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

Hillary’s Big Dilemma

AP Photo/Matt Rourke
AP Photo/Matt Rourke Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign stop, Monday, April 25, 2016, at City Hall in Philadelphia. H illary Clinton and her advisers now face an excruciating dilemma for the November election. Go left or go center? Typically, a Democrat moves left to win the nomination and then moves center to capture swing voters in the general election. But this is no ordinary election. For starters, the Sanders campaign has been the source of energy and excitement—not just the kids, but the white working class voters whom Hillary will need to win back. Polls suggest that few Sanders backers will defect to Trump. That’s not the problem. The problem is how many will just disengage, stay home, refuse to work hard for the ticket, or even vote for the Green Party candidate, Jill Stein. And what it would take for Clinton to win over disaffected blue-collar voters who were once Democrats but who now are inclined to vote for a pseudo-populist...

Let’s Hear It for Tax and Spend

AP Photo/Seth Wenig
AP Photo/Seth Wenig Senator Bernie Sanders, right, speaks as Hillary Clinton listens during the CNN Democratic Presidential Primary Debate at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on Thursday, April 14, 2016 in New York. This article originally appeared at The Huffington Post . T here was a truly silly dogfight last week between the Clinton and Sanders camps on who was the worse offender when it came to possibly raising taxes on the middle class. Clinton had supported Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney’s proposed three cents an ounce tax on sugary drinks to pay for universal pre-kindergarten. Sanders countered that this was a tax increase on working people. He said : “Frankly, I am very surprised that Secretary Clinton would support this regressive tax after pledging not to raise taxes on anyone making less than $250,000. This proposal clearly violates her pledge. A tax on soda and juice drinks would disproportionately increase taxes on low-income families in Philadelphia.” Sanders, as it happens, has...

Vice President Elizabeth Warren?

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Senator Elizabeth Warren speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. Warren, the populist senator from Massachusetts, told The Boston Globe in September that she would likely endorse a presidential candidate during the primaries, but has since remained coy. 


The Boston Globe has reported that Hillary Clinton is considering picking a woman running-mate, and the optics suggest that this means Elizabeth Warren. The Globe quotes an on-the-record interview with no less than Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.

So what’s this about? Is it the Clinton campaign signaling to Sanders supporters that she would reach to her left in selecting a vice presidential candidate? Is it just a trial balloon? Would Warren take the job? And is it a good idea?

I have no inside information. But you don’t put something like this out there without first clearing it, lest you get shot down. Clearly, there must have been conversations with Warren before Podesta just ran the idea up the flagpole.

Would this be a smart move for Clinton? I think it would. For starters, it would energize the Sanders wing of the party like almost nothing else, other than putting Bernie on the ticket.

Second, it would jump start the excitement of a gender breakthrough. Clinton has not produced the thrills that the prospect of the first woman president should produce, because she is kind of old news and a little shopworn. But Warren herself, and an all-women ticket—that would really be something. A double breakthrough!

Wouldn’t it scare off some men? Not much. The men who are not going to vote for Hillary would not be deterred by having a man as her running mate; and there aren’t many more men who would be repulsed merely by the presence of a second woman on the ticket.

Third, it would help in the white working class areas of the Midwest, where the election will be decided. Trump is cleaning up his act, hiring speechwriters, trying to look presidential. If he is the nominee, and the Republicans have, say, a Trump-Kasich ticket, it could be a close election.

Clinton needs shoring up with white working class voters in key states such as Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Warren could help.

But is this a good idea for Warren? What if Clinton put her on the ticket, and then mainly ignored her?

This would be a risk for Warren if she accepted a cabinet position. But don’t forget, the vice president is the one person in a president’s administration who can’t be fired.

Warren has her own national constituency. She is a genius at combining an astute inside game with a superb outside game. If Vice President Warren pitched an idea at President Hillary Clinton, and Clinton was lukewarm, Warren is entirely capable of going out and making speeches.

And what about her Senate seat? In the past, the idea of Warren as VP has been seen as a nonstarter because Massachusetts Republican Governor Charlie Baker would get to fill the seat and the new Senate is likely to be Democratic or Republican by a vote or two either way; every seat counts.

But there is more to it than that. Massachusetts law requires a special election within 145 to 160 days after a Senate seat is vacated. So Baker’s interim appointee would serve for less than six months before the Democrats in deep blue Massachusetts took back the seat.

This idea of course is far from a done deal. It’s a trial balloon. Warren has not endorsed either Sanders or Clinton, and it will take a lot of fancy footwork for Sanders not to be offended, for Warren not to feel used just for her symbolic value, and for Clinton as presumed nominee to make a final decision.

But having raised this idea, Clinton now runs the risk of looking like a trimmer if she eventually goes with someone centrist such as Virginia Senator Tim Kaine or another conventional choice.

Clinton, more than anything, needs a shot of excitement and enthusiasm. Warren would surely bring that. And the fact that Warren herself has not closed the door is doubly interesting.

Whadda year!

Will Bernie’s People Back Hillary in November?

AP Photo/Mel Evans
AP Photo/Mel Evans,file Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders greets supporters during a campaign rally, Tuesday, April 12, 2016, in Syracuse, New York. This article originally appeared at The Huffington Post . I t’s fitting that the Democratic presidential nomination will likely be decided in New York, the birthplace of Bernie Sanders and the adopted home of Hillary Clinton. The polling averages now show Clinton up by about 13 points in Tuesday’s primary. Sanders has closed gaps like this, but mainly in states that allow independents to vote in party primaries. In New York, however, only registered Democrats can vote in the Democratic presidential primary. So registered members of the Working Families, a potent progressive force in New York, will not be able to cast votes for Sanders. Not will young people who got energized in the past few weeks but neglected to register as Democrats. If Clinton does pull out a win, it ends Sanders’s streak and all but guarantees...

Sanders, Trump, and the Hassles of Regular People

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders orders hot dogs at Nathans Famous in Coney Island in the Brooklyn borough of New York, Sunday, April 10, 2016. This article originally appeared at The Huffington Post . “Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me.” —F. Scott Fitzgerald. E very once in a while, I have an experience that sheds some light on why most of the 1 percent do not give a rip about the struggles of regular people, and why so many voters are turning to outsiders like Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. The other day, I was mistaken for a VIP, and was thus spared a lot of hassle. I suspect this sort of red-carpet treatment is normal if you are a notable. I can tell you, it was a thrill, even briefly, to be an accidental tourist in the executive class. I was on a last-minute trip, and in the sheer confusion of it all, I left my laptop on the plane. When I realized what I’d done and started getting my mind...