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

Of Our Time: A Pile of Vetoes

M idway through this first year of Republican legislative hegemony, President Clinton has seemingly risen, once again, from the political dead. One cannot yet say the same for the Democratic Party or the cause of liberalism. The Republicans are still very much in charge, with an agenda more stridently radical and more dominant than anything justified by their slender win last November. One prospect is that the Clinton presidency will survive, but in an alliance with a conservative Congress and at the expense of liberalism. Another is that Clinton's attempt at accommodation will fail, and the right will make a clean sweep in 1996. To date, Clinton's posture has been that of Great Conciliator. During Gingrich's giddy Hundred Days, the president kept his head down. He was polite, even deferential to the Republicans, insisting that he wanted to work constructively with the new congressional majority. He was not elected "to produce a pile of vetoes," Clinton declared on several occasions...

Up From 1994

S ince Franklin Roosevelt, the central liberal credo has been the use of government to benefit ordinary people. That premise is now battered--fiscally, politically, ideologically. In 1994, swing voters rejected both the concept and the party of government. The 1994 midterm election is not yet the epochal realignment that prefigures a new governing coalition and a new dominant party. But if Democrats sleep through the wake-up call and Republicans win the White House in 1996, realignment will be complete. Thus the stakes could not be higher for Bill Clinton, and for liberals. Clinton must decide how to use his pulpit: when to conciliate and when to fight; what to jettison and what to defend; where to offer bipartisanship and where to draw partisan distinctions; what mechanisms to signal alliance with disaffected voters, absent the capacity to legislate; how to regain ground in the near term and also build strategically for the long term. Clinton also will have to struggle to regain the...

Comment: Bush, Whacked

G eorge W. Bush is losing his working majority in Congress. The only surprise is that it took so long. As recently as a month ago, the new administration imagined that its tax package would just sail through on a tide of media torpor, Republican discipline, and bipartisan gesture. No longer. As the details of the president's not very popular program seep into public consciousness, Republicans are starting to desert. So far the Senate has just one reliably faithless Democrat, the politically androgynous Zell Miller of Georgia [see " Zellout ," by Joshua Micah Marshall, on page 14]. Other conservative Democrats who were expected to defect to the Republicans have voted with their own party leaders. Republican moderates, however, are crossing the aisle with impunity. The basic problem with the Bush budget, substantively and politically, is that it puts unpopular tax cuts ahead of public outlays that most voters want. Bush would divert hundreds of billions from the Medicare trust funds,...

Of Our Time: After Solidarity

T he American Republic has long had a set of public and non-profit institutions that enrich our democracy by demonstrating that society is more than a mere market. The most expansive and explicit of these began in the New Deal, such as Social Security and later Medicare. However, public and communal institutions have a venerable history as old as the Massachusetts common schools of the 1660s. The 19th century saw a flowering of non-profit, communal self-help organizations—charity hospitals, credit unions, workingmen's building and loan associations, fraternal and ethnic mutual aid organizations, trade unions, settlement houses, YMCAs, farm bureaus, and the like. In this century, the non-profit sector added major new organizations such as Blue Cross/Blue Shield, community colleges, and so on. To understand these institutions merely as "providing services" is to understand them far too narrowly, for they play a crucial civic and political role. By defining affiliation on the basis of...

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,...

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