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

Budgetary Mess

In looking for the proverbial silver lining in a very cloudy election, Democrats can take comfort from one result. The Republican victory finally blew away the Democrats' disastrous strategy of trying to attract voters by being the party of perpetual budget- balance. Last week at Washington strategy meetings, senior Democrats from both the party's liberal and moderate wings agreed that budget- balance was no longer a winning card -- if indeed it ever was. Instead, the issue dividing the parties has become how best to use temporary deficits to energize the economy. Not only is the economy softening; we are engaged in a buildup for a possible war. On both counts, deficits are now entirely defensible. The Bush administration wants to deepen the deficit by making permanent the upper-bracket tax cuts enacted in 2001, and by adding new tax breaks for corporations and high income investors. This is advertised as an "economic stimulus." As an alternative, Democrats are now working on a very...

Comment: The Unconvincing Case for War

R ecently, the Prospect sponsored a debate on Iraq. Interestingly, both teams were ostensibly liberal Democrats. Arguing for a U.S. invasion were Jonathan Chait, a Prospect alumnus and author of a recent New Republic cover piece on the liberal case for war, and Kenneth Pollack, a former CIA analyst, National Security Council staffer under Clinton and author of The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq . Opposing invasion were Bill Galston, a former Clinton and Gore adviser and a leading theorist of the Democratic Leadership Council (which this page often criticizes), and Ben Barber, author of the best-selling Jihad vs. McWorld . Both Barber and Galston have written cover pieces for this magazine opposing the Bush policy on Iraq. Pollack is as good as the hawks have. His core argument is that Saddam Hussein will acquire nuclear weapons and will not hesitate to use them, either for blackmail or in actual warfare. Therefore, it logically follows that we should have the war sooner...

The Rich-Poor Gap in Decent Preschools

T he well-named Jack Grubman, a onetime superstar stock analyst at Citicorp, first got into big trouble when it came out that he apparently shaded his stock picks in order to curry favor with Citicorp's corporate clients. Last week it emerged that Grubman also bragged in an e-mail that he had upgraded his rating of sagging AT&T stock to do his boss a favor, so that the boss, Citicorp chairman Sandy Weill, would use his influence to help Grubman get his twins into a prestigious nursery school. (AT&T's chairman served on Citicorp's board, and was a Citicorp client.) The Grubman kids did get admitted, but Grubman insists the e-mail was just an empty boast. What makes the Manhattan school in question, the preschool of the 92nd street Y, so special? It has a terrific record at graduating its tots into elite private grammar schools, which in turn feed prestigious prep schools and then, of course, the Ivy League. But what about the rest of America? Though this story is a titillating...

Comment: Outward Bound

T he last time the Republicans controlled the House, the Senate and the presidency for a full two-year term was 48 years ago, in the years 1953-54. Dwight Eisenhower was president. Ike, however, was a bipartisan sort of Republican who worked closely with Democrats in Congress. Among other un-Republican achievements, he gave us the Warren Supreme Court. If the Republicans take Congress, George W. Bush will make far more partisan use of his majority. As we go to press, Democratic control of the House looks increasingly unlikely, and the Senate is balanced on the razor's edge. The net loss of a single Senate seat would leave both houses once again controlled by Republicans -- with the Supreme Court poised to become even more Republican than it already is. This page has often been critical of how the Democrats have played their opposition role. Recently, to compete with President Bush's "economic summit" in Waco, Texas, the Democrats held their own economic session in Washington. The...

Comment: Spot the Spoiler

B emoaning the failure of the Democratic Party to lead has become a newsroom sport. In The New Republic 's version, the Dems have squandered their Roosevelt-Truman-Kennan foreign-policy heritage by wimping out on Iraq. In New York Times columnist Tom Friedman's rendition, "The problem with the Democrats is not that they are being drowned out by Iraq. The problem is that the Democrats have nothing to say on all the issues besides Iraq." Here at The American Prospect , we applaud the qualms expressed by some leading Democrats about Bush's Iraq misadventure, which recall the brave and prescient Vietnam dissents of Sens. Fulbright, Morse and Gruening. If some Democrats are afflicted with "Vietnam syndrome" -- defined as taking political risks to warn against ill-conceived wars -- they should wear that affliction as a badge. But the Democrats' befuddlement on domestic issues is another story. Since FDR, Democrats have won office mainly as lunch-bucket liberals. In the era of mass...

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