Merrill Goozner

Merrill Goozner is the senior correspondent for The Fiscal Times and a Prospect contributing editor. His blog can be found at http://www.gooznews.com/

Recent Articles

Reconstructive Surgery

The initial reports from the recent Iraq donor conference in Madrid, Spain, provide plenty of new ammunition for members of Congress who oppose President Bush's request for an immediate $20 billion in new aid. Simply put, Iraq can't absorb that much aid in the coming year. Giving proconsul Paul Bremer a blank check would only feed the worst forms of crony capitalism and wind up lining the pockets of favored U.S. contractors. So far the opponents of the aid portion of the president's $87 billion package have based their reluctance on a very pragmatic concern: How will they explain to voters that the U.S. government can afford to pay for Iraq's police, firefighters, schools and roads but that the cupboard is bare for similar needs at home? Their preferred solution is to turn half the aid into a loan, which would have to be repaid by future Iraqi oil revenues. Given that Iraq is already anywhere from $95 billion to $150 billion in debt to foreigners, grants versus loans is a meaningless...

Natural Disaster

The energy bill moving inexorably through Congress is like a massive oil spill heading for a pristine coastline -- there's not much one can do except contemplate the eventual cleanup costs. If September 11 changed everything in politics, you'd be hard pressed to tell from this special-interest giveaway. Two years after the attacks, the Republicans are about to pass legislation that does nothing to wean the United States from foreign oil, next to nothing to build a more fuel-efficient economy and precious little to promote alternative sources of energy -- policies that polls show most Americans would gladly support as the domestic component of the war on terrorism. As it stands now, though, the conference committee, headed by Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) and Rep. Billy Tauzin of (R-La.), is cooking up much the same legislation as Vice President Dick Cheney did in his pre-9-11 secret tryst with energy lobbyists. They may remove the unpopular drilling in the Alaskan wilderness from the...

Bioterror Brain Drain

Dr. Marcus Horwitz, professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, has devoted most of his career to finding a vaccine for tuberculosis. Though the age-old killer is well controlled in the industrialized world, TB kills more than 2 million people each year among the global poor. It's not a sexy field: Compared with funding for heart-disease, HIV/AIDS or cancer research, National Institutes of Health money for TB research is a minor blip. Applied research into potential TB cures and vaccines is not a priority for the agency, or for drug companies, which see no profitable market among the poor. Still, after 15 years of research funded mainly by the NIH, Horwitz's lab has finally come up with what could be the first improvement in TB vaccination technology in nearly a century. His vaccine is being tested among a small group of patients, and a nonprofit drug development organization funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is committed to sponsoring the full-...

Nuclear Blackmail

About a year ago, the Bush administration began laying the groundwork for war in Iraq with a propaganda offensive based on what now appears to have been a deliberate manipulation of faulty intelligence reports. In recent weeks, there have been a slew of news reports based on leaked intelligence suggesting that North Korea -- another charter member of the president's "axis of evil" -- is galloping full speed toward developing nuclear weapons. Contrary to White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card's dictum, August is the month for new product rollouts. The media offensive has been accompanied by the usual theatrics. The State Department's top arms negotiator is firing off inflammatory rhetoric on a tour of the Far East. Well-placed former officials are pounding war drums along the Potomac. So forgive me for bringing up the fable about the little boy who cried wolf, but is there any reason to heed the drums this time? Evidence of how seriously official Washington is taking the possibility of...

Drug Money

W ho are those guys? Connecticut voters can be forgiven for asking themselves that question after being inundated with radio and television spots sponsored by two senior-citizen groups that few had heard of before. The ads tout the Republican-backed Medicare prescription-drug bill that narrowly passed the U.S. House of Representatives in June and go on to lavishly praise two Republican House incumbents -- Nancy Johnson and Robert Simmons -- who voted in favor of the drug-industry-backed bill. Not coincidentally, both incumbents face strong Democratic candidates in extremely tight races that could determine which party controls the House next January. Also not coincidentally, many of the ads, which will run right up to Election Day, were bought and paid for by the pharmaceutical industry. Not that you'd know that from the ads. The tag lines credit two organizations with senior-friendly sounding names: United Seniors Association and the 60 Plus Association. Neither of those groups has...

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