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

The Entente Between Trump and the Republican Elite

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Spokane, Washington, Saturday, May 7, 2016. An earlier version of this article appeared at The Huffington Post . W e are starting to see the sorry spectacle of a Republican establishment that detests Donald Trump falling in line behind his candidacy. Before it’s over, schisms will be papered over, the vast majority of Republican elected officials will endorse Trump, and he will pick up plenty of Republican donors as well. You can see all this in the well-choreographed back-pedaling by House Speaker Paul Ryan and by RNC Chairman Reince Preibus, and in the increasing isolation of the few senior Republican elected officials such as Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse who have pledged never to support Trump. A week ago, I wrote in this space that “efforts by Republican leaders to block Trump’s election to the presidency will only intensify.” Well, that prediction sure has been overtaken by events. What...

Pitiful Giant: The Republican Establishment

Ron Sachs/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
Ron Sachs/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images House Speaker Paul Ryan conducts his weekly press conference in the Capitol in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, April 21, 2016. An earlier version of this article appeared at The Huffington Post . W e keep hearing that the Republican Party is on track to suffer an epic split over the presumed nomination of Donald Trump. But what exactly does this mean? What happens once the 2016 election is over? On one side are traditional business conservatives, devoted to government-bashing, low taxes, and pro-corporate globalization—coupled with dog-whistle appeals to racism. This establishment has delivered all recent GOP nominees, despite the Tea Party takeover of much of the congressional Republican Party—until this year when the party elite was upended. Since Reagan, the business right has papered over the cracks in a coalition that used social conservatism to win votes of a suffering working class. Now, Trump has demolished that phony alliance. Over the...

Hillary’s Big Dilemma

AP Photo/Matt Rourke
AP Photo/Matt Rourke Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign stop, Monday, April 25, 2016, at City Hall in Philadelphia. H illary Clinton and her advisers now face an excruciating dilemma for the November election. Go left or go center? Typically, a Democrat moves left to win the nomination and then moves center to capture swing voters in the general election. But this is no ordinary election. For starters, the Sanders campaign has been the source of energy and excitement—not just the kids, but the white working class voters whom Hillary will need to win back. Polls suggest that few Sanders backers will defect to Trump. That’s not the problem. The problem is how many will just disengage, stay home, refuse to work hard for the ticket, or even vote for the Green Party candidate, Jill Stein. And what it would take for Clinton to win over disaffected blue-collar voters who were once Democrats but who now are inclined to vote for a pseudo-populist...

Let’s Hear It for Tax and Spend

AP Photo/Seth Wenig
AP Photo/Seth Wenig Senator Bernie Sanders, right, speaks as Hillary Clinton listens during the CNN Democratic Presidential Primary Debate at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on Thursday, April 14, 2016 in New York. This article originally appeared at The Huffington Post . T here was a truly silly dogfight last week between the Clinton and Sanders camps on who was the worse offender when it came to possibly raising taxes on the middle class. Clinton had supported Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney’s proposed three cents an ounce tax on sugary drinks to pay for universal pre-kindergarten. Sanders countered that this was a tax increase on working people. He said : “Frankly, I am very surprised that Secretary Clinton would support this regressive tax after pledging not to raise taxes on anyone making less than $250,000. This proposal clearly violates her pledge. A tax on soda and juice drinks would disproportionately increase taxes on low-income families in Philadelphia.” Sanders, as it happens, has...

Vice President Elizabeth Warren?

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Senator Elizabeth Warren speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. Warren, the populist senator from Massachusetts, told The Boston Globe in September that she would likely endorse a presidential candidate during the primaries, but has since remained coy. 

 

The Boston Globe has reported that Hillary Clinton is considering picking a woman running-mate, and the optics suggest that this means Elizabeth Warren. The Globe quotes an on-the-record interview with no less than Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.

So what’s this about? Is it the Clinton campaign signaling to Sanders supporters that she would reach to her left in selecting a vice presidential candidate? Is it just a trial balloon? Would Warren take the job? And is it a good idea?

I have no inside information. But you don’t put something like this out there without first clearing it, lest you get shot down. Clearly, there must have been conversations with Warren before Podesta just ran the idea up the flagpole.

Would this be a smart move for Clinton? I think it would. For starters, it would energize the Sanders wing of the party like almost nothing else, other than putting Bernie on the ticket.

Second, it would jump start the excitement of a gender breakthrough. Clinton has not produced the thrills that the prospect of the first woman president should produce, because she is kind of old news and a little shopworn. But Warren herself, and an all-women ticket—that would really be something. A double breakthrough!

Wouldn’t it scare off some men? Not much. The men who are not going to vote for Hillary would not be deterred by having a man as her running mate; and there aren’t many more men who would be repulsed merely by the presence of a second woman on the ticket.

Third, it would help in the white working class areas of the Midwest, where the election will be decided. Trump is cleaning up his act, hiring speechwriters, trying to look presidential. If he is the nominee, and the Republicans have, say, a Trump-Kasich ticket, it could be a close election.

Clinton needs shoring up with white working class voters in key states such as Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Warren could help.

But is this a good idea for Warren? What if Clinton put her on the ticket, and then mainly ignored her?

This would be a risk for Warren if she accepted a cabinet position. But don’t forget, the vice president is the one person in a president’s administration who can’t be fired.

Warren has her own national constituency. She is a genius at combining an astute inside game with a superb outside game. If Vice President Warren pitched an idea at President Hillary Clinton, and Clinton was lukewarm, Warren is entirely capable of going out and making speeches.

And what about her Senate seat? In the past, the idea of Warren as VP has been seen as a nonstarter because Massachusetts Republican Governor Charlie Baker would get to fill the seat and the new Senate is likely to be Democratic or Republican by a vote or two either way; every seat counts.

But there is more to it than that. Massachusetts law requires a special election within 145 to 160 days after a Senate seat is vacated. So Baker’s interim appointee would serve for less than six months before the Democrats in deep blue Massachusetts took back the seat.

This idea of course is far from a done deal. It’s a trial balloon. Warren has not endorsed either Sanders or Clinton, and it will take a lot of fancy footwork for Sanders not to be offended, for Warren not to feel used just for her symbolic value, and for Clinton as presumed nominee to make a final decision.

But having raised this idea, Clinton now runs the risk of looking like a trimmer if she eventually goes with someone centrist such as Virginia Senator Tim Kaine or another conventional choice.

Clinton, more than anything, needs a shot of excitement and enthusiasm. Warren would surely bring that. And the fact that Warren herself has not closed the door is doubly interesting.

Whadda year!

Pages