Robert Kuttner

Robert Kuttner is co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect, as well as 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

No Blank Check On Economic Policy

On Monday when the stock exchange opened the Dow dropped by 5 percent. The economy was deteriorating even before the September 11 attack. The stock market was already reflecting this underlying deterioration. Three major financial industries will be directly hurt by last week's tragic events - financial services, airlines, and tourism. There is also an incalculable blow to confidence, and markets live or die on confidence. On the other hand, military expenditures and relief outlays are a form of economic stimulus. Right now, it's hard to know which effect will predominate. One fortuitous side effect: Last Tuesday, the bipartisan conceit that government should never run deficits was also blown away. That entire framing of fiscal debate went up in smoke. But a lot of important debate lies ahead. There is a tradition that partisanship stops at the water's edge in times of national crisis. Leaders of both parties are united on one thing. Global terrorism must end, and that may well take...

Comment: Care, Charity, and Profit

O ur cover story this issue is an investigation of ResCare, a national corporate chain that runs group homes for the disabled and the mentally retarded. As Eyal Press and Jennifer Washburn document in sometimes gruesome detail, deinstitutionalization has come full circle, from notorious state-run warehouses like Willowbrook, to community institutions run by nonprofits, and now, back to mini-warehouses run by corporations for the benefit of shareholders. An exposé of the scandal of group homes in one community, Washington, D.C., has just won The Washington Post the Pulitzer Prize. As writers Press and Washburn reveal, the scandal is national. There are two subtexts to this story, which we intend to continue pursuing. The first is the displacement of community institutions that serve a variety of health, education, and criminal justice needs, by for-profit corporations. These institutions are more than service agencies. They perform a civic...

Difficult Terrain on Three Fronts

As the two-month anniversary of the World Trade Center attack approaches, the Bush administration faces rougher going on three key fronts - domestic politics, economic and homeland security, and the war itself. Politics . Though the commander-in-chief's personal approval rating remains around 90 percent, Democrats are poised to pick up two governorships, in moderate New Jersey and Virginia, as well as the mayor of New York. These contests are being decided by local issues. In both governor's races, the Republican is in trouble for having run too far to the right. If the Democrats do make these gains, pragmatic Republican strategists will caution the president to distance himself from the party's right wing, which has pretty much called the tune on everything from tax policy to privatization to religious involvement in public services. This will fracture the GOP. Despite Bush's narrow win in the Electoral College, even before Sept. 11 public opinion was more sympathetic to the...

University for Rent

Harvard University has a famous tradition known locally as "every tub on its own bottom." Translated, that means that each faculty or school of the university is responsible for raising most of its own research money, and finders are keepers. The Harvard name, of course, is ample bait to attract all sorts of funders, savory and otherwise. But just how low will Harvard go to get a grant? Recently, it came out that John D. Graham, President Bush's nominee to be the government-wide antiregulation czar based at the Office of Management and Budget, has taken loads of self-serving industry money to underwrite his Harvard Center for Risk Analysis. Among other things, Graham solicited tobacco industry money and worked with that industry to disparage the risks of secondhand smoke. His dean of faculty, Harvey Fineberg of the Harvard School of Public Health, made Graham give the money back. Graham's center also published a study suggesting that there was little need to be concerned about...

After The War: The Big Questions

In a year or two, and for decades afterward, historians will feel entirely free to second-guess what went so wrong both before and after Sept. 11. Why did US intelligence fail? How could we have so foolishly put our oil connection with the Saudis above our national safety? Did we respond adequately to the economic effects of the crisis? Did the bombing of Afghanistan cause fragile allied governments to unravel? In our efforts to enhance security, did we sacrifice too many civil liberties or too few? Why was our public health system allowed to deteriorate? And was George W. Bush up to the job? For now, most of these questions still await answers, and it feels almost unseemly to be debating them. In a war, it's normal to rally round the flag and the president. Add the real national outrage at the incineration of the heart of our greatest city and you appreciate the lack of appetite for second-guessing. Yet the questions are real and urgent. And in this war there is very little room for...

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