Peter Dreier

Peter Dreier, who teaches politics at Occidental College, is the author of The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame (Nation Books, 2012).

Recent Articles

Housing Policy's Moment of Truth

In Washington these days, HUD is about as popular as mosquitoes. But there's a way to make housing more affordable without the old bureaucracy.

At least one million Americans, including an increasing number of children and working adults, are homeless at some point each year. About half of young families can't afford the American dream of homeownership. Yet both the Clinton administration and congressional Republicans favor dismantling long-standing housing programs for the poor, and some in Congress want to eliminate the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) altogether.

Wild Pitch

For baseball players and fans, winter is the "off-season." But for team owners and their executives, it is the season for deal making. As most fans are looking back on another season of what might have been (except for New York Yankee fans, who get to savor another World Series victory), the deal makers are looking to the future. Usually they have their eye on this question: How might we make more money? Bring in new superstars? Charge more for tickets? Build more luxury skyboxes? Tear down the old stadium? A great part of baseball's allure has to do with its sense of history. But in the business offices, an "out with the old, in with the new" attitude prevails.

Seismic Stimulus: The California Quake's Creative Destruction

The earth literally had to move to jolt Congress into passing a stiumulus package -- and to lift California out of recession.

In April 1993, Congress rejected President Clinton's proposal for $16 billion of economic stimulus and public investment. Opponents attacked it as pork barrel politics, tax-and-spend liberalism, and a budget-buster. Yet a year later, the same Congress easily passed a series of Clinton proposals to increase the fiscal deficit by spending $9.5 billion on emergency assistance and public works for Southern California. The difference, of course, was the Los Angeles earthquake, an event that revealed a great deal about the nation's ideological fault lines.

Moving From the 'Hood: The Mixed Success of Integrating Suburbia

In theory, dispersing the poor to better suburban schools, jobs, and housing was a bipartisan alternative to housing projects and ghetto unemployment. But, surprise, nobody wanted them in the neighborhood.

Saxophone player Bill Clinton and blues legend Luther Allison haven't conferred
on urban policy, but both are singing the same tune. In his new song, "Move
From the 'Hood," Allison wails:

I know some of you are doin' your best;

You want a good job, not a welfare check.

But you gotta move;

You gotta move from the 'hood.

Kinder, Gentler Canada

If President Clinton wants to see how activist

government can solve social problems with strong public support, he should take

a few days to visit Canada. With Toronto's World Series victory, the nationwide

referendum on constitutional reform (including the status of Quebec), and the

controversy over the North American Free Trade Agreement, Canada lately has been

in the American news more than at any time in recent memory. But despite all

this attention, there's a Canada few Americans know about-- a nation whose

citizens are better off than their American counterparts in many ways: safer

cities, less poverty, fewer homeless, lower infant mortality, and healthier