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

Ironically, Gore's Biggest Worry May be About Oil

The record economic boom is near a tipping point. Although no serious inflation is being generated by the sizzling economy, increases in oil prices show up in the general price index. They also worsen America's balance of trade. Meanwhile, the weakness of the euro is depressing profits that American companies earn abroad. On all these counts, the stock market is getting very nervous. A big stock market correction would cool off both consumer and business spending. It might scare off the foreign investors who keep buying our bonds. In this context, a misstep by the inflation-phobic Federal Reserve could help send the economy into deep recession. Al Gore must be praying that the economy holds up until Nov. 7. His friend and mentor Bill Clinton must be using every diplomatic lever to pressure OPEC to open the spigots. Our European allies, faced with consumer revolts over the price of gasoline, are doing likewise. The weakness of...

Let's Have Real Shared Sacrifice

Retailers are not expecting a great Christmas season this year. Shoppers have less money in their pockets and more worries about their economic future. The very act of shop-til-you-drop, always a little bizarre as a form of Yuletide expression, feels especially unseemly in wartime, even when rationalized as a patriotic act of economic stimulus. It is also an odd time for the theme of national unity and shared sacrifice. In the September 11 attacks, several thousand Americans, mostly accidental heroes, made the ultimate sacrifice. Thousands more are fighting in Afghanistan. Sacrifice is also widely unequal on the home front. Those making the biggest sacrifice, like the unsuspecting victims of Sept. 11, are innocent bystanders losing their jobs, or needy people (mostly children) losing vital services to recession budget cuts. Corporations, meanwhile, are lined up for tax cuts. We are all feeling as if we are sacrificing, because we have indeed all given something up: each of us feels...

Low Marx

In The New York Times Magazine for November 28, Jacob Weisberg wrote about "The Rehabilitation of Joe McCarthy." The article partly drew on (and credited) Joshua Marshall's earlier American Prospect article "Exhuming McCarthy" [March/April 1999]. Weisberg depicted the endless rehashing of who was right about communism as a kind of family co-dependency among leftists and ex-leftists. The latter use their own belated discovery that communism really was an evil empire to impeach liberals. But as Weisberg (and Marshall) observed, the American intellectuals who got communism right all along were liberal anticommunists like Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Reinhold Niebuhr, and George Kennan, who recognized that to be staunchly anticommunist, you needn't be a McCarthyite. Speaking of co-dependency, The New Republic savaged Weisberg from the right, while The Nation fretted from the left. TNR fulminated, "For Weisberg, the anti-communists have nothing more to teach....But...

Prescription for Failure

Prescription drug benefits are shaping up as one of the defining issues in this fall's campaign. Drugs are now the fastest-growing component of medical care. Elderly people spend more on drugs than on doctor bills. HMOs are squeezing other kinds of care because of their own rising drug costs. There are really two big questions here: Should more Americans get more drug coverage, and should government play a direct role in limiting drug prices? The reasonable answer to both questions is a resounding yes. Medicare does not cover prescription drugs. Private supplemental Medigap policies are available, but the ones with good coverage cost hundreds of dollars a month. Some HMOs offer Medicare recipients drug coverage via managed care plans, but they are finding it ever harder to make money on Medicare patients, and millions of patients have been dropped. Ever since Medicare was enacted in 1965, drug companies have resisted adding full drug...

News Pollution

Readers of the Sunday New York Times Magazine were treated on April 1 to an extensive advertising supplement on allergies and asthma. The supplement ran from page 30 to page 42, with regular Times Magazine page numbering. The ostensible news copy was prepared by an outside agency; the section carried the disclaimer, in small type, that it was not based on reporting or editing by the Times. Advertising supplements are not new. But there should be decent limits, especially at quality papers like the Times. This supplement was designed for drug company advertising of allergy and asthma products. It included an ad for Aventis Pharmaceuticals' Allegra, one for GlaxoWellcome's Flonaze, and a four-page spread by Pfizer. Dozens of other products were plugged repeatedly in the advertorial's pseudo-news copy. Despite the section's title, "From Cause to Cure," there was nothing about cause. The several "news" articles did not address why asthma and allergies have reached epidemic proportions...

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