Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman is a weekly columnist and senior writer for The American Prospect. He also writes for the Plum Line blog at The Washington Post and The Week and is the author of Being Right is Not Enough: What Progressives Must Learn From Conservative Success.

Recent Articles

When All Else Fails, Cut Taxes for the Rich

(Photo: AP/Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
(Photo: AP/Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, center, is introduced by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, left, and Representative Jeb Hensarling during Mnuchin's confirmation hearing on January 19, 2017. " Doing big things is hard," said Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, after spending all of a couple of weeks trying and failing to remake the American health-care system. Had he known beforehand, he might have informed President Trump, who remarked before Ryan's bill went down to defeat that "nobody knew that health care could be so complicated." Armed with their newfound wisdom, Ryan, Trump, and the rest of the GOP are set to try again, only this time with a topic nearly as complex: the U.S. tax code. They're going to face some of the same problems, especially divisions among Republicans on what they should and shouldn't include in their legislation. But unlike with health care, there's a way out of those internal conflicts that every Republican will be...

10 Lessons From the Republican Health-Care Debacle

Rex Features via AP Images
Rex Features via AP Images The hands of President Donald J. Trump while attending a meeting on health care in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. A t the end of last week, the legislative Hindenburg that was the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act met its end in a blazing inferno of failure and recrimination. This was the most momentous occurrence of the early period of the Donald Trump presidency, and it's full of lessons that will be good to keep in mind in the coming days. Here are ten of the most important ones. 1. Don't hire a businessman to do a politician's job. The rationale of Donald Trump's candidacy was a slightly exaggerated version of what we've heard from many businessman candidates before him: Politicians are failures, we need to run the country like a business, elect me and I'll bring my business savvy to Washington to get things done. This argument presumes that politics is an enterprise like no other, where experience is irrelevant and...

Republicans Have Already Lost the Health-Care Debate

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Speaker Paul Ryan prepare to face reporters at Republican National Committee Headquarters on Capitol Hill. I f we had to reduce the philosophical debate over health care to a single question, it would be this: Is health care a right or a privilege? As Donald Trump and congressional Republicans attempt to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and make profound changes to the entire American health-care system, the deep resistance they're encountering has its roots in the fact that they've lost that debate. Just to be clear, that doesn't mean they won't succeed in passing their legislation. The Republican health-care bill could come up for a vote in the House as early as this week, though its prospects in the Senate are far more dim. Even without the public behind them, they may be able to push a bill through. But everything they do on health care will be judged by the standards Democrats have set, and more particularly,...

Americans Must Liberate Themselves From the Oppression of Health Coverage, Say Republicans

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images Speaker of the House Paul Ryan conducts a presentation on the American Health Care Act, the GOP's plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. A s they try to win Americans over to their plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the Republican Party is like a salesman trying to get you to buy one of those hoverboards. You ask, "But don't these burst into flames? That seems like a problem." The salesman waves his hand. "Pshaw," he says. "It's not about who is or isn't on fire. It's about freedom!" Keep that idea in mind while we proceed. Early this week the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) will release its assessment of the bill currently moving through the House, and the CBO's "score" will almost certainly say that the bill will cause millions (if not tens of millions) to lose their health coverage, in perhaps the most catastrophic event to hit the American health-care system in modern times. It may also predict that premiums will rise,...

Every Bizarre Trump Eruption Is a Rehearsal for When It Really Matters

AP Photo/Evan Vucci
AP Photo/Evan Vucci President Donald Trump speaks before signing two executive orders aimed at supporting women in STEM fields, Tuesday, February 28, 2017, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. E very president has the ability to dominate the news, but none has dominated it quite like this one, in much the same way as a flaming car on the side of the highway dominates the attention of the drivers passing by. Donald Trump's eruptions (for lack of a better word) have a gravitational pull on the entire political world, making them impossible to ignore even if one might step back and ask whether it really matters if the president thinks he had the biggest inaugural crowd in history, or that millions of people voted illegally, or that Barack Obama tapped his phones. But these controversies are in some ways a dress rehearsal for all concerned, for the time when it really does matter. That moment will come, and probably before long. Every president faces crises with...