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

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...

Bad Plan, Necessary Step

It's dead on arrival in Congress. It penalizes workers and families with good health benefits. It won't significantly reduce the number of uninsured. And it will do little, if anything, to slow down rising health care costs. So should we just bury Bush's proposal, unveiled in last night's State of the Union address, to convert the tax exclusion of employer payments for health insurance into a flat, $15,000 deduction? No. Anyone with a long view of the struggle for universal health insurance ought to be in favor of it. Before I bring down a chorus of disapproval, let me explain. Ever since the 1940s, when employment-based insurance took off, proposals for universal coverage have faced a huge barrier in public opinion. The millions of people receiving employer-provided coverage have had no idea how much it costs. Many employees believe they are getting coverage essentially for free. Or else they see their own share of the premium -- say, 20 percent -- and mistake it for the whole cost...

The Way Out

Would leaving Iraq mean "surrendering" to the enemy and "losing" the war? That is how the war's supporters have cast the alternative of a phased American withdrawal. But at a time when the Taliban are gaining strength in Afghanistan and have seized control over a substantial area in northern Pakistan, it is important to remember what the United States legitimately sought to accomplish after September 11 and why the Iraq War needs to be brought to a prompt conclusion based on realistic and limited aims. The legitimate objectives after September 11 were the defeat of the al-Qaeda network of terrorists who had attacked us, the overthrow of the Taliban regime that harbored them, the elimination of other enclaves where terrorists could train and organize, and the strengthening of moderate Islamic forces that could combat Islamist extremism. The Iraq War has been utterly counterproductive in achieving these goals. Before it invaded Iraq, the Bush administration promoted the fiction that...


MONSTER SUCCESS. Now that O.J. Simpson is publishing his quasi-confession If I Did It , I'm looking for a forthcoming memoir by former Rep. Mark Foley that ought to be called My Back Pages . It's no longer true that patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels. The last refuge now is the best-seller list. --Paul Starr

Pyongyang Boomerang

Republican government during the past six years has been a study in dissipation. No, I'm not referring to the Mark Foley scandal. I mean the dissipation of American power and influence in the world -- the latest consequence of which is North Korea's explosion of a nuclear weapon. Rather than deterring Pyongyang from going nuclear, Bush's policies gave it both motive and opportunity to proceed. How has the administration dissipated the nation's power? Let us count the ways. The Iraq War has consumed American military resources -- indeed, stretched them so thin that the war has emboldened Iran and North Korea. The Bush administration's early unilateralism, repudiation of international norms on such matters as torture, and arrogance toward what Donald Rumsfeld called “old Europe” have alienated America's allies and international public opinion. The administration's refusal to negotiate with hostile countries has reduced the nation's capacity to use diplomacy to forestall crises. The...