Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman is a contributing editor for the Prospect and the author of Being Right is Not Enough: What Progressives Must Learn From Conservative Success.

Recent Articles

Don't Let the Revolving Door Hit You on the Way Out.

Yesterday, Tim noted that Rep. Barney Frank , chair of the House Financial Services Committee, has banned the committee's staff from contact with Peter Roberson , a former staffer who went from writing legislation on things like credit-default swaps to working for a company that handles credit-default swaps. Tim is skeptical that such a ban will have much of an impact on the influence of lobbyists, and I agree. Like most well-intentioned process reform ideas, it comes off sounding like, "This isn't really going to help much, but we might as well try." And in the end it usually doesn't help much. As everyone knows, the Capitol Hill revolving door works this way: You work in Congress for a few years, learning the ways and means of our law-making machinery, then cash in by taking that knowledge with you to a lobbying firm. This system is half-heartedly condemned by just about everyone. After all, lobbying is right there in the First Amendment -- you have the right "to petition the...

Score Another One for the Internet.

To follow up on Tim 's discussion of Nate Silver 's takedown of Veronique de Rugy 's bogus study claiming to find that the stimulus has been distributed in a partisan way, this is yet more evidence that the Internet is awesome. In the old days, a completely disingenuous argument like De Rugy's would find its way into influential hands due to her institutional connections with establishment Republicans, get repeated a million times, and perhaps even have an impact on future debates. It would be countered only by somebody at a liberal think tank, who might write a paper showing why it was wrong, and nobody would notice. But now, the mighty Nate Silver , who has a tremendous amount of credibility built not on connections with important people but solely on merit, can quickly gut de Rugy's argument like a trout, and people will actually notice. That's because he has a large audience that he's built up without any kind of institutional support. I'm guessing Rachel Maddow will do a segment...

Grading "The Media."

In a post titled "The Best-Covered News Story, Ever" , Harold Pollack makes an important point: Because it is so easy to find bad reporting and public stupidity, it is easy to overlook something. Press coverage of health care reform was the most careful, most thorough, and most effective reporting of any major story, ever . Throughout this past year, moderately informed and inquisitive readers could get more accurate information, more quickly, and more carefully-analyzed than one ever could before. I concede that one needed to know where to find this information. ... If you read any of the top five or ten national newspapers or (often even better) their accompanying websites, you were only a few clicks away from a remarkable and free library of analysis and supporting information of remarkable depth and diversity. If people don't look, there is only so much the media can do. This is the problem with making an assessment of how "the media" did reporting health-care reform, or anything...

Hopey-Changey at the Department of Labor

During the Bush administration, when I encountered those who wondered whether a particular Democrat (say, John Kerry ) was progressive enough, I would often make the point that at that moment, there were literally thousands of people in positions of power in the federal government who went to work every day attempting to undermine everything those progressives believed in. As we've gotten so focused on big legislative issues like health-care reform, we shouldn't forget that there is a lot of activity going on in federal agencies that normally escapes notice. And progressives ought to be pretty pleased about it. Over at The Nation , Esther Kaplan profiles Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and finds that she has done a pretty remarkable job returning the Labor Department to -- get this -- advancing the interests of working people. It's in large part a product of personnel. For instance, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is now not headed by a former mining-company executive...

Conservatives for Corporate Tax Giveaways.

If like me you receive the Heritage Foundation's daily e-mail alert (which could be titled "How Barack Obama is destroying America today"), this morning you would have learned the latest bit of outrage over health-care reform, which is that "companies used to be able to deduct part of their costs for providing drug benefits to their retirees, but Obamacare cancels that deduction." Turns out that a bunch of big corporations like AT&T, Caterpillar, and 3M made virtually simultaneous announcements (Could it have been coordinated? Nah.) that they were putting charges on their balance sheets because they'll be losing this deduction. First of all, it's a little odd that they're doing it this quarter, since the change in the tax law doesn't kick in until 2013. But the more important thing to note is this: The loophole the reform is eliminating is no ordinary tax deduction. It's a sweetheart deal so absurd that no honest person could defend it. Turns out that as part of the prescription-...

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