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

Tax-Cut Battle Lost, Democrats Can't Let Up Now

In losing $1.35 trillion of federal revenue to George W. Bush's tax cut, the Democrats lost an important battle, but maybe they haven't lost the war. The war, in this case, is a principled conflict between two contending philosophies of governance and the good society. Should people fend mostly for themselves or should some needs be provided socially? In this debate, conservatives want to shrink social spending. Since the Reagan era, the Republican grand design has been to starve government for resources. President Reagan accomplished that, big time, with his massive tax cut of 1981. That tax cut was responsible for more than a decade of spending cuts and escalating budget deficits, which increased the national debt by more than $3 trillion. The Democrats barely got those deficits under control and began to contemplate restoring some social spending when the Republicans came back in and cut taxes again. Seemingly, Bush's $1.35 trillion tax cut, most of it to the wealthy, removes money...

The Tax Debate We Really Need

The increasingly severe economic downturn offers a fresh basis to reconsider President Bush's tax plan. For starters, it's the wrong kind of tax cut. For reasons of budgetary sleight of hand, most of the benefits would occur in future years. But we need a strong economic stimulus right now. By contrast, President Kennedy's tax cut, which conservatives love to invoke, was front-loaded. Second, most of the benefits go to the wrong people - very wealthy ones who will save rather than spend the proceeds of their tax break. Whatever is afflicting the economy at this moment, it is not a shortage of savings. On the contrary, there is plenty of investment capital around. But in a downturn, capitalists are pulling in their horns. So the stimulus we need should be on the demand side - consumer spending. Investors, if anything, were overly credulous in the booming 1990s. They were easy marks for stock promoters and backed a rash of unneeded ventures that are now collapsing. For the long term,...

America's Children

I t's no accident that politicians kiss babies. America is a nation that professes to love its children. Yet the policies we have in place to raise the next generation are those of a nation that kisses children off. This special report offers a tour of the horizon. In the opening piece, Janet C. Gornick and Marcia K. Meyers bring news that may surprise a lot of American readers: The European welfare state is far from dead, at least in the way that it eases the work-family straddle. Europe's profamily policies have profound implications, not just for the well-being of children but for the changing role of gender in paid work and nurturing. If we want mothers and fathers to have equal opportunities, both at home and in the workplace, somebody competent needs to be looking after children. Otherwise, someone suffers. If not children, then parents. If not parents, then children. If not our working selves, our parenting selves. Visit TAP Online's Special Segment on Children and Families Our...

Opposition as Opportunity

With Republicans in narrow control of Congress, Democrats should think big.

At this writing, there is a chance that the courts may yet order a Florida rerun, but the next president is likely to be George W. Bush. Where does this leave progressives? The task of a political opposition is to prevent damage in the short run and rebuild for the long term--and this could be a more propitious moment than it seems. For starters, Bush's win would be the shallowest mandate in more than a century. Gore's issues did a lot better than Gore did. Conservative themes, such as tax cutting, limits on reproductive choice, the privatization of Social Security, and the voucherization of Medicare, simply did not resonate with voters. Instead of being angry at government, the public was dismayed by the assaults of the market. Voters plainly agreed with progressive Democrats on most policy questions, and Democrats in Congress are now freed from the crosscurrents of Clintonism to be a more progressive party. So the challenge for progressives and...

Comment: Civics as Politics

V oting turnout is very likely to decline again this year. Some of the decline reflects the fact that both candidates are widely seen as boring. But dwindling voter interest also represents a long-term trend. In this issue of the Prospect , "Rousing the Democratic Base" by Robert Dreyfuss underscores what political scientists have long observed: The mobilization of voters is not a generic civic process but rather the work of engaged political organizations committed to a particular viewpoint and candidate. In this case, the labor movement and the NAACP are working hard to get out the vote, presumably for the Democrats and Al Gore. If Gore should win, it will not be because working- and middle-class voters suddenly grasped the value of Gore's program, but because activist groups took the trouble to organize prospective Gore supporters. Oddities of our tax laws and campaign finance system do not quite require these worthy groups to...

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