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

Comment: Second Thoughts

W hen the World Trade Center was attacked, some progressives went, almost reflexively, into antiwar mode. Most, however, supported military action, because the incineration of innocents in the heart of Manhattan was so appalling; because the Taliban regime was so brutal; and--somewhat less nobly--because dissent in a time of national outrage courted political isolation. After nearly six months, however, the Taliban is gone, policy is a mess, and the president should be fair game. There was a road not taken--treating the September 11 attacks as a criminal conspiracy, not an act of war. September 11 was a failure of intelligence, security, and diplomacy. The president might have responded by beefing up security, intelligence, diplomatic pressure, and commando efforts. From the start, of course, Bush opted for war. Only history can judge whether the Afghan war was a bold stroke or a blunder, depending on the secondary effects. But that jury is still out. Historical choices look...

A Time for Dissent

After Sept. 11, nearly all Americans rallied round our president. The act was so barbaric that we had little choice. Yet some of us supported military action against the Taliban with grave forebodings. Among our concerns were these: Treating the World Trade Center attacks as an act of war rather than a criminal conspiracy would have global and domestic repercussions that could not easily be foreseen or contained. One worry was wider war. Another was the risk of civilian casualties and political chaos in Afghanistan and elsewhere in South Asia. Another was the effect on the fragile Arab-Israeli peace process. Another was the erosion of civil liberty and tolerance at home. Still another concern was that the Bush administration would wrap itself in the patriotic glow and ram through a domestic program that never would have commanded majority support on Sept. 10 and that America, after enlisting allies for a quick military campaign, would soon revert to dangerous unilateralism. Much of...

Nader Had It Right All Along

If one political figure looks prophetic these days, it is Ralph Nader. The Enron collapse is having a ripple effect on the rest of Wall Street, reflecting years if not decades of corporate balance-sheet abuses, insider enrichments at the expense of workers, pensioners, and communities, and bipartisan regulatory defaults. President Bush's new budget cuts outlays for children, hospitals, worker training, and spending on the needy. A serious prescription drug program is nowhere in sight. Regulatory agencies - including the Securities and Exchange Commission in the Enron era - take major hits. Even education spending, the signature program of this compassionate conservative, lags inflation. All these cuts mock the disingenuously liberal themes of Bush's State of the Union Message last week. The Democrats, meanwhile, have little to offer except to scold the president for running a small deficit - during a recession and a war. Nader's latest book is jauntily titled ''Crashing the Party,''...

Wrong Address:

Bait-and-switch is almost too kind a description for the economic portion of President Bush's State of the Union address Tuesday night. Much as he did in the 2000 presidential campaign, Bush put forth an economic message that sounded like the work of a liberal Democrat. The centerpiece of his program, he declared, would be good jobs. But look at the fine print and hardly anything in it provides jobs, let alone good ones. Meanwhile, unemployment is nearly 6 percent and rising. Bush's misnamed ''stimulus'' package is mostly a tax giveaway to large corporations, on the premise that corporate tax cuts encourage companies to build new factories. But as most economists will tell you, companies expand when they see customers, not when people are losing jobs in a recession. The so-called stimulus is mainly a deferred political reward to corporate allies who loyally supported Bush's previous cut in high-bracket personal taxes last year. It has little to do with getting us out of this recession...

In Today's Capitalism, Regulators Not Relics

Don't you just hate it when the phone rings during dinner and it's a ''courtesy call'' offering anything from credit cards to mortgage deals? Well, one of those archaic government agencies that it's so fashionable to hate - the Federal Trade Commission - has a fine, simple solution. Under the FTC's plan, you just sign up to be off-limits to telemarketing. The FTC will keep a list of people who prefer tranquility to courtesy calls, and it will be illegal to bother them. Needless to say, the FTC's proposal hasn't taken effect yet. The direct marketing industry is squawking, and so are the ideologues who hate consumer regulation. This is an outrageous interference with the freedom of people to be interrupted, they say, not to mention the freedom of phone companies to profit from the intrusion. But most people would prefer to be asked. Justice Louis Brandeis famously observed that ''the right to be let alone'' is one of the most sacred of American rights, implicit in the Constitution,...

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