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

A New Tax Debate

For Democrats to win on this issue, they need to propose substantive reforms -- not just battle over the existing Bush tax cuts.

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) at a news conference following two votes on tax cuts during a rare Saturday session of the U.S. Senate on Capitol Hill earlier this month (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)
When Barack Obama took office two years ago, four far-reaching problems stood above all others he had to face: the free-falling economy, the war in Iraq, the health-care crisis, and the threat of global climate change. If he could make real progress on those four, his presidency could stand among those of Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, and Ronald Reagan as the most consequential of the last hundred years, no matter what else he did or didn't do. So far, the record on these grand priorities is mixed. The economy is recovering, but far too slowly; we are no longer fighting in Iraq, but Afghanistan has shown itself to be even more of a quagmire; Obama did pass historic health-care reform; and action on climate change has effectively been shelved. But as Obama looks toward the second half of his first term, there is another way for him to do something historic: reform the American tax system. It's an enormously complex challenge, both substantively and politically. We haven't had a...

The Health-Care Overture.

Right now, the legal machinations regarding the Affordable Care Act are kind of like the overture you hear before a musical starts. It's a little preview of the different songs to come, but it isn't really the show itself. So today, Judge Henry Hudson ruled that the individual mandate is unconstitutional, in contrast to a series of other judges in other jurisdictions who have found the opposite. Should you be worried? Well yeah, but not because of this ruling. Hudson was hearing the case because Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli did some judge-shopping and decided to file his suit against the ACA with a judge he predicted would be sure to rule against it. Hudson was a good bet, since he's been a prominent Republican for some time and was appointed by George W. Bush . But Hudson didn't go as far as he could have -- he ruled against Cuccinelli's request to suspend all work on implementing the ACA while the case is being appealed. That means officials in the Department of Health...

Tough Votes.

One of legislators' favorite strategic moves is to force their opponents into "tough" votes, whereby in order to get what they want they have to vote for something really unpopular or against something really popular. The idea is that since these legislators (particularly those in the House, who have to run every two years) are motivated largely by fear, they will knuckle under as visions of attack ads dance in their heads. Sometimes this works, and sometimes the opponents forge ahead anyway. And sometimes those "tough" votes do indeed get used in attack ads -- a good recent example was Sharron Angle 's ad accusing Harry Reid of wanting to give Viagra to child molesters. But that didn't seem to work. And this past week, Democrats tried to pass a seemingly bullet-proof piece of legislation, providing assistance to 9/11 first responders sickened by the dust and debris they were exposed to at ground zero, but Senate Republicans managed to successfully filibuster it. You'd think they'd be...

Misinformation in Campaign 2010.

There's a new poll out from the Program on International Policy Attitudes, which shows that nine in 10 voters said that during the campaign they encountered information that was misleading or false. Obviously, in order to know you're encountering misleading information, you have to have some idea of what the truth is. But apparently not. As I've noted before , most of the misinformation benefits Republicans: Though the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) concluded that the stimulus legislation has saved or created 2.0-5.2 million jobs, only 8% of voters thought most economists who had studied it concluded that the stimulus legislation had created or saved several million jobs. Most (68%) believed that economists estimate that it only created or saved a few jobs and 20% even believed that it resulted in job losses. Though the CBO concluded that the health reform law would reduce the budget deficit, 53% of voters thought most economists have concluded that health reform will increase the...

The Left's Answer to the Oklahoma Sharia Law.

Back in March of 2008, I wrote a column about certain sectors of the left, particularly the anti-war group Code Pink and the Berkeley City Council, a uniquely silly municipal body. The controversy of the moment had to do with protests at a Marine recruiting center. Here's a little excerpt from the column: At times like this it's hard not to wonder whether Code Pink and the Berkeley City Council aren't agents provocateurs , a kind of self-parody strike force sent by Dick Cheney to discredit opposition to the war. Four months ago, I praised the Berkeley City Council when it passed a creative plan to help residents install solar-energy systems in their homes. But for every piece of innovative thinking, there seem to be a dozen pieces of idiocy. Instead of asking themselves, "Is there anything we can do to make our schools better?" the council members ask, "Is there anything we can do to protest the war?" The answer is no. You're the city council of a small city in California. How about...