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: Civics as Politics

V oting turnout is very likely to decline again this year. Some of the decline reflects the fact that both candidates are widely seen as boring. But dwindling voter interest also represents a long-term trend. In this issue of the Prospect , "Rousing the Democratic Base" by Robert Dreyfuss underscores what political scientists have long observed: The mobilization of voters is not a generic civic process but rather the work of engaged political organizations committed to a particular viewpoint and candidate. In this case, the labor movement and the NAACP are working hard to get out the vote, presumably for the Democrats and Al Gore. If Gore should win, it will not be because working- and middle-class voters suddenly grasped the value of Gore's program, but because activist groups took the trouble to organize prospective Gore supporters. Oddities of our tax laws and campaign finance system do not quite require these worthy groups to...

Thank You, Al Gore

A funny thing happened to Al Gore on the way to his surprisingly effective acceptance speech. He became a liberal. The speech was as liberal as anything FDR or LBJ or Jesse Jackson or one of the Kennedys might have delivered. It was built around a commitment to fight for ordinary people, against large and powerful interests. This, of course, is precisely what made it effective. The emotional heart of the speech, Gore's honoring of four ordinary American lives, did not just salute the struggles of workaday families, the way Ronald Reagan often did. It identified who was dishonoring their struggles - corporations. He singled out heartless HMOs who pressure a family to sacrifice a child; drug companies that force a pensioner to choose between food and medicine; corporate polluters; corporations that pay workers inadequate wages. And he identified the solution: strong, reliable public Social Security; better Medicare; welfare reform that rewards work rather than punishing the needy;...

Market Turbulence Could Benefit Gore

What would a real stock market meltdown do to the economy and, not incidentally, to the presidential campaign? The market has long been poised for a correction. Internet stock expectations were outlandish. Even the broader market has been experiencing inflated ratios of stock prices to company earnings not seen since 1929. All it took for air to come out of the market were some moderate storm clouds: higher oil prices, which gave us a whiff of wider inflation; reduced corporate earnings; weakness and instability in the world's second-most-important currency, the euro; portents of war. But it would take a much worse market collapse before the real economy would be seriously affected. Consider these factors: A good deal of air has already come out of the market. The technology-heavy NASDAQ has declined from its March 2000 peak by more than 40 percent. Even if the Dow were to decline to, say, 8000, investors would still have more than...

For Many Voters a Choice About Choice

Many viewers were startled to hear George W. Bush and Dick Cheney sound kinder and gentler on the hot-button issue of abortion rights. In the first TV debate Bush seemed to declare that he would not try to overturn the FDA's decision approving the abortion drug RU-486, that he wouldn't make reversing Roe v. Wade a litmus test for judges, and that he'd seek "common ground" on the divisive issue of reproductive rights. Cheney, debating Joe Lieberman, said he'd look for ways to reach "across the divide." The stance of both Bush and Cheney seemed in sharp contrast to that of the Republican National Convention, where the platform committee ostracized prochoice Republicans and not a single abortion-rights advocate was allowed floor time. What gives? What gives is that reproductive rights groups such as NARAL and Planned Parenthood have mounted a phenomenally successful organizing campaign, and Bush and his handlers can read polls. But despite the...

Comment: Beyond the Fringe

A s we go to press, polls show Al Gore running as much as eight points behind George W. Bush nationally, and behind among every major age group except for voters over 65. This is truly remarkable. The economy is strong, the Republicans got the worst of the impeachment scandal, there are no serious foreign-policy problems, and Bush is a palpable lightweight. Voters ought to be increasingly appalled the better they get to know him. But this isn't happening. There are two pretty clear inferences. The vice president is a god-awful candidate; and as Robert Reich suggests [see " The Real Risk for Gore ," page 56], Gore is making a disastrous mistake by running on cautious themes unlikely to animate either base voters or swing voters. The needless party split provoked by the administration's insistence that China had to become a full World Trade Organization (WTO) member this year only diminishes one reliable source of party energy and...

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