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 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...
The New York TImes
The way a debate is framed and choices are posed is often more important than which
option is chosen. That's because the framing of the debate sends a powerful message to
the public about what's at stake. It sets the boundaries of discourse. For politicians to stray
beyond requires too much explaining and runs the risk of appearing irrelevant or radical.
The debate over what to do with the Federal budget surplus offers a case in point.
Congressional Republicans want to use almost all of it for a tax cut. President Clinton
argues that it should be used to pay off present and future obligations. "Save Social
Security. Save Medicare.... And get America out of debt for the first time since 1835," he
said last week in response to the Republican proposal.
Both alternatives cutting taxes and paying off obligations are attractive, if done equitably.
Once the posturing is over, any final compromise...
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...