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

America's Hidden Issue

America's hidden issue of poverty WBUR, Boston's fine public radio station, has been flogging this promotion: 16 million poor kids, through federal aid, get nutritious breakfasts and lunches throughout the school year. But now it's summer, and school's out. So send WBUR a hundred bucks, and $25 of it will go to a local food bank that feeds kids while the federal money shuts down. Does this strike you as just a little off? By all means, send WBUR a check. But shouldn't the news staff, as opposed to the development staff, be running with this story? What Scrooge forgot that kids eat in the summer? Where is the Bush administration on this? Why are there so many hungry children, anyway? By making this appeal part of its fund-raising pitch, complete with heart-rending interviews with adorable kids, WBUR subtly buys into the premise that these children require charity rather than decent public policy anchored in a robust politics. It adds to the depoliticizing of issues that should be part...

Prospects

Earth to Kerry ...

George W. Bush had a pretty good month. Iraq is still a mess but the Bush administration, with the improbable help of the United Nations, managed to confound the critics and install a new government in Baghdad. The UN Security Council blessed the venture, 15 to 0. The U.S. economy generated decent job-growth numbers for the third consecutive month. And Ronald Reagan's death projected a halo that Bush appropriated (for a week, anyway). All of these gains, of course, are fragile. The new Iraqi government is shaky. U.S. jobs may be growing but real wages are not. The most politically visible economic indicator is the price of gas at the pump. And the inevitable comparisons with the Gipper haven't necessarily been kind to Bush. Still, despite the president's low approval ratings, there is a nontrivial chance that Bush could pull out of his nosedive this summer. Iraq could remain tolerably stable until November. If the interim government doesn't collapse by election day, we will hear the...

The Torturers Among Us

What have we learned so far about officially sponsored torture by the U.S. government? First, it is unambiguously clear that the torture of prisoners in Afghanistan, at Guantanamo, and at Abu Ghraib was official policy. Lawyers for the Pentagon and the White House, reporting directly to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and President Bush, wrote contorted legal briefs trying to define a category of person immune to both due process of law and the Third Geneva Convention. As recently disclosed Pentagon memos divulge, one explicit purpose was to justify torture as a technique of interrogation. Second, the grotesque abuses at Abu Ghraib were therefore not the work of a few renegade freaks. Official policy was that coercion should be used to pry information out of prisoners. The torture techniques were at first wielded by military and CIA interrogation specialists and limited to "high value" captives. But as torture moved down the chain of command, it further degenerated from a twisted...

All the President's Handouts

Plan of Attack By Bob Woodward, Simon & Schuster, 480 pages, $28.00 Future historians will point to two interrelated foreign-policy disasters that could make George W. Bush a one-term president, if the voters pay attention. The first is the well-documented failure of the Bush administration to take al-Qaeda seriously enough, both before and after the attacks of September 11, 2001. The other is the administration's obsession with toppling Saddam Hussein, based on one mistaken premise after another and followed by an equally disastrous failure to anticipate the likely aftermath. These two stories, of course, are increasingly connected, as mounting evidence ties the preoccupation with Iraq to the failure to pursue al-Qaeda. Not until former counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke's extraordinary book and testimony before the 9-11 commission did the press define as a story how seriously the Iraq distraction had diverted attention, troops, and materiel from the more serious menace of...

Greenspan Speak

Alan Greenspan is a gold-plated hypocrite. Last week the Federal Reserve Chairman, speaking at a conference in Chicago, warned that the endless federal deficits had become "a significant obstacle to long-term security because the budget deficit is not subject to correction by market forces." What does Greenspan think caused the deficit - sunspots? He doesn't deign to say. But everyone else knows. While increased military spend ing is part of the story, the huge imbalances that rightly worry the Fed chairman are mainly the predictable result of President Bush's immense tax cuts. At the time of their enactment, not only did Greenspan fail to warn against the danger; he even gave tax cuts his support. Greenspan's early ideological moorings as a far-right Republican accolyte of Ayn Rand continued to trump his current responsibilities as chief central banker. It's one thing to deliberately run a deficit during a recession. It's quite another to deliberately blow a huge hole in the...

Pages