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

No Clothes

After September 11, even George W. Bush's harshest critics credited him for leading. Lately, Bush has been doing the opposite. What does it mean to lead? A real leader puts his own prestige on the line -- to educate public opinion, to pursue necessary policies that are sometimes unpopular, and to take responsibility. Lyndon Johnson took huge risks to redeem the promise of Emancipation and to lead America into a dubious war. He might have survived the bruises of the former were it not for the latter. But in both cases the policies were his own. Richard Nixon, not America's most honorable president, took responsibility for controversial policies -- opening to China, using temporary wage and price controls, attempting to convert welfare to a guaranteed annual income. He won some, lost some, and was reelected overwhelmingly in 1972. Bill Clinton put his presidency at risk to raise taxes on the rich and balance the budget, to end welfare as we knew it, and to get NAFTA enacted. When...

Health Club

Is the proposed Medicare drug benefit, now before the Senate, worth having? It covers only about one-fourth of seniors' drug expenses. But is it a first step toward a comprehensive benefit, as Democrats hope and Republicans fear? Or is it the first step to privatized Medicare, as Republicans hope and Democrats fear? There's also the political question of who gains in 2004. If the bill passes, President Bush can usurp a popular Democratic issue and boast: "I delivered a drug benefit under Medicare." But his Democratic challenger can say: "Bush's Medicare drug benefit doesn't even take effect until 2006. It's a sweetheart deal for HMOs. It has more holes than benefits. The only reason you get anything is that Democrats fought for it and Republicans were forced to go along. Vote for us and we will get you the rest." Here's what the bipartisan Senate bill, approved last Thursday, 16-5, by the Finance Committee, actually does: Beginning in 2006, seniors could pay an additional $35 a month...

Health Pair

Heart disease runs in part of my family. A beloved uncle died at 50 of a heart attack. One grandmother died in her 60s of congestive heart failure; the other of high blood pressure. Others, happily, have lived into their 90s, and I hope I take after them. In those years, doctors could do little. There was aspirin for pain, nitroglycerine for temporary relief of "angina," and digitalis to stimulate the heart. That was it. But today my fate is not just a matter of diet, exercise and genetics. There are statin drugs if my arteries tend to clog, several classes of blood pressure medication, and much more. There are elegant diagnostic tests, like the echocardiogram I recently had, where I could both see my heart and its valves on a monitor and listen to the healthy sloshing of my splendid pump. (I'm fine, Mom, this was a routine screening.) And if things ever get bad, there are delicate angio-procedures, valve jobs, triple and quadruple bypasses, even heart transplants. And they all cost a...

Press Pass

I'm glad that the press is finally making an issue of President Bush's knowing use of a faked intelligence report on Iraq's supposed nuclear weapons program. But most of the press keeps missing the larger story. Deception has become the hallmark of this president. Whether the issue is leaving no child behind or who actually benefits from the tax cuts or what kind of drug coverage the administration's Medicare amendments will really provide or how the Bush Clear Skies Act actually degrades clean-air standards, the press has given the administration an astonishingly free ride. The back story of the politicization of intelligence has been hidden in plain view for months. Last fall, investigative reporter Robert Dreyfuss, writing in the Prospect , exposed the efforts by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to take control of intelligence summaries from the CIA. In March, The New Yorker 's Seymour Hersh exposed the forgery of the report, now belatedly in the headlines, that Saddam was trying...

Weakest Link

Will the economy be a big liability for President Bush's reelection campaign, as it was for his father in 1992? Or will it turn up just in time, as it did for Ronald Reagan in 1984? And will the economy matter? First, the optimists' case. The stock market, which enjoyed a good quarter, often leads recoveries. The unemployment rate of 6.4 percent -- the worst in nine years -- looks bad. But if you take a closer look, say the bulls, the economy has stopped shedding jobs; the unemployment rate keeps rising because more people are looking for work. And those tax cuts, now totaling more than $4 trillion, have to produce economic stimulus sometime soon. The Federal Reserve is helping by lowering interest rates to the lowest level since 1958. That keeps the housing boom going and saves consumers money on everything from refinancings to car payments. So the economy may not be spectacular, say the Bushies and their allies, but it will be good enough. And in any case, the economy remains Topic...

Pages