Paul Starr

Paul Starr is co-editor of the The American Prospect. His most recent book is Remedy and Reaction: The Peculiar American Struggle over Health Care ReformClick here to read more about Starr.

Recent Articles

Supreme Surprise

(AP Photo)

The verdict of the Supreme Court upholding nearly all of the Affordable Care Act is a victory to be savored in the full knowledge that it may be only temporary and includes potentially damaging changes in constitutional interpretation.

It is a victory, first of all, for the millions of people excluded from health insurance who stand to gain protection despite their medical history or low incomes.

It is a victory for the rule of law in the face of a group of partisan conservative justices who want to immobilize federal power in social policy.

It is a victory for the millions of people who have struggled for decades to achieve equal access to health care.

The Sixties at 50

Half a century later, the battles of the 1960s--and the effects of one great wrong turn by liberals of that time--are still with us.

(AP Photo)

The following column accompanies a special report in the July-August issue, taking stock of America's progress in fighting poverty on the 50th anniversary of Michael Harrington's The Other America."Ever since the 1960s, many of us have measured progress by how far America has gone in fulfilling the ideals of that era: guaranteeing equal rights, preventing unjust wars, safeguarding the earth, ending poverty.

 

Three Roads from the Supreme Court

None of the options for health-care reform is ideal, but the most likely path forward would be through action in the states.

(AP Photo/J. David Ake)

Sitting in the Supreme Court on March 27, I was stunned by the oral argument on the Affordable Care Act (ACA). From their first questions to Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, the conservative justices seemed to echo the arguments against the individual mandate that the opposing lawyers had set out in their briefs. When it was over, I was not 100 percent sure that Justice Anthony Kennedy would vote to overturn the mandate and related penalties. But if he does, the Court may well strike down the law’s other critical provisions, staging what amounts to a conservative judicial coup.

Mitt Romney, Hero of Finance

Romney’s backers say he did the tough work needed to restructure the economy. Actually, he seized opportunities that the tax, securities, and bankruptcy laws should never have given him.

“Creative destruction” is Mitt Romney’s best defense for his career in private equity and the trail of displaced workers some of his ventures left behind. The idea comes from the economist Joseph Schumpeter, who argued that capitalism generates economic growth through “gales of creative destruction” that sweep away obsolete technologies and products. As Romney’s advocates have it, that’s what his firm, Bain Capital, has advanced—painful economic changes that are essential to a rising standard of living. 

The Fanatics of the Center

Moderation has its zealots, so convinced of their righteousness that they ignore the likely impact of their actions.

Thomas Friedman via Center for American Progress

The political center has an undeserved reputation as the home of the most dispassionate and reasonable people. According to a strain of thought that stretches back to the 18th century, parties endanger democracy; partisans see only their side of the truth, pursue their own narrow interests, and aggravate tensions and conflict. The rational course supposedly lies in the middle, where champions of civic virtue counsel compromise and invite us to put the public good first.

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