Noam Scheiber
Senior Editor

Hatchet Job
December 29, 2002

In the summer of 1999, Trent Lott cut what seemed like a fair good deal with his Democratic counterpart, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle. For weeks, Democrats had been holding up the Senate's work on a number of appropriations bills--bills the GOP hoped would force Bill Clinton to make politically treacherous decisions about tax cuts and spending. So, in exchange for Daschle's promise to let the appropriations bills move forward, Lott allowed Democrats to bring up 20 amendments to a soon-to-be-debated HMO reform bill. Conservatives were apoplectic.

Consumer Party
December 02, 2002

George Zicarelli is the kind of voter that must give his party fits. A longtime resident of New York City's Upper East Side, he is a self-described "conservative Democrat" who has now voted for Republican Governor George Pataki in two successive elections--in 1998 and again this November. "I like Pataki on a fiscal level," Zicarelli explains.But Zicarelli did vote for at least one Democrat on the statewide ballot this year: Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

Less Than Zero
September 09, 2002

It's not every day that first-rate economists such as Paul Krugman and Berkeley Professor Brad DeLong offer the same economic advice as a knee- jerk Wall Street booster like Robert Novak. But that's pretty much what happened earlier this month, when all three men criticized Alan Greenspan for failing to lower interest rates amid mounting deflationary pressure.

No Pain, No Gain
July 22, 2002

Last fall, Williams Communications Group (WCG) looked like as good a bankruptcy candidate as any. The firm was supposed to make money by selling access to its 33,000-mile fiber-optic network to phone companies and Internet service providers. But a glut of fiber-optic cable had driven prices for that service down dramatically, while communications traffic was barely increasing. That left WCG's revenues at only a fraction of what had been expected when all its cable had been laid.

Finger Tip
June 24, 2002

On its face, Attorney General John Ashcroft's plan, announced last week, to fingerprint about 100,000 foreigners visiting the United States each year sounds prudent. Since "fingerprints don't lie," as Ashcroft recently put it, fingerprinting visitors from Arab and Muslim nations should be a reliable way of identifying terrorists who would otherwise quickly disappear inside the country. In fact, until recently even liberals endorsed this logic.

Liberal Arts
June 17, 2002

It's probably fair to say that most of the people attending the New York State Conservative Party's fortieth-anniversary dinner last month came for one reason only: Vice President Dick Cheney. But if, like most of the journalists and half of the guests, they filed out of the midtown Sheraton ballroom shortly after Cheney's speech, they missed the most entertaining part of the evening. Around 8:30 p.m., after dessert had been served and all the VIPs had been introduced (from Al D'Amato down to Dinner Finance Chairman Sal Catucci), conservative patriarch William F.

Reality Checks
May 20, 2002

For a period in March, you couldn't open a newspaper without encountering new evidence that the economy was on the mend. The long-suffering manufacturing sector was suddenly expanding; housing purchases had increased sharply; consumer spending was surging. And the economy was adding jobs for the first time in months. "GREENSPANDECLARES AN EXPANSION; IN A WEEK OF POSITIVE NEWS," read a headline in the March 8 Washington Post.

Numbers Game
May 06, 2002

In mid-February the White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) put out one of the several documents it generates each year. Under the headline "PRESIDENT BUSH'S 2001 TAX RELIEF SOFTENS THE RECESSION," the two-page report argued that without last year's tax cut, the economy would have shrunk much faster than it actually did. The study went on to make a few pro forma comments about "[increasing] the incentives for saving," and "reducing an important impediment to ... the overall accumulation of wealth," before noting that the tax cut would continue to work its magic in the coming months.

Street Unwise
February 25, 2002

With ten congressional committees holding hearings on Enron, it's almost impossible for any one member of Congress to distinguish himself on the issue. But that hasn't stopped Senator Jon Corzine from trying. These days the freshman New Jersey Democrat sounds more like Ralph Nader than the former investment-banking pooh-bah he is.

The Old Way
February 11, 2002

Tried arguing against tax cuts lately? Tom Daschle has. And the results weren't pretty. The day after Daschle's January 4 speech explaining how as yet unenacted tax cuts might worsen a recession, he was promptly ridiculed for suggesting that "tax relief" had caused America's economic woes and for advocating a tax increase. As the president so eloquently put it, "There's going to be people who say we can't have the tax cut go through anymore. That's a tax raise."Daschle, of course, is right.