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

Beware Bush Words On Benefits

Although his proposed tax cut has captured the headlines, President Bush's budget is also offering America a radically different path for its two best-loved programs, Social Security and Medicare. Until recently, these towering monuments of social insurance were politically untouchable. Even President Reagan, who was at least honest about his conservative goals, did not dare mess with Social Security. Medicare, until lately, has also been sacrosanct. Both parties have vied with each other to pose as its champion. But buried in the fine print of the Bush budget and obscured by its rhetoric are two fundamental changes that would shift costs and risks from the social insurance pool to the individual for both Medicare and Social Security. As in the campaign, Bush has proved to be a master of cloaking radically conservative ideas in disarmingly liberal language. To listen to his budget message, for example, you'd think he was proposing prescription drug coverage for all seniors. But the...

Gore's Gamble With Lieberman

Jewish immigrants to America used to respond anxiously to any major public news event by asking: Is it good for the Jews? Al Gore's embrace of Joe Lieberman invites a new twist: Is it good for the Democrats? I'm torn. On the one hand, Gore's choice signals boldness. And it could give America an elevated debate about religious tolerance of the sort we haven't seen since John Kennedy and maybe since Thomas Jefferson. On the other hand, it could inflame American tribalism. And the designation ofthe centrist Lieberman, quite apart from his religion, kisses off the Democratic party's liberal and trade union base. Now the liberal on the ticket, relatively, is Gore. The more hopeful scenario goes something like this: Not only does Lieberman make it much harder for Republicans to rail against the amorality of ''Clinton-Gore.'' But who better than an orthodox Jew to trip up the fundamentalist right? Moral Majority types think they have a monopoly on...

Bush Is Playing With Religious Fire

Does George W. Bush appreciate what fire he is playing with when he stirs up the religious right? It is almost as if we are on the road to religious war. In so many corners of the globe, people are brutalizing their neighbors because each is convinced that he has a direct pipeline to the true deity, while the outsider is a dangerous infidel. Whether in the Middle East, or Ireland, Iran or Afghanistan, state-fomented religious intolerance is the great blight on the right of ordinary people to live as they choose, as well as a grave threat to the peace. Colleague James Carroll's recent best-selling book, ''Constantine's Sword,'' recounted the appalling history of how militant Christians slaughtered millions of outsiders, in the name of the healing word of Jesus of Nazareth. As we see from the seemingly insoluble conflicts in Ireland and Israel, religious difference quickly degenerates into tribalism. The conflicts have long since ceased to be about the correct form of worship, but about...

Can Insiders Be Outsiders?

I magine that you're Senator Tom Daschle. You have two somewhat conflicting goals. One is to block the worst parts of the Bush program, this year. The other is to move down the hall to the big office, the one that says Majority Leader instead of Minority Leader, probably in November 2002. You could get lucky, so to speak. Either of the doddering ultras from the Carolinas, Thurmond or Helms, could tip partisan control of the 50–50 Senate by passing on to their respective rewards before the midterm elections (maybe to some integrated private hell where they will be eternal servants to black, lesbian millionaire performance artists). But I digress. Tom Daschle can't exactly count on the demise of Thurmond or Helms, and it is unseemly to wish for it. Strom Thurmond is not entirely compos mentis, but at 98 the fellow does push-ups. And if sheer meanness keeps a man alive, Jesse Helms could outlast half the Senate. So if Daschle does become majority leader, he will probably have to do it...

Comment: Lose that Eyeshade

S enate Democratic leaders, stung by criticism that they have failed to challenge the Bush administration's assault on civil liberties, are taking comfort from their goal-line stand against the latest round of proposed tax cuts. Yet as we approach the 2002 off-year elections, the Democrats could easily repeat the mistakes of the Clinton era by trying to make fiscal rectitude their mantra. The other day, White House budget director Mitch Daniels told Congress that he expected the budget to be in deficit for the next three years. That admission ought to whet Democrats' appetite for repealing Bush's $1.35-trillion tax cut. However, far too many Democrats are reverting to an old, discredited playbook. In 1998, Bill Clinton worried that endless surpluses would lead to Republican tax cuts. So he declared that fiscal policy should "Save Social Security First." Depending on what sort of gloomy accounting you used, Social Security could be shown to be so far in the red that it could soak up...

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