Patrick Caldwell

Patrick Caldwell is a writing fellow at The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

Between a Republican and a Hard Place

Today's Ringside Seat: Obama's second term will be a nightmare unless he holds firm against the GOP's intransigence.

President Obama has insisted that a long-term solution to the nation's borrowing limit be included in a deal to avert the automatic spending cuts and tax hikes that will come January 1 if the president and Congress don't reach an agreement. But Republicans have clung to the debt limit as their sole leverage in the negotiations. "The debt limit ought to be used to bring fiscal sanity to Washington, DC," John Boehner said at a press briefing on Thursday. There are a number of points on which Obama needs to stand firm during the fiscal-cliff negotiations. The new tax rates could decide federal revenue for decades, and the president must hold his ground on increasing the Medicare eligibility age. But the debt limit could prove to be the most important aspect of any deal. The past two years of Obama's presidency have been dominated by a string of crises constructed by congressional Republicans, who've threatened to crash the U.S. economy to achieve their goals. The next four years will...

Mitt, Biggest Fibber of the Year

In the last frantic days of the 2012 campaign, Mitt Romney turned to desperation. His campaign realized that Ohio was slipping out of contention and turned to untruths to peel white, working-class voters away from Obama. They rolled out a campaign ad charging that, under Obama's auto bailout, Chrysler would be shipping Jeep manufacturing over to China. That, of course, was an outright lie. Even Chrysler jumped in to dispute the claims, but Romney was not dissuaded, assuming the public wouldn't be smart enough to parse through the dispute. That fib landed Romney Politifact's "Lie of the Year" award on Wednesday. "The Jeep ad was brazenly false," they concluded. Politifact, the Florida-based publication at the forefront of the newspaper fact-checking movement, has annoyed liberals in the past; earlier this year, Rachel Maddow made a habit of tearing apart the organization, once terming it "shockingly, shockingly bad" during one epic tirade. And in crowning Romney as the king liar of...

Scalia's Unpersuasive Argument

Republicans are engaged in a bout of soul searching following the calamitous results of the 2012 election. But the party is held back by ideologues who can't get with the times. Take same-sex marriage. The trend lines are clearly against the Republican Party's opposition to marriage equality; young voters overwhelmingly support full marriage rights for LGBT couples and each year the share of the electorate that supports gay rights grows. If the GOP hopes to sell conservatism to younger voters, moderating its stance on same-sex marriage would be a quick and easy fix. Yet the GOP won't have an easy time severing its homophobic ties. Yesterday, during an event at Princeton, Supreme Court Justice and conservative icon Antonin Scalia didn't mince words in criticizing LGBT rights. "If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality," Scalia asked before a room of students, "can we have it against murder? Can we have it against other things?" The statement was a response to a question...

The Price of Boehner's Speakership

A fiscal cliff deal hasn't even begun to take shape and John Boehner's speakership already might be in jeopardy over capitulations to Democrats. Conservatives were initially disquieted last week when a string of right-wing ideologues in the House who had voted against the party line during the last session were purged from plum committee assignments by the current speaker. Now they're also warning against potential deals to avert the fiscal cliff. National Review 's Robert Costa interviewed Georgia Representative Tom Price, who unloaded scorn on Boehner's leadership of the Republican caucus. "My concern is that within our conference, conservatives, who are a majority, don’t have a proper platform,” Price said. “That’s true at the leadership table and on the steering committee." Costa interpreted that as a hint that Price might to run against Boehner as House Speaker, a rumor reinforced by anonymous Republicans. For what it's worth, Price's office dismissed such speculation Monday...

Friday, Friday, Gotta Get Unemployment Down on Friday

The first Friday morning of the first 11 months of 2012 brought exciting news for political journalists. At exactly 8:30 a.m. the Bureau of Labor Statistics would upload the latest jobs report to the Internet. The agency's website would often crash as journalists rushed to pore over the figures. Cable news spent hours parsing through the shifts in the inevitable topline figure: whether the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate went up or down. Were they examining these reports to assess the state of the economy, trying to discern the next best steps for the government to correct our path out of the recession? Of course not. These speculations focused on how the new set of numbers might swing the presidential election. This once-monthly ritual of political reporters anxiously refreshing Twitter on the edge of their seats had a little less oomph today. The normal economic wonks pushed out the numbers, but beyond that the press corps noted the slight drop in the unemployment rate (it...

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