Robert Kuttner

Robert Kuttner is co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect, and professor at Brandeis University's Heller School. His latest book is Debtors' Prison: The Politics of Austerity Versus Possibility. He writes columns for The Huffington Post, The Boston Globe and the New York Times international edition. 

Recent Articles

Comment: Bush, Whacked

G eorge W. Bush is losing his working majority in Congress. The only surprise is that it took so long. As recently as a month ago, the new administration imagined that its tax package would just sail through on a tide of media torpor, Republican discipline, and bipartisan gesture. No longer. As the details of the president's not very popular program seep into public consciousness, Republicans are starting to desert. So far the Senate has just one reliably faithless Democrat, the politically androgynous Zell Miller of Georgia [see " Zellout ," by Joshua Micah Marshall, on page 14]. Other conservative Democrats who were expected to defect to the Republicans have voted with their own party leaders. Republican moderates, however, are crossing the aisle with impunity. The basic problem with the Bush budget, substantively and politically, is that it puts unpopular tax cuts ahead of public outlays that most voters want. Bush would divert hundreds of billions from the Medicare trust funds,...

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...

Comment: Why Liberals Need Radicals

The demonstrations last November in Seattle and last month in Washington have made some liberals uneasy. For many, the street activity suggests both a rowdiness and a know-nothing attitude toward global commerce. A recent New Republic cover, caricaturing a protester, asks, "Does the New New Left Have a Brain?" I've noticed that my liberal friends divide into two camps: those who posit a Manichaean dividing line between "liberal" and "left," and those who appreciate the necessary role of radicals. I'm with the latter group, though at the end of the day I count myself a liberal. For one thing, nearly every great social justice movement was initiated by radicals before it became safe for liberals. This includes the antislavery movement, women's suffrage, birth control, modern feminism, industrial unionism, civil rights, and the movement against the Vietnam War. Even causes that seem fairly tame today, such as pure food and drugs and safe workplaces, were initially the handiwork of such...

Comment: Is Bradley for Real?

We've gotten our hearts broken before. Clinton, many of us hoped, was really a closet progressive who somehow also attracted moderates. His fellow southern governor, Jimmy Carter, looked to be a fine reformer for the post-Watergate era. But both presidents left legacies more conservative than liberal. Both were anti-party men. Both failed to use their high office to enhance credibility in government, the Democratic Party, or the liberal cause. Now comes the moderately liberal former senator from New Jersey, seeming to outflank Al Gore on both ends. Bradley is rather to Gore's left with his calls to end child poverty and extend health coverage. Yet Bradley also has great appeal to independents and even to Republicans. Is this Clinton all over again, a politician who is all things to all people? Or something more hopeful? Is Bill Bradley for real? A bit warily, I think he is. Following him around Massachusetts and New Hampshire in early November, I noticed several encouraging things...

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