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

Whose Nation Under God?

When John Kennedy was running for president and passions were running high about whether a Catholic could serve both the American citizenry and Rome, a joke made the rounds about a priest and a minister whose friendship nearly came to blows. Finally the priest phoned his old friend. ''What a pity," he said. ''Here we are, both men of the cloth, fighting over politics." ''It's true," said the minister. ''We're both Christians. We both worship the same God -- you in your way, and I in His." America, which separated church and state precisely to protect the private right to worship, has long had its share of religious absolutists who have wanted to harness the power of the state to their own view of revealed truth. But never before in our history has the government deliberately and cynically intervened on the side of the zealots. President Bush, Tom DeLay, Bill Frist, and company are playing with serious fire. As the joke suggests, there is no challenging revealed truth. That's why the...

An Economy Going Nowhere

What has been ailing the stock market? Economic fundamentals haven't changed much in the past few months. The dollar has been weak for more than a year, the worsening trade imbalance is an old story, and oil prices have been high for months. So why the big dip last week? The immediate precipitating cause is weak corporate profits coupled with ongoing worries about inflation that will likely cause the Federal Reserve to keep raising interest rates. But the Fed has been clear for many months that rates are going up, and a few bad earning reports do not reflect the entire economy. Stock markets, however, are notoriously vulnerable to herd instincts. In the short run, what you think about the economy matters less than what other traders think. Recent market behavior looked like a classic tipping-point phenomenon: A majority of investors conclude that other investors think the market is heading south and decide to bail out. When there are more sellers than buyers, stock prices fall. But...

Hammered

Just when you're on the edge of despair about the resilience of American democracy, an ancient pattern reasserts itself. People drunk with their own self-importance overreach and begin to destroy themselves. Names like Joseph McCarthy, Richard Nixon, and Newt Gingrich come to mind. And now, perhaps, Tom DeLay. The House majority leader is in trouble on several fronts. It would be one thing if he were merely dictatorial in the way he runs the House of Representatives. But dictators also habitually flout the usual rules of behavior. DeLay's ethical lapses are becoming a serious political embarrassment to his own party. As recently as last year, the House Republican caucus was willing to cover up for him by neutering the House Ethics Committee. Now, an old-fashioned influence-peddling scandal may take a toll. It's not that the Republicans are having sudden ethical qualms. Rather, DeLay is becoming a personification of right-wing excess that might prove useful to Democrats. In his assault on...

The Biggest Tax Cheats

How can we possibly reduce the federal deficit and find enough money for high-quality public services without raising everyone's taxes? Actually, there's a remarkably easy solution. The government just needs to get serious about collecting money from tax cheats. And this doesn't mean audits of ordinary taxpayers or mom-and-pop businesses -- that's not where the big cheating is. Much of it is in the form of very complex tax shelters, deliberately designed to make the tax evasion techniques so complicated that auditors have trouble figuring out what's legal and what isn't. Much of the rest happens overseas, where affiliates of U.S. corporations arrange to book their profits in tax havens with which the United States has no enforcement treaty. The Internal Revenue Service recently released a report estimating that taxes owed but not collected in 2001 (the last year studied) ranged from $312 billion to $353 billion. That didn't even count much of the tax evasion by U.S. firms offshore...

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