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.
To listen to the White House and Republicans, you'd think the biggest
choice facing the nation is whether to use projected budget surpluses to
"save Social Security," as the White House proposes, or to cut taxes
across the board, as Congressional Republicans propose.
Because the polls show most Americans want both, you can bet that
whatever emerges will be a mushy combination.
Is this really the Great Debate we ought to be having?
No. Look closely, and neither alternative makes any sense.
Social Security doesn't have to be saved because it's not heading for a
crisis. The projected bankruptcy of Social Security by 2032 is based on the
wildly pessimistic prediction that between now and then the U.S. economy
will grow only 1.8% a year. Almost all economists predict growth will be
2.4% or better. It's been 4% for the last three years.
If the economy grows by at least 2...
Broadcast Oct 5, 2001 Alan Greenspan is pushing on a wet noodle. The Fed has repeatedly cut interest rates since January and nothing's happened which means that we shouldn't expect this week's half percent rate cut to have much impact either. Even figuring in the normal time lag between a rate cut and response, the fact is this economy just isn't responding. Luckily the car has two accelerators. If the Fed's monetary policy isn't enough, there's fiscal policy. This week, the president lent his support to a stimulus package of between $60 billion and $75 billion in the form of additional tax cuts and spending. Now the good news is that the White House and Congress are no longer obsessing about saving the Social Security surplus or indulging in any other accounting fiction. The national economy is near or in a recession, and Washington understands that now is the time for government to spend more and tax less even if that means temporarily going into the red. The bad news is that...
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 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...
The Wall Street Journal
Pundits have a host of explanations for why Bill Bradley's and John McCain's
candidacies failed: Mr. Bradley failed to respond to Al Gore's attacks; Mr.
McCain blundered in attacking the religious right; Mr. McCain stole Mr.
Bradley's thunder; the public isn't that interested in reform after all.
The real explanation is simpler, and it lies in the dynamic of political
insurgency. Insurgents can't match the large-scale political organizations
that governors and congressional delegations give establishment
candidates like Al Gore and George W. Bush. Mr. Bradley and Mr. McCain
had to rely on ragtag armies of idealists with lots of zeal but little
experience. And since insurgents can't count on large reservoirs of cash for
advertisements, they are much more dependent on "free media" -- that is,
Therein lies the insurgent's trap. The media have only two basic stories...