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

Comment: Is Bradley for Real?

We've gotten our hearts broken before. Clinton, many of us hoped, was really a closet progressive who somehow also attracted moderates. His fellow southern governor, Jimmy Carter, looked to be a fine reformer for the post-Watergate era. But both presidents left legacies more conservative than liberal. Both were anti-party men. Both failed to use their high office to enhance credibility in government, the Democratic Party, or the liberal cause. Now comes the moderately liberal former senator from New Jersey, seeming to outflank Al Gore on both ends. Bradley is rather to Gore's left with his calls to end child poverty and extend health coverage. Yet Bradley also has great appeal to independents and even to Republicans. Is this Clinton all over again, a politician who is all things to all people? Or something more hopeful? Is Bill Bradley for real? A bit warily, I think he is. Following him around Massachusetts and New Hampshire in early November, I noticed several encouraging things...

Comment: Taxing Democracy

G eorge W. Bush may well win a tax program that most voters rejected in the 2000 election. His $1.6 trillion in cuts would favor the richest 1 percent. Public opinion polls confirm that most Americans would rather see the money go for social investments. Our system is ignoring what most Americans want, because of multiple political failures. The most immediate one is the Democrats' failure to function as a cohesive opposition party. A united Democratic caucus might effectively oppose the Bush program by offering a smaller tax cut targeted to working families. Better yet, it might contrast the Bush tax cuts with popular public outlays. Most Democrats support elements of both approaches--but display just enough disunity to give Bush something close to his original plan, with only modest concessions. The more serious systemic failure, of course, is that Bush is in the White House at all. As news organizations complete their Florida recounts, we may well find out that Al Gore in fact won...

Of Our Time: Constraining Capital, Liberating Politics

If, as widely predicted, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) wins the German election in September, there will be center-left governments simultaneously in every major European nation for the first time in history -- in London, Paris, Rome, and Berlin. Of the 15 nations of the European Union, no fewer than 13 will be governed by democratic-left parties. Liberal democrats also occupy the executive branch in Washington and Ottawa. This stunning convergence entails a double irony. Supposedly, this is the supreme capitalist moment. Yet in nation after nation, voters evidently don't like the effects of capitalism in the raw. At the same time, however, it is not at all clear that these very de-radicalized leftists can do much to temper the market. For the most part, their policies are slightly more benign versions of the same neoliberal policies put forth by their center-right predecessors. Indeed, many on the left have moved to the center not so much out of choice or even political tactic,...

Bush Paid Dearly For Arrogance

Senator Jim Jeffords left the Republican Party just as the Senate was completing action to approve President Bush's tax cut with only slight modifications. While Jeffords's switch will help the Democrats slow down Bush's juggernaut, it comes too late to block his single most revolutionary victory. Bush will now pay dearly for governing as if he had a mandate to move the country hard right. Democrats, in gaining control of Senate committees, will gain the immensely useful power to run hearings. This will enable them to set agendas and shed light on abuses that Republicans and their corporate allies would rather ignore. It will help Democrats promote liberal legislation and slow Republican alternatives. And it will make it harder for Bush to appoint wall-to-wall conservative judges. But Jeffords's shift is not without complications for the Democrats as well. Now a single Democratic senator has the power to hold the whole Democratic caucus hostage by threatening to bolt their party just...

Bad News for President Bush

George W. Bush, the only presidential son since John Quincy Adams to serve as chief executive, could emulate the Adams family in one other respect. Like Adams senior and Bush senior, W. could well be a one-term president. Recent polls bring nasty news for Bush. His approval rating has plummeted. Despite the generally favorable media spin on his recent European trip - that world leaders were pleasantly surprised that he wasn't a total moron - the public isn't buying it. A New York Times/CBS poll found that a majority of voters doubt his ability to lead in an international crisis and doubt that foreign leaders have respect for Bush. On domestic issues, the margin of distrust is even larger. Voters don't trust Bush to make the right picks for the Supreme Court (37 percent do, 51 percent don't). And on most issues before Congress, voters by large margins are more sympathetic to the Democratic position. These include giving patients broad rights in health plans, adding prescription drug...

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