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 Can Democracy Survive Global Capitalism? In addition to writing for the Prospect, he writes for The Huffington Post, The Boston Globe, and the New York Review of Books. 

Follow Bob at his site, robertkuttner.com, and on Twitter. 

Recent Articles

Going Postal

The first time you hear about Oregon's approach to voting, the idea sounds almost un-American. In 1998, the state that gave us assisted suicide decided to run all of its elections by mail: no voting booths, no frantic Election Day get-out-the-vote efforts, no dueling poll-watchers -- and no trooping off to the local firehouse to mingle with neighbors, take one last look at leaflets, and cast your ballot. Why would anyone want to move to such a system? Doesn't it kill one of the few remaining civic rituals that bind us together as a people? Doesn't it spoil the idea of a defined campaign period that ends with everyone casting a ballot on a single day? The full story is told in this special report. But the more deeply you explore the Oregon system, the better it looks. It costs less than half the traditional polling-place system, and has turnout 10.5 percentage points above the U.S. average. At least two weeks before Election Day, every registered Oregon voter gets a ballot courtesy of...

A Massachusetts Miracle?

Is the new Massachusetts new health plan really a model for reform nationally? Advocates of universal health coverage feel they finally have their nose under the tent. The question remains, however: is this the right tent? The design of the plan was drastically constrained from the beginning by Governor Romney Mitt who started with three dubious assumptions. First, he insisted that basic health insurance could be had for $2,400 a year. As any employer or individual who actually buys insurance knows, minimally decent coverage costs around $4,000 for an individual and double that for a family. The rhetoric about basic “Chevrolet policies” versus “Lexus policies” is blarney. Any policy that costs only $2,400 has astronomical out-of-pocket payments. It simply shifts medical costs to individuals. Romney's second premise, shared by Senate President Robert Travaglini, was that “market reforms” could liberate hundreds of millions of wasted dollars to redirect to coverage. The health bill,...

The Tchotchke Economy

As Congress grapples with immigration policy, most experts agree that wide-open immigration slightly depresses wages, especially among unskilled workers. But the main reason for static wages has more do with policies made in the United States. Immigrants, coming from destitution at home, will work for less than American wages. And, if they are here illegally, they can't defend themselves against subminimum wages and working conditions otherwise against the law. Some of this is supply and demand -- more workers competing for the same supply of jobs. But as former labor secretary Robert Reich has noted, if labor laws were enforced, immigrants would be less likely to depress wages. Moreover, the supply of jobs is not static. As immigrants enter the stream of commerce, they generate economic activities and jobs. The Republican Party is now split between business groups who want cheap workers and jingoists who are just plain anti-immigrant. The nativist wing of the GOP plays both to the...

Industrial Strength

General Motors and the United Auto Workers stunned Wall Street and the labor movement this week by proposing the ultimate buyout package. GM proposes to pension off every one of its 131,000 GM and Delphi workers in the United States, with cash bonuses of up to $140,000 for taking early retirement. Who would make the cars? A new generation of lower-paid workers. It is a mark of GM's fragility that the UAW considers this about the best deal the union can get. GM lost $10.6 billion last year. Its bonds are now classified junk. The stock market values the entire company at just $12.4 billion, a fraction of Toyota's $177 billion. Wall Street reacted to the prospect of this daring desperation plan by bidding up GM stock -- by exactly one cent. GM once made nearly half the autos sold in America; it now sells about one in four, many of them imports. What went so wrong? And what does this say about the future of US manufacturing and trade unionism? For starters, as a frequent renter, I...

Consternation Over Immigration

Congress is belatedly grappling with immigration reform. There is no more difficult dilemma, both in terms of the politics and the need to balance contradictory policy objectives. The heightened concern with terrorism only complicates the job. America today is failing to control its borders. Most estimates place the number of immigrants here illegally at around 12 million. Despite heightened security since 9/11, the Pew Hispanic Center estimates that well over 500,000 entered illegally in 2004, more than in 2001. As antiterrorism measures have increased, all these people are outside the law in both senses. They are here without papers, and they are also beyond normal legal rights and protections. On immigration, two prime Republican constituencies are diametrically at odds. An anti-immigrant backlash has been brewing in the heartland. It was reflected in a harsh bill passed last year by the House, rejecting even President Bush's call for a guest-worker program. The House bill would...

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