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 Can Democracy Survive Global Capitalism? In addition to writing for the Prospect, he writes for The Huffington Post, The Boston Globe, and the New York Review of Books. 

Follow Bob at his site, robertkuttner.com, and on Twitter. 

Recent Articles

The Eye Of The Relief Effort

One thing we learned from Hurricane Katrina is that America still has a lot of poor people, who are disproportionately black and mostly invisible to the affluent and to the media. Behind the glitzy stage set of the quaint New Orleans tourist economy was a grindingly poor city. Most poor people work for a living, just like most middle-class people do. They are the people who the Rev. Jesse Jackson famously said ''take the early bus," and take care of other people's young children and aging parents, sometimes at cost to their own families. In this decade, the working poor have not done well. The Labor Department reports that wages of nonmanagement workers have lagged behind inflation, and those of low-income workers in particular. President Bush, on the defensive, has announced a new program of rebuilding. It's a reminder that circumstances sometimes require even conservatives to recognize the indispensability of government. But look a little deeper. Bush's approach doesn't really...

Leadership, Please

George W. Bush's cynicism and incompetence have come back to haunt him, earlier than might have been predicted. As a result, history has dealt Democrats an opportunity. Whether they will rise to the occasion remains to be seen. Michael Tomasky addresses the politics of the New Orleans catastrophe elsewhere in this issue. Although Hurricane Katrina has knocked the Iraq debacle off the front pages, American public opinion continues to desert President Bush on the war. Recent polls show that Americans disapprove of Bush's handling of Iraq by 60 percent to 36 percent. And a majority believes that we are losing ground there, and that the war was a mistake. The president's general approval ratings are at a rock-bottom 38 percent, about the hardcore Republican voting base. But if the Democrats are not careful, leading Republican critics of the Bush Iraq policy will end up outflanking Democrats as war critics. Among senior Democrats, only Russ Feingold has had the nerve to call for a phased...

The Defectors

Rick Larsen is a third-term Democratic representative from Lake Stevens in Washington state. A balding former publicist for the Washington State Dental Association, Larsen, 40, is a proud member of the New Democrat Coalition. His district, Washington's 2nd, runs north from the Seattle suburbs to the Canadian border. It is, on balance, fairly liberal -- George W. Bush lost the district in both 2000 and 2004 -- and Larsen's seat is secure. After a closer race in 2002, Larsen won this traditionally Democratic district last year almost 2 to 1. Yet Larsen's voting record doesn't reflect these numbers: He voted in favor of the bankruptcy bill crafted by the credit-card industry, the Bush administration's estate-tax repeal, and the tort “reform” bill supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce limiting the right to sue. Three-thousand miles away, in a working- and middle-class majority African American district, Gregory Meeks of Queens, New York, voted for two of these three conservative Bush...

Boon Or Burden

It's an ill wind that blows no good. But how will the political winds shift as the enormity of the Katrina disaster sinks in? We face two opposite prospects. The first is that Americans will finally grasp that what connects the catastrophes in New Orleans and Iraq is a witches' brew of self-delusion, deliberate deception, cronyism, and staggering incompetence on the part of the Bush administration. Republicans, meanwhile, will desert a president who is becoming a plain embarrassment even to his staunchest backers. But there is a darker possibility, already emerging. The Karl Rove team is gradually getting Republicans back “on message.” To wit: There's no point in playing a “blame game,” as Scott McClellan said fifteen times at Thursday's press briefing. The New Orleans disaster just proves the unreliability of government in general rather than this feckless president in particular. We should be looking forward to rebuilding -- with the private sector taking the lead. If we aren't...

The Young And The Debtless

This Labor Day, wage-workers have little to celebrate. Though unemployment is down, job insecurity is up. Health and pension benefits are dwindling. Weakened worker bargaining power is reflected in flat earnings. According to a new report from the Census Bureau, real wages of fulltime workers fell 2.3 percent for men and 1 percent for women between 2003-04, and median family income declined by $1,669 since 2000. Productivity is up 15 percent, but gains have gone to profits, not wages. The Economic Policy Institute calculates that the median hourly wage, $16.13 in July 2005, is right where it was in November 2001, when the current recovery began. Adjusted for inflation, the median wage back then was $16.15. One group of workers is particularly hard-hit by multiple trends -- the young. The young are less likely to have jobs with decent health insurance. If they have pensions at all, they are typically plans at risk for stock-market fluctuations; they are far less likely to have defined...

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