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

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...

Comment: The Enron Economy

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...

Praise the Planners for Cape's Uniqueness

TRURO Heading home from a pleasant break on Cape Cod, I have a new appreciation for the joys not just of sand, sun, and sea, but of public planning. Travelers to Cape Cod may wonder why it has been spared the relentless strip-malling that has blighted most of our vacation spots. Or why most of the Cape's magnificent shoreline is available to ordinary people who come for a day or a week, as well as those fortunate enough to own oceanfront property. The answer, of course, is far-sighted public planning. Thanks largely to Massachusetts Senators Leverett Saltonstall and John F. Kennedy, who conceived it back in 1959, Cape Cod is part National Seashore, which preserves 44,000 acres of the Outer Cape from private development. The National Seashore also guarantees general public access to pristine beaches that stretch the whole length of the Outer Cape. In many states, beachfront land is chopped up into private parcels. You have to be the property owner, or a guest of the resort, to have...

Fund High-Speed Rail, and Lose Airport Gridlock

Two weeks ago, needing to get from Boston to New York for a meeting, I decided to try Amtrak's new Acela Express. It was on time, at 3 hours and 20 minutes. Even so, the office-to-office trip took nearly two hours longer than the air shuttle ordinarily does. Last week I had to be in New York again, for a 10:30 meeting. This time I opted for the 8 a.m. air shuttle. But a brief thunderstorm passed through the New York area, closing La Guardia for less than hour. However, that was enough to cause a morning's worth of bottlenecks. At 9:30, with no takeoff time in sight, the pilot kindly let some passengers get off the plane. The rest may still be there. This country's major airports are on the verge of perpetual gridlock. Our one really successful fast train - the New York-Washington Metroliner (three hours) now has about 40 percent of the intercity air/rail business between those two cities. The Acela cuts that to two and a half hours. If Amtrak got the New York-Boston run down to two...

Pages