Robert B. Reich, a co-founder of The American Prospect, is a Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. His website can be found here and his blog can be found here.
The Washington Post The Great American Debate about how to use the largest budget surplus in history has come to a choice between the giant $1.2 trillion tax cut recently passed by the Senate and the gargantuan $1.6 trillion cut passed by the House. This week House-Senate conferees begin picking a figure between these two. If future historians ever want to illustrate both the pathetic paucity of political debate at the start of the 21st century and the near-bankruptcy of the Democratic Party, they could do no better than to use this example. A few years ago Democrats championed such things as universal health care. Now that there's money to pay for it, they're rooting for the smaller of the two huge tax cuts instead. The Democrats' own budget alternative put aside just $80 billion for expanded health coverage. By the time Senate Democrats finished compromising on the tax cut, health care was whittled to $28 billion. The dirtiest little secret about the Roaring Nineties is that average...
The New Republic Last week the Congressional Budget Office confirmed what every semiconscious observer of the budget process had known for months: that proposed spending by President Bush and Congress would force the government to take $9 billion from the ostensibly sacrosanct Social Security surplus. And over the following three years, CBO projected, the government would swipe another $21 billion--assuming, optimistically, that the president and Congress didn't spend even more money. In reality, these are piddling amounts. The federal budget will be nearly $2 trillion this year, meaning that a few billion here or there are hardly worth a second thought. But you wouldn't know it from listening to leading Democrats. Virtually without dissent, party leaders have announced that they are prepared to protect every single penny in the Social Security surplus, even if it means slashing the programs they consider most important. "You can go down the whole list--education, health care," House...
A s more Americans become disengaged from politics, America's political class has declared civil war. The 2000 election is a case in point. Prior to election day, it was dull, lifeless, and tightly scripted. The candidates fulminated over their differing versions of prescription drug benefits. Half of America's eligible voters didn't even bother voting.
After election day, all hell broke loose. Americans didn't suddenly become more fiercely partisan. It was politicians and party loyalists who did, because there was no longer a script. Neither candidate had much to lose by escalating the post-election battle into a no-holds-barred civil war, and each had everything to gain if he won. Politics was exposed for what it has become--a power grab.
One result: More exciting television. Pandemonium is a great spectator sport. Far larger numbers of Americans tuned in after election day than before. Chris Matthews told me his ratings were twice as high. CNN and...
The London Observer
Al Gore is finally on a roll. But where will it take him? This past week
he's been telling Americans 'we've got to put you first' and not 'the ones
with connections, the ones with wealth, the ones with power above and
beyond what the average family has in this country'. He's for the people,
while 'the other side' is for the powerful. It's good old-fashioned
hell-fire-and-brimstone political rhetoric. During the Thirties, Franklin D.
Roosevelt condemned the 'economic royalists' - America's big businesses
that, he said, were stomping on average Americans. In 1912, progressive
Republican Teddy Roosevelt blamed the 'malefactors of great wealth' for
subjugating the 'little man' of America. In the 1890s, prairie populist
William Jennings Bryan (who almost made it to the White House) railed at
the bankers and other 'powerful interests' who were 'bankrupting'
The Los Angeles Times
In this election cycle, those 'issues ads' he created last time are likely to be
exceeded by the GOP.
You'd be forgiven if you thought of the contest for the presidency as two
big battles--first, the primary battle to choose each party's nominee, which
this year is effectively over, and then the general election battle, which
starts just after the nominating conventions in August and runs through
election day. So you might suppose that now we'll have a 5-month
But you'd be wrong. One of the most important battles of the election will
be between now and Aug. 15. That's when each likely nominee will launch
intense barrages of televised ads designed to raise questions in voters'
minds about the suitability of his rival in the opposite party. The ads will be
paid for largely by big, unregulated donations to the Republican and
Democratic national committees-- "soft...