Robert Kuttner

Robert Kuttner is co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect, as well as 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

Loyal Opposition:

I n the 1990s, citizens sent Washington a message by giving one party the Congress and the other the presidency -- intensified checks and balances two centuries after the founders thought of the idea. The voters didn't quite trust either party to govern without the restraint of the other. This decade could be a variation on the last one. The voters support Bush on his basic anti-terrorism campaign but are skeptical of some of the military adventurism on the horizon. They like his economic program, especially when he borrows basically Democratic themes like more secure health insurance and better-paying jobs. So despite Bush's huge popularity in the wake of Sept. 11, this could be another decade of partisan cohabitation. On the foreign front, Bush's saber-rattling at Iraq may or may not be unnerving Saddam Hussein, but it is giving pause to our allies and spine to the domestic opposition. Vice President Dick Cheney's Mideast mission to enlist the tacit consent of friendly Arab states...

Introduction:

A recession was supposed to rescue the Democrats in next November's midterm election. Even if they had little else, Democratic strategists expected, they could bash Bush for a weak economy. But the recession evidently is over almost before it began, and it's not even April. The unemployment rate has declined for two straight months and may not reach 6 percent. Economic growth has turned positive. Other standard economic indicators -- inventories, consumer spending, factory orders, and so on -- suggest an economy in recovery. This surprising turn raises two questions: First, is the recovery real and durable? And second, what does this do to the Democrats? Seemingly, they are stuck with an unelected Republican president who had the luck first to stumble into a security crisis that allowed him to impersonate Churchill, and then into a quick economic turnaround for which he can credit his Reaganesque tax cut. Most economic commentators viewed September 11 as the coup de grâce to a...

Economics for Democrats

Even if the recession's over, not everyone's making out fine.

A recession was supposed to rescue the Democrats in next November's midterm election. Even if they had little else, Democratic strategists expected, they could bash Bush for a weak economy. But the recession evidently is over almost before it began, and it's not even April. The unemployment rate has declined for two straight months and may not reach 6 percent. Economic growth has turned positive. Other standard economic indicators -- inventories, consumer spending, factory orders, and so on -- suggest an economy in recovery. This surprising turn raises two questions: First, is the recovery real and durable? And second, what does this do to the Democrats? Seemingly, they are stuck with an unelected Republican president who had the luck first to stumble into a security crisis that allowed him to impersonate Churchill, and then into a quick economic turnaround for which he can credit his Reaganesque tax cut. Most economic commentators viewed September 11 as the coup de grâce to a...

Enron's End-Runs

T here are so many scandals in this Enron era that sometimes it is hard to connect the dots. What ties them all together is the broad acceptance of conflicts of interest as a way of life. Consider the emblematic scandal of our time: Stockbrokers were supposed to serve the interests of their customers, but many continued to tout Enron stock even as the company was imploding. Auditors were supposed to attest to the honesty of company books, but Arthur Andersen in its consulting role made lucrative fees helping Enron management concoct dubious financial manipulations that Andersen auditors then blessed. The chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Harvey Pitt, comes directly from a lucrative career lobbying on behalf of accounting firms including Andersen to prevent tough regulation. How can he ethically serve both masters, not to mention the public interest? He can't. The other corporate meltdown in the headlines is Global Crossing, a would-be telecommunications giant. Global...

Comment: The Road to Enron

F or the past quarter-century, America has been deregulating capitalism in expectation of a more dynamic and efficient economy. In fact, average economic growth since 1976 has slightly lagged that of the previous quarter-century, when capitalism was more highly regulated. But there has been a much more serious set of consequences--widening inequality, the dismantling of public remedy, and the neutering of the Democratic Party as a medium of progressive politics. A brief recap: The economy faltered in the early 1970s, largely because of the first oil shock and the collapse of the system of fixed exchange rates anchored by the U.S. dollar. Inflation and then "stagflation" served politically to discredit Keynesian economic policies as well as economic regulation. What followed was new prestige for market fundamentalism--the idea that capitalism is best left alone. (This conceit came back into intellectual fashion around the time that the last economists who personally remembered 1929...

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