Peter Dreier

Peter Dreier is the E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics and founding chair of the Urban & Environmental Policy Department at Occidental College. 

Recent Articles

How the Fight for 15 Won

A timeline of the events that led to California's progressive victory

(Photo: AP/Rich Pedroncelli)
The political earth has shifted. Last week’s tectonic jolt began in California, where the legislature voted Thursday to raise the statewide minimum wage to $15, the highest in the nation. The ripple effects of California’s huge victory for progressive forces are already being felt around the country. The California legislation will increase the current $10 minimum wage to $10.50 next January, then $11 the following year, and increase it by $1 annually until 2022, when it will reach $15. Thereafter, it will increase each year at the same rate as the cost of living. The federal minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 an hour since 2009, frozen in place by the Republican opposition. In response to that gridlock, 29 states and Washington, D.C., have enacted higher minimum wages than the federal level. The hike to $10.50 in January will put California ahead of all other states. The new law will boost paychecks for millions of California workers. More than 40 percent of California...

Paul Ryan: The GOP’s Next Presidential Nominee?

The House speaker has said he’s not interested in the presidency, but he’s united his bickering party once before, and may do so again.

Rex Features via AP Images
Having sat behind President Barack Obama during the State of Union Address in January, House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters afterward that he had done his best to maintain a poker face and avoid wincing, despite his objections to much of what Obama said, out of respect for the office. But Ryan’s real expression was closer to a smirk, and it hinted at another possibility. Ryan might have been telling himself, “That could be me up there a year from now.” It’s not as far-fetched as it sounds. In fact, amid a presidential primary that has broken all the rules and left the GOP at loggerheads, a Ryan nomination is not only possible— it might even be probable. Ryan has already emerged triumphant from the fray of another party fracas, when his House colleagues “drafted” him to be speaker after John Boehner resigned last fall. Similarly, if Donald Trump doesn’t arrive at the GOP convention in July with half the delegates, Ryan could be “...

Academic Drivel Report

Confessing my sins and exposing my academic hoax. 

I don’t know if there is a statute of limitations on confessing one’s sins, but it has been six years since I did the deed and I’m now coming clean. Six years ago I submitted a paper for a panel, “On the Absence of Absences” that was to be part of an academic conference later that year—in August 2010. Then, and now, I had no idea what the phrase “absence of absences” meant. The description provided by the panel organizers, printed below, did not help. The summary, or abstract of the proposed paper—was pure gibberish, as you can see below. I tried, as best I could within the limits of my own vocabulary, to write something that had many big words but which made no sense whatsoever. I not only wanted to see if I could fool the panel organizers and get my paper accepted, I also wanted to pull the curtain on the absurd pretentions of some segments of academic life. To my astonishment, the two panel organizers—both American...

Nine Battleground States that Could Flip the Senate -- and the Supreme Court

A Democratic president needs a Democratic majority in the Senate to turn around the high court. Here are the states that could make the difference in 2016.

(Photo: AP/J. Scott Applewhite)
Within hours of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s death on Saturday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that the Senate should not confirm anyone whom President Barack Obama nominates to fill the vacant seat, but wait until a new president is elected. McConnell’s comment put in bold relief the huge stakes, not just of the presidential election, but of who controls the Senate. If Democrats take back the Senate as well as the White House, a Democratic president could replace not only Scalia but also fill two and possibly three other Supreme Court seats likely be vacated in the next few years. Election watchers believe that there is a reasonable chance that the Democrats can gain four seats and take back the Senate. (Republicans currently have a 54-46 Senate majority. If Democrats win the White House and gain four Senate seats, they control the Senate because the vice president breaks a 50-50 tie.) A more liberal court could overturn Citizens United , restore...

Israel's New McCarthyism

Inside the well-organized campaign against Israel's progressive community. 

AP Photo/Oded Balilty, File
As international discontent with Israel’s occupation policy continues to rise, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and Israel’s ultra-right-wing movement have escalated their attacks on the country’s progressive community, which opposes the 49-year-old Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the ever-expanding government-subsidized settlements. This week, the Knesset is expected to take up a bill backed by Netanyahu and his allies that will require Israeli nongovernmental organizations that expose and challenge the government’s human rights abuses against Palestinians to register, in effect, as foreign agents. Some Israeli activists call the legislation their country’s version of McCarthyism. Others liken what’s happening in Israel as similar to the current attack on Planned Parenthood by Republicans and their more successful campaign several years ago to dismantle the community organizing group ACORN. The attack includes...