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

Pizza Menus and Irrational Doctors.

A few days ago, Dan Ariely of Duke University, was on NPR to discuss his research on the way doctors make decisions, which mirrors the troubling ways consumers make decisions. If a pizza menu starts with the pie with everything, then descends into options with fewer and fewer toppings, people will order more toppings than if they're looking at a menu that puts the plain pie at the top. "If you go to the hospital these days," Ariely says, "you will see that they have these electronic order forms. ... And sometimes these order forms are empty, nothing is selected for them. The default is nothing, and they have to pick what they want to order. And sometimes some tests are preselected for them." When they did an experiment on how these two options affected the choices doctors made, "in the empty set, physicians chose an average five tests. And in the full set, they chose an average 13 tests. ... And the difference was about $1,300 per patient." What does this have to do with the health-...

The Difference Between the Present and the Future.

Today's Washington Post features a piece by two Democratic pollsters, Pat Caddell and Doug Schoen , advising Democrats to jettison health-care reform, because "the battle for public opinion has been lost. Comprehensive health care has been lost. If it fails, as appears possible, Democrats will face the brunt of the electorate's reaction. If it passes, however, Democrats will face a far greater calamitous reaction at the polls." Caddell and Schoen have each spent much of their time in recent years occupying a Lieberman -esque niche in our discourse, that of the person who is brought on TV or into the newspaper to criticize his party and its goals in terms that sound identical to those used by the other party -- all while still claiming that he is not switching to the other side but is offering this advice only out of love (read more here ). Let's take Caddell: Though as far as I know he hasn't done any actual polling in a decade or two, producers and editors believe that because he...

The Global Digital Divide.

Lots of people, myself included, have lamented the fact that for all America's dominance of the Internet, there are other countries, like South Korea, where they have better broadband service than we do. But when you look at the entire globe, it's obvious that the world is divided into Internet haves, and Internet have-nots. Play around with this interactive data visualization from Google: The country with the highest proportion of Internet users? Greenland, at an admirable 91.6 per 100 (compared to 72.4 in the U.S.). I'll refrain from making a crack about the need for Internet access when you live in a bleak, windswept tundra. The lowest rate of access is that of Burma, which in 2007 (the last year of available data) had just one Internet user for every 1,000 citizens. There are also multiple countries in sub-Saharan Africa -- Mali, Niger, the Congo -- where access is at or below one per 100. -- Paul Waldman

An Education Program We Can All Support.

Progressives surely understand by now that Barack Obama has no intention of making the rhetorical case for progressivism a theme of his presidency. This is a continuing disappointment; if he spent as much time attacking conservatism as, say, Ronald Reagan did attacking liberalism, we might actually be able to change our national conversation on the role of government. And unfortunately, what ought to be the most powerful tool in that effort -- strong policy -- may have only limited effect. Republicans today decry the potential horror of government health insurance while simultaneously posing as valiant defenders of Medicare; tomorrow they will likely celebrate the health insurance exchanges the current reform establishes, while they mount a rearguard action against a public option. Given that Democrats have control of government for the moment, perhaps it would be a good time to come up with some creative ideas to shift the public's perceptions about government -- not in a...

Put Your Filibuster Where Your Mouth Is.

Now that it's looking like there's not much they can do to stop health-care reform (if it does go down, it will be because of recalcitrant centrist Democrats), Republicans have taken to warning their opponents that if HCR passes, it will mean electoral doom for Democrats. So here's a question some intrepid interviewer might ask as a follow-up when they repeat this: OK, Mr. Republican Senator, if you think that Democrats will suffer a stunning defeat if they pass health-care reform, why not end your filibuster? Then, instead of the House passing the Senate's version of HCR, the Senate could pass the House's version, and it would be done. You could await your stunning victories in 2010 and 2012, and then repeal the bill before most of the key provisions take effect in 2014 (or actually 2013, under the House's bill). Then you'd have your smashing political victory, and the dreaded socialist takeover would never have occurred. If you really believe what you're saying, wouldn't that be the...

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