John Nichols

How Did Education Embarrassment Betsy DeVos Come to Power?

The following is an excerpt fromHorsemen of the Trumpocalypse: A Field Guide to the Most Dangerous People in America by John Nichols. Copyright © 2017. Available from Nation Books, an imprint of Perseus Books, LLC, a subsidiary of Hachette Book Group, Inc., as well as from Amazon and Indiebound

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Ed Garvey: Champion of the People

When a Minnesota college professor named Paul Wellstone was thinking about making a decidedly uphill bid for the United States Senate in 1990, he picked up a copy of The Progressive and read an article by Ed Garvey, who had just lost a Senate race in Wisconsin.

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A Contested Convention Is Exactly What the Democratic Party Needs

Joe Biden understands something about the Democratic Party and its future that his fellow partisans would do well to consider. “I don’t think any Democrat’s ever won saying, ‘We can’t think that big—we ought to really downsize here because it’s not realistic,’” the vice president told The New York Times in April. “C’mon man, this is the Democratic Party! I’m not part of the party that says, ‘Well, we can’t do it.’” Mocking Hillary Clinton’s criticism of Bernie Sanders for proposing bold reforms, Biden dismissed the politics of lowered expectations. “I like the idea of saying, ‘We can do much more,’ because we can,” he declared, leading the Times to observe that, while Biden wasn’t making an endorsement, “He’ll take Mr. Sanders’s aspirational approach over Mrs. Clinton’s caution any day.”

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For Obama, a Bigger Win Than for Kennedy, Nixon, Carter or Bush

It wasn’t even close. That’s the unexpected result of the November 6 election. And President Obama and his supporters must wrap their heads around this new reality—just as their Republican rivals are going to have to adjust to it.

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"An Extreme Choice" -- What Two of Wisconsin's Leading Progressive Journalists Think About Mitt Romney's Pick of Paul Ryan

AMY GOODMAN: On Saturday, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney announced Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin would be his vice-presidential running mate. Ryan, now 42, was elected to the House of Representatives at 28. He’s a Republican representative. He’s also chair of the House of Representatives Budget Committee. He spoke in Virginia right after his selection was made.

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Gore Vidal's Unfinished American Revolution

Gore Vidal loved America in the way the best of the founders did.

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Wisconsin Democrats Wrong to Avoid Campaigning on Labor Issues in Walker Recall

 With the release last week of the Marquette University Law School poll that had Scott Walker leading Tom Barrett by a 50-44 margin, Walker’s most naive enthusiasts expressed delight while Barrett’s supporters panicked.

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How Scott Walker Turned the GOP Against Workers

 The following article first appeared on the Web site of the Nation. For more great content from the Nation, sign up for its email newsletters. 

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5 Reasons Newt Gingrich Will Be Nothing But a Footnote in History

The following article first appeared on the Web site of the Nation. For more great content from the Nation, sign up for its email newsletters.  

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How Socialists Built America

The following article first appeared in The Nation magazine. For more great content from the Nation, sign up for their email newsletters here.

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Health Reform Foes Scream N-Word at Civil Rights Icon

Congressman John Lewis, the civil rights movement veteran, was across from the U.S. Capitol Saturday, not far from where he and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered speeches to the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, when he heard a word from his past.

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Progressive Leader Donna Edwards Is Out in Front to Stop Corporate Dominance of Elections

Maryland Congresswoman Donna Edwards turned to Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis for guidance in framing the Constitutional amendment she proposed Tuesday as the right and necessary response to the decision by Chief Justice John Roberts and a high court majority to abandon law and precedent with the purpose of permitting corporations to dominate the political discourse.

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Bernanke Is a Drag on the Economy and on Democrats

If the Democratic Party wants to lose—or, to be more precise, wants to lose badly in 2010 and 2012, it need only maintain its current loyalty to the most powerful interests on Wall Street.

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6 Scenarios for the Massachusetts Vote and After

Here are six scenarios for today's special election for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by the death of Edward Kennedy.

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Health Care Reform Is Not Reform If It Denies Women Coverage

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid continued his health-care-by-the-holidays rush Saturday, and he was having some tactical success.

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Do We Really Want to Enshrine Insurance Monopoly into Law? This and 5 Other Complaints About the Health Bill

The Affordable Health Care for America Act was approved by the U.S. House Saturday night with overwhelming support from progressive Democrats who serve in the chamber and from a president who was nominated and elected with the enthusiastic support of progressive voters.

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Pelosi to Go With Not-So-Robust Public Option

The public option was always a compromise for serious supporters of health-care reform, who -- like Barack Obama when he was running for the Senate in 2003 -- knew that a single-payer "Medicare for All" system was what America needed to provide health care to everyone while controlling costs.

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Dept of Justice Eases Off Medical Pot

During the 2008 campaign, one of candidate Barack Obama's best applause lines was a promise to restore respect for science when it came to federal policy making.

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Tough Progressive Congressman Alan Grayson Is Putting the Fear in Republicans

Washington Republicans are horrified, horrified, horrified by the bluntness of Florida Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson.

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The White House Needs to Go a Lot Further with the Torture Inquiry

Attorney General Eric Holder chose not to take the counsel of the Republican partisans who have been campaigning in recent weeks to avert an accountability moment with regard to the Bush-Cheney administration's torture regime.

