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

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...

Devil in the Details

WRITERS' BROCK Lest we forget, the vast universe of sexual allegations swirling around President Clinton began expanding more than four years ago with a single fiery Big Bang—the article by David Brock in the American Spectator called "His Cheatin' Heart." Last April in Esquire magazine, Brock issued an emphatic apology to Clinton for begetting the Paula Jones suit that in turn begat the three-ring Monica circus. His sources for the article, Brock confessed, were motivated by vengeance, money, and political animosity. Yet even though the author himself has repudiated the article, the Spectator continues to defend it—while simultaneously continuing to attack Brock. The magazine's online version made Brock its "Enemy of the Week" for two weeks in a row, and has supported reader suggestions that he be named "Enemy in Perpetuity" because of his apology. And in the May 1998 Spectator , editor T. Emmett Tyrrell called Brock a hypocrite for disavowing the article without also relinquishing...

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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