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 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...

How Low Can You Go?

FINAL REFUGE "Integrity is everything," Groucho Marx once said. "If you can fake integrity, you've got it made." David Brock and Elizabeth McCaughey intuitively appreciate that point. Poor David. Poor Betsy. Both had been doing so well. Brock had made it big as a writer in right-wing circles with his book The Real Anita Hill , then his sensational anti-Clinton stories in the American Spectator . It was Brock who broadcast charges by Arkansas state troopers that, as governor, Clinton had used them to arrange illicit meetingscharges that one trooper has since admitted were based on no direct knowledge and were made in the hope of big money. McCaughey, a policy researcher at a conservative think tank, had made her splash with a 1993 New Republic article charging that the Clinton health plan would allow people "no exit"no ability to pay money for care outside a health plana charge flatly contradicted by the legislation. So infatuated were Republicans with McCaughey that although she had...

Of Our Time: The Loophole We Can't Close

There may be no way to limit spending that is both constitutional and effective.

Nineteen ninety-eight is the 200th anniversary of an event that I trust no one will care to celebrate: the Sedition Act of 1798, the single most egregious violation of freedom of speech in American history. Less than a decade after the adoption of the Bill of Rights, the Sedition Act made it a crime to defame President John Adams or the Congress, which was then in the hands of the Federalists. The Adams administration used the law to imprison most of the editors of the major opposition (Jeffersonian Republican) newspapers. Nothing in American history, not even McCarthyism, comes close in the scale of political repression, and thankfully nothing like it is on the horizon. Nonetheless, the Sedition Act still holds two lessons for us today. First, otherwise reasonable people can convince themselves that there is a compelling governmental interest in the restriction of political speech. In the case of the Sedition Act, those reasonable people included Washington, Adams, and Hamilton as...

Of Our Time: Cyberpower and Freedom

In politics and the public imagination, computers have gone from symbolizing our vulnerability to embodying our possibilities. In their early days during the 1950s and 1960s, computers seemed destined to increase the power of government and big corporations, and the great worry was how to protect privacy and individual freedom. Then the advent of the personal computer and other low-cost electronics suggested that information technology might be the ultimate tool of decentralization and individual empowerment, and the rise of global telecommunications and the Internet promised to annihilate national borders. Now many of us sit at keyboards easily connecting to computers all over the world, and to some people the thought suggests itself: "Why do we need national government at all?" Things have swung around so completely that influential analysts, especially on the right, see the information revolution as a great historical reversal of power, ushering in a new age of individualism on the...

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