Robert Hiltonsmith

Robert Hiltonsmith is a policy analyst at Demos.

Recent Articles

Debt-Ceiling Déjà Vu

A showdown on the debt-ceiling vote isn't common, but it's happened before.

Former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin during the debt-ceiling limit fight in 1996. (AP Photo/Dennis Cook)

With the debt-ceiling vote date, May 16, rapidly approaching, Republicans are gearing up for the fight.

"I hope the Democrats are not going to play 'debt-ceiling politics" ... wait, Democrats playing debt-ceiling politics? This statement isn't from the showdown shaping up in Washington today. It actually comes from Republican Sen. Howard Baker Jr., then-majority leader, in early February 1981, in the midst of what would turn out to be the first major fight of President Ronald Reagan's young presidency: raising the debt ceiling, on which the administration exhorted "swift congressional action."

The Blue Dogs' Boondoggle

By echoing Republican calls for austerity, conservative Democrats could derail the fragile recovery.

Conservative Democrat Mike Ross of Arkansas (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The Blue Dog Coalition -- a group of self-identified moderate Democrats in Congress -- has become the latest group trying to establish its bona fides as "serious" about reducing the deficit. Echoing Republican calls for austerity as we face the worse economic recession since the Great Depression, earlier this week, the coalition released its own proposal to rein in "out of control" federal spending. But as with Republican blueprints that also call for drastic cuts to discretionary spending, the Blue Dog plan offers little hope of ensuring real economic stability.

Budget Fantasies and Realities

A few Republican lawmakers have broken ranks and acknowledged the truth: Dealing with the budget deficit will require tax increases.

Sen. Mike Crapo (AP Photo/Matt Cilley)

The Congressional Budget Office released on Friday its preliminary analysis of President Barack Obama's 2012 budget proposal, and projected cumulative deficits of $9.5 trillion over the next decade. That was $2.7 trillion higher than the CBO's pre-budget prediction and $2.3 trillion higher than the administration's own estimate.

Paul Ryan's Hypocrisy

Republicans are backing Rep. Paul Ryan’s government-gutting ”Roadmap for America’s Future,” which includes a radical set of cuts to Social Security. Last week, 22 Republican senators sent a letter to President Barack Obama threatening to vote against raising the debt ceiling unless he agrees to them.

Republicans' Next Move: Get Rid of Pensions Altogether

Some states, like Wisconsin, are asking state employees to contribute more to their pension plans, but others are just scrapping them.

(AP Photo/Mel Evans)

The battle over public-sector unions is, at least in part, a battle over benefits: From Wisconsin to New Jersey, public-sector unions are among the last employees who can expect to retire with defined pension plans. Wisconsin, where a political showdown just resulted in reduced bargaining rights for public employees, is expected to release new estimates on state pensions next week, according to The New York Times. The state will likely ask employees to contribute more money to their plans and make other concessions.