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

Attacking Alito

At this moment in American history, it would be hard to find a worse Supreme Court nominee than Samuel A. Alito Jr. His ideology captures everything extremist about the Bush administration. If confirmed, Alito would serve as Bush's enabler. He would give Bush effective control of all three branches of government and the hard-right long-term dominance of the high court. His confirmation or rejection will depend on the gumption of the Senate Democratic leadership and independence of a few Republicans. Alito, who would replace the moderate Sandra Day O'Connor, has never hidden his ultra-conservative views. Given the administration claims of an extra-legal presidency, what's most disturbing is the handy convergence of Alito's own conception of executive power and that of Bush. Citing the wartime powers of the president, Bush has asserted his right to ignore the legislative mandate of Congress in allowing the military to torture prisoners, the government's prerogative to spy on Americans...

Medicare Misery

The New Year brings with it Congressional mid-term elections. Here is an issue that should be a real political gift to the opposition party – the colossal Medicare drug-benefit mess. It was clear back in 2003, when the Bush administration rammed this bill through the Republican Congress, that the purpose was not to devise an affordable prescription drug program for seniors. Rather the administration wanted to help two friendly industries, the pharmaceutical companies and the HMO's; and to get bragging rights for the 2004 election that Bush had helped seniors. Few voters would grasp just how bad the law was, since its effective date was deliberately put off until 2006. Now, as the year of reckoning arrives, the true cynicism of Bush's program is becoming evident to each senior citizen (or adult child of senior citizen) who attempts to fathom what Bush and the industry lobbyists wrought. For starters, coverage is woefully inadequate. You pay a $250 deductible and then a 25 percent co-...

Medicaid Misery

The New Year brings with it Congressional mid-term elections. Here is an issue that should be a real political gift to the opposition party – the colossal Medicare drug-benefit mess. It was clear back in 2003, when the Bush administration rammed this bill through the Republican Congress, that the purpose was not to devise an affordable prescription drug program for seniors. Rather the administration wanted to help two friendly industries, the pharmaceutical companies and the HMO's; and to get bragging rights for the 2004 election that Bush had helped seniors. Few voters would grasp just how bad the law was, since its effective date was deliberately put off until 2006. Now, as the year of reckoning arrives, the true cynicism of Bush's program is becoming evident to each senior citizen (or adult child of senior citizen) who attempts to fathom what Bush and the industry lobbyists wrought. For starters, coverage is woefully inadequate. You pay a $250 deductible and then a 25 percent co-...

Remembering Proxmire

Former Senator William Proxmire of Wisconsin, who died at 90 on Thursday, was a personal hero to me. I worked for him as a Senate investigator in the mid-1970s, when Proxmire was the new chairman of the powerful Senate Banking Committee. The banking lobbies had tried hard to block his appointment, since chairmen of that committee were typically in their pockets. Proxmire was not in anyone's pocket. As chairman of a subcommittee, he had already pioneered laws requiring interest rates to be stated accurately with no hidden charges; giving consumers access to their credit reports; and simplifying real-estate closings. If you get an accurate interest charge or closing statement, or correct an error in your credit report, you can thank Proxmire. As chairman of the full committee, he went on to take the lead on successful bills to ban bribery of foreign officials by U.S. corporations, and create an obligation for banks to extend credit to less affluent communities rather than just siphoning...

Agreeing to Disagree

RK: You have obviously had the enormous satisfaction of seeing your ideas influence a revolution, both in the thinking of economists and in the premises of politics and the role of government. Does this make you any more optimistic about the ability of the political process to work, and of government to learn over time? MF: I've always been realistic about this. I do not think you can change [government]. RK: Well at least it seems to prove that ideas have influence. MF: There is no question that they have influence. You know, I agree very much with the famous quotation from Keynes. Sooner or later, ideas matter. RK: Right. Let me get down to some specifics. You were the progenitor of the notion that we ought to move to floating exchange rates. MF: I was a promoter of that idea. I was in favor of it, but I was by no means the inventor it. That was an old idea. RK: Well, I guess I meant in the context of the Bretton-Woods system breaking down. MF: Well, sure I wrote and spoke about the...

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