Patrick Caldwell

Patrick Caldwell is a writing fellow at The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

Is Jon Hunstman Running for 2012, or 2016?

I'm siding with the Prospect 's Jamelle Bouie over Paul Waldman on Jon Hunstman 's decision to enter the 2012 presidential field. Between his moderate record and Republican primary voters' sharp rightward swing since the Tea Party came along, there doesn't seem to be a viable path for Huntsman to win the GOP nomination. In a primary that will be determined by which candidate can pile the most criticism onto President Obama , Huntsman's willingness to serve the White House as the Ambassador to China will prove toxic. He has a closet of blasphemous policy stances, having called for a regional cap-and-trade system among western states when he was governor of Utah and calling the stimulus plan "too small." As the wave of defeats for moderate Republican incumbents in 2010 illustrated, the current base has no patience for a politician with a moderate take on issues. Next year's election appears to be a lost cause for Huntsman, but it might position him as an ideal Republican for 2016...

Republican Regulators' Philosophy: Help Companies, Then Work For Them

Another day, another Republican appointee slides through the revolving door between the bureaucracy and the industries they regulate. Only four months after successfully marshalling through a merger between Comcast and NBC Universal, FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker is leaving her government post to work at the new company. The Hill writes : During her term at the FCC, Baker was known for her strong free-market views, including her opposition to net-neutrality regulations. She voted yes to approving the merger of Comcast and NBC Universal earlier this year, subsequently calling for reform to the FCC's merger review process to prevent the agency from excessively conditioning such transactions. Not only did she vote for the merger, Baker publicly criticized the process for being too slow. "The NBC/Comcast merger took too long, in my view," the New York Times quotes her saying in March to a group from the communications industry. "My concern is that you might walk away … and how...

Busting the Political Genius Myth

Maggie Haberman at Politico has a gushing profile of Iowa GOP Chair Matt Strawn , a largely behind-the-scenes figure who could still play a role in 2012 Republican campaigns. Haberman's piece portrays Strawn as an expert political operative responsible for rebuilding the state party after a weak 2008 election. Strawn had resuscitated a once-broken state party organization into a fundraising force with a string of midterm election cycle wins, and emerged as a rising star among Republicans who has built on his native Iowan roots along with strong insider credentials as a former congressional aide. This article falls into the common narrative trap of creating a whiz political organizer to explain successful campaigns. Strawn seems like a competent enough party manager, but Terry Branstad 's win in the 2010 gubernatorial race was a no-brainer. Former Democrat Gov. Chet Culver was widely reviled in the state, with such high disapproval ratings that any candidate could have sailed to an...

Shutting Schools to Build Stadiums

The Minnesota Vikings reached a deal yesterday to begin construction on a new football stadium in a town just outside Minneapolis. The $1.06 billion stadium will receive a mix of both public and private funding: The team will pay $407 million, and the rest will come from taxpayers. Ramsey County (which includes St. Paul) would institute a 0.5 percent sales tax increase to gain $350 in revenue, while the state government would raise $300 million for the project through targeted measures, such as a professional sports memorabilia tax. At the same time, legislators are faced with a $5 billion budget shortfall. Democrat Gov. Mark Dayton was elected on a "soak the rich" platform in 2010, but voters also ushered in Republican majorities in both the state House and Senate. These legislative majorities proposed that the budget gap should be closed without instituting new taxes, which means essential social services such as education and health care are on the cutting block: $256 million of...

Republican Electoral Strategy: Don't Let the Democrats Vote

The Texas Legislature passed two bills yesterday that on the surface look like good governance measures but are actually efforts to discourage the Democratic base from voting. The state Senate approved a bill requiring voters to present a photo ID before receiving their ballots on Election Day. Support for the measure fell strictly along party lines, with all 19 Republicans voting in favor while the 12 Democratic senators in the chamber opposed the bill. The law would give voters a host of acceptable forms including driver’s licenses, passports, or a concealed handgun license. Studies show that the Democratic-tilting groups of the poor, elderly, and minorities tend to have the lowest percentage of official photo identification. The other measure is less overt but should have an equally powerful impact in blocking voters' participation. The state House approved an amendment that only allows Texas voters to register new voters in the state. Previously, anyone could collect voter-...

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