Patrick Caldwell

Patrick Caldwell is a writing fellow at The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

A Small Step for the Fiscal Cliff

Despite the daily drumbeat of news coverage parsing every statement that comes out of Congress, there has been minimal progress toward a deal to avert the tax increases and spending cuts that will be triggered on January 1. Save a handful of possible apostates who have critiqued Grover Norquist's no-tax pledge, the Republican bloc has largely refused to contemplate any rate increases for the top tax bracket. Obama has all the leverage. All of the Bush tax cuts expire at the start of 2013; should that happen, the president can (correctly) accuse Republicans of grandstanding against middle-class tax cuts only to spare the upper echelon from paying a tax rate of 39.6 percent instead of the current 35 percent. But ah ha! A small bit of fresh news broke through the morass Thursday morning. Politico reported that Republicans might cave and offer to split the difference right down the middle with Obama. "Some Republicans think it’s not such a bad idea to press Obama to accept a 37 percent...

Marco and Paul's Bogus Journey

The next generation of Republican leaders has cast aside Mitt Romney as they jockey for position as the eminences of the party. The man who just last month Republicans had hoped would become president is persona non grata—and if that wasn't already clear, last night his former running mate Paul Ryan left no doubt with his reference to Romney's "47 percent" fiasco. "Both parties tend to divide Americans into ‘our voters’ and ‘their voters,’” Ryan said at the Jack Kemp Foundation awards dinner in Washington. “Let’s be really clear: Republicans must steer very clear of that trap. We must speak to the aspirations and anxieties of every American.” Which pretty well summed up the Republican consensus: that their real problem in 2012 wasn't any trouble with their policies—it was Romney's patrician airs. Ryan shared the stage last night with Marco Rubio, the young Florida senator also eyeing his party's presidential nomination in 2016. Rubio managed to mention the term "middle class" 35 times...

GOP Just Can't Quit the Right

Republican elites have been pushing the party to moderate its image in order to stave off losses as the national electorate becomes increasingly diverse. But all the preening is unlikely to amount to substantive change. Sure, Republicans can talk about softening their tone against undocumented workers, or agree to hypothetical tax hikes, but when it comes down to it, they are still indebted to the right-wing base. Take Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss. He was among the first Republicans to turn on Grover Norquist's Taxpayer Protection Pledge. Late last month, he claimed he cared "a lot more about [the country] than I do about Grover Norquist" during a radio interview with a Georgia station. Since then, he's stuck to his rosy bipartisan rhetoric. "I’m very open at home that I’m going to continue to work hard to solve problems because our country’s in trouble, and you can’t do it without Democrats and Republicans working together,” Chambliss said Monday. The willingness to reach across...

Frenemies Forever

Today's Ringside Seat: Did a fight break out at Obama and Romney's lunch today? It's anybody's guess.

Mitt Romney has been as elusive as Bigfoot since he lost three weeks ago, blurry photos and all. But on Thursday he emerged from the shadows. After six long years of running for president, Romney finally waltzed into the Oval Office to lunch with re-elected President Obama. Over white turkey chili and Southwestern chicken salad, the two former opponents spoke for an hour. According to a press release from the White House, they discussed "America's leadership in the world and the importance of maintaining that leadership position in the future." And, like true frenemies, "they pledged to stay in touch." It's hard not to read that shiny, happy description from the White House with skepticism. Their lunch was closed to the press—just the two former rivals chit-chatting with no aides present. We don't know what they talked about, but one can use one's imagination. Which Mitt Romney showed up? The old Massachusetts moderate or the bitter loser? Did he tell the president that Obamacare is...

Dreaming of a Nonwhite Conservative Base

Republicans might deny most forms of science, but after this past election, they at least recognize polling realities. The demographic trajectory of the country spells doom for the GOP in future national elections, unless they figure out a way to buck the trend and appeal to groups beyond white voters. For now, the new emerging majority strongly favors Democrats. Young voters? Check. Among voters under the age of 30, Obama won 60-37 percent. Hispanics? Voted for Obama 71-27 percent and turned out in record numbers. As South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham described his party's predicament earlier this year, “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.” On Tuesday, Republicans made their most direct overture toward a moderate image of an inclusive party. Three GOP senators trotted out the Achieve Act , essentially a scaled-back version of the DREAM Act, as a peace offering. Admittedly, this is more a return to form than a new direction. Orrin...

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