Jeff Faux

Jeff Faux was the founder, and is now Distinguished Fellow, of the Economic Policy Institute.

Recent Articles

The Myth of the New Democrats

There isn't much new or Democratic about the New Democrats. They preach the same brand of conservative politics that has run this country into the ground.

B ecoming a media buzzword is the public relations dream of every Washington policy cabal. It is the signal that the media is ready to collaborate. The great PR success story of the 1980s was the "supply-siders." The term, which suggests a conservative concern with investment and producer efficiency, is still applied to those who promoted the decidedly demand-side Reaganomics of economic stimulus through the deficit financing of military and private consumption. So it is with the "New Democrats." The label creats the image of a collection of Democratic politicians and policy technocrats freeing the party from its bondage to a liberalism that is out of touch with mainstream America. Closer to reality, the term reflects a confused attempt to bring intellectual respectability to the moderate-conservative coalition that has ruled Washington for most of the past 25 years. There is a great deal of overlap between New Democrats and those politicians who used to be known on Capitol Hill as...

A New Conversation: How to Rebuild the Democratic Party

Let's face it: The Democratic Party got into some bad relationships. It doesn't need a new message so much as a whole new conversation with the American people.

W hen liberal Democrats dragged themselves off the electoral battlefield after last fall's election, for the first time in 40 years they had nowhere to hide. Throughout these years, even after their defeats by Nixon and Reagan, the House of Representatives was a protected citadel to which Democrats could retreat shielded by political warlords like Sam Rayburn and John McCormack, Tip O'Neil and Jim Wright, Dan Rostenkowski and John Dingell. With the House in Democratic hands, the core New Deal and Great Society programs survived. Labor, minority, elderly, environmental, and women's organizations were safe to lick their wounds and plot revenge. But this protection came with a price. The liberal coalition was increasingly tied to a Washington legislative agenda and became preoccupied with the lobbying and financing of the Democratic congressional majority. An unhealthy mutual dependence developed. Despite their grumbling about the chores of fundraising, many Democrats in Congress and...

The Evasion of Politics

J eff Faux's " The Myth of the New Democrats " ( TAP , Fall 1993) is illuminating--but in unintentional ways. It highlights the unresolved tension in The American Prospect 's editorial persona: though dedicated to rethinking old liberal assumptions, the magazine often shies from conclusions that defy liberal orthodoxy. TAP thus oscillates between earnest stabs at policy innovation and purse-lipped attempts to suppress heresy and enforce liberal dogma. Faux's polemic falls in the latter category. Still, a TAP cover story on the New Democrats and the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) represents progress of a sort. The exercise forces Faux to grapple with New Democrat ideas on their merits rather than simply dismiss them as "conservative"--a favorite tactic in the left's politics of evasion. Honest debate might even advance the cause New Democrats share with TAP : the reconstruction of contemporary liberalism as a progressive force for national purposes. Faux accuses New Democrats of...

Can Liberals Tell a Credible Story?

If Democrats want to be more than bit players in the Reagan movie, the liberal story needs new characters, new images, and stronger language about opportunity, wealth, and inequality.

P olitical debate is a contest between competing stories about, as supply-sider Jude Wanniski once neatly put it, "how the world works." Today, America lacks serious political debate because Democrats are still substantially trapped in Ronald Reagan's narrative—the morality play of the Individual against the Collectivist State, in which virtue is identified with wealth, efficiency with the unregulated market, and freedom with the opportunity to get rich. Bill Clinton claims he is telling a new story—a centrist compromise that deregulates the market and shrinks government to spur greater economic growth, and then, through education and the celebration of self-help, broadens opportunities to enjoy the fruits of that growth. Policy insiders can still read the differences between the Clinton and Reagan stories. But to most Americans, Clinton's story line is muddled, its characterizations weak (nothing to match Reagan's welfare queens, power-grabbing bureaucrats, or...

Public Heroes