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 Demo Derby

George Stephanopoulos: Sen. Kerry ... earlier this week, your campaign questioned whether or not Gov. Dean was fit to be commander in chief. Do you think he's fit? John Kerry: I think Gov. Dean made a statement which I found quite extraordinary, and I still do. He said that America has to prepare for the day when we will not be the strongest military in the world. I mean, that's his statement. I didn't make it up; he said it. -- from the Democrats' South Carolina debate, May 3, 2003 If you saw that debacle of a debate, you watched moderator George Stephanopoulos bait the Democratic field into attacking one another. Not that most of them needed much baiting, having been sniping either directly or through staff efforts all spring. Here is the debate we should have seen: Stephanopoulos: Rep. Gephardt, Sen. Edwards called your health plan a trillion-dollar giveaway to corporations. How do you reply? Dick Gephardt: Well, George, I've proposed giving tax credits to corporations to buy...

Economic Roulette

It's easy to understand why the administration is plowing ahead with one immense tax cut after another. The Bush people oppose social outlays, and the best strategy for cutting public services is to starve government. It's a neat game: Cut taxes on the Republican watch (Reagan, Bush I), force intervening Democratic presidents to opt for fiscal prudence over social investment -- someone has to -- and then, when the budget is back in balance at a lower level of social outlay, do it again (Bush II). This maneuver forces Democrats to take responsibility for periodically raising taxes to undo the economic damage. Putting budget balance ahead of social outlay also undercuts the traditional Democratic winning formula of delivering services that ordinary Americans actually value. No serious independent economist believes that the Bush tax cut is sensible growth policy. If the administration were serious about restoring growth and preferred tax cutting as the mechanism, far more of the tax cut...

Press Mute

Free markets, taken to extremes, sometimes lead to monopolies. Monopolies, in turn, undermine the benefits of free markets -- consumer choice, innovation and competition to offer a good product at an attractive price. That's why even the most capitalistic of societies have laws and regulations against monopolies. If there were one supermarket chain or one hotel group or one airline, the quality would soon deteriorate to the level of service in the late Soviet Union. Consumers would be captive to higher prices, too. Mass media are a very special kind of product, because they involve not just commerce but speech. Congress and the courts have long endeavored to ensure that a wide diversity of voices will be heard. That is about to change for the worse next week, when the Federal Communications Commission is expected, by a 3-2 vote, to throw out several decades of regulation limiting media monopolies. The FCC chairman, Michael Powell, is trying to ram the vote through before wider...

Enemy Within

The winner of the Democrats' first debate was . . . George W. Bush. If you missed the televised South Carolina debate last Saturday night and only read about it in the papers, you might conclude that the whole thing was a demolition derby. In fact, only a small part of the debate was candidates criticizing each other. But that part grabbed the headlines, and a little attack goes a long way in damaging the whole field. George Stephanopoulos, as moderator, sounded like a cross between Jerry Springer and a Survivor show MC, egging on contestants to attack each other. It didn't take long for some to take the bait. Former Gov. Howard Dean (D-Vt.) tried to set a good example by refusing to play Stephanopoulos' game. Stephanopoulos asked if Dean still felt that Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) was trying to have it both ways on the Iraq war. Dean replied: "That's not up to me to judge that. That's up to the voters." Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), at first, also managed to stake out his own position...

Demolition Derby

Last week, in this space, I wrote a column bemoaning the Democrats' all-too-characteristic circular firing squad, and pronouncing the winner of the South Carolina Democratic primary debate George W. Bush. Since then, things have only gotten worse. Think of the nine-person Democratic field as several sub-fields. One sub-rivalry is the two New Englanders, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean and Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. Both of their states border New Hampshire, site of the first 2004 primary. Whoever fails to carry his neighboring state could be knocked right out of the race. Kerry is the presumptive front-runner. He's liberal enough to satisfy the liberals, but credible enough on defense to satisfy the moderates. He also can sound and look very presidential (when he's not looking hangdog). Dean, in the weeks before the Iraq war, won the hearts of the party's left-liberals, He is trying to keep them, plus a large gay base, by building a grassroots army. His challenge is to...

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