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

Blair Ditch

One likely piece of collateral damage from President Bush's Iraq campaign could be British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Seldom has a U.S. president had a more loyal -- some would say spaniel-like -- ally, and seldom has such an ally been treated more like a dog. Tuesday night, Blair won a fiercely contested vote in the House of Commons supporting British participation in the war without UN endorsement. It was Blair who compelled George W. Bush to go before the UN Security Council last fall. Blair could never have sold an invasion of Iraq to British public opinion without the United Nations, and this was Blair's condition for supporting Bush. Now, however, Bush has entirely stiffed his ally. At the hastily called Azores summit, Blair pressed Bush for more time, for assurances that the occupation of Iraq would be a UN, rather than a US operation, and for a resurrection of the Israel-Palestine peace process. Of these, Bush gave symbolic ground only on the third item, with a promise to...

Eleventh Hour

To view a PDF copy of the religious leaders' advertisement -- which appeared in major British newspapers today -- click here . With war looming, the one man who might possibly cause George W. Bush to modify his course of action is British Prime Minister Tony Blair. It was Blair, you might remember, who persuaded Bush to go to the United Nations last fall. Yet by deciding to invade Iraq without the UN's blessing, Bush has savagely undercut Blair's domestic fortunes. The prime minister's well-respected Labour Party leader in the House of Commons, former Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, resigned yesterday. Two other cabinet ministers resigned last night. Yet another minister, Clare Short, who holds the international development portfolio, has threatened to resign. Short has been working with international religious leaders, many of them American, to try to enlist Blair to support an alternative. Tonight, the House of Commons debates a crucial resolution authorizing British military...

Beyond Left and Right

I recently attended a forum, sponsored by one centrist and two liberal groups, on opportunities to bridge ideological extremes. The panelists were discussing a new report titled "Crossing Divides." The report addressed recent policy innovations that promise to break through stale polarities and yield real benefits for the poor, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit. The forum's moderator, a journalist, began by congratulating the hosts and observing that politics is discredited today because voters are sick of partisan bickering. But hold on. Is the main evil of American public life today "partisan bickering"? Or is it conservative ideology uncompromisingly wrecking public institutions? Could we imagine, say, the American Enterprise Institute or the Heritage Foundation sponsoring a similar event promoting an ethic that conservatives need to put aside partisanship and meet liberals halfway? At every such conservative event I have attended, the ethic is that the last vestige of...

Double Fault

Last Friday the Labor Department reported that the economy lost 308,000 jobs in February. More ominously, the number of long-term unemployed is at its highest level since 1992. Oil prices are skyrocketing. And a recent report in The Wall Street Journal makes clear that, unlike in the first Gulf War, oil producers are already pumping oil at close to their capacity. If Iraq's supply is seriously damaged, prices could stay high for a while. The war and its aftermath will also add hundreds of billions to a budget already in deficit by a projected $304 billion, a sum that doesn't count the costs of war, occupation or rebuilding. In the first Gulf War, allies picked up most of the tab. In this war, Bush has few allies. And the reluctant allies he does have, like Turkey, are more likely to be cost centers than sources of cost-sharing. We would be economically better off, of course, if Bush called off the war or if the war were quick and cheap. But neither of these outcomes is likely. I wish...

Care Bare

War drums in the Middle East are providing the Bush administration with camouflage for domestic policies so dreadful that they could not withstand the scrutiny of front-page attention. Take Bush's designs on Medicare. What the administration really wants is to privatize Medicare. This means that seniors would be herded into HMOs. The federal government's annual contribution would be capped. If you couldn't afford decent HMO coverage (if there is such a thing), too bad. This strategy neatly serves two conservative purposes. First, privatize everything possible. Second, cut federal social outlays, the better to finance tax cuts for upper brackets. Unfortunately for Bush, Medicare is justifiably popular. Despite all the Republican blather about "choice," the one health plan for older Americans that provides completely free choice of primary-care doctors, specialists, hospitals and treatments is, of course, good old conventional Medicare. As even the doddering know from bitter experience...

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