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 Democrats' Military Option

Count me among the skeptics as to whether a politically untested general can successfully run the gauntlet of a Democratic presidential-primary campaign in America today. The organizational confusion, inconsistent statements and other troubles that beset Wesley Clark in the first weeks of his campaign all testified to his lack of political experience. But count me also a believer in the potential payoff in reframing the national political debate if Clark allays these early concerns and captures the Democratic nomination. To many in the party, the chief appeal of the retired general is that he insulates Democrats from charges of being unpatriotic or weak on national security. Yet on domestic issues, Clark's military background may also prove an important, unanticipated asset. During the past several decades, the American military has become a model of successful social reform. Perhaps the best example is racial integration. While many other institutions remain nearly as segregated...

Elections as an Exit Strategy

In central Iraq the United States now has its own West Bank, its own encounter with terrorism as a routine occurrence rather than a rare event. As George W. Bush likes to say, we have carried the fight to the enemy -- and now are conveniently at hand to be shot at and blown up by enemies we might never have had. And because of the failure of diplomacy before the war, our forces are in the heart of Mesopotamia nearly alone, without the benefit of the broad international alliances and institutions that were the cornerstones of American foreign policy for more than half a century until this administration took office and treated those allies and institutions with contempt. In his televised speech on Sept. 7, the president stopped dissembling about one aspect of the situation. Before the invasion, the administration assured the public that Iraq would be able to finance its own reconstruction. Now Bush finally had to tell Americans that this isn't so. But in asking Congress for $87 billion...

Will Bush Pay for Deception?

There are lots of reasons to think that the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq will merely be a historical footnote to the war. Polls this spring have shown little public concern about the government's inability to validate the principal reason that it offered the world for military action. There hasn't even been much of a stir about news reports indicating that before the war the administration manipulated and misrepresented intelligence to exaggerate the dangers posed by Iraq. The institutional weakness of the Democratic Party is partly responsible for the absence of a strong domestic political reaction. Republican control of both houses of Congress has deprived Democratic critics of the use of public hearings as a means of focusing the nation's attention on the administration's deceptions. And amid the Democrats' cacophonous presidential race, no voice stands out strongly enough to put the administration on the defensive. But the problem goes deeper. As long as the...

The Bush Bankruptcy Plan

We are used to politicians moderating their programs once in office. But George W. Bush has done the opposite, ratcheting up his plans to the applause of conservatives while much of the public still doesn't grasp the radical implications of what's under way. Nowhere is this more evident than in the president's fiscal policy. During the 2000 election, Bush's proposed tax cuts appeared reasonable to many voters only because the federal government seemed to have plenty of money to spare, thanks to the fiscal turnaround of the Clinton years. Then in the past year, with the economy slumping, the administration has sold another round of cuts as a timely stimulus for renewed growth despite soaring deficits. Whatever the size of the package finally approved by Congress this year, these cuts will not be the end. The White House is already thinking about another round and, according to The Washington Post , plans to cut taxes every year Bush is in office. Republican members of Congress, who in...

A License for Power

Where's the conservative suspicion of the media now that we really need it? The Federal Communications Commission is preparing to roll back long-established rules limiting media ownership, a move that would make the media behemoths more powerful than ever. You might think that prospect would excite an outcry from the right as well as the left. But the FCC review is taking place with only scattered opposition and scarcely any public debate, thanks in part to a virtual news blackout by the media giants themselves. The regulations under review limit media consolidation so as to prevent monopoly and preserve localism as well as diversity. The rules bar any company from owning television stations that reach more than 35 percent of the national audience, prevent networks from buying one another, cap the number of broadcast stations that a single company can own in a particular market, and restrict "cross-ownership" of newspapers and broadcast stations in a community. The argument against...

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