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

HOUSING BILL WONKERY.

The president has decided not to veto the Housing Bill that passed the House yesterday. So is it a good bill or not? Speaking to a few experts around town has led me to conclude it is an okay bill -- it will help allay the problems of the sub-prime mortgage crisis in the short term, but it doesn't offer long-term solutions to the problem of affordable housing or go as far as progressives might want it to go in the near term. I'll leave an explanation of the details of the bill to David Abromowitz , a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress: Given the mortgage meltdown and plunging housing market, this is basically a good bill. In particular, it puts $4 billion into communities hard hit by foreclosures for buying up vacant properties and getting them back into affordable ownership or rental, which is essential to keeping hundreds of neighborhoods from sinking towards long term blight. …[t]he bill also offers consumer-friendly fixed rate mortgage refinancing options, to...

ENWAGED.

Calling EPI today, I learned that the federal minimum wage is going up tomorrow , all the way to $6.55, but it's not going up that much: 23 states and the District of Columbia already have higher mandated pay rates. The raise only affects about 40 percent of the workforce. This is not a living wage. Especially given rising costs, the trend in the past years [PDF] has been for wages not to meet productivity increases, much less inflation -- both important indicators of income inequality. A person working full-time at minimum wage cannot afford a non-government subsidized two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the United States -- and most low-income people live in non-subsidized housing. While any raise in minimum wage is a good idea in the current economic climate, it's important to keep in mind that this number is not pegged to inflation and still leaves a family of two below the poverty line. "Congress should definitely review what workers really need to get by," Mary Gable, an EPI...

OBAMA "ECCENTRIC?"

A WaPo editorial today characterizes Barack Obama's Iraq policy as "eccentric" -- not sure I've ever seen that word employed in political discourse before, so points for that -- but bases that judgment on two unusual criteria. One, that General Petraeus opposes a timetable; however, it's up to the Commander-in-Chief to set strategic goals. Two, and much less credibly, that "neither [do] Iraq's principal political leaders actually support his strategy." Huh? Despite the Bush Administration's attempts to walk back Prime Minister Maliki's statement on withdrawal (the clarifying statement the Post refers to came from U.S. Central Command ), it's clear that Maliki is sticking by his position. Reporters have listened to the tape of the interview to confirm the translation, and Maliki's office received a transcript to approve before the article went to press. It's clear that the Iraqi government supports Obama's strategic withdrawal along a very similar timeline. One wonders what word the...

HERE'S AN IDEA.

The McCain campaign just sent me a statement in which Barack Obama acknowledges that "there's no doubt that General Petraeus does not want a timetable," as though that recognition of the obvious means the jig is up. But it raises this important question: If John McCain knows nothing about the economy and most domestic issues but wants to be elected based on his foreign policy, which is apparently 'do whatever David Petraeus says,' why not have McCain do a surprise endorsement of Petraeus and drop out? It would certainly be easier than crafting a coherent foreign policy. It sounds like a campaign tactic that would be about as effective as the ideas laid out here . --Tim Fernholz

GOOD FOR THE GOOSE, GOOD FOR THE GANDER.

Conservatives are in a lather about The New York Times' decision not to print an op-ed by John McCain that attacks Barack Obama's Iraq policy. (Apparently the paper would have considered a different draft). Putting aside the quality of the op-ed , which in typical style attacks Obama without putting forth any definite policy, there's some irony in seeing conservatives complain about being kept out of the media after years of bashing the FCC's old Fairness Doctrine , which requires "broadcasters to present opposing viewpoints on controversial issues of public importance" Conservatives argue (often with comparisons to communist states) that the doctrine, which hasn't been in effect since 1987 , forced the state to mandate speech. It really just provides for reasonable discussion of views, but the Right demagogues the issue to raise money and keep Rush Limbaugh on the air unopposed. But now that McCain can't get his stuff in the Times , it's a terrible moment for American media! The FCC'...

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