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

Creating a Secure -- But Free -- US

For 20 years, the party now in power has been crusading for smaller government. But that was then. Since Sept. 11, we've gotten a rude awakening that everything from our personal and national security to the rebuilding of a stunned economy depends on an effective government. We also got a look at public workers in action - New York's police, fire, and EMT heroes - not a lazy bureaucrat among them. But as we necessarily expand government's role in this crisis, we also need to make sure that government's expanded police powers don't take away our freedoms. We got something of the same lesson after Pearl Harbor, when our war production, civil defense, and intelligence capability were all pitifully inadequate. In that crisis, government rose to the occasion and rallied the nation. (It also incarcerated hundreds of thousands of innocent Japanese-Americans.) In this crisis, there is still some hesitancy to act because of the current administration's residual preference for the private...

Shame On Journalists for Forgetting Orwell

In his timeless essay ''Politics and the English Language,'' George Orwell explored how manipulation of words can change how people think. Orwell noted Stalin's use of the word ''liquidation'' as a delicate synonym for execution of political enemies among several other examples. Generations of freshman English students and aspiring journalists have read their Orwell and are supposedly alert to propagandistic euphemisms. But judging by recent successful spin-doctoring of language, many editors and writers could use a refresher course in their Orwell. Herewith, some notable examples: Prolife . All of us can be described as prolife. Most Americans don't like abortion but don't consider it murder, and support a woman's right to have one. But the antiabortion lobby has succeeded in appropriating the phrase ''right to life.'' Conventional usage has become ''prolife'' versus ''prochoice.'' Both terms are propagandistic. An accurate substitute would be antiabortion groups versus abortion-...

The Poverty of Neoliberalism

In the late 1970s, a group of one-time liberals began describing themselves as neoliberals. 'We criticize liberalism," Charles Peters, editor of the neoliberal Washington Monthly , wrote in 1983, "not to destroy it but to renew it by freeing it from its myths, from its old automatic responses..." Neoliberals often join conservatives in lambasting public programs, skewering bureaucrats, and celebrating the power of the market. They also attack special interest groups in the name of a more embracing public interest, untainted by politics. Much of their criticism is entertaining; some of it is even fair. But in the end neoliberalism often seems only to reinforce the conservative impulses of our day Where it remains liberal, it disdains constituencies that liberals need not only to address, but also to inspire. It is just the sort of politically innocent liberalism conservatives eat for lunch. Though the term "neoliberal" has not found its way into most voters' vocabulary, neoliberal...

Congress Without Cohabitation: The Democrats' Morning-After

The budget rebellion in October seemingly ended Congress’s long night of unholy cohabitation with the Reagan and Bush administrations. But can the Democrats really get out of bed?

On September 30, 1990, after being closeted for weeks at Andrews Air Force Base with White House representatives Richard Darman and John Sununu, Democratic congressional leaders brought back an agreement on the federal budget that the press initially treated as a historic compromise. It was actually an astonishingly Republican document -- and a symbol of how deeply compromised the Democrats had become sharing power with a Republican administration. To slay the deficit, the agreement cut Medicare by $60 billion, limited any peace dividend, blocked new domestic spending, and relied on regressive taxes that would have increased the tax burden of the poorest Americans by 11 percent, the middle class by 3.3 percent, and the richest one percent of Americans by just 1.7 percent. After ten years of deficits and failed supply-side dogma, why had the Democrats continued to accept the hand the Republican White House dealt them? "[Speaker] Tom Foley started off with the premise that if no budget...

Beyond the Guns of August

At this writing, American and Iraqi forces still face each other warily across the Saudi sands. Sooner or later, Iraq will likely have to reverse course. But beyond the question of how and when the immediate military crisis will be resolved, the Iraqi annexation of Kuwait has given momentum to the development of a post-Cold War international system based on collective security. That movement may also help bring about progress toward a regional settlement in the Mideast and a more stable regime for the price and supply of oil. In his address to Congress on September 11, President Bush declared, "We are now in sight of a United Nations that performs as envisioned by its founders." For a decade, the U.N. has been the stepchild of American diplomacy, the object of disuse and scorn. The original vision of collective security, of course, was predicated on a concert of great powers. The U.N. could not function as planned so long as the central geopolitical reality was the rivalry of the two...

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