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

Comment: Labor Man

N ew Democrats would not be wrong to view this year's Democratic national convention as their own victory rally. Though the party platform offered brave words to comfort liberals, the details were safely moderate. Running mate Joe Lieberman, president of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), is about as centrist a figure as the Democratic Party has outside the deep South. A New Republic cover exulted, "How the Democrats Buried the Left," citing Lieberman, Congressman Dick Gephardt's rapprochement with Gore, the relative isolation of labor, and the New Democrat themes that dominate Gore's campaign. But is burying the left a smart thing for Democrats to do? Where does it leave the labor movement's alliance with the Democratic Party? And does it strengthen or weaken Gore's chances to be the next president? The best thing about Lieberman is the way he trumps the ace of the Christian right. You want faith, we got faith. You want religious...

Out of Los Angeles, a Resurgence for Labor

You may not have heard of Antonio Villaraigosa, but in about a month he is likely to be on the cover of Time and Newsweek. Villaraigosa is the front-runner to become the first Latino mayor of Los Angeles in the June 5 election. Almost more important, his likely win is the fruit of a remarkable resurgence of the labor movement in LA, based substantially on the organizing of the immigrant and low-wage work force. His emergence is an emblem of the most interesting social movement since the civil rights era. Villaraigosa less than a decade ago was a union organizer. He got elected to the California State Assembly, quickly rising to speaker by 1998. That this man may soon be mayor of the largest city in America's largest state is one of the few hopeful harbingers for liberals in an era that seems not only politically conservative but politically dead. Both parties in a sense have become the party of Washington, and most voters don't seem to be paying attention. The Democrats, now in...

Comment: After Triumphalism

W hat a wonderful world it seemed in the 1990s. The United States had not only won the Cold War; it had demonstrated the economic, political, and moral superiority of its own system, the free market. Those abroad who had long resented U.S. global policies were finally revealed to be self-defeating nationalists or superannuated Marxists. Even the Latin Americans were scrambling to catch the laissez-faire wave, firing their planners, hiring Chicago-trained economists, slashing antiquated welfare outlays, privatizing state enterprises, and, above all, opening themselves to foreign private capital. The world's truly destitute were easily written off as hopeless cases; they were simply mired in their own corruption and lassitude. In every society, the most nimble and alert were precisely those who most wanted to be like Americans. Indeed, weren't two million of them sneaking across our borders every year as millions more were turned away? America was now the sole superpower in every sense...

Of Our Time: Globalism Bites Back

T he Asian financial crisis is a practical rebuttal to the naive internationalism that is America's foreign economic policy. Naive globalism includes these precepts: The freest possible movement of goods and services maximizes economic efficiency, hence human well-being. If free competition is good nationally, it is even better globally. With a few basic ground rules, such as respect for private property and equal access to markets, liberal capitalism is essentially self-regulating. At bottom, there is one true form of capitalism. It entails a relatively minimal role for the state. In principle, the size of the public sector and the level of taxation and public services are matters for national choice. The burden of proof, however, is always on government intervention, since taxation restricts individual choice and depresses incentives, while regulation distorts market prices. Above all, markets should be transparent and porous, and prices should be set by private supply and demand...

Globalization and Its Critics

W hat is Tom Daschle up to? "In this divided government," he declared upon becoming Senate majority leader, "we are required to find common ground and seek meaningful bipartisanship." He told the press he would not seek repeal of even the most ill considered portions of President Bush's tax cut. In an op-ed in The New York Times, Daschle added, "I believe the only way forward is to embrace a spirit of principled compromise." He invoked campaign finance reform as a bill on which both parties compromised and moved forward. Daschle seems to be up to several things. One is to be the non-Bush, distinguishing himself from the man who campaigned as a conciliator but has governed as a partisan. The second is to hold together his slender majority, which unfortunately contains several quasi-Republicans. The third is to give the media elite what they insist the public wants. Daschle's conciliatory June 10 op-ed piece echoed the Times's editorial advice of a week earlier: "Mr. Daschle can answer...

Pages