Patrick Caldwell

Patrick Caldwell is a writing fellow at The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

Paul Ryan's a Total Genius

Rep. Paul Ryan 's plan to re-create Medicare as a voucher system has a next to zero chance of becoming law now that Senate Republicans have excluded it from their own budget proposal and GOP presidential contenders like Newt Gingrich are openly criticizing it. Ezra Klein thinks "we've wasted the last few months arguing over a plan that isn't going to happen." Sure, Ryan's plan is doomed, but it's not a total waste: it's given Democrats a potent line of attack for next year's elections. All but four House Republicans voted for it, only to distance themselves from the Medicare provision after confronting angry voters at town halls. The special election in New York's 26th Congressional District -- scheduled for next Tuesday to fill the seat vacated by former Rep. Chris Lee -- will be a good test case for how Democrats can run campaigns using the Ryan plan as a weapon. The Democrat in the New York race has already accused her opponent of wanting to abandon Medicare; she's recruited...

Federal Workers Paying the Cost of Delaying the Debt Ceiling

If you've visited the Prospect 's homepage recently, you'll have noticed a clock counting down to midnight today. By the end of the day the federal debt will reach its congressionally set limit of $14.294 trillion. Does that mean the government will default on its debt today? Not quite. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has a box of tools that allows him to reconfigure the government's books, temporarily keeping the lights on and still paying creditors interest on government bonds. Geithner has stated that he can continue tinkering with government operations until Aug. 2, at which point the government will have to choose between shutting down government operations or paying its creditors until its borrowing limit is raised again. Republicans and Democrats have accepted that date, with little apparent rush toward completing a deal now that the actual limit has been reached. So how exactly will the government find all the money to cover its debt while Congress continues to dither?...

The Soufflé President

Former President George W. Bush set the record straight on the important activity he was engaged in when President Obama informed him that Osama bin Laden had been killed: "I was eating souffle at Rise Restaurant with Laura and two buddies," Bush said when asked what he was doing when he received the call from President Obama Bush sold himself as the down home, folksy candidate during both his presidential campaigns -- as opposed to John Kerry , an elitist who went windsurfing. Bush was the candidate people would most want to share a beer with. So what's this Rise place where he went with his "buddies"? It's likely that he was at the restaurant called rise n°1 , a "relaxed bistro focused on the soufflé -- the masterpiece of French cuisine" that is a part of that dirty hippie slow Food Movement. Since it is also a wine bar, it's more likely Bush's dinner companions were sharing a nice Chardonnay rather than the Budweiser he sold to voters. Not to disparage the former president's dining...

The 2012 Candidate for all Sides of Republicanism

He may not place very high in the polls and comes across as one of the blandest candidates in the field, but my hunch is that former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty should be viewed as the favorite to secure the Republican nomination next year. The 2012 race will likely see two types of GOP candidates: the old-school moderates who will gain traction among National Review types, and Tea Partiers who will fight to out-crazy one another. They may share the same stage during debates, but the two sides will talk past each other during the campaign. You'll see Mitt Romney and Jon Hunstman engage in policy discussions about the best way to handle defense spending while Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain egg each other on in response to the latest fringe conspiracy theory. Pawlenty is the only candidate currently postured to engage both audiences. He has made a consistent effort to reach out to the Tea Party base during the early stages of his campaign. That push seems to have paid initial...

Texas GOP Pulling Out All the Stops to Intimidate Voters

The Texas legislature just can't stop tinkering with their voting laws. Earlier this week, I detailed two new bills that are primarily designed to limit access to the polls: one requires voters to present photo identification, the other puts restrictions on who can register new voters. The state House is tacking on one more constraint. Yesterday, it passed a bill that would classify ineligible voting as a second-degree felony. The Dallas Morning News notes that current second-degree felonies include manslaughter, aggravated assault, rape, and the production of child pornography. Current Texas law already blocks noncitizens and undocumented immigrants from voting; the new measure essentially just operates as an extra layer of intimidation. All three voting laws working their way through the Texas legislature this week are designed to impede groups that tend to vote for Democrats. The increased punishment for noncitizens will create an added reason for poll watchers to question Hispanic...

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