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

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...

Comment: Springtime for Democrats?

A s this election year begins, one can imagine two equally plausible scenarios. In the first, George W. Bush wraps the whole Republican Party in the flag. He outflanks the Democrats' latent advantage on virtually every domestic issue; the Republicans dominate the agenda and keep control of Congress. In the second scenario, Bush's wartime popularity fades; the sense of a prolonged siege, economic unease, and unequal sacrifice all play to the Democrats' advantage. And the Dems take both houses and some governorships besides. Which scenario will prevail? To some extent, the outcome will reflect forces beyond either party's control. If the post-Taliban phase of the war on terror goes badly or if the economy keeps tanking, Bush will pay the same political price that his father did. Unanticipated consequences could include deepening India-Pakistan conflict, escalating instability on the Israel-Palestine front, or trouble in Iraq. Yet much will depend on the Bush administration's own steps...

Globalism and Poverty

J ust as Watergate became a metaphor for the Nixon era and Whitewater the right's symbol for Clinton, Enron is the emblem of the Bush administration's way of life. Enron is to George W. Bush what Teapot Dome was to Warren G. Harding. Its demise should also signal the collapse of a whole economic paradigm, in which smart people were traders and those left behind in the outmoded economy were throwbacks who actually made things. Here is a checklist of the several icons that collapsed with the fall of Enron: A pension double standard. Enron's retirement plan was heavily invested in its own stock. Executives cashed out over a billion dollars, while ordinary employees were locked in. Janice Farmer, who retired with $700,000 in Enron, told a Senate hearing last week that she is left with a $63 monthly Social Security check. Senators Corzine and Boxer propose a 20 percent limit for any one stock in 401(k) plans. Bogus accounting. Since the Great Depression, the one form of regulation that...

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