Robert Kuttner

Robert Kuttner is co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect, a professor at Brandeis University's Heller School, and 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

Social's Security:

P ity the people who want to replace social security with private investment accounts. Their timing could hardly be worse. The stock market is flat, and many economists believe it will be fairly flat for a long time to come. A lot of people who were looking forward to comfortable retirements on inflated 401(k) plans have been socked by a down market. They are very grateful for those Social Security checks -- the one part of our patchwork retirement system that is absolutely guaranteed. Meanwhile, the Social Security trustees' latest annual report projects that Social Security is healthier than previously thought. Last year's projection had the system needing a new infusion of funds in 2038. Now, thanks to better economic and demographic news, the system is fine until 2041. Even the famous shortfall still leaves the system with an income stream adequate to pay three-quarters of its projected commitments for 75 years. A modest adjustment in taxes, benefits, or an infusion of general...

Wed Lock:

W hen the welfare reform program of 1996 comes up for renewal later this year, it will have a new emphasis -- wedding bells. The Bush administration wants to spend $300 million of scarce welfare funds to encourage marriage and another $135 million promoting premarital chastity. Several governors have already jumped the (shot)gun with state programs to promote marriage, not just for welfare recipients but for everyone. Some conservatives, like Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation, would go further and provide $4,000 bounties for poor people who marry. In the conservative story, poverty reflects sexual permissiveness and the breakdown of traditional sex roles, in which father is the good provider and mother keeper of hearth and nurturer of the young. Most Americans no longer buy that view of marriage, but the conservative story is beguiling because it contains a germ of truth. Early promiscuity, certainly, is not good for young teenagers, and out-of-wedlock teen births usually...

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...

Pages