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

Difficult Terrain on Three Fronts

As the two-month anniversary of the World Trade Center attack approaches, the Bush administration faces rougher going on three key fronts - domestic politics, economic and homeland security, and the war itself. Politics . Though the commander-in-chief's personal approval rating remains around 90 percent, Democrats are poised to pick up two governorships, in moderate New Jersey and Virginia, as well as the mayor of New York. These contests are being decided by local issues. In both governor's races, the Republican is in trouble for having run too far to the right. If the Democrats do make these gains, pragmatic Republican strategists will caution the president to distance himself from the party's right wing, which has pretty much called the tune on everything from tax policy to privatization to religious involvement in public services. This will fracture the GOP. Despite Bush's narrow win in the Electoral College, even before Sept. 11 public opinion was more sympathetic to the...

University for Rent

Harvard University has a famous tradition known locally as "every tub on its own bottom." Translated, that means that each faculty or school of the university is responsible for raising most of its own research money, and finders are keepers. The Harvard name, of course, is ample bait to attract all sorts of funders, savory and otherwise. But just how low will Harvard go to get a grant? Recently, it came out that John D. Graham, President Bush's nominee to be the government-wide antiregulation czar based at the Office of Management and Budget, has taken loads of self-serving industry money to underwrite his Harvard Center for Risk Analysis. Among other things, Graham solicited tobacco industry money and worked with that industry to disparage the risks of secondhand smoke. His dean of faculty, Harvey Fineberg of the Harvard School of Public Health, made Graham give the money back. Graham's center also published a study suggesting that there was little need to be concerned about...

After The War: The Big Questions

In a year or two, and for decades afterward, historians will feel entirely free to second-guess what went so wrong both before and after Sept. 11. Why did US intelligence fail? How could we have so foolishly put our oil connection with the Saudis above our national safety? Did we respond adequately to the economic effects of the crisis? Did the bombing of Afghanistan cause fragile allied governments to unravel? In our efforts to enhance security, did we sacrifice too many civil liberties or too few? Why was our public health system allowed to deteriorate? And was George W. Bush up to the job? For now, most of these questions still await answers, and it feels almost unseemly to be debating them. In a war, it's normal to rally round the flag and the president. Add the real national outrage at the incineration of the heart of our greatest city and you appreciate the lack of appetite for second-guessing. Yet the questions are real and urgent. And in this war there is very little room for...

A Self-Sufficient Energy Policy?

Although gasoline prices are down slightly for the moment, this war against terrorism imperils America's long-term access to cheap oil. And if the Mideast conflict refocuses us on energy self-sufficiency, that would be a constructive byproduct. For one thing, world oil production will peak during this decade. An important new book, ''Hubbert's Peak,'' by the eminent oil geologist Kenneth Deffeyes, a professor at Princeton University, explains that world oil output will peak in this decade. It is following the same trajectory as US oil projection, which began earlier and then peaked more than three decades ago. We now import half our oil. ''Hubbert's Peak'' is named for the Shell Oil scientist, M. King Hubbert, who correctly calculated that US production would peak in the early 1970s. There are no short-term substitutes for gas and oil. When demand exceeds available supply, as we learned during the two oil crises of the 1970s, prices spike - with devastating effects on the rest of the...

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...

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