Robert Kuttner

Robert Kuttner is co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect, a professor at Brandeis University's Heller School, and a distinguished senior fellow of the think tank Demos. He was a longtime columnist for Business Week and continues to write columns in The Boston Globe. He is the author of Obama's Challenge and other books.

Recent Articles

Comment: Politics and Beanbag

P olitics, as Finley Peter Dunne's Mr. Dooley had it, ain't beanbag. But lately the Republicans have been playing political hardball while too many Democrats play beanbag. Candidate George W. Bush managed to have it both ways, casting himself as a uniter but offering raw partisan rhetoric against the Democrats. During the debates, Bush kept faulting Al Gore for failure to accomplish in eight years many of the things Gore was now promising. But the vice president couldn't bring himself to utter the obvious rejoinder--that the culprit was Republican obstructionism--lest he sound partisan. Throughout the Clinton years, the Republicans demonstrated the value of partisanship. In Clinton's first two years, they just blocked everything, making Clinton look ineffective. In 1994 they gained both houses of Congress. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's Contract with America succeeded in nationalizing party politics and creating something very rare for the United States: a...

Comment: The Business of America

L iberals confront the charge that we are anti-business. Modern liberals like to strike a "third-way" pose of being pro-entrepreneur and pro-market while socially liberal on such issues as tolerance and the environment. Old-time anti-corporate liberals, such as trade unionists and Naderites, are said to be stuck in a 1930s time warp. But every so often, politics offers a graphic reminder of why good liberals are necessarily anti-business. Successful individual entrepreneurs and dynamic corporations are certainly economic assets; the problem is organized business as a political force--how it corrupts our politics, skews priorities, disdains workers, and blocks democracy from carrying out the wishes of ordinary citizens. The issue du jour is war profiteering. Corporate America and its Republican allies have mounted a shameless Treasury raid masquerading as economic stimulus. Their ploy may even backfire politically. But this destructive role of organized business is the rule, not the...

Comment: Party Poopers

N ot long ago, the Democrats were taking comfort from their five-seat gain in the Senate and their 50-50 tie. But the Senate, it's now clear, is far from truly tied. On the John Ashcroft confirmation vote, Republicans held all their troops and eight Democrats defected, four of them northern liberals. On the outrageous vote to scrap new safety standards on ergonomics, six Senate Democrats crossed the aisle. In the House, 16 Democrats joined 207 Republicans. If the Democrats had voted as a bloc, they might have held the line. These defecting Democrats are a series of concentric circles. At the center are two southern nominal Democrats who might as well be Republicans, John Breaux of Louisiana and Zell Miller of Georgia. Radiating out are Democrats from fairly conservative states who face tight re-elections (Max Baucus of Montana, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana), or Democrats not in re-election trouble but with close ties to business (Fritz Hollings of South...

Can Insiders Be Outsiders?

I magine that you're Senator Tom Daschle. You have two somewhat conflicting goals. One is to block the worst parts of the Bush program, this year. The other is to move down the hall to the big office, the one that says Majority Leader instead of Minority Leader, probably in November 2002. You could get lucky, so to speak. Either of the doddering ultras from the Carolinas, Thurmond or Helms, could tip partisan control of the 50–50 Senate by passing on to their respective rewards before the midterm elections (maybe to some integrated private hell where they will be eternal servants to black, lesbian millionaire performance artists). But I digress. Tom Daschle can't exactly count on the demise of Thurmond or Helms, and it is unseemly to wish for it. Strom Thurmond is not entirely compos mentis, but at 98 the fellow does push-ups. And if sheer meanness keeps a man alive, Jesse Helms could outlast half the Senate. So if Daschle does become majority leader, he will probably have to do it...

Comment: Lose that Eyeshade

S enate Democratic leaders, stung by criticism that they have failed to challenge the Bush administration's assault on civil liberties, are taking comfort from their goal-line stand against the latest round of proposed tax cuts. Yet as we approach the 2002 off-year elections, the Democrats could easily repeat the mistakes of the Clinton era by trying to make fiscal rectitude their mantra. The other day, White House budget director Mitch Daniels told Congress that he expected the budget to be in deficit for the next three years. That admission ought to whet Democrats' appetite for repealing Bush's $1.35-trillion tax cut. However, far too many Democrats are reverting to an old, discredited playbook. In 1998, Bill Clinton worried that endless surpluses would lead to Republican tax cuts. So he declared that fiscal policy should "Save Social Security First." Depending on what sort of gloomy accounting you used, Social Security could be shown to be so far in the red that it could soak up...

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