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

Trump, Berlusconi, Hitler, and the Populist Moment

AP Photo/Steve Helber
AP Photo/Steve Helber Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump gets a fist bump from supporters during a rally at Radford University in Radford, Virginia, Monday, February 29, 2016. This article originally appeared at The Huffington Post . R ight-wing populists ascend when three toxic forces converge. First, the economy needs to be really lousy for most citizens. Check. Second, the political system ceases to be able to solve problems and loses legitimacy with regular people. Check. Third, some foreign menace causes people to seek shelter in a strongman. Check. Other factors common to successful rightwing populists are these: · They tend to be very good at breaking the rules of conventional political discourse, and at using mass media. · They are not conservatives. They love to use big government to help the masses. More on that in a moment. · They are not accountable to politics-as-usual. Because of their direct rapport with the folk (or if you like, the volk ) their rise...

The Year the Voters Took Back Politics

AP Photo/John Bazemore
AP Photo/John Bazemore Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders cheer during a rally Sunday, February 21, 2016, in Greenville, South Carolina. This article originally appeared at The Huffington Post . F or nearly 40 years, working and middle class families have been taking an economic beating at the hands of political and economic elites. Forty years! (I first wrote a major piece on these trends, titled " The Declining Middle ," for The Atlantic in 1983.) And for the same 40 years, economic elites have kept tight control of the political system, preventing those grievances from breaking through. Instead, regular people increasingly gave up on politics. Or they embraced heroes who promised change, but didn't or couldn't deliver much (Obama), or who turned out to be total phonies (John Edwards), or who represented flash-in-the-pan moments (Howard Dean), or who were all things to all people (Bill Clinton)—deepening voter cynicism that the system was rigged...

Is Warren the Inevitable Democratic VP Candidate?

Both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have good reason to put Senator Elizabeth Warren on the ticket—whoever wins the presidential nomination.

If Sanders wins his underdog campaign, he will have denied the nomination to the most prominent and admired woman in American politics. He will be under intense pressure to name a woman as his running mate.

What about ideological ticket-balancing? Turning to a centrist for vice president would make no sense—it would deny who Sanders is and his entire reason for running. There are other plausible women, but naming Warren would redouble the campaign’s grassroots energy. You want a progressive ticket? Sanders could double down.

And if Hillary Clinton is the nominee, she will desperately need someone to win the excitement of the Sanders base. How about Sanders himself? Probably not. But Warren is a more convincing version of Sanders than Sanders.

Two women on the ticket? Well, for most of our history, presidential tickets have been two men.

Think of the mobilizing potential. Doubtless, Hillary will.

The Deepening Economic Crash and the 2016 Election

AP Photo/Paul Sancya
AP Photo/Paul Sancya Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign stop Monday, February 15, 2016, in Greenville, South Carolina. A version of this article originally appeared at The Huffington Post . I f this bizarre election year needed one more twist, it is now likely to play out against a deepening economic crisis. Advantage: Trump and Sanders. The global economy is weakening, due to a perfect storm of a cratering economy in China, a crash of oil prices, slower growth in the Third World and a realization by central banks that they can't fix what's broken. There is a lot of whistling past the graveyard that the U.S. can somehow continue our (rather tepid) recovery, but in a global economy, no country is an island. Fears of a recession push the stock market downward; then the wipeout of stock values helps bring that recession nearer. (Who said markets were rational?) Consumers benefit for now from the cheaper gas prices at the pump. But with wage growth...

McConnell’s Misstep -- and Obama’s Backbone

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made a big mistake when he declared that Republicans would not confirm any Supreme Court nominee appointed by President Obama in this election year. For starters, it makes Republican senators, several of whom are defending closely contested seats in purple states, look purely obstructionist and opportunist. The same goes for the GOP presidential candidates who are treating the question of who will succeed conservative Justice Antonin Scalia as nothing but political.

More importantly, Republicans are missing an opportunity to lock in a center-right justice before a Democrat gets elected president. If McConnell and Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley were shrewd, they would play to Obama’s vanity and signal that they could live with a moderate. That way the seat, instead of going to a liberal who would deliver progressives a long-awaited 5-4 liberal high court majority, would go to another Anthony Kennedy-style moderate conservative. That would create an alignment of three conservatives, four liberals, and two swing votes.

Would Obama have the nerve to resist this? As companion pieces in the Prospect by Peter Dreier and Margo Schlanger suggest, the court’s current 4-4 deadlock actually helps liberals, because so many lower court rulings cut in a more liberal direction. They would have been struck down by a 5-4 majority had Scalia lived through the end of the current Court term in June. But now the lower court rulings, which tackle issues ranging from affirmative action to union representation and abortion rights, will stand.

That leaves Obama with the upper hand, if he will use it. He should be in no rush to appoint a centrist. Any nominee embraced by McConnell and his GOP allies would almost certainly disappoint progressives. Obama would do better to appoint a highly-qualified progressive, split the GOP Senate caucus, and dare Republicans to be obstructionist.