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

Health Club

Is the proposed Medicare drug benefit, now before the Senate, worth having? It covers only about one-fourth of seniors' drug expenses. But is it a first step toward a comprehensive benefit, as Democrats hope and Republicans fear? Or is it the first step to privatized Medicare, as Republicans hope and Democrats fear? There's also the political question of who gains in 2004. If the bill passes, President Bush can usurp a popular Democratic issue and boast: "I delivered a drug benefit under Medicare." But his Democratic challenger can say: "Bush's Medicare drug benefit doesn't even take effect until 2006. It's a sweetheart deal for HMOs. It has more holes than benefits. The only reason you get anything is that Democrats fought for it and Republicans were forced to go along. Vote for us and we will get you the rest." Here's what the bipartisan Senate bill, approved last Thursday, 16-5, by the Finance Committee, actually does: Beginning in 2006, seniors could pay an additional $35 a month...

Health Pair

Heart disease runs in part of my family. A beloved uncle died at 50 of a heart attack. One grandmother died in her 60s of congestive heart failure; the other of high blood pressure. Others, happily, have lived into their 90s, and I hope I take after them. In those years, doctors could do little. There was aspirin for pain, nitroglycerine for temporary relief of "angina," and digitalis to stimulate the heart. That was it. But today my fate is not just a matter of diet, exercise and genetics. There are statin drugs if my arteries tend to clog, several classes of blood pressure medication, and much more. There are elegant diagnostic tests, like the echocardiogram I recently had, where I could both see my heart and its valves on a monitor and listen to the healthy sloshing of my splendid pump. (I'm fine, Mom, this was a routine screening.) And if things ever get bad, there are delicate angio-procedures, valve jobs, triple and quadruple bypasses, even heart transplants. And they all cost a...

Press Pass

I'm glad that the press is finally making an issue of President Bush's knowing use of a faked intelligence report on Iraq's supposed nuclear weapons program. But most of the press keeps missing the larger story. Deception has become the hallmark of this president. Whether the issue is leaving no child behind or who actually benefits from the tax cuts or what kind of drug coverage the administration's Medicare amendments will really provide or how the Bush Clear Skies Act actually degrades clean-air standards, the press has given the administration an astonishingly free ride. The back story of the politicization of intelligence has been hidden in plain view for months. Last fall, investigative reporter Robert Dreyfuss, writing in the Prospect , exposed the efforts by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to take control of intelligence summaries from the CIA. In March, The New Yorker 's Seymour Hersh exposed the forgery of the report, now belatedly in the headlines, that Saddam was trying...

Weakest Link

Will the economy be a big liability for President Bush's reelection campaign, as it was for his father in 1992? Or will it turn up just in time, as it did for Ronald Reagan in 1984? And will the economy matter? First, the optimists' case. The stock market, which enjoyed a good quarter, often leads recoveries. The unemployment rate of 6.4 percent -- the worst in nine years -- looks bad. But if you take a closer look, say the bulls, the economy has stopped shedding jobs; the unemployment rate keeps rising because more people are looking for work. And those tax cuts, now totaling more than $4 trillion, have to produce economic stimulus sometime soon. The Federal Reserve is helping by lowering interest rates to the lowest level since 1958. That keeps the housing boom going and saves consumers money on everything from refinancings to car payments. So the economy may not be spectacular, say the Bushies and their allies, but it will be good enough. And in any case, the economy remains Topic...

Double Dealing

When push comes to shove, President Bush postures moderate, but delivers for his right-wing base. Consider two epic legislative struggles still playing out -- whether to add a stripped-down drug benefit to Medicare and whether to extend tax relief to lower-income working families. Two other key players in this drama are the House majority leader, Tom DeLay, and Karl Rove, the White House political adviser. In the case of Medicare, Rove's opinion polls told him that Bush needed to be able to claim credit for delivering a drug benefit for the elderly -- a group that votes and one that's reeling from skyrocketing medical expenses. The actual measure the House passed is a terrible bill. It creates new pressures for seniors to move from traditional Medicare to HMOs, and it leaves even those who buy the additional insurance exposed to thousands of dollars in prescription drug bills. Even so, conservative Republicans were loath to create a new $40 billion-a-year entitlement. The Wall Street...

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