The American Prospect

A monthly political journal of liberal though. Contains articles that generate debate, further ideas, and set agendas; and provides a forum for working through the controversies and hard choices facing all Americans. Includes regular topics and features.

Articles from Vol. 21, No. 5, June

Are Morality Taxes a Good Fix for Budget Woes?
ANN FRIEDMAN: In these tough economic times, all sorts of taxes are making a comeback as states try to plug holes in their budgets. Vanity taxes, morality taxes--you name it. TIM FERNHOLZ: I find morality very taxing. ANN: Now it can also be...
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Banking on Presidential Leadership: Obama's Engagement Salvaged Health Reform. Can His Personal Intervention Achieve What's Needed on Financial Reform?
As the articles in this special report have demonstrated, America missed an epic opportunity for fundamental reform last year when the new Obama administration continued the Bush policies of propping up failing banks without demanding profound changes...
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Better Than Tea
Something feels wrong about the state of American politics. With millions unemployed and home foreclosures at record levels, the country is still suffering acutely from the recessions effects, yet the Tea Party is the only movement that can put thousands...
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Camp Gitmo: A Journalist's First Field Trip to the Infamous Prison
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] When you visit the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay as a journalist, you're supposed to write about the McDonald's. The McDonald's means one of two things: It is either proof that Guantanamo Bay isn't the evil place...
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Cleansing the Temple: Can Financial Reforms Straighten out One of America's Most Byzantine Institutions, the Federal Reserve?
In 2008, many Americans were surprised to discover that they live in what an earlier article in these pages called the "Republic of the Central Banker." The Federal Reserve, an institution whose opacity rivals only its reach, was forced by crisis to...
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Coalition of the Unwilling Diverse Individuals and Businesses Are Hurt by the Financial System. Can They Coalesce?
In theory, financial reform should dismantle the same deregulated system that produced toxic credit-default swaps and toxic credit cards. But on every aspect of financial reform except perhaps for basic consumer protection, the necessary structural...
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Consumer Protection as Systemic Safety: If We Safeguard Consumers, We Also Save the Entire Financial System from Its Own Excesses
The Senate is in the midst of a fierce battle over the future of the consumer-credit market. If you aren't watching, you should be. While President Barack Obama and reform advocates are pushing for the sort of meaningful rules that would fix a badly...
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Courting Diversity
The list of desired qualities in a Supreme Court candidate is pretty straightforward, at least for progressives. We want someone with a good legal resume, a generally liberal voting record on fundamental moral questions, some imagination about the...
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Gov. Bob Mcdonnell's Other Defenses: Of Misunderstood, If Lesser-Known, Virginian Commemorations
"The Confederate History Month proclamation issued was solely intended to promote the study of our history, encourage tourism in our state ... and recognize Virginia's unique role in the story of America."--Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia, defending...
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Guilt by Association: The Most Influential Anti-Immigration Network in America Tries to Convert Liberals to Its Cause
A few years ago, anti-immigration ads began popping up in a number of progressive magazines, including this one. The ads displayed an environmental wasteland and suggested that immigrants were somehow the cause--one showed an image of a congested highway...
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Making Bank: Are Simple Savings Plans the First Step to Combating Poverty?
The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs is housed on some rented floors near Wall Street, amid great banks that profited as millions of American consumers bought toxic loans and catalyzed a recession that drove further millions out of work....
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No More Phony Accounting: Cooked Books Helped Produce the Collapse-And the Fakery Continues
Phony books played a central role in the financial crisis, but recent financial-reform proposals say virtually nothing about accounting. This omission is shocking. Simply put, the balance sheets of major banks were, and still are, fiction. Financial...
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Out of the Black Hole: Reining in the Reckless Market in Over-the-Counter Derivatives
In September 2008, the United States faced what President Barack Obama called the "most profound economic emergency since the Great Depression." A mortgage crisis begat a credit crisis, shaking the entire financial system and sending the U.S. economy...
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Reform and Its Obstacles: There Is No Mystery about How to Simplify the Financial System. the Main Obstacles Are Political
Eighteen months into the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, the United States government has not enacted significant financial reform. Nor is the legislation now pending in Congress likely to deliver the profound change we need. ...
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Renaissance Fair: After an 11-Year Hiatus, Lilith Fair Is Back. but Do We Still Need an All-Woman Music Festival?
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] In March, two of the biggest musical stars in the world, Lady Gaga and Beyonce Knowles, released the much-anticipated music video for Gaga's song "Telephone." The video, which debuted on the E! Channel and online on a Thursday...
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Safe Words: How the Prevention Message Disappeared from the Public Conversation about Sex
On Good Morning America in February, pop sensation Lady Gaga tested the limits of A.M. chatter by bringing up cavalier attitudes toward sex. Gaga (given name: Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta), was there with 1980s pop icon Cyndi Lauper to promote...
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Sand in the Gears: The Case for a Tax on Financial Speculation
Buy a cup of coffee in Manhattan, and the sales tax is 8.875 percent. Buy a share of Exxon on the New York Stock Exchange, and the tax rate is just a hair more than zero. Like other double standards that benefit high finance, the zero tax rate on financial...
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Shadow Banking: Reforms Pending in Congress Would Not Touch the Abuses of Hedge Funds and Private Equity
Despite all the noise about financial reform, the shadow banking system that helped create the financial crisis would remain fundamentally unaltered by the legislation now pending in Congress. Indeed, leveraged entities such as private-equity, venture-capital,...
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Simplifying Securitization with a Better System, the Economy Can Have Plenty of Credit without the Outlandish Risks and Excess Banker Profits
The packaging of loans into securities is one of the financial innovations most deeply implicated in the financial crisis. It is not only closely associated with the explosive growth of sub-prime mortgages and credit derivatives but responsible for...
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The Next Phase
New political eras have a kind of Robert's Rules of Order rhythm to them. First on the agenda: old business. Then on to the new. And that's the point at which we find ourselves in the Obama era-we are about to bring the unfinished business to a...
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Too Big for Us to Fail: We Need Counterweights Not Just to Wall Street's Toxic Products but to Its Malign Influence
Financial regulatory reform was on few people's minds when Barack Obama launched his presidential campaign in February 2007. But with the near collapse of the global financial system in 2008, leading to high unemployment and high government deficits...
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Watching the Watchers: The Corruption of Credit-Rating Agencies Was at the Heart of the Financial Collapse. So Far, Congress Has Not Had the Nerve to Pursue Fundamental Reform
Credit-rating agencies exist to evaluate the safety of debt securities. Imagine for a moment that they had done their job when financial go-getters began churning out bonds backed by sketchy loans and the dream of endlessly rising home prices. Properly...
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Work History: Why America Needs-But Probably Won't Get-A 2010 Version of the Depression-Era Public Jobs Programs
In the autumn of 1933, Harry Hopkins was worried about the coming winter. Since May, he had served in Franklin Roosevelt's administration as head of the federal government's new--in fact, its first--program to distribute funds to the unemployed. Neither...
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