Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman is the Prospect's daily blogger and senior writer. He also blogs for the Plum Line at the Washington Post, and is the author of Being Right is Not Enough: What Progressives Must Learn From Conservative Success.

Recent Articles

The Moral Price of ACA Repeal.

The discussion about health care we're currently having is essentially campaign-style, in that it is utterly divorced from the practical effects of the various outcomes. We talk about what the Supreme Court will do, whether Republicans can force a repeal vote in the Senate, how the issue will play out in the 2012 election, and so on, but not so much about the fact that lives are literally at stake. The real question isn't whether one side of the political divide will benefit, but whether millions of people will manage to get coverage, whether people will continue to get sicker and die earlier than they otherwise would because they lack access to care, whether people will continue to be bankrupted by their medical bills. But in a sad way, it's almost apt that the discussion is so far from those things. Ezra Klein points out the unfortunate reality: In a world where the two parties' top priority on health care was providing answers for the uninsured and cost control, an argument over...

Republican Elites and the Individual Mandate.

Progressives, many of whom like to think they're committed to some level of reason and logic even in the operation of political discourse, find themselves awfully frustrated when the topic of discussion turns to the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate. What's so maddening is that for many years, the individual mandate was an idea championed by conservatives as the way to achieve universal coverage without making government everyone's insurer. Ezra Klein has an interview with an economist he describes as "the father of the individual mandate," if you're interested. Most Americans didn't know what an individual mandate was until a couple of years ago, but those who did knew it as the cornerstone of the conservative alternative to single-payer health insurance, the kind of thing a Republican governor like Mitt Romney would build his health-reform plan around. But then the individual mandate became part of Barack Obama's health-care plan, and suddenly (or so it seemed), the...

Huntsmania -- Catch It!

Ezra Klein asks about John Huntsman 's soon-to-be presidential campaign, "Can someone sketch me out an even moderately plausible scenario in which a moderate Republican governor who broke with his party on civil unions and cap-and-trade and then joined the Obama administration wins both the GOP nomination and the presidential election in 2012?" I will rise to the challenge! It may be that what Huntsman has in mind is a two-campaign strategy. He runs now, gets national exposure, impresses everyone enough, then watches as Mitt Romney or whoever loses the general to Barack Obama . Four years from now, when the natural swing of the pendulum (1988 was the only time either party won a third consecutive presidential term since FDR) makes a Republican win highly likely, he'll be one of the front-runners. After all, the guy is only 50 years old, so he can afford to take a long path to the nomination. But even if that isn't the case, Huntsman's calculation is probably hinging on a few factors...

Ronald Reagan, Fictional Character.

Yesterday, Brendan Nyhan took Time magazine to task for asserting without any evidence that Ronald Reagan "transformed Americans' attitude about government" (see also follow-ups by Matt Yglesias , Jonathan Bernstein , and Greg Sargent ). Here's the thing about Reagan, though: The myths abound. There's the myth that Reagan never compromised his conservative beliefs, though in fact he did all the time -- the fact that Reagan raised taxes would get him kicked out of today's GOP. Then there's the myth that Reagan was stunningly popular, when in fact his approval ratings were middling -- his average approval of 52.8 percent puts him ahead of Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush , but behind Bill Clinton , George H.W. Bush , and Lyndon Johnson , among others. Why do myths like these about Reagan persist? Obviously, there are people who are very invested in them and work to make it so. But as with the Time magazine article, the myths get repeated by journalists. One partial explanation comes from...

The Myth of the Center

Everyone is obsessed about Obama moving to the center. Too bad it doesn't mean anything anymore.

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Even before President Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union address last week, the press narrative was clear: Obama would be "moving to the center," a voyage that would anger his Democratic supporters, be dismissed as inadequate by his Republican opponents, but would probably help him with independent voters. "Obama Woos Center to Embrace His Vision of the Future," read The Wall Street Journal . "Obama Speech Signals Move to Political Center," said Reuters. "Obama's State of the Union Speech Is Another Move to the Center," said USA Today . But did Obama really "move" anywhere? And what exactly is "the center," anyway? When we examine the speech and everything that happened in the days afterward, it's hard to conclude that the Obama administration has undergone some kind of significant ideological change. The president hasn't moved to reverse any of the policy successes of his first two years (health-care reform being the most notable). The Chicago-born longtime Washington...

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