Robert Kuttner

Robert Kuttner is co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect, a professor at Brandeis University's Heller School, and 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

Taking Stock:

W ill the stock market slide spread to the real economy of jobs and personal income? Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan remarkably, thinks not. His report to Congress Tuesday was surprisingly tough on corporate executives, calling for stronger regulation. But more surprising was his upbeat forecast that despite the stock meltdown, economic growth will nonetheless stay in a healthy range of 3.5 to 3.75 percent and that unemployment will actually drop. In fairness, Greenspan's first job is to restore confidence. Some of what's going on is panic selling -- the flip side of the hysterical stock buying of the giddy 1990s. But much of the selling is a belated acknowledgement of economic reality and the market was unimpressed by Greenspan's comments. Also, Greenspan needed to signal that he has no intention of lowering interest rates. The dollar is sinking against other major currencies because foreign investors are pulling back from US financial markets. Cutting interest rates would...

Can Liberals Save Capitalism (Again)?

Seven decades after the Great Depression, Democrats have their work cut out for them.

I n a few short weeks, America's political economy has been stunningly transformed. The Bush administration, the Republican Party and three decades of conservative ideology are facing a potential rout. Yesterday's conservative clichés are today's political embarrassments. Americans are getting a vivid if painful education about the limits of the marketplace and the salutary role of government. It will be a very long time before anyone can say with a straight face that markets always work better than governments. But market fundamentalism has been so ascendant for so long -- politically, culturally, financially -- that this is only the very beginning of an ideological sea change. It remains to be seen whether liberals will manage to save capitalism from itself, for the second time in the past 70 years. President Bush is suddenly in trouble. As I've observed elsewhere, his is now a Cinderella presidency. He was abruptly transformed from dubious and untested pretender into steely wartime...

The Gathering Storm

D espite a tough-sounding speech, George W. Bush is suddenly vulnerable on the defining domestic issue of his presidency. The cascading corporate scandals are more than a temporary blow to investor confidence. They are a serious threat to American capitalism -- and Republican doctrine. Bush is at risk of becoming a Cinderella president. Terrorist attacks elevated him from an untested pretender with no mandate into a popular commander in chief. Now a domestic economic crisis, eerily reminiscent of Bush's own dubious financial history, could turn him back into a bumpkin. On issue after issue, Bush's grand strategist, Karl Rove, has sought to blur the differences between Bush and his political opponents -- to "take Democratic issues off the table," as Rove likes to say. Tuesday's New York speech tried to get Bush back ahead of the curve and position him as tough on corporate crime. But this act will be much tougher to pull off. Real reform demands not just tougher penalties; it will...

Markets Dump Bush Stock:

B ush's New York speech on corporate accountability was one of the weakest of his presidency. It was long on platitudes, short on structural reforms. The Dow Jones responded to his call for restored confidence in America's financial markets by plunging 189 points. Ever since he took office, Bush's short run political strategy has been to blur differences with Democrats. He can get away with this, perhaps, on issues like prescription drug coverage, where the details are numbingly complex and few voters are paying attention. But America's corporate meltdown is real, and Bush is way behind the curve. It's more than a little ironic that Bush's mandateless presidency was rescued by a foreign policy crisis that is now being upstaged by what could be the most serious economic threat since the Great Depression. For Bush's own rise to fame and fortune in Texas was a small-bore version of the Enron and WorldCom scandals. There is no way that Bush can do a Nixon-to-China on this issue and get...

Getting Welfare Right

R ecently I was invited to be the token liberal at a major national conference of conservative foundations. The invitation was to debate Bill Kristol, The Weekly Standard editor, TV pundit, and conservative grand strategist, as the after-dinner entertainment. Presumably, conservative donors wished to view the face of the enemy, close up. The better I did, the deeper they would dig into their ample pockets. The dinner was held at one of New York's most elegant hotels, the Pierre. The sponsors put me up at the nearby Hotel Roosevelt, a spartan midtown hostelry one cut above fleabag. I gamely accepted this lesser billeting not as demeaning confirmation of the right's two-class vision for society, but as recognition of my esteem for FDR. But I digress. The debate itself was good fun, but the real treat was the before-dinner event: a panel discussion of four presidents of major right-wing research factories, titled, "Philanthropy, Think Tanks, and the Importance of Ideas." The heads of the...

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