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

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,...

Comment: Fool Me Twice

"F ool me once, shame on you," says a wise political maxim. "Fool me twice, shame on me." In his State of the Union address, President Bush will perpetrate a consumer fraud that makes his feint to the center in the 2000 campaign seem like truth-in-advertising. You'll recall that the kinder, gentler Bush of the campaign postured moderate and sought, with success, to steal the Democrats' clothes. He, too, cared about children, women, poor people, minorities, abused HMO patients, trees, and so on. It worked just enough to neutralize Gore's advantages on all these issues. Bush, as president, then went blithely on to appoint a hard-right administration. Now Bush is basking in stratospheric approval ratings courtesy of September 11 and the Afghan war. But he remains vulnerable on domestic issues. So in the January 29 State of the Union address, we will get Spurious George: The Sequel. This big-lie strategy is the work of political guru Karl Rove. Look for a lot of Americans to be fooled...

Daschle Too Timid To Take On Bush Tax Cut

Despite Senate leader Tom Daschle's new feistiness, the Democrats are painting themselves into a dangerous corner on the economy. The Democrats' story goes like this: Bush's last big tax cut - a 10-year, $1.35 trillion cut approved last June - was very foolish. It significantly contributed to escalating budget deficits and hurt the economy. The tax cut, Daschle declared last week, ''probably made the recession worse.'' Democrats, by contrast, are responsible fiscal stewards who are offering a moderate, temporary stimulus with both targeted tax cuts and prudent spending. This sounds good, but it leaves the Democrats offering not much of an alternative. And their facts are open to challenge. A $1.35 trillion tax cut over 10 years was certainly terrible policy. Nearly half of it will go to the richest 1 percent - public money that could have bought health care, child care, or decent schools. But most of that tax cut hasn't taken effect yet. The Republicans craftily timed it so it would...

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