamiliar with an extensive academic literature casting doubt on the commonsense theory that campaign contributions buy policy results. Smart people, it turns out, learn a lot from hostile audiences. Not only does the dinner in question earn a mention in Republic, Lost , the latest fruit of Lessig’s work on money in politics; Lessig has also developed a reply that packs a lot of theoretical punch and should be must-reading for anyone who’s tuned out the campaign-finance debate. Lessig moves...

Don't Need a Heart

The Texas job miracle is no miracle -- it's because of immigration.

Rick Perry's two-month-old presidential campaign, while still young, has nonetheless had more than its share of gaffes. From Perry's infamous decision to call Social Security a "Ponzi scheme" to his strange ideas about what the original tea party was , his shoot-from-the-hip persona often causes him to misfire. Still, nothing seems to have aroused doubts about him quite like his defense at last week's presidential debate of a controversial Texas initiative that grants in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants. Perry's problem isn't so much that he's on the wrong side of the GOP base on the issue -- everyone knows Mitt Romney has his heterodoxies -- it's how he responded when challenged: If you don't see things my way, he essentially said, "I don't think you have a heart." Voters regularly vote for politicians they disagree with on some issues, and politicians with unpopular stances win elections all the time. The right approach for finessing an issue like that, however, is to appeal...

Pages