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

Democrats Must Regroup to Fight Tax Cut

Propelled by Alan Greenspan's sudden conversion, George W. Bush's crusade for a massive general tax cut seems all but unstoppable. The Democrats need to offer something better, and fast, or we will soon have Reagan II. Here is the background: The federal budget surplus will total some $5.6 trillion over the next decade, even allowing for a moderate recession. $2.5 trillion of that surplus belongs to Social Security, to be paid in retirement checks when baby boomers retire later in this century. That leaves over $3 trillion, or something like $300 billion a year. Until now, many Democrats thought they could hold the line against a massive tax cut by arguing that we should use the money to pay off the national debt. This was never smart policy, and it has now been exposed as empty politics. When Alan Greenspan outflanks you as a fiscal moderate, it's clear you got it wrong. The problem is that the surplus just...

Help The Poor Instead of The Rich

What else might we accomplish if we didn't give back 1.6 trillion dollars in tax cuts, about half of the money to millionaires? For starters, we could end poverty in America - by making sure that work pays a living wage and that children don't pay the price when mothers work. In 1996, President Clinton and the Republican Congress ended welfare as we knew it. Welfare was replaced with a new program called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. This compromise put time limits on public assistance and required recipients to find jobs - but also added supports to help single mothers of small children succeed at work. Luckily for its sponsors, the program coincided with an economic boom, so jobs were plentiful. Details were left to the states. Some chose to help welfare mothers improve their living standards through paid employment, with child care, job training, and outreach to make sure families got the Medicaid and food stamps they needed. Other states just slashed the rolls, and...

The Brutal Price of Bush's Tax Cut

The great budget surplus is evaporating. The culprit is George W. Bush's tax cut, compounded by the economic slowdown. Seemingly, this spells bad political news for Bush. He is having to violate his pledge that the Social Security surplus would never be tapped for general government outlays. The vanishing surplus vindicates the criticism that the tax cut was excessive, and also sets back spending plans for pet administration boondoggles, such as missile defense. All of this gives the opposition Democrats lots of ammunition for now. But hold the champagne. This whole way of thinking about budget politics is a long-term trap for Democrats. Budget politics now equates austerity with virtue. Defending the surplus is good; spending it is bad. The surplus is also associated with protecting Social Security. Supposedly, by using the current Social Security surplus accounts to retire public debt, we set the stage for new borrowing 40 years in the future when Social Security payouts could...

America's Children

I t's no accident that politicians kiss babies. America is a nation that professes to love its children. Yet the policies we have in place to raise the next generation are those of a nation that kisses children off. This special report offers a tour of the horizon. In the opening piece, Janet C. Gornick and Marcia K. Meyers bring news that may surprise a lot of American readers: The European welfare state is far from dead, at least in the way that it eases the work-family straddle. Europe's profamily policies have profound implications, not just for the well-being of children but for the changing role of gender in paid work and nurturing. If we want mothers and fathers to have equal opportunities, both at home and in the workplace, somebody competent needs to be looking after children. Otherwise, someone suffers. If not children, then parents. If not parents, then children. If not our working selves, our parenting selves. Visit TAP Online's Special Segment on Children and Families Our...

Opposition as Opportunity

With Republicans in narrow control of Congress, Democrats should think big.

At this writing, there is a chance that the courts may yet order a Florida rerun, but the next president is likely to be George W. Bush. Where does this leave progressives? The task of a political opposition is to prevent damage in the short run and rebuild for the long term--and this could be a more propitious moment than it seems. For starters, Bush's win would be the shallowest mandate in more than a century. Gore's issues did a lot better than Gore did. Conservative themes, such as tax cutting, limits on reproductive choice, the privatization of Social Security, and the voucherization of Medicare, simply did not resonate with voters. Instead of being angry at government, the public was dismayed by the assaults of the market. Voters plainly agreed with progressive Democrats on most policy questions, and Democrats in Congress are now freed from the crosscurrents of Clintonism to be a more progressive party. So the challenge for progressives and...

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