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: Happier Prospects

A s we go to press, the prospect of Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords switching parties has cheered despondent Democrats. However, it's not clear where a party-switch free-for-all would end, since several maverick senators in both parties would be in play. Of course, having Tom Daschle as majority leader, and having the power to orchestrate hearings, could be very important for Democrats, in setting agendas, exposing abuses, blocking extremist nominees, and restoring morale and momentum. Loss of the Senate would be a personal as well as a philosophical rebuke to Bush, and a broader warning to the White House about the risks of overreaching. But before we break out the champagne, remember that four or five Senate Democrats still seem inclined to vote with Bush, and Jeffords doesn't change that. The fact remains that Democrats, hobbled by defectors in their own ranks, are still fighting mostly a rearguard action. There is no coherent alternative program rousing popular excitement, and a...

Comment: Love-Hate Relationship

With the possible exception of Lyndon Johnson, no modern Democratic president has divided his own core constituency more bitterly than William Jefferson Clinton. The conversation between Clinton's loyalists and critics, some of it published in these pages, often reads like a dialogue of the deaf. About the only thought both camps share is that Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky was not helpful--and that may actually be wrong. The loyalists think the critics are giving short shrift to Clinton's genuine accomplishments in arduous times. The critics fault Clinton for turning expediency into principle, pushing politics farther to the right than circumstances required. Join the conversation! Discuss this article in Political Prospects , part of The American Prospect's Online Forums . The loyalists' litany goes something like this: Clinton freed Democrats of the unfortunate legacy of a party that was seen as soft on crime and welfare dependency, beholden to narrow interest groups,...

Comment: The Democrats Make Nice

W hat is Tom Daschle up to? "In this divided government," he declared upon becoming Senate majority leader, "we are required to find common ground and seek meaningful bipartisanship." He told the press he would not seek repeal of even the most ill considered portions of President Bush's tax cut. In an op-ed in The New York Times, Daschle added, "I believe the only way forward is to embrace a spirit of principled compromise." He invoked campaign finance reform as a bill on which both parties compromised and moved forward. Daschle seems to be up to several things. One is to be the non-Bush, distinguishing himself from the man who campaigned as a conciliator but has governed as a partisan. The second is to hold together his slender majority, which unfortunately contains several quasi-Republicans. The third is to give the media elite what they insist the public wants. Daschle's conciliatory June 10 op-ed piece echoed the Times's editorial advice of a week earlier: "Mr. Daschle can answer...

Comment: Who Governs?

W hoever wins, this will be the election that was stolen. Republicans have played the nastier hardball, throwing around phrases like coup d'etat, questioning the very legitimacy of courts to decide questions of law, intimidating vote counters, and shamelessly using election officials as partisan hacks. Thus energized, they are certain that George W. Bush truly won and Al Gore would be a usurper. For his part, the vice president has a fair case that, if voters' true intent can be measured, Florida is his. Gore also won the popular vote by more than 300,000. In our system, that doesn't count, but it does lend legitimacy. If Gore is denied the presidency, it will be because (1) the media created the premature sense that Bush was the rightful winner, (2) the Bush campaign effectively ran the clock on Gore, and (3) there was no clean way for the courts or anyone else to render a definitive ruling. But whoever takes office January 20, the opposition will...

Comment: Drug Stupor

T he Democrats have had a pretty good month. President Bush has been unable to hold Republican legislators on an array of issues ranging from oil drilling to stem cell research. Particularly sweet was the Senate's passage of the patients-rights bill, with nine Republican defectors voting aye. The vote is awkward for the White House, which has threatened a veto that Bush doesn't really want to deliver, and it demonstrates that the managed-care industry isn't 10 feet tall. It also shows that Majority Leader Tom Daschle can play hardball--he refused to let the Senate recess for its Fourth of July break until Republicans consented to a final vote--and whets the Democrats' taste for more victories. As the Italians say, l'appetito viene mangiando: The appetite grows the more you eat. But though Democrats prevailed on the crucial and divisive issue of whether to allow patients to sue HMOs that deny necessary care, the bill is pretty weak tea. It allows doctors to order expensive treatments,...

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