Jonathan Cohn
Senior Editor

Tax Alternative
March 28, 2005

Alan Greenspan's appearance before Congress early this month provoked plenty of criticism. And rightly so. The longtime chairman of the Federal Reserve had been asked to comment on the government's failure to control budget deficits and the economic danger those deficits pose. But Greenspan was no innocent bystander to this act of gross fiscal negligence. In 2001, back when the budget was still in surplus, Greenspan urged Congress to enact President Bush's proposed tax cuts; two years later, even after those surpluses were gone, Greenspan endorsed yet another round of Bush tax reductions.

Hey, Big Spender
March 21, 2005

IN A CLASSIC EPISODE OF “The Simpsons” that first aired in 1993, Grampa Simpson, the doddering family patriarch, unexpectedly starts receiving checks in the mail. But, rather than ponder the source of his good fortune, he just shrugs and takes the money. Eventually somebody asks, “Didn’t you wonder why you were getting checks for absolutely nothing?” Grampa answers, “I figured ’cause the Democrats are in power again.” No, this was not a ham-handed effort to channel Fox News dogma through the network’s famous cartoon show.

Career Fair
March 14, 2005

In my house, there is no debate about which gender is better at math and science. Clearly the women are. I have an undergraduate degree in government and emotional scars from my high school calculus course. My wife has a bachelor's degree in applied mathematics, a doctorate in operations research, and a tenure-track job at one of the nation's top universities. I would like to think that crafting the sentences you are now reading takes some intelligence. But don't expect me to solve discrete optimization problems using binary variables that involve multiple simultaneous decisions.

A Little Trim
February 21, 2005

Republicans complain that they are unfairly caricatured as heartless corporate lobbyists who get their jollies yanking health insurance away from little old ladies in wheelchairs. Fine, I say. So how do they explain Haley Barbour?Most of Washington remembers Barbour as the former Republican Party chairman and a consummate K Street insider. But lately, Barbour has been gaining a different sort of notoriety in Mississippi, where he became governor in 2004.

Second Look
October 01, 2004

It looks like I'm wrong about which candidate benefited from tonight's debate. And, boy, am I glad.The commentators on television seem virtually unanimous. On CNN, Jeff Greenfield thinks Kerry looked "presidential"; on MSNBC, Joe Scarborough calls it "Kerry's best performance ever." But maybe the most telling verdict comes from the Fox News panel. When host Brit Hume asks his guests which candidate would gain in the polls after tonight, non-ideologue Ceci Connolly and centrist Morton Kondracke both say Kerry, while Bill Kristol refuses to register an opinion.

Missed Target
September 27, 2004

This week, President Bush called John Kerry's health care plan "a massive, complicated blueprint to have our government take over the decision- making in health care"--a theme Bush's new TV advertisements hammer home. If the attack sounds a bit hackneyed, that's because it is. Bush has trotted out the same criticism every time the Democrats have proposed a health care initiative during his presidency, no matter its size, shape, or purpose. Here is Bush in 2001, during a speech critical of modest Democratic efforts to police HMOs: "Government-controlled health care ...

Going Long
August 09, 2004

Boston, Massachusetts For two days here at the Democratic National Convention, Howard Dean has shuttled from one delegate meeting to another, acting like the disciplined party surrogate few believed he could ever be. Every time the cameras have turned to him, he's talked up former rival John Kerry, dismissing as irrelevant the very differences that defined their campaign battle.

Going Long
August 04, 2004

For two days here at the Democratic National Convention, Howard Dean has shuttled from one delegate meeting to another, acting like the disciplined party surrogate few believed he could ever be. Every time the cameras have turned to him, he's talked up former rival John Kerry, dismissing as irrelevant the very differences that defined their campaign battle.

Trial and Error
July 19, 2004

At first glance, the White House archives suggest nothing unusual about President Bush's activity on January 16, 2003. Appearing before a university audience in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Bush touted his proposal for curbing medical malpractice lawsuits by limiting jury awards. It was a familiar conservative cause he had championed many times before, and he hit the usual notes in his speech: that "there are too many lawsuits filed against doctors and hospitals without merit" and that the malpractice system is "one of the main reasons" for rising health care costs.

Abroad at Home
May 24, 2004

The footage is not easy to watch: In one clip, a prisoner screams as an attack dog mauls his leg; in another, a prisoner with a broken ankle gets zapped in the buttocks with a stun gun because he's not crawling along the floor quickly enough. These aren't the infamous video from Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison. They were taken in 1996, at the Brazoria County Detention Center outside of Houston. "Welcome to Texas," one guard announces as he literally drags a prisoner across the floor. "Enjoy the ride.

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