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

Never Again.

New tapes of President Richard Nixon , made during his presidency, have been released : “The emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union is not an objective of American foreign policy,” [National Security Adviser] Henry Kissinger said. “ And if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern. Maybe a humanitarian concern .” “I know,” Nixon responded. “We can’t blow up the world because of it.” I think we basically knew that Nixon was anti-semitic and that influenced the management of his administration ( Fred Malek , anybody ?) but this is still chilling to read. -- Tim Fernholz

Tax Deal Debate: What If There Were No Deal?

Jon Chait shows two graphs being circulated that demonstrate the initial cost of the tax deal (where the Democrats come off pretty well) and the long-term cost if the temporary extensions of Bush tax policy turn out not to be temporary (where the Republicans come off pretty well). While that certainly captures the dynamics of the dealmakers, it's a problematic analysis because it avoids addressing the issue of whether the White House could have done anything now to stop the extensions today -- let's take up the counterfactual. Sure, the president could have stymied the legislative process and seen the tax code revert back to Clinton -era rates -- Democratic leaders in Congress weren't able to separate out the middle-class cuts from the upper-income cuts. That would have led to Republicans coming in and forcing the extensions next year at a disadvantage to Democrats, and also, little opportunity to get more fiscal stimulus into the system. I'd like to see a graph that shows what...

Great Political Buzzwords of the '90s: "Wedge Issue."

The tax deal that President Obama and Senate Republicans crafted inspired a lot of questions about triangulation last week, most of them reductive and all of them answered by our own Mori Dinauer and, subsequently, Jonathan Bernstein in this post : "Triangulation is an advertising slogan coined by Dick Morris to advertise himself -- to give him as large a share of the credit for Bill Clinton's 1996 re-election as possible. That's all." But this deal strikes me, potentially, as a wedge issue for Republicans -- a policy position that splits up an otherwise united base. How many other debates have found establishment Republicans like Mitch McConnell and John Boehner actually disagreeing with Rush Limbaugh , Sarah Palin , Rand Paul , Hugh Hewitt, Jim Demint and at least some Tea Partiers ? Right now, of course, Republicans will support the bill; no doubt at least of some of the opposition is posturing, and some is recognition that the president got an OK bargain. But next year, a new...

No One Will Cut the Queen's Budget.

Across the pond, our special friends in the United Kingdom are facing a snipey debate over budget cuts. This includes increases on student tuition that have sent young folks into the streets, where they attacked a limousine carrying the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall: On Regent Street, their car was surrounded by as many as 20 demonstrators, chanting "Off with their heads" and "Tory scum". One of the windows was smashed and paint was thrown at the vehicle. ..."I do think this was the classic example where the Prince of Wales should have been using his armoured Bentley - it's far less conspicuous." I also roll in the armored Bentley when trying to remain incognito. I'm not well versed enough in UK education policy to really come down on either side of the tuition hiking debate, which could effectively triple student costs. The above juxtaposition does remind us how weird it is for any developed nation to be talking about cutting spending on something as economically vital...

Friday Big Read.

I'm barely halfway through this incredible piece on the history of debt at TripleCanopy , but let me recommend it to you as nice blend of next-level Web journalism and timely perspective on why we think about debt the way we do: In the throes of the recent economic crisis, with the very defining institutions of capitalism crumbling, surveys showed that an overwhelming majority of Americans felt that the country’s banks should not be rescued—whatever the economic consequences—but that ordinary citizens stuck with bad mortgages should be bailed out. This is quite extraordinary, as Americans have, since colonial days, been the population least sympathetic to debtors. (Back then, the ears of an insolvent debtor would often be nailed to a post.) The notion of morality as a matter of paying one’s debts runs deeper in the United States than in almost any other country, which is odd, since America was settled largely by absconding debtors. Despite the fact that the Constitution specifically...