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: Sequels Always Bomb

O f all the revelations in The New York Times investigation of partisan favoritism in the counting of Florida's overseas ballots, none was more galling than the new information on the role played by Gore and Lieberman. At a time when campaign strategists were pressing Florida election officials to disallow military ballots that lacked witness signatures or pre-election day postmarks, Lieberman appeared on Meet the Press and urged that military ballots be given "the benefit of the doubt." Only in the Times account, eight months later, did senior campaign officials pour out their rage, on the record, at Lieberman--and not for a single blunder but for a whole mentality. Gore, if anything, was worse. The Times quoted Joe Sandler, then the general counsel to the Democratic National Committee, recalling Gore's exact words: "If I won this thing by a handful of military ballots, I would be hounded by Republicans and the press every day of my presidency and it wouldn't be worth having." It...

Comment: The Great Obfuscator

P resident Bush's heavily choreographed decision to support "limited" stem cell research generated the desired headlines and TV commentary. He had anguished over the decision, we were told, and navigated a prudent course between zealous scientists who would play God and zealous traditionalists who claim a pipeline to God. Under Bush's guidelines, stem cell research can qualify for federal funding if it involves existing "lines" of privately developed embryonic stem cells. Others could not, but the harvesting of stem cells from human embryos can continue with private funding. Bush had carefully chosen a middle ground between, as he put it, the good and the good. This construct is, of course, nonsense. Bush has essentially let science policy be dictated by fundamentalist Protestant views about when life begins. (The Catholic hierarchy, which consistently opposes trifling with embryos under whatever auspices, lent cover to Bush's middle-ground charade by helpfully opposing his policy.)...

Comment: The Stakes

One of the many depressing things about the 2000 election has been the tactical blurring of principled differences. Al Gore is for patients' rights? So is George W. Bush. Gore has a plan for prescription drug coverage. Bush does, too. Gore would allocate trillions to Social Security. Likewise Bush. Never mind that Gore's plans are closer to the genuine article. Most voters pay attention only to the headlines. The details are numbing. Bush gets away with seeming to be for popular Democratic positions that most of his party opposes. What the headline promises, the details take back. But the headline is sufficient to steal Gore's thunder. Of course, Gore plays the same game. Bush believes in tax cuts. So Gore has tax cuts, too. The Republicans favor smaller government. Gore boasts about how much government has been cut since 1993. Republicans have family, faith, and Jesus. Democrats trump them with Joe Lieberman and the Big Guy. If all this meant there really were...

Of Our Time: After Solidarity

T he American Republic has long had a set of public and non-profit institutions that enrich our democracy by demonstrating that society is more than a mere market. The most expansive and explicit of these began in the New Deal, such as Social Security and later Medicare. However, public and communal institutions have a venerable history as old as the Massachusetts common schools of the 1660s. The 19th century saw a flowering of non-profit, communal self-help organizations—charity hospitals, credit unions, workingmen's building and loan associations, fraternal and ethnic mutual aid organizations, trade unions, settlement houses, YMCAs, farm bureaus, and the like. In this century, the non-profit sector added major new organizations such as Blue Cross/Blue Shield, community colleges, and so on. To understand these institutions merely as "providing services" is to understand them far too narrowly, for they play a crucial civic and political role. By defining affiliation on the basis of...

Of Our Time: Fearful Symmetry

T he 1994 election, more than any in recent memory, "nationalized" politics. That is, the Republicans ran on a coherent ideology and program; Newt Gingrich's Contract with America became the manifesto. Even though the actual swing in the popular vote was small, it was consistent across the country--enough to give Republicans control of both houses of Congress and most statehouses. Given the drama of the Democrats losing the U.S. House for the first time in 40 years, the Republican ferocity, and rare party unity under Gingrich, the result was almost parliamentary. The Republicans, despite slender numerical margins in the House and Senate, took their victory as a mandate for radical change. However, ours is not a parliamentary system. And the president happens to be of the opposite party. In claiming a mandate, the Republicans have made much of the fact that Clinton was elected 36 months ago, while they were elected 12 months ago. But the fact remains that he is president--in a system...

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