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Crunch Time for the Public Option

When Barack Obama assumed the presidency, there was talk that former Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean might be his Secretary of Health and Human Services. 

That would have made Dean the administration's point-person in the fight for health-care reform. It also would have increased the likelihood that reform would be real. But Dean was rejected. And, now, the prospect of real reform is fading fast.

Dean said last week at the "Netroots Nation" gathering in Pittsburgh that the only thing that made health-reform legislation proposed by House committees (and apparently backed by the administration) worth doing was the public option. In that legislation, the physician and former Vermont governor argued, "the last shred of reform is the public option."

Just days later, however, the administration appeared to be shredding that last shred of reform. The Associated Press reports that, "President Barack Obama's administration signaled Sunday it is ready to abandon the idea of giving Americans the option of government-run insurance as part of a new health care system."

The woman who got the HHS job reform advocates had hoped would go to Dean certainly seemed Sunday to be jettisoning the idea of creating a government-organized alternative to private health insurance Sunday. Appearing on CNN's State of the Union program, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius dismissed the public option as "not the essential element" of the administration's health care agenda.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said pretty much the same thing when he appeared Sunday on the CBS News program Face the Nation.

"What the president has said is in order to inject choice and competition…people ought to be able to have some competition in that market," said Gibbs.

Pressed on whether the administration was abandoning the public option, Gibbs would only say that, "The president has thus far sided with the notion that that can best be done with a public option."

Startlingly, the clearest signal that the administration is preparing to jettison the public option came from Obama himself. Speaking at a town hall event in Colorado, the President referred to the public plan as merely a "sliver" of his reform agenda and said: "The public option, whether we have it or we don't have it, is not the entirety of healthcare reform."

On this, Obama is right. The public option has already been so dumbed-down and neutered that it is little more than a sliver. The problem is that it may be the only sliver of real reform in his program.

Even with a robust public option, the president's initiative looks a lot like a bailout for the insurance industry -- in stark contrast to the a single-payer reform that would replace industry profiteering with a not-for-profit system like Medicare.

Without a public option, there is no real reform.

Dean argued in Pittsburgh that: "The public option is (incremental reform)... But there is no incrementalism without the public option."

In fact, without the public option, the Obama approach -- and that of compromise-prone Democrats in Congress -- looks increasingly like a step in the wrong direction.

That's because the "reforms" currently under consideration threaten to undermine Medicare and Medicaid -- with radical cost-cutting schemes -- while steering hundreds of billions in federal dollars into the accounts of for-profit insurers and the pharmaceutical industry.

This is not "change we can believe in." This is change that serious reformers will find "very difficult" to support, as Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, said Sunday on CNN. Johnson explained that progressives would have a tough time backing legislation that did not include a public option.

"The only way we can be sure that very low-income people and persons who work for companies that don't offer insurance have access to it, is through an option that would give the private insurance companies a little competition," explained Johnson, a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus who once worked as the chief psychiatric nurse at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Dallas.

Congresswoman Johnson is exactly right. Without a robust public option, what the Obama administration and compromised Democrats in the House and Senate are talking about is not "health care reform."

It is "health care deform" that does not begin to address the crisis created by insurance industry profiteering -- and that could well make the "cure" worse than the disease.

Obama Must Work to Reframe the Healthcare Debate

Barack Obama's most ardent critics would have us believe that his bumbling of the health-care reform push -- and, yes, he has bumbled it -- will doom his presidency.

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How Karl Rove and His GOP No-Nothings Fought Against Pandemic Preparedness

When House Appropriations Committee chairman David Obey, the Wisconsin Democrat who has long championed investment in pandemic preparation, included roughly $900 million for that purpose in this year's emergency stimulus bill, he was ridiculed by conservative operatives and congressional Republicans.

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GOP Senators Waste Big Bucks Trying to Keep Franken Seat-less

It is now clear that Senate Republicans have a strategy for maintaining their ability to stall -- or, at the least, dramatically alter -- Obama administration initiatives.

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Is the Stimulus Package Too Watered Down to Get Us Anywhere?

Skeptical citizens might inquire: How does a Senate stimulus bill that was trimmed to eliminate "waste" (like school construction money that would create jobs in communities across the country) and "pork" (like funding to prepare for a pandemic that would bring a sputtering economy to a complete halt) end up costing almost $20 billion more than a supposedly spendthrift House plan?

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Senate Dems Compromise Away Best Parts of Recovery Plan

Determined to pass something in the way of a stimulus package, Senate Democrats on Friday bartered away key elements of the more robust plan approved by the House.

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Bono Gives Palestine an Inaugural Celebration Shout Out

The 'We Are One' Obama Inaugural Celebration concert at the Lincoln Memorial Sunday was carefully choreographed to be light on politics. This was always intended as a feel-good event, and it was.

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Who Will Go Down with Blagojevich?

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a scandal-plagued Democrat who, among other things, was preparing to appoint a senatorial successor to President-elect Barack Obama, was arrested Tuesday by FBI agents on what can only be described as breathtaking charges of corruption.

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Make That Former Senator Ted Stevens

Felon Senator Ted Stevens has apparently lost his seat representing Alaska, and Democrats have moved one seat closer to a filibuster-proof majority in the upper chamber of the Congress.

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