S.M. Miller

Ellen S. Miller is the executive director of Public Campaign and was, for 12 years, the founding director of the Center for Responsive Politics.

Recent Articles

Devil in the Details

Gatemania It's beginning to seem as though Watergate's greatest legacy was a handy shorthand by which pundits and politicians can criminalize their opponents with the twist of a suffix. Beginning with Koreagate in 1976, when a South Korean rice dealer was investigated and eventually arrested for being too generous to certain members of Congress, the media gave us Billygate , in which Jimmy Carter's brother was said to represent Libya; Debate gate , wherein Carter's debate briefing books mysteriously turned up in the hands of Ronald Reagan's campaign staff; Peanutgate/ Goo bergate , in which peanut-farm money of questionable origin ended up in Carter's campaign coffers; and Lancegate , concerning the shady banking deals of President Carter's budget director, Bert Lance. With Ronald Reagan came Contragate , or Irangate , perhaps the only post-Nixon scandal to be worthy of the suffix, followed by George Bush's Iraqgate and Passportgate , in which President Bush had the State Department...

Behind the Numbers: Class Dismissed?

The Democrats have hinged their political strategy upon the empirically shaky notion that most Americans consider themselves middle class. The consequences are not just rhetorical.

T he competition to enact a "middle-class tax cut" is only the latest pursuit by the two parties of what the Democratic Leadership Council has called the Holy Grail of American Politics. But who is really middle class? Speaker Gingrich includes families with incomes up to $200,000 a year, or 99 percent of American households. His supporters assert that those unwilling to recognize that lofty income as middle class are pursuing class warfare. President Clinton's tax cut would reach incomes up to $75,000, still almost 90 percent of families. Clinton's educational proposal provides tax deductions for families making as much as $120,000, or about 95 percent of families. This improbable inclusiveness reflects the great American refusal to confront class. There is a pervasive belief among political analysts and in popular mythology that America is a deeply middle-class country. This belief tends to confuse aspiration with condition. Political opinion oscillates between holding that "classes...