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

Got Plastic?

A mericans are a liberty-loving people. Our earliest national motto was Don't Tread on Me. Even after a sickening terrorist attack, we resist national identity cards. Yet we face an ever escalating assault on our privacy and liberty by both Big Brother and big business. And some of our most libertarian instincts turn our to be perverse in their effect. Business routinely misuses financial, medical, consumer, and credit records for marketing purposes. Our health records are supposedly personal and confidential. In theory, insurers get access to these records only to pay claims. But they are also useful commercial data. The Wall Street Journal reported on how marketers get medical records from insurance companies -- for example, data collected by urologists are turned into consumer sales pitches for adult diapers. The Bush administration recently scrapped medical privacy regulations issued in 2000 by the Clinton administration, as required by a 1996 privacy law. The original rules...

Comment: The Do-Something Senate

T here may be some life in the Democrats yet, especially in the Senate. They killed drilling in Alaska. They blocked a wretched judicial nomination. They sidetracked President Bush's outrageous effort to make the tax cut permanent, which would yield endless deficits and spell curtains for decent public services. And the sky didn't fall. They even earned the ultimate encomium: a fatuous lead editorial in The Wall Street Journal headlined, inevitably, "The Do-Nothing Senate." What we have, at last, is a Do-Something Senate. When Newt Gingrich and company were blocking everything that Bill Clinton proposed, so that they could go to the country and pronounce his presidency a failure, the Journal' s editors didn't disparage a Do-Nothing House; they praised Gingrich for saving the Republic. Meanwhile, Bush's foreign-policy magic is fading (See Harold Meyerson, "Axis of Incompetence," page 18). As an unnamed high administration official was quoted in The New York Times, "This has been a very...

No Al-ibi:

A l Gore is back. At the Democratic state convention in Florida, Gore, newly shaven, declared that he was at last speaking out against George W. Bush because "I've had it." At Vanderbilt University on Earth Day, Gore flayed Bush's environmental record. But Gore may find that a lot of voters have had it -- with him. Where was he when we needed him? Gore might have spoken out, say, when the Republicans were stealing Florida. He might have spoken out to demand a statewide recount and to lead outraged rank-and-file Democratic activists instead of sending them home. Or when Bush pushed through a $1.35 billion tax cut that will undermine public services for a generation. Or when Bush was AWOL while the Israel-Palestine conflict built to a festering catastrophe. This spontaneous reentry, like so much else about the man, was carefully choreographed, right down to the follow-up New York Times op-ed and the Earth Day speech at Vanderbilt. In truth, Gore has been in the presidential race since...

Air Fair?

H ere's the latest twist from the annals of airline deregulation. Guess who gets the biggest bargain air fares? Not folks who plan way ahead and risk penalties or Internet bargain hunters willing to fly to Lauderdale by way of Laramie. No, the big bargains go to corporate travelers and government bureaucrats. And the rest of us pay. Herewith an example from my own family: My wife and I happened to be attending the same conference in Philadelphia. Her round-trip fare from Boston was $257.50. Mine was $645.50. Imagine, $645.50 to fly to Philadelphia! W.C. Fields would have forgone the pleasure. Why does USAirways get to charge so much? Because it's a monopoly, silly, and they stopped regulating air fares in 1978. You can always fly a puddle-jumper on another carrier or you can spend almost six hours on Amtrak. But USAir has the only nonstop big jets, and USAir charges whatever it pleases. But, then, why does my wife pay less than half what I pay? Not because she planned ahead or because...

Comment: A Tipping Point?

M alcolm Gladwell has observed, in The Tipping Point , that trends sometimes build gradually but explode suddenly. As an editor of a liberal magazine, I wonder whether we are nearly at that point with the ascendance of conservatism. For more than two decades conservative media organs, think tanks, foundations, political donors, and politically engaged corporations have gained strength while their liberal counterparts have been fighting a rearguard action. Conservative foundations are very explicit about what they are doing, while liberal ones are often hobbled by business-dominated boards and a reluctance to be explicitly political. The once-liberal press is centrist at best, and the new networks, like Fox, are resolutely right-wing. Our cover story is about yet another emerging right-wing media fiefdom. Elsewhere in this issue, Geoff Nunberg's piece documents that the oft-repeated charge of liberal media bias is nonsense. And tabulations of the influence of think tanks usually reveal...

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