He received his Ph. D. at the University of Chicago and have taught at University of Chicago, Yale, Brown, and the University of Bremen. His books focus on politics, history and social policy. He has also written over 100 articles and essays – his recent favorites range from Harry Potter ("Dumbledore's Wisdom") to welfare reform ("American Ways of Welfare") and political culture (Story Book Truths About American) to health care reform (Healthy, Wealthy and Fair). IHe is a frequent contributor to The American Prospect and the London Review of Books.
He is also active in policy work and have testified before Congress numerous times – most recently (April, 2006) addressing the 45 US Senate Democrats on a health policy vision for the future.
Among his awards, he is proudest of the three Hazeltine citations for teaching (1993, 1999, 2001), the APSA's Kammerer Award for the Democratic Wish and his Pulitzer nomination (for Hellfire Nation)