John B. Judis
The Unnecessary Fall
August 12, 2010
A counter-history of the Obama presidency.
Last week, while talking to Representative Barney Frank about more general subjects, I asked him, as I was leaving, whether he thought it was important for the Obama administration to appoint Elizabeth Warren as head of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This is what he said: It is very important. I think they would make a big political mistake [by not appointing her]. I have defended them that they didn’t get any better results with Congress. Why didn’t they get a public option? I agreed with their justification that they did the best they could.
July 09, 2010
[Guest Post by John B. Judis] Want to make me happy? Read carefully James Galbraith’s essay, “Scare the Hell out of Bankers,” on our web site. And read it all the way through because the argument isn’t clear until the end. It’s one of the best things I’ve read on the role of finance in the recession and the recovery. It goes beyond the debates liberals had 18 months ago about finance. First, on the question of nationalization of the banks. At the time, some of us held out for nationalization of the big banks as the only way to forestall a depression.
The Tea Party Movement Isn’t Racist
June 02, 2010
“Very well-written … but dead screaming wrong,” my critic wrote in an email that a friend forwarded to me. “Judis has managed to write about the Tea Party movement without referring to its profound racism.” This sums up the chief complaint that I received about the article I wrote on the Tea Party movement. It is also a common interpretation of the Tea Parties, especially on the political left.
We Are Not All Jobsians … Yet
May 20, 2010
My wife wanted an iPad as soon as she saw Steve Jobs’s announcement last January. She even had a place set out for it. It would go in the kitchen where it would be available for looking up recipes, as well as reading the morning newspaper. But life is disappointment: The iPad wouldn’t come out for another four months, and when it did, it cost about $300 more than we could afford. Luckily, one surfaced around The New Republic offices, and I got a chance to play with it for several weeks. And so did my wife.
The Center Wins. Again.
May 19, 2010
True partisans don’t like to hear this—Texas Democrat Jim Hightower used to say, “There is nothing in the middle of the road, but yellow stripes and dead armadillos”—but American elections are most often battles for the political center. Whoever can marginalize their opponent by identifying them with the far left or right is likely to win. By that measure, the Democrats can be pleased with the results of the May 18 elections.
Tea Minus Zero
May 19, 2010
Liberals have responded to the Tea Party movement by reaching a comforting conclusion: that there is no way these guys can possibly be for real. The movement has variously been described as a “front group for the Republican party” and a “media creation”; Paul Krugman has called Tea Party rallies “AstroTurf (fake grass roots) events, manufactured by the usual suspects.” I can understand why liberals would want to dismiss the Tea Party movement as an inauthentic phenomenon; it would certainly be welcome news if it were.
The Case for Economic Doom and Gloom
May 11, 2010
The American economy added 290,000 jobs in April, the biggest monthly increase in four years. Clearly, a recovery has taken hold. But how strong and buoyant will it be? Will we eventually get back to growth rates above 4 percent and to an unemployment rate of less than 5 percent? Or will this recovery sputter like the last one that began in 2002? The strongest case for gloom that I’ve read has been made by UCLA economic historian Robert Brenner in a new introduction that he wrote to the Spanish edition of his 2006 book, The Economics of Global Turbulence.
April 25, 2010
Severe recessions can make people crazy and mean. During the Great Depression, immigration to the United States from Mexico virtually ceased, but states began arresting and deporting Mexicans, many of whom were in the country legally. The Mexican population of the United States fell by 41 percent during the 1930s. And the same kind of thing is happening again. The recession has sharply curtailed illegal immigration to the United States.
Change to Lose
April 14, 2010
There will be a mixed reaction to Andy Stern’s forthcoming resignation as the head of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Many in the labor movement, even inside SEIU, will rejoice that he is out. But many friends of the labor movement like myself, who share its ideals but don’t have to live with its daily travail, will regard Stern’s departure with foreboding—as another step downward in labor’s descent. During the last decade, Stern, who took the helm of SEIU in 1996, burnt many of his bridges inside the labor movement.