Paul Starr

Paul Starr is co-founder and co-editor of the The American Prospect. and professor of sociology and public affairs at Princeton University. A winner of the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction and the Bancroft Prize in American history, he is the author of seven books, including most recently Remedy and Reaction: The Peculiar American Struggle over Heath Care Reform (Yale University Press, revised ed. 2013). Click here to read more about Starr.

Recent Articles

The Larger Problems of the Sanders Single Payer Plan

Putting our nation's health care under federal control would create more problems than it would solve. 

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
This is a contribution to Prospect Debate: The Cost of Sanders's Single-Payer Health Plan . T hink about what a single-payer health plan means. The federal government pays for all health care for everyone. The pleasant thought is that all of your health expenses are being paid for. The unpleasant thought is that since all those expenses come out of the federal budget, your health care now depends on the decisions of Congress and the president. And an even more unpleasant thought—at least for progressives who may be inclined to support single-payer—is that people with progressive values will not always be in charge in Washington and therefore wouldn’t always be making those decisions. In “ The False Lure of the Sanders Single-Payer Plan,” I raised a series of objections to Sanders’s proposal. Responding from the Sanders camp, Gerald Friedman devotes all his attention to one aspect of my criticism: the cost estimates by Kenneth Thorpe that I cited. Joining in the debate, Thorpe has now...

Isolationism is No Answer

How a disciplined and discriminating strategy can defeat ISIS and put the Syrian civil war on the path to a peace accord.

AP Photo/Hasan Jamali, File
This is a contribution to " Prospect Debate: Should We Fight ISIS? " I n his response to my article in the Winter issue, Jeff Faux calls for the United States to abandon the fight against ISIS and to withdraw from the Middle East. This is not a good idea. ISIS and al-Qaeda, it should be unnecessary to say, represent real threats to the security of people around the world, including Americans. Neither terrorist group is going to stop killing infidels if the United States pulls out. Learning about their intentions is not difficult. They have made those intentions abundantly clear in public statements and videos and through the language of violence. It is not true that all the efforts by the United States to defeat terrorism have failed and that the war against ISIS is “already lost,” as Faux claims. In fact, the measures we have taken against al-Qaeda have severely weakened it, and ISIS is now in retreat in its home territory in Syria and Iraq. In his wholesale condemnation of U.S...

The False Lure of the Sanders Single-Payer Plan

Why a seemingly attractive proposal doesn’t make sense.

(Photo: AP/Evan Vucci)
(Photo: AP/Evan Vucci) Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders speaks during a campaign rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on January 30. W ouldn’t it be great if we could just go to the doctor and not pay any bills? After all, isn’t that what they do in other countries, and don’t those countries have lower health-care costs than the United States does? And aren’t private insurance companies the only reason we don’t have that kind of system? This is the appeal of the Bernie Sanders single-payer health plan. Free health care, with none of the frustrating paperwork of today’s insurance, and with taxes that cost less than insurance premiums—what could be better than that? Of course, the single payer in the Sanders plan is the federal government, which implies concentrating payment and therefore power over health care in Washington. But, at least in this area, many Democrats don’t seem worried about that prospect. Sanders doesn’t just call for incremental steps toward single-...

Accelerating the Fight Against ISIS

Going into 2012, Obama had Osama. Going into 2016, the Democrats need the fall of Raqqa and Mosul.

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin President Barack Obama addresses the nation from the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, Sunday night, December 6, 2016. The president's speech followed Wednesday's shooting in San Bernardino, California, that killed 14 people and wounded 21. This article will appear in the Winter 2016 issue of The American Prospect magazine . Subscribe here . W e are at a dangerous moment in the interplay of foreign and domestic politics. Jihadist attacks are a boon to the right in Europe and America, and the right’s indiscriminate threats against Muslims at home and abroad are a boon to the jihadists. This is a familiar cycle, a spiral of violence and fear in which the extremes feed off each other. During the next year, there is no greater challenge than stopping that spiral. In the United States, the challenge takes on particular urgency because of the 2016 election. Donald Trump and other Republican candidates play upon public anxieties, fanning hostility to...

We Need Clarity about ISIS, and the Democratic Candidates Didn’t Provide It

AP Photo/Jacques Brinon
AP Photo/Jacques Brinon Rescue workers gather at victims in the 10th district of Paris, Friday, November 13, 2015. M any Democrats—including the candidates for president at Saturday night’s debate in Iowa—are not registering the full import of the attacks in Paris. When French President Francois Hollande declared the massacre “an act of war” and ISIS claimed responsibility and announced that the attacks were the “first of a storm,” the conflict with ISIS entered a new stage. In responding to the advance of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, the Obama administration has tried to rely on local proxies—Syrian moderates, Kurds, the Iraqi army—to do the fighting on the ground, while the United States has supplied air power, intelligence, equipment, and other resources. Obama’s reluctance to commit ground troops is understandable. But with clear evidence his strategy was insufficient, the president announced on October 30 that several dozen special operations forces would go into Syria. Although the...

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