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

For Many Voters a Choice About Choice

Many viewers were startled to hear George W. Bush and Dick Cheney sound kinder and gentler on the hot-button issue of abortion rights. In the first TV debate Bush seemed to declare that he would not try to overturn the FDA's decision approving the abortion drug RU-486, that he wouldn't make reversing Roe v. Wade a litmus test for judges, and that he'd seek "common ground" on the divisive issue of reproductive rights. Cheney, debating Joe Lieberman, said he'd look for ways to reach "across the divide." The stance of both Bush and Cheney seemed in sharp contrast to that of the Republican National Convention, where the platform committee ostracized prochoice Republicans and not a single abortion-rights advocate was allowed floor time. What gives? What gives is that reproductive rights groups such as NARAL and Planned Parenthood have mounted a phenomenally successful organizing campaign, and Bush and his handlers can read polls. But despite the...

Comment: Beyond the Fringe

A s we go to press, polls show Al Gore running as much as eight points behind George W. Bush nationally, and behind among every major age group except for voters over 65. This is truly remarkable. The economy is strong, the Republicans got the worst of the impeachment scandal, there are no serious foreign-policy problems, and Bush is a palpable lightweight. Voters ought to be increasingly appalled the better they get to know him. But this isn't happening. There are two pretty clear inferences. The vice president is a god-awful candidate; and as Robert Reich suggests [see " The Real Risk for Gore ," page 56], Gore is making a disastrous mistake by running on cautious themes unlikely to animate either base voters or swing voters. The needless party split provoked by the administration's insistence that China had to become a full World Trade Organization (WTO) member this year only diminishes one reliable source of party energy and...

Of Our Time: A Liberal Dunkirk?

H as the Clinton presidency been a grave setback for liberalism? Or a necessary, if wrenching, re-centering? We have debated this question in our pages, and historians will long argue the issue. One must await the results of the 1996 election to provide a more complete answer. However, here is a look at both sides of the argument and a tentative verdict. Modern liberalism has been a twofold enterprise. First, it has entailed the expansion of individual rights, social inclusion, and political participation. Second, it has used the state, through both government regulation and public spending, to temper the extremes and instabilities of the private market. When the public is in a liberal mood, the polity is rendered more inclusive; and government gains expanded authority to discipline the market-a nice marriage of politics, government, and political economy. By these tests, Clinton has failed to consolidate past liberal gains, let alone expand them. He has stemmed the slide to the right...

Comment: The McCain Mutiny

O n most issues, Republican legislators have presented a solid phalanx to give the Bush administration whatever it wants. The exception is campaign finance reform--and the chink in the Republican armor is Arizona Senator John McCain. Should Democrats be cheered? The answer is a qualified yes. For starters, the reform coalition is mostly McCain plus Democrats. The Democrats are thus identified with an overdue set of popular reforms, while George W. Bush, who won election on a tide of unlimited corporate money, is identified with business as usual. The bad news is that the McCain-Feingold bill keeps getting watered down, and it was less than revolutionary to begin with. In the end, Bush will probably sign it, less because he was out strategized and outvoted than because the bill won't make that much difference. The McCain-Feingold bill is necessary because of the collapse of the post-Watergate system of reforms. This legislation, enacted in 1974, was intended to constrain both...

Comment: Taking It with You

A s Sheldon Pollack writes in this issue ["It's Alive," page 29], Republicans in Congress are close to killing the estate tax. Some remnant will survive, but it could be significantly cut, and with the collusion of many Democrats. Why get rid of a tax paid only by the richest 1 percent of Americans? Why scrap our only wealth tax, one that accounted for $28 billion dollars of revenue in 1999? You can understand why Republicans favor repeal, but why do numerous Democrats follow suit? The answer, in brief, is campaign finance. Only half of 1 percent of voters contribute more than $250 to political candidates. But these are the people that candidates hang out with--and of course these are the people with estates large enough to pay tax. Only in this crowd is $28 billion of federal revenue chump change. As Pollack points out, the lost revenue gradually rises to over $50 billion a year. That kind of money could buy prescription drug coverage for the...

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