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

Off the Books

The popularity of public libraries shows just how hollow the promise by conservatives to cut spending really is.

Manoa Public Library in Hawaii (Flickr/Dave Wertheimer's photostream)
In 1731, members of a "society of mutual improvement," led by 25-year-old Benjamin Franklin, decided that if they and other men they knew pooled their modest resources to purchase books, each would have access to a larger body of volumes than they could ordinarily afford. Fifty men were quickly recruited to pay 40 shillings each, and America's first lending library, the Library Company of Philadelphia (which still exists today ) was born. Soon, similar "subscription libraries" were sprouting up all over the country. "These libraries," Franklin would write in his autobiography, "have improved the general conversation of the Americans, made the common tradesmen and farmers as intelligent as most gentlemen from other countries, and perhaps have contributed in some degree to the stand so generally made throughout the colonies in defense of their privileges." At a time when members of one particular political faction are trying to claim that the legacy of the Founders belongs solely to...

Marriage Equality Smackdown, Iowa Style.

Republicans in the Iowa Legislature are currently attempting to undo gay marriage in the state, which was mandated by a decision of the state's Supreme Court in 2009. The measure has passed the Republican-controlled state House, but faces a tougher time in the Democrat-controlled Senate. During a hearing in the House, legislators heard from this college student (via BoingBoing ): That is one seriously self-possessed 19-year-old. -- Paul Waldman

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...