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

Stunted Growth

The economy grew at a sizzling 7.2 percent last quarter, surprising many analysts. If this performance continues, it's good news for the Bush administration -- and the opposition Democrats will stop talking about the economy. But before Bush and company declare "economic mission accomplished," consider two problems. First, the benefits of the growth are not trickling down. Second, a high growth rate built on Bush's policies is unsustainable. Even with the highest growth rate since the mid-1980s, the economy shed another 41,000 jobs in the third quarter and has lost 2.7 million jobs since Bush took office. Second, a boom with deficits this huge eventually pushes up interest rates and is thus self-extinguishing. Curiously, only about one-fifth of the quarter's high growth rate has resulted from the deficits. Most of it reflects low interest rates and consumer borrowing and spending. It's sensible to run big deficits in the short run to help kick-start a flat economy. This year's deficit...

Bank Roll

Bank of America's acquisition of Fleet Bank is a terrible idea, on several different levels. The most obvious is that it eliminates a New England-based top-tier bank. When Fleet, a transplant from Providence, absorbed venerable BankBoston, Fleet executives made much of the fact that this new merger would keep a world-scale bank based in New England. That promise lasted just four years. The history of these mega-mergers is that the ordinary customer is the loser. In former CEO Terry Murray's drive to make Fleet the region's biggest bank, Fleet was always too preoccupied digesting the last takeover target to provide decent service. I personally spent more than a decade trying to stay out of Fleet's clutches. I had a good experience with Brookline Trust, which was absorbed by Patriot Bank, which was absorbed by Bank of New England, which was absorbed by Fleet. I moved to BankBoston. Then BankBoston was taken over by Fleet. Before it approved that merger, the Federal Reserve required...

Funny, They Don't Look Jewish

The hallmark of the Bush foreign policy has been a naive radicalism married to an operational incompetence. A small clique with a preconceived blueprint took advantage of a national emergency and a callow president, blowing a containable threat into war while dismissing more ominous menaces. These people are out to remake the world, with little sense of risk, proportion or history. At this writing, the president's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, has seized some authority over the Iraq policy from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who responded with adolescent pique. The long-abused Secretary of State Colin Powell offered new respect for the UN. President Bush even directly contradicted Vice President Dick Cheney's discredited claim of a link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda. In a different administration, these shifts would signal that the chief executive, clearly in control, had recognized the misjudgments and costs of a failed policy, demoted those responsible and...

Blood Count

Out of the blue, a dear friend finds herself in the hospital. The diagnosis: leukemia. She has a fighting chance of beating it, but she's pretty sick and word goes out: She needs blood donors. I'm O-positive. So is she. It's been a while since I've done this, I'm ashamed to say, and I don't quite remember the ground rules. Does my friend literally get my blood? Is there a system of credits, where she's entitled to one pint for every pint that somebody donates in her name? Come to think of it, she's desperately ill. Shouldn't she just get the blood she needs? And, more basically, how should society collect and distribute blood, so that there are fewer shortages? When I arrive at the hospital, I see signs everywhere. Blood shortage: Please donate. Evidently, there are cases more urgent than my friend's -- trauma and emergency surgery, other medical patients in life or death situations. For my friend, not getting enough transfusions merely makes her feel awful and delays her remission...

A Foreign-Policy Emergency

The hallmark of the Bush foreign policy has been a naive radicalism married to an operational incompetence. A small clique with a preconceived blueprint took advantage of a national emergency and a callow president, blowing a containable threat into war while dismissing more ominous menaces. These people are out to remake the world, with little sense of risk, proportion or history. At this writing, the president's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, has seized some authority over the Iraq policy from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who responded with adolescent pique. The long-abused Secretary of State Colin Powell offered new respect for the UN. President Bush even directly contradicted Vice President Dick Cheney's discredited claim of a link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda. In a different administration, these shifts would signal that the chief executive, clearly in control, had recognized the misjudgments and costs of a failed policy, demoted those responsible and...

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