Amy Goldstein is a staff writer at The Washington Post, where she is the national health-policy writer and the newspaper’s main reporter covering the Affordable Care Act and ways that Republicans and Democrats are trying to change the health-care system – and the ground-level effects. She has been centrally involved in the newspaper’s reporting on the coronavirus pandemic.
During her three decades at The Post, Goldstein has written about an array of other social policy issues: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, welfare, housing, and strains placed on the social safety net. During the presidency of George W. Bush, she was a White House reporter, with an emphasis on domestic policy. She has covered many notable news events, from the Monica Lewinsky scandal to most recent Supreme Court nominations.
Goldstein was part of a team of Washington Post reporters awarded the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting for the newspaper’s coverage of 9-11 and the government’s response to the attacks. She was a 2009 Pulitzer Prize finalist for national reporting for an investigative series she co-wrote on the medical treatment of immigrants detained by the federal government. She has been a fellow at Harvard University at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.
She is the author of Janesville: An American Story – a close-up of a small Midwestern city that lost a slew of jobs during the Great Recession when the nation’s oldest operating auto assembly plant closed two days before Christmas of 2008. It explores what happens to people and to the texture of a proud community when good work goes away. Janesville is the winner of the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize (the nation’s top prize for narrative nonfiction) and the Financial Times & McKinsey Business Book of the Year, and it was one of Barack Obama’s top 10 books of 2017.
From Janesville: An American Story
At 7:07 a.m., the last Tahoe reaches the end of the assembly line. Outside it is still dark, 15 degrees with 33 inches of snow—nearly a December record—piled up and drifting as a stinging wind sweeps across the acres of parking lots.
Inside the Janesville Assembly Plant, the lights are blazing, and the crowd is thick. Workers who are about to walk out of the plant into uncertain futures stand alongside pensioned retirees who have walked back in, their chests tight with incredulity and nostalgia. All these GM’ers have followed the Tahoe as it snakes down the line. They are cheering, hugging, weeping.
The final Tahoe is a beauty. It is a black LTZ, fully loaded with heated seats, aluminum wheels, a nine-speaker Bose audio system, and a sticker price of $57,745 if it were going to be for sale in this economy in which almost no one anymore wants to buy a fancy General Motors SUV.
Five men, including one in a Santa hat, stand in front of the shiny black SUV holding a wide banner, its white spaces crammed with workers’ signatures. “Last Vehicle off the Janesville Assembly Line,” the banner says, with the date, December 23, 2008. It is destined for the county historical society.
Television crews from as far away as the Netherlands and Japan have come to film this moment, when the oldest plant of the nation’s largest automaker turns out its last.
So the closing of the assembly plant, two days before Christmas, is well recorded.
This is the story of what happens next.
“In Janesville, When the GM Plant Closed, Havoc Followed.” New York Times. 19 April, 2017
“Janesville and the Costs of American Optimism.” The New Yorker. 19 March, 2017
Can America Survive Capitalism? –2022 Lannan Symposium | March 23, 2022