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

Reconsidering the Fiscal Commission's Tax Plan.

I'm surprised to see Howard Gleckman has a different interpretation of the Tax Policy Center's analysis of the fiscal commission's working paper than I did : " Paul Krugman & friends can rest easy. The Bowles-Simpson proposal is indeed an across-the-board tax increase-- and a fairly progressive one at that." Huh? The numbers I'd seen looked very regressive, but it turns out that the TPC made a mistake: It assumed that the commission's effort to broaden the tax base by ending all tax expenditures included payroll as well as income taxes, but that's not what the commission expected, and they needed to redo their calculations . The other issue is whether it is better to compare the changes the working paper proposed to current law or current policy . Current law is what's on the books right now, and current policy is a budget-savvy way to factor in how members of Congress regularly avoid that law. For example, the current law knows that the alternative minimum tax (AMT), originally...

When The Weekly Standard Carps at Palin.

...what's that mean? Matt Labash , a writer at The Weekly Standard , the conservative magazine whose editor, William Kristol , kick-started Sarah Palin's national career, pilloried the Alaskan demagogue's new TLC show. A sampling: Palin intones in the show’s opening, “A-LASK-ahhhh—I love this state like I love my family.” Except that she didn’t give her family up after governing it for two-and-a-half years, so that she could get a Fox News contract, and make 100 grand per speech, and write two books in a year, and drag her entire family onto a tacky reality show. So the magazine that catalyzed Palin's career is now floating a critical trial balloon? Labash, by trade a provocateur rather than an establishment conservative, may not represent the institution's consensus, but this may also be a sign of efforts among the GOP to rein in Palin , whose benefits among conservative voters may not exceed the costs among the rest of the electorate. Or perhaps there are wheels within wheels. Matt...

Debt Vote Catalyzes GOP Infighting.

Looking down the legislative schedule, nearly everyone recognizes that a vote expected this spring to raise the country's debt ceiling will be an opportunity for posturing from critics of government debt and a test of the GOP's ability to govern responsibly. Raising the debt limit will allow the government to borrow enough money to fund its operations. Putative Speaker John Boehner is already encountering problems as he maneuvers his caucus toward the vote. A decision not to raise the limit, supported by some conservative Republicans, including many associated with the Tea Party, would raise serious concerns about America's willingness to pay its debts but would do little to control spending. Such a move would be a step toward serious consequences, without actually trying to solve the underlying problems -- you can basically quantify the seriousness of new Republican members in the House of Representatives by counting how many want to cap the debt ceiling and how many are avoiding...

Melanie Sloan Leaves CREW For Lanny Davis.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics is known as a public-spirited organization that hunts for corruption in Washington. Today, its executive director, Melanie Sloan , announced that she was departing the organization to join the lobbying firm of Lanny Davis , the former Clinton White House counsel now best known for putting a liberal veneer on corporate policy and foreign dictators . While the spin around the move is that Davis' firm is gearing up to defend Democrats from investigations expected to be launched by House Republicans, there's more to this story than that. In October, Mike Elk wrote a piece for the Prospect laying out how Davis, Sloan, and Tom Matzzie all worked against student-loan reform without disclosing their connections to the major for-profit universities that would have been hurt by the reforms designed to prevent them from taking advantage of students and wasting taxpayer dollars. Read the whole thing , but here's a relevant excerpt: Citizens for...

Bernanke: More Fiscal Stimulus, Please.

Today, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke gave a speech in Frankfurt asking the U.S. government to do more fiscal stimulus : "A fiscal program that combines near-term measures to enhance growth with strong, confidence-inducing steps to reduce longer-term structural deficits would be an important complement to the policies of the Federal Reserve," Bernanke said, adding that the Fed is "nonpartisan" and does not support specific tax and spending programs. It's about time. Unfortunately, despite the fact that Bernanke is a Republican and was appointed by a Republican president -- and that he generally invokes conservative economist Milton Friedman as his example in all things monetary -- Republicans in Congress aren't likely to be swayed by this argument for a policy that looks something like Jan Schakowsky's deficit-reduction proposal , or the Bipartisan Policy Commission's similar effort : Both combine front-loaded stimulus with long-term deficit reduction. Meanwhile, as Paul...

Pages