Matthew Yglesias

Matthew Yglesias is a senior editor at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a former Prospect staff writer, and the author of Heads in the Sand: How the Republicans Screw Up Foreign Policy and Foreign Policy Screws Up the Democrats.

Recent Articles

Are Republicans the Only Hope for Filibuster Reform?

The case for getting rid of the filibuster -- even if you're the minority party

Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)
A majority of senators supported including a public option in the Affordable Care Act. A majority of senators opposed excluding car dealers from the scrutiny of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created by recently signed financial regulatory-reform legislation. Yet there is no public option, and there is a car dealer exemption. Why? In today's United States Senate, it takes 60 votes to move legislation. Some of us were aware of this problem five years ago and urged Senate Democrats , then in the minority, to take advantage of conservative impatience with the filibuster of a handful of judicial nominees to do away with the 60-vote threshold once and for all. It didn't happen, but there's been increasing realization during the 110th and 111th Congresses that with Republicans willing to play "constitutional hardball" and filibuster to an unprecedented extent, the Senate's rules have become a major obstacle to progressive legislation. In the view of many, however, reforming...

Neocons Versus Nonproliferation

The tenuous fate of the new START shows the continuing power of neocons within the Republican Party.

Henry Kissinger, one of the conservatives supporting ratification of the START treaty. (World Economic Forum/Remy Steinegger)
If you think getting to 60 Senate votes for serious climate legislation or immigration reform is a daunting task, consider the fate of the new START arms-control treaty, which must garner a constitutionally mandated 67 votes. At this point, a resolution in favor of mom and apple pie would struggle to reach that threshold. But proponents of the measure do believe they have an ace in the hole, namely broad and deep support from the Republican foreign-policy establishment. Unfortunately for them -- and the world -- the available evidence suggests that said establishment's power is weaker than ever, and bellicose nationalists have a deeper grasp on the conservative movement than they've ever had before. The treaty itself is an extremely modest measure, largely a continuation and update of the U.S.-Russia arms-control status quo that has existed for more than 15 years. But it's the very modesty of the treaty that makes its fate so important. The world stands at a fork in the road on...

Weighing a Win

It's not enough for Obama's strategy in Afghanistan to work; it has to be worth it.

A U.S. Army soldier patrols with Afghan soldiers in Wardak province, Afghanistan. (U.S. Army Photo/Sgt. Russell Gilchrest)
Gen. David Petraeus took command in Afghanistan last week with President Barack Obama promising the nation that the change in leadership would not entail a change in strategy. In his remarks upon assuming command, Petraeus stated that "we are in this to win." This is about what one would expect of a commanding general, but just as Obama found it necessary to fire Petraeus' predecessor, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the national interest requires some deeper thinking about how many resources it makes sense to dedicate to Afghanistan. Afghanistan is, at the end of the day, an extremely poor and remote country. The U.S. military, seemingly sensitive to this point, recently launched a substantial information operation designed to convince people that the country is full of valuable natural resources like lithium . This, however, was largely old news and ignored the remote prospects for actually exploiting these resources. Of course the United States didn't invade Afghanistan in order to...

The Good News From Beijing

China's tighter monetary policy could be good news for China and the U.S. both -- depending on how the world responds.

A Chinese factory worker. (Flickr/dcmaster)
The Great Chinese Currency Manipulation Debate ended this week, with more of a whimper than a bang. China’s central bank announced that it would allow its currency, the renminbi, to trade up or down according to market demand for Chinese money -- just in time for Rolling Stone 's blockbuster article on Gen. Stanley McChrystal to obliterate all other issues from the news cycle. It's worth recalling, however, what a big deal this was just a few weeks ago when Paul Krugman called on the Obama administration to "get tough" with China over trade. In March, Krugman had deplored the U.S. failure to threaten tariffs as a leading reason to despair over our economic prospects. Meanwhile, on June 13, China's state-controlled press slammed members of Congress who wanted China to let its currency trade as a "bunch of baby-kissing politicians" who didn’t know what they were talking about. But now the storm has passed, we're all friends again, and the problems are solved, right? Well, no...

How We Talk About Energy

It's time for progressives to rethink their messaging on climate change and America's use of fossil fuels.

As part of the response to lessen the shoreline impact of the Deepwater Horizon spill, a member of a Shoreline Cleanup and Assessment Team removes oil from a beach in Port Fourchon, La. (U.S. Coast Guard/Patrick Kelley)
Unfortunately, I have absolutely no idea how to shut down the massive oil leak currently taking place in the Gulf of Mexico. Nor do I have any ideas about how to clean it up or to mitigate the harm done by the oil already in the water. What's really needed are specifics, and political pundits are ill-positioned to offer them (my colleagues have suggested military expertise should be brought to bear). What I can say is that the politics of this disaster reflect, in part, a series of short-sighted decisions on the part of key progressive leaders. In principle, after all, a disaster of this magnitude should be a boon to progressives and progressive policy. Think back to the gasoline price spikes of 2008, and you'll recall the right's mantra of "drill, baby, drill" and Barack Obama's thoughtful counterpoint about the need to find alternative sources of energy. The right thought it had a winning issue on this front. Had Obama stuck it out as a drilling skeptic, he'd be looking mighty...