Jonathan Cohn
Senior Editor

Health of the State
October 22, 2008

In 1992, Bill Clinton ran for president promising a bevy of expensive spending initiatives: assistance for college tuition, new public works, not to mention a massive universal health insurance plan. "In the absence of increasing investment in this country," Clinton said, "you can't get growth going again." But critics insisted the budget had no room for such extravagances--a belief Clinton eventually embraced.

Are We A Conservative Country?
October 21, 2008

Not for the first time--and, I'm sure, not for the last--Paul Krugman wrote what I was thinking this morning: Four years ago George W. Bush narrowly won the presidential election, and Republicans achieved a 30-seat majority in the House and a 10-seat majority in the Senate. Immediately there was a vast chorus from the commentariat, proclaiming the death of liberalism; America, everyone said, was a conservative nation. I have a whole shelf of books with titles like Building Red America and One-Party Nation. Maybe the current polls are all wrong.

Why Ceos Don't Get It On Health Care
October 20, 2008

Why aren't employers, who complain constantly about the cost of employee health benefits, begging and pleading for government to take health insurance away from them? That's the question Ezra Klein asks in a smart post over at the American Prospect site: The big question here, of course, is employers. Why they haven't risen up and demanded an end to the employer-based health care market is one of the questions that I've never been able to answer. Why does GM want to build cars and also provide health insurance?

Baseball And Politics--an October Primer
October 20, 2008

The Tampa Bay Rays just defeated the Boston Red Sox in the American League Championship Series. For the Rays, it means a date with the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series. For the Red Sox, it means no repeat of last year's World Championship.As a Sox fan, I'm obviously disappointed. And I'm still not over the shock that the Rays, cellar dwellers for nine of the ten years they've existed, even made it to the postseason. But at least one person predicted this, more or less, and he deserves some credit.

Powell Endorses Obama. In No Uncertain Terms.
October 19, 2008

Colin Powell has announced he's supporting Barack Obama. He did it during an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press"; he then discussed the subject further afterwards, in a session with reporters outside of the studios. The endorsement was neither ambiguous nor qualified. Powell began by expressing his admiration for both candidates. He then talked about the performance of the two, particularly in reaction to the financial crisis of the last few weeks.

What's So Awful About "spreading The Wealth"?
October 18, 2008

It is hard to imagine we’ve heard the last of Barack Obama’s interactions with William Ayers and Jeremiah Wright. But lately John McCain seems much more interested in talking about another Obama encounter. It’s the now infamous conversation Obama had with “Joe the Plumber”--and one particular phrase that Obama uttered in the course of it. For those who may have been in hibernation the last few days, Joe the Plumber--whose real name is Joe Wurzelbacher--met Obama during an Ohio campaign event last weekend.

John Mccain Thinks You Are Stupid
October 18, 2008

Here's John McCain, speaking today to an audience in Concord, North Carolina:  You might ask: How do you cut income taxes for 95 percent of Americans, when more than 40 percent pay no income taxes right now? How do you reduce the number zero? Well, that's the key to Barack Obama's whole plan: Since you can't reduce taxes on those who pay zero, the government will write them all checks called a tax credit. And the Treasury will have to cover those checks by taxing other people, including a lot of folks just like Joe.

Michelle Malkin Bids For Self-parody Award
October 17, 2008

I try really hard not to dignify Michelle Malkin by responding to her rants. But I can't let this one pass.  It seems that Malkin is angry over the recent treatment of Joe Wurzelbacher--a.k.a., "Joe the Plumber." As you may recall, John McCain invoked Wurzelbacher a few times during Wednesday's debate, using Joe's situation to suggest that Barack Obama would raise taxes on the middle class. Since that time, reporters and Democratic partisans have been digging into Joe's story, to see whether McCain's claims are right.

Is Joe The Plumber The Same As Joe Six-pack?
October 16, 2008

John McCain didn't utter the phrase "middle class" in debates one and two. He didn't utter it tonight, either. Instead, he talked about "Joe the Plumber." Joe, whose full name is Joe Wurzelbacher, is the plumber who asked Barack Obama about tax policy during an Ohio campaign event this week. Wurzelbacher hopes to buy his own business. But, as he explained during their now-famous exchange, he worries that he'd face higher taxes if Obama were to become president. It's not clear to me that Wurzelbacher really would be worse off financially if all of Obama's plans were implemented.

Stan Greenberg's Focus Group: "decisive" For Obama
October 15, 2008

As I type this, Stan Greenberg is briefing reporters on his focus group of undecided voters in Colorado. He said the respondents felt Obama "won" and that the results were "more decisive than either of the last two." That's a reference to Greenberg's previous focus groups, which also came away preferring Obama. The most striking result came on the favorability ratings. Although the focus group was officially undecided, it leaned towards McCain.