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

Bush's 'ownership' scam

In President Bush's upcoming State of the Union Address, we are going to hear a lot about something called an "Ownership Society." The idea is that American workers aspire to be owners - owners of stock for their retirement, owners of homes, owners of businesses, owners of good health insurance, and owners of the skills that they need to navigate multiple changes of jobs and careers. It sounds just great. Take a closer look, however, and you will recognize the trademarked Bush combination of inspiring themes coupled with a complete absence of useful tools. In other words, bait-and-switch. Other recent examples include No Child Left Behind (millions were); the Medicare drug bill (covers less than half the costs and mainly subsidizes drug companies) and three rounds of huge tax breaks that went mostly to the wealthy. But I digress. How does Bush propose to create this "Ownership Society?" Mainly through….more tax credits. If people lack reliable health care, there will be tax-favored...

Tough Guys

Howard Dean had a roller coaster week. December 9, an eternity ago, Al Gore crowned him with a surprise endorsement. Five days later, U.S. forces surprised Saddam Hussein. Once again, Bush trumped Gore. And last weekend, New Hampshire TV spots -- organized by associates of Dick Gephardt and John Kerry -- began warning that Americans live in "a new, dangerous world," in which "Howard Dean cannot compete with George Bush on foreign policy." Dean, unrepentant, declared in his latest foreign policy address, that "the capture of Saddam has not made America safer." He just might be right. Three other Democratic candidates then excoriated Dean. The conservative National Review's current cover shows Dean in full cry, with the headline, "Please Nominate This Man." Dean remains the odds-on Democratic nominee. But can he possibly win in November? Dean has already achieved something revolutionary. Grasping the potential of the Internet as a tool of mobilization and money-raising, his campaign has...

High-Wage America

This Prospect special report has demonstrated that America is needlessly generating a disproportionate number of low-wage jobs, and that other paths are possible. Low-wage America is a nation of hard-working people struggling to make ends meet -- and a nation of politically disaffiliated and disempowered citizens. These two realities are related. As Christopher Jencks suggests in his introduction, an America with a different constellation of political forces could be an America with a different structure of wages and career opportunities -- as, indeed, our country has been in the not-too-distant past. The story is therefore less about technological inevitabilities than politically determined social arrangements. This collection of articles should also lay to rest two related, powerful myths. The first is that it's natural and desirable just to let many manufacturing and service jobs go to lower-wage countries, and that American ingenuity will simply replace them with better jobs. In...

Bad Wager

The economy grew at a sizzling 8.2 percent in the third quarter. But job growth is not following. The economy has shed about 2.6 million jobs since President Bush took office. In the past few months, it has begun creating new jobs, but not nearly enough. Last month the economy gained only 57,000 new jobs, compared with the 306,000 a month pledged by the administration. It actually continued to lose jobs in the politically sensitive manufacturing sector, some 19,000 last month. It's not that the economy is generating no manufacturing jobs at all. Rather, the good, unionized jobs in sectors like autos and steel are being lost to automation and low-wage foreign competition. It just happens that manufacturing is concentrated in political battleground states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. Last month the unemployment rate ticked downward a bit, to 5.9 percent. Job creation at the current rate will not make much of a dent on overall unemployment between now and next...

Time Trial

For both parties, next year's presidential election is, in many ways, a race against the clock. For President Bush, the question is whether he peaks too early. For now, the economic news is good and the war news just barely tolerable. But take a closer look at both fronts. On the economy, the ideal time for Bush's reelection would be about now, when everything is on an upswing. Unfortunately, the election is next fall. Economic growth and the beginning of job growth have returned. However, both are built on an unsustainable degree of economic stimulus. The federal budget deficit is about 5 percent of GDP, and rising. Interest rates are at five-decade lows. With that amount of stimulus, of course the economy grows. Even so, jobs are not yet growing fast enough to reduce unemployment much, and wages are still fairly flat. The problem is that you can't sustain very high deficits and very low interest rates very long. Money markets look at the rising national debt, and start getting very...

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