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

MCCAIN ON FOREIGN POLICY: VAGUEING IT UP.

There are not a lot of surprises in the Foreign Policy panel, since McCain considers it his strength and talks about it frequently. Indeed, Faiz Shakir quoted from Matt Yglesias ' excellent cover story on McCain's foreign policy when introducing the panel. One recurring theme of this entire event is that McCain has not explained the actual details of his proposals. And even on foreign policy, which is meant to be his best issue, he hasn't answered basic questions such as what conditions would have to be like on the ground in Iraq before he would be comfortable withdrawing troops. --Tim Fernholz

SICK-END WARS.

Peter Harbage introduces the discussion of McCain's healthcare proposals by pointing out that the Senator's goal is cost containment, not universal healthcare. Two nuggets: Karen Pollitz outlines how McCain's campaign will essentially deregulate the insurance industry by allowing insurers to choose which state they are licensed in (and regulated by), giving them the opportunity to pick states with the most lenient regulations (think of the credit card industry's love affair with Delaware). He also wants to eliminate tax preferences that allow people to obtain insurance through their employers, forcing them into the individual health insurance market. The nature of insurance -- that companies make money by insuring people who are not sick -- means that regulation is neccessary to ensure that sick people, who need insurance most, are covered. Without it, well, there's trouble. It will also make group plans more expensive as the healthiest people are poached by competing insurers,...

MCCAIN ON TAXES -- DON'T LISTEN TO ALL THAT SENSIBLE STUFF I SAID IN 2001 AND 2003.

Here at McCain University (a Wonk Room production) the message is clear: A McCain presidency would be a third term for the Bush administration. Our first panel is on economic policy, with Robert Gordon moderating a discusion between Gene Sperling and Jared Bernstein . Some notes: The number to know is $300 billion, a conservative estimate of the tax cuts McCain supports on top of the Bush tax cuts. It breaks down to about $110 billion in tax cuts for families making over $250,000 a year, $110-$130 billion a year in corporate tax cuts and $75 billion in corporate expensing tax cuts. To put that in perspective, Bob Dole proposed $80 to $120 billion in tax cuts in 1996, considered a sweeping plan at the time, and Newt Gingrich's Congress passed $80 billion a year in tax cuts in 1999 (the bill was vetoed by Bill Clinton .) Sperling says this is "the mother of all flip flops" because McCain decline to support the Bush tax cuts in 2001 and 2003, saying both times that he could not "in good...

OBAMA'S PERSONAL HOUSING CRISIS.

Well, it's not quite a crisis, but this piece chronicling the Senator's support for failing affordable housing that is publicly funded and privately managed is certainly problematic for the Senator's campaign. It brings to the fore, once again, his connection to jailed developer Antonin Rezko , it sullies his former-community organizer/good government image and it raises problematic questions among his base of liberals and particulary African-Americans—is he, like Bill Clinton , a candidate whose liberal campaign will be replaced by business-focused governing? (Which isn't to say business friendly is necessarily negative, though it certainly seems to have been in this case.) I'm not sure the story proves that shoddily run public-private affordable housing partnerships are any worse than shoddily run public housing -- it does seem that at least some affordable housing activists see promise in this kind of approach to the issue. (A glance at this Urban Insitute one-sheet suggests that...

BIPARTISAN CONFUSION.

The big debate this week, certainly in presidential campaign press releases and conference calls, centers around which candidate is more bipartisan. Both candidates claim it's them. Pundits, inevitably, have their own opinions. Marc Ambinder argues that "Obama's record is solid, but he simply hasn't risked as much as McCain has." Obama has worked with conservatives to achieve more or less liberal ends (ethics reform, healthcare in Illinois, working to curtail nuclear proliferation with Dick Lugar ) while McCain has worked with liberals to achieve more or less liberal ends (campaign finance reform, environmental bills, etc.). Because McCain's compromises irritated his own party, Ambinder suggests, he's the more courageous one. I'm not sure why this brave but incoherent bipartisanship is so highly valued. Isn't a good politician one who works with the opposition to achieve their own ends? Obama appears relatively skilled at convincing conservatives to support a liberal policy agenda,...

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