Sam Rosenfeld

Sam Rosenfeld is a Ph.D. candidate in history at Harvard University and a former web editor at the Prospect.

Recent Articles

A Majority Leader of One

All of a sudden, Tom DeLay is back on his heels after a slew of fresh allegations have even Republicans gossiping about his political viability. But it would be foolish to count DeLay out just yet (and not just because of his strangely effective transformation into a pious crusader for Medicaid-supported coma victims). The roller coaster of bad press the House majority leader has ridden since the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct slapped him with three admonishments last fall might obscure the extent to which DeLay's day-to-day power remains durable and far-reaching. Yet he is still capable of moving institutional mountains to serve his own purposes. Indeed, DeLay pulled off just such a feat a few weeks ago, an illustrative demonstration of strength that was too "inside baseball" to get much attention outside of the various specialized congressional papers. The Hammer reshaped one of the most important power centers in Congress for the sake of a single hometown interest...

Squeeze Time

All budgets have got to be based on priorities,” George W. Bush said on February 8, “and mine are clear.” He wasn't lying. The president's $2.57 trillion budget proposal for fiscal year 2006 calls for a 16-percent cut in all non–homeland domestic discretionary spending -- which includes most education, housing, environmental-protection, and research programs -- in five years and devastating cuts to low-income entitlement programs like Medicaid, in part to help finance $1.6 trillion in tax cuts in the coming decade. In the name of a five-year deficit-reduction plan universally dismissed as hallucinatory, the proposal targets low-income programs that have contributed to, at most, about 6 percent of the increase in deficits in the last four years, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP). Outrageous, to be sure, but what else is new? The president has included many of the same cuts and provisions in past budget submissions, and has rarely pushed hard to overcome...

No Comparison

“My God, we're not going to be like them," cried a member of the House Republican leadership, upset over the recently proposed gutting of the House ethics rules, as quoted in The Washington Post . He was referring to the arrogant Democratic congressional majority of the late 1980s and early '90s. Remember “them”? Those complacent, blinkered politicians had grown bloated by decades of unchecked power, and their autocratic and corrupt ways supposedly provoked the popular revolt that swept the Republicans to the majority in 1994. As another chastened GOP staffer lamented at the time of the recent ethics imbroglio, “It took Democrats 40 years to get as arrogant as we have become in 10." This story arc is now such conventional wisdom that even the Democrats ' own erstwhile leaders parrot it: Commenting on the same ethics changes, former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle noted that “this is exactly what got Democrats in trouble in the late '80s and early '90s.” This is getting old...

Hard Raines

The spring of 2003 was a season of crisis for The New York Times , as revelations of the fraud perpetrated by reporter Jayson Blair brought a dramatic end to the stormy tenure of Executive Editor Howell Raines. Former Newsweek media writer Seth Mnookin has produced a definitive account of the period in his new book Hard News: The Scandals at The New York Times and Their Meaning for American Media . TAP 's Sam Rosenfeld talked to Mnookin about the scandals, the Times of today, and the media landscape of tomorrow. The book is more about Howell Raines's tenure as executive editor of the Times than it is about Jayson Blair. How did Raines's approach to running the paper set the conditions for a scandal like Blair's to happen? Howell was brought in to the Times in the end of 2001, as executive editor, with a vision of what he wanted to do. I think that he correctly identified the newspaper industry as facing some really serious challenges: the main one being the reality that newspapers are...

A Few Good States

When it comes to election systems, the United States isn't all Floridas and Ohios. There are, in fact, a number of states that tend to run their elections well, through trusted systems and voter-friendly procedures. They don't grab the attention of journalists and reformers precisely because they rarely produce newsworthy controversies and snafus. Reform experts insist that no single state combines all of the best election-day policies into one ideal system. But generally those states that do well follow two guidelines: first, they employ turnout-boosting policies that make voting as easy and accessible as possible; and second, they put into place processes that help centralize a state's system and promote uniformity. These two, in combination, make for a successful formula. States with good voting outcomes demonstrate these elements in various combinations. Maine and Minnesota in particular have long boasted attractive assortments of turnout-boosting measures. In these states,...

Pages