Paul Starr

Paul Starr is co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect. and professor of sociology and public affairs at Princeton University. A winner of the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction and the Bancroft Prize in American history, he is the author of eight books, including Entrenchment: Wealth, Power, and the Constitution of Democratic Societies, which will be out next year.

Recent Articles

The Tax Act That Lost Its Name

The Senate parliamentarian scotched the Republicans’ plan for a simple bill title. 

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File House Speaker Paul Ryan, joined by House Republicans, speaks to the media on the GOP tax bill This article appears in the Summer 2018 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . R epublicans like to call the tax legislation they passed at the end of 2017 the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. That was the original name of the bill, but as a result of a ruling by the Senate parliamentarian, the abbreviated title had to be dropped in the final legislation, which calls it instead, “An Act to provide for reconciliation pursuant to titles II and V of the concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2018.” Even with that last-minute decision, however, nine other sections of the legislation refer to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, although, as a matter of law, no such act exists. A strict textualist in the tradition of Justice Antonin Scalia might rule that such provisions are void. This is just the sort of literal reading that conservatives have used in...

How the Tax Act Undercuts Health-Care Reform

Ending the individual mandate will inflate premiums in the Obamacare marketplaces—especially for the middle class.

txking/Shutterstock This article appears in the Summer 2018 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . C ongressional Republicans got themselves a two-fer when, late in the drafting of the 2017 Tax Act, they inserted a provision repealing the “individual mandate”—the tax penalty charged to individuals who don’t qualify as financially stressed and nonetheless fail to obtain health insurance coverage. The repeal of the mandate not only dealt a blow to Obamacare; it also cut projected federal spending by $338 billion over ten years since it will lead millions of people to drop subsidized coverage. Republicans were then able to use the budgetary savings to offset some of the cost of tax cuts. Who will be hurt most by eliminating the mandate? It won’t just be the increased numbers of low-income families who face unaffordable health-care expenses without insurance protection. One of the ironies of the mandate’s repeal is that it will lead to especially high costs for middle-...

The Long Game on Taxes

It’s not too soon to start thinking about the tax reforms we need and the strategy for getting there.

Albin Lohr-Jones/Sipa USA via AP Images A demonstrator holds a sign at a rally in opposition to the Republican tax bill held in Lower Manhattan This article appears in the Summer 2018 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . T he immediate aim for progressives on taxes is clear: show all the ways in which the 2017 Republican Tax Act favors the interests of the wealthy and short-changes average Americans, who will ultimately end up paying the cost. But the long game on taxes is a lot less obvious. We need policies that foster a more widely shared prosperity, correcting for the trend toward increased economic inequality instead of aggravating it. We need stable financing for programs that the public continues to demand. And we need to reduce the risks of climate change by promoting the shift away from carbon fuels. Working out an effective and persuasive strategy to achieve those aims poses an extraordinary challenge. How we got progressive taxation in the first place...

How the 1968 Columbia Student Uprising Looks Now

The echoes can still be heard today of what happened on the Columbia University campus 50 years ago this month.

AP Photo/Dave Pickoff
AP Photo/Dave Pickoff A student protester at Columbia University is forcibly removed from the campus, April 30, 1968, by plainclothes New York City police after they entered buildings occupied by the students, and ejected those participating in the sit-ins. The following article appeared originally in Columbia College Today and is cross-posted here with permission. Paul Starr, the Prospect ’s co-editor, was a sophomore reporter in 1968 for the Columbia Daily Spectator and co-author of a book about the student revolt, Up Against the Ivy Wall . I f you know about it only vaguely or picture it in a gentle light, the student revolt at Columbia in April 1968 might seem like a romantic episode in that era’s youthful rebellion. But it was a deadly serious confrontation—electrifying to people who supported the revolt; horrifying to others who saw it as evidence of a widening gyre of instability and violence in America. Inner-city riots were all too familiar by that time. Earlier that April,...

The Democratic Emergency

This is American democracy's stress test. We have only limited time to pass it.

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik President Donald Trump takes a question from reporters on the South Lawn of the White House This article will appear in the Spring 2018 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . “ It is now clear that the most frightening threats to ordinary politics in the United States are empty or easily contained. … The sky is not falling and no lights are flashing red.” So wrote two distinguished historians, Samuel Moyn and David Priestland, in an article in The New York Times last August. With surprising confidence only a half-year into the Trump administration, they warned not against dangers to democracy, but against “tyrannophobia,” the irrational fear of tyrants. Fourteen months into Trump’s presidency, it’s even more surprising to see that same view still being expressed in serious quarters. A few of the contributors to Can It Happen Here? —a new collection of essays about the potential for authoritarianism in America, edited by Cass Sunstein of...

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