Harry Truman

The Democrats’ Big Tax Problem
August 02, 2010

 I never imagined I would suspect Jonathan Chait of political naïveté. But his recent post, “How To Fight the Tax Cut Wars,” leaves me no choice. Chait gleefully maintains that Democrats “hold the whip hand” in the upcoming battle in Congress over whether to retain the Bush tax cuts that provided a windfall for the richest Americans. If the Dems try to extend the cuts only for taxpayers with incomes under $250,000, Chait argues, the GOP will seem like lackeys of the rich for filibustering the bill. And if no bill passes, the nation would revert to the more equitable rates of the 1990s.

Well, That's Reassuring
July 16, 2010

Sen. Claire McCaskill on her hesitance to support a climate bill: “I think it’s still a work in progress,” said Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, who worries that a cap would be a loser for Democrats in November. “You know, it took 50 years on health care. Actually, the time span between Harry Truman proposing universal health care and President Obama signing the Affordable care Act was more like 60 years. But that's okay! I'm sure nothing irreversible will happen to the atmosphere between now and 2070.

Welcome to Entanglements
June 22, 2010

First, Entanglements. As we sat around searching for the right word, a friend remarked that Entanglements abraded even his own frankly coarsened sensibilities. Why? Entanglements, after all, neatly summarizes the foreign policy challenges to which one administration after another has provided no adequate response. But the word also has a toxic resonance. Casting a glance backward to George Washington’s farewell address, my colleague knew the admonition against foreign entanglements, and its historical abuses, all too well.

How They Did It
May 21, 2010

When the president and his closest advisers huddled in the Oval Office last August, they had every reason to panic. Their signature piece of legislation, comprehensive health care reform, was mired in the Senate Finance Committee and the public was souring on it. Unemployment was on the march, and all this talk about preexisting conditions and insurance exchanges barely registered above the Fox News pundits screaming, “Death panel!” Suddenly, health care reform was under attack everywhere—even in the West Wing. All week, the group had debated whether to scale back the reform effort.

How They Did It (Part One)
May 20, 2010

This is the first of a five-part series explaining, in remarkable detail, how Obama and the Democrats came to pass health care reform. Be sure to come back tomorrow for the second part, which reveals how Ted Kennedy wooed Max Baucus and what Rahm Emanuel promised the drug industry. When the president and his closest advisers huddled in the Oval Office last August, they had every reason to panic. Their signature piece of legislation, comprehensive health care reform, was mired in the Senate Finance Committee and the public was souring on it.


One of the worst days for Poland is rapidly becoming one of its greatest. The country's president, its armed forces' chiefs of staff, and its National Bank President, along with many more high state officials--the core members of Poland's governing elite--lost their lives on Saturday morning. Much of the media attention has been on the destination of the presidential visit: the commemoration of the Katyn massacre in 1940. On Stalin’s orders the Soviet NKVD executed nearly 20,000 Polish Army officers (who were also key members of the educational, professional, and administrative elite).

Card 'Em
March 24, 2010

When Barack Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law yesterday, it became official: health care was not to be, as certain Republicans promised, the president’s Waterloo. Republicans quickly swung to predicting that health care would instead be a deceptively successful but actually disastrous victory—more like Napoleon’s conquest of Moscow, say, which launched his bloody winter march from power.

Truman. Johnson. Obama.
March 22, 2010

Care for the sick. Serenity for the fearful. Those are the simple, elegant terms Lyndon Johnson used to describe Medicare on July 30, 1965, the day he signed it into law. He said it at the side of Harry Truman, who was nearly 80 then. They were at the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri, where Johnson had come to pay homage. It was Truman who had waged the first serious campaign for national health insurance.

Labour Manual
March 15, 2010

LONDON -- Could Prime Minister Gordon Brown become the Harry Truman of British politics? For many long months, Brown and his Labor Party were written off as sure losers in this year's election, likely to be called for May 6. David Cameron, the young, energetic and empathetic Conservative Party leader, was all but handed Brown's job by the chattering classes, so consistent and formidable had been his lead in the polls. But suddenly, Cameron doesn't seem quite so inevitable. One recent poll showed Brown's party within two points of Cameron's.

The Death Of Majority Rule
March 07, 2010

When I was growing up, the filibuster was hardly ever used--except, of course, by the Dixiecrats (southern Democratic senators, racists mostly) and some conservative Republicans. When civil rights legislation was introduced by liberal Democrats, the right wing of the party would mobilize and stage real filibusters, senators often orating for a dozen hours at a time and then leaving the podium only for another recalcitrant. These legislators did not much disguise their intentions in procedural balderdash.