Jonathan Cohn
Senior Editor

Health Inspection
June 20, 2005

Poor Wal-Mart is feeling a little bit, well, picked upon. Sure, the company just generated $285 billion in sales and $10 billion in profits. And, yes, it is rapidly expanding into such far-flung places as China. But, here in the United States, Wal-Mart's growth plans have suddenly run into political opposition from labor unions and liberal politicians--who, according to the company, aren't being fair.While critics have long attacked Wal-Mart for everything from destroying mom- and-pop stores to exploiting cheap foreign labor, the focus of the present controversy is health insurance.

Losing Hope
May 23, 2005

Not so long ago in a political galaxy that only seems far away, George W.

Morning-After Sickness
May 02, 2005

It is no great secret that Democrats have been losing political fights over abortion for a while. And it's no great secret why. Although a majority of Americans agree with liberals that abortion should be legal, the right has succeeded in starting political debates that end up making liberals look like extremists. One method has been to focus on partial-birth abortion, a practice that most Americans oppose because it seems cruel.

Kill Phil
April 25, 2005

Things look relatively good for the Democrats right now. Social Security privatization is practically dead, Tom DeLay is actually on the defensive, and President Bush's approval rating is below 50 percent in many polls. But then there is Phil. Phil is the cartoon star of a new political advertising campaign to preserve the filibuster--the parliamentary maneuver that allows members of the U.S. Senate to delay votes indefinitely and that has, for the last few months, enabled Democrats to prevent the full Senate from voting on a handful of conservative Bush judicial nominees.

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 ...