Tim Fernholz

Tim Fernholz is a former staff writer for the Prospect. His work has been published by Newsweek, The New Republic, The Nation, The Guardian, and The Daily Beast. He is also a Research Fellow at the New America Foundation.

Recent Articles

Obama, Bernanke and The Dangers of Expedient Thinking.

Ezra touches on it in this morning's Wonkbook , but I want to draw out a problem inherent in all of our discussions of the vacant National Economic Council directorship and the White House's continuing search for a new permanent Chief of Staff. Right now, we should be worried that President Obama is most concerned about short-term politics. As an example -- perhaps the biggest mistake of Obama's presidency -- was reappointing Ben Bernanke to the position of Fed Chairman. If you'll recall , Obama interrupted his vacation to announce the sudden decision, which was timed to reassure the markets after a mid-session budget review revealed a higher-than-expected deficit. While market nerves, real or imagined, were assuaged, Bernanke also was slow to move the Federal Reserve toward the kind of monetary policy that gets more high-powered dollars into the economy to promote recovery. Some might argue that Bernanke's credibility as a member of the Republican party and long-standing economic...

The New Budget Rules: The Revenge of the Bush Tax Cuts.

House Republicans have unveiled new rules that allow budget resolutions to pass with large deficits so long as they come from tax cuts: Current House rules include a pay-as-you-go requirement that any tax cut or spending increase for a mandatory (i.e., entitlement) program must be offset by cuts in other mandatory spending or increases in other taxes, in order to avoid increasing the deficit. Current rules also bar the House from using budget “reconciliation” procedures — special rules that facilitate speedy action on specified budget legislation — to pass bills that would increase the deficit. The new rules announced December 22 would replace pay-as-you-go with a much weaker, one-sided “cut-as-you-go” rule, under which increases in mandatory spending would still have to be paid for but tax cuts would not. ... The new rules would stand the reconciliation process on its head , by allowing the House to use reconciliation to push through bills that greatly increase deficits as long as...

Republicans Break Their Own Rules.

The typical -- and apparently compelling -- case against the Democrats promoted by Republicans during the mid-term elections was straightforward: Democrats didn't listen to the American people's concerns about jobs and the economy and instead launched an ideological crusade to reform the health-care system. Which makes it weird that the first thing that Republicans intend to do is vote on a sure-to-fail bill to repeal health-care reform. Isn't that ignoring the American people's concerns about jobs and the economy to go off on an ideological crusade to reform the health care system? Now, the GOP will no doubt note that they have been calling it a "job-killing health care bill" for some time now, and will argue that the symbolic repeal gesture will help free the economy from its clutches. However, given how little credit the Democrats received for passing a bill that significantly reduces the deficit, I don't think these second-order arguments will have much traction. That's why I don'...

The Fannie Fandango Begins.

Soon-to-be House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa's savvy communications staff strikes again; Politico recently "obtained" a list of the Congressman's widely-anticipated investigations , set to kick off when he officially takes over his committee this week. While most of the agenda won't surprise -- subjects set for scrutiny include Wikileaks' release of documents and "how overregulation has hurt job creation" -- I wanted to draw attention to this: Issa is also pushing a broad investigation of the foreclosure crisis, but he wants to dig deeper into the role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – conservatives have long complained that these government-backed housing giants have escaped scrutiny. The committee will also dig into the administration’s foreclosure mitigation program, calling the Federal Housing Administration’s chief and non-government experts. Issa and Cummings have agreed that foreclosures should be the topic of one of the committee’s first hearings. The article also...

Best of TAP 2010: Serwer on Civil Rights in the Age of Obama.

Flipping through my colleagues' contributions to this series, it seems I'm not the only person having trouble choosing just one piece. We've been blessed with an abundance of talented writers and important stories to tell, and I could certainly point you toward plenty of great work, like Ann Friedman on Sarah Palin or Gabe Arana's prescient coverage of the legal challenge to Proposition 8. However, forced to choose, my favorite stories in the Prospect this year are from Adam Serwer's ongoing coverage of the clash of national security and civil liberties in the age of Obama . Starting with a visit to Guantanamo Bay , Adam has spent a year looking through the eyes of people we prefer to forget about -- Muslim Americans facing discrimination and tempted by the promises of radicalism, prisoners who are too poor to stay out of de facto debtors' prisons, convicts seeking their right to vote, and public officials smeared as terrorist sympathizers -- all while confronting the unpleasant...

Pages