What matters in American politics and power is not always at the top of the news. It’s the behind-the-scenes execution of an executive order, or the email correspondence of an unwilling plaintiff, or the handshake deal that helps build a nation. That’s my focus this year in over 179 articles and newsletters. Here are some of my favorites:
McCarthy’s 21 Republican Defectors Didn’t Get Much
The year began with a 15-vote lead until Kevin McCarthy became Speaker, a position he eventually lost. I argued that the holdouts in that fight got nothing other than the ability to kick out a Speaker they didn’t like. The wretched output of this Congress, which has mostly made holes in major laws and has yet to cut a dollar of spending, has provided it.
A Great Struggle for Corporate Power
In July 2021, President Biden issued a comprehensive executive order promoting competition in the US economy. Eighteen months later, I began to understand how 72 different actions progress in sequence. I found the process uneven, with some reticence amid the company’s push. But the ship of state is turning away from corporate dominance and toward fairness.
Junk Fees Didn’t Discuss By Biden
This is a good example of Prospect at his best. The White House’s junk fee campaign has mostly focused on travel and entertainment charges, which don’t show the whole picture. I wrote about a series of junk fees that affect the working class in their daily lives, especially in rental housing. For months, the administration has seized on it, trying to limit and ban some housing bills. That’s called making a difference.
The Silicon Valley Bank Bailout Didn’t Have to Happen
One of the big business stories of the year was the collapse of regional banks, an entirely predictable outcome given the way Congress deregulated that sector during the Trump years. I recount that history, and the incompetence of the same bank officials who lobbied for reduced oversight, not to mention Silicon Valley Banks VC depositors.
Big Tech Lobbyists Explain How They Took Over Washington
A fascinating hidden history is told in a research paper about the tech industry that invented the concept of digital trade and then embedded that vision within the US trade representatives office. The author of the paper is ideally positioned, having previously worked at the USTR as a special assistant.
Student Loan Cases Are Unwanted Participants
The Supreme Court’s decision in the student loan relief case is a supreme example of how law and reality are almost at odds these days. The only injured party in the case didn’t file, didn’t solicit, and really wanted nothing to do with it. That a bogus plaintiff could be used as the basis for a decision that deprived tens of millions of student borrowers of debt relief should be rooted in our ideas of equal justice to the core.
A Liberalism That Generates Power
As the Biden administration rolled out its industrial policy agenda, I challenged the argument from the supply-side progressivism group, explaining that you cannot separate domestic supply chains, carbon reduction, good jobs, and public input, or your political project will fail. I got a lot of pushback on this argument, and responded to the responses. But I think our year-long Building Back America series, which visited eight states to follow this project in action, reinforced my view.
Barbenheimer Reveals the Violent Choices of Hollywood Executives
I like to stretch to write about culture from time to time, and this is a perfect opportunity to combine that with thoughts about the economy and labor. At a time when writers and actors are scrambling for their own survival, a cultural phenomenon proves that the way Hollywood executives have been running their businesses for years is completely backwards. People want original work and shared experiences, not another superhero movie and streaming video.
This is my contribution to our special series on The Business of Health Care, one of my favorite projects I’ve worked on Prospect. This one looks at the career of Tom Scully, a Zelig-type figure for the privatization of US health care, who worked in both Bush administrations to bring market forces to Medicare and Medicaid and prescription drug benefits. , then became a private equity executive who used his knowledge of the system for profit.
An Opportunity to Speak
I wish this one would get more attention. It involved Katie Anderson, an independent contractor at Aflac who was raped in a hotel room during a work trip. This story is at the intersection of worker misclassification, sexual assault policies for workplaces, the use of forced arbitration and secret settlements, and more. And it was a privilege to tell Katies touching story.
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