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

Is Rising Inequality Reversible?

New figures came out at the end of march showing that income inequality in 2005 reached the highest levels since the 1920s. By coincidence, presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani that same day declared his support for the flat tax and received the endorsement of Steve Forbes. That the current front-runner for the Republican nomination could believe it was in his political interest to call for an end to progressive taxation says a lot about how far his party has to go in recognizing one of the central economic and moral challenges of our time. Although the basic story of growing economic disparities has become depressingly familiar, the latest report on trends in income is so shocking that it ought to serve as a political wake-up call. During 2005 (the most recent year for which data are available), total income reported to the Internal Revenue Service rose by 9 percent, but all the gains went to the richest tenth. Income for the other 90 percent of Americans declined by 0.6 percent. In...

Why Liberalism Works

Liberalism is deeply rooted in American soil, so much so that in the years after World War II, many historians and social scientists regarded the liberal project and the American civic creed as more or less the same. The proposition that each of us has a right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" remains as good a definition as anyone has ever come up with of liberalism's first principle and America's historic promise. For some time, however, contemporary liberalism has been under political siege in the United States, and even liberals have at times appeared uncertain about what they stand for. In recent decades, national political leaders who are unquestionably liberal have often been unwilling to say so and unable to articulate a compelling public philosophy, while public-opinion surveys show that many Americans who support liberal positions do not identify themselves as liberals. Lately, though, the right has been facing its own loss of confidence. No one, not even...


CAUTIONARY NOTE. I am not yet convinced that Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama can overcome the obvious obstacles to their election. According to the latest New York Times/CBS poll , if the election were held now, Americans would choose an unnamed Democrat over an unnamed Republican by a 20-point margin. Nonetheless, both Clinton and Obama have run behind in polls first to John McCain and now to Rudy Giuliani . Are Democrats so sure the country has put sexism and racism to rest that they want to bet the future of the country on that proposition? I wish I felt confident that was true. Perhaps as we get closer to next February I will. I'd like to think so. Full post at Freedom's Power . --Paul Starr

Deadline Dilemmas

The strange thing about the debate in Congress over a deadline for pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq is that the objective political interests of the two parties are the reverse of their stated positions. Republicans are facing a disaster in the 2008 election if the Iraq War continues unabated. But if the Democratic Congress ties the president's hands and forces a pullout, the Republicans would have an excuse for the war's failure, and their party could move on to focus the 2008 election on other issues. If GOP leaders could act on pure political self-interest, they would be secretly encouraging just enough defections by their own members of Congress to pass legislation requiring a pullout. Conversely, if Democrats succeed in setting a deadline, they would be taking some responsibility upon themselves for what happens in the wake of a pullout, and they would lose the advantage of focusing the 2008 election on the war. The Democrats' political interest lies in demonstrating a...

Congressional Battleground

Can the public make its will felt through Congress and start the difficult process of bringing closure to the Iraq War? Although the voters spoke last November, the administration has seen no need to listen. But the prospect of another defeat in 2008 may motivate enough Republicans in Congress to break with the administration on the war -- and by acting strategically the war's opponents and the Democratic leadership can help make that happen. It is a frightening thought that however little confidence they enjoy, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney will be in the White House for nearly two more years. About Iraq, nothing changes their minds -- not the overwhelming evidence of the failure of their policies, not the bipartisan Iraq Study Group headed by James Baker, not the opposition of top generals, and certainly not the collapse of support for the war in public opinion. And as if being mired in Iraq were not bad enough, we now have abundant and growing reason for concern that President...