Robert Kuttner

Robert Kuttner is co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect, a professor at Brandeis University's Heller School, and a distinguished senior fellow of the think tank Demos. He was a longtime columnist for Business Week and continues to write columns in The Boston Globe. He is the author of Obama's Challenge and other books.

Recent Articles

The Inequality Puzzle

A new study shows there's been no decline in intergenerational poverty in the last 30 years, but it doesn't tell the whole story.

Flickr/DonkeyHotey
Flickr/DonkeyHotey I n January, a team of prestigious economists published an authoritative study showing that there had been no decline in intergenerational mobility during the past three decades. The paper, by Harvard’s Raj Chetty and three colleagues, using some 40 million Internal Revenue Service records, found that if you were born in the bottom fifth of the income distribution in 1980–1982, you had about the same chance of moving to the top quintile (about 1 in 12) as someone born at the bottom 30 years earlier. This result was surprising. In recent years, the ability of the affluent to pass along class advantage has intensified in countless ways. Young people from wealthy families are more likely to get into elite colleges and less likely to finish college hobbled with debt. Parents can subsidize unpaid internships useful for networking. The children of the affluent can get help with starter homes, in districts with excellent public schools. And when (grand) children come, they...

Kuttner, Galston, and the Debate Over the Social Safety Net

Robert Kuttner and William Galston round out our forum on the future of entitlement programs.

div#sidebar-first { margin-top:1610px; } div.introduction { position:absolute; width:285px; left:675px; margin-top:1150px !important; padding:15px; border:1px solid #cccccc; height:300px; overflow-y:scroll; } div.introduction p { font-size:12px !important; line-height:18px !important; font-family: 'droid sans'; } div#table-of-contents { display:block; margin-top:0px; } #table-of-contents { position:absolute; width:285px; left:675px; padding:15px; border:1px solid #cccccc; } #table-of-contents h4 { font-size:28px; text-align:center; font-family:'Oswald', sans-serif;; } #table-of-contents p { font-family: 'Oswald', sans-serif; } Table of Contents Introduction: The Future of the Social Safety Net Triumph and Tribulation Henry Aaron When Public Opinions Collide Andrew Levison Social Insurance: The Real Crisis Robert Kuttner Thoughts on a Center-Left Entitlements Strategy William Galston Fiscal Policy, the Long-Term Budget, and Inequality Dean Baker "Entitlements" Are Just a Budget...

Social Insurance: The Real Crisis

Why an inefficient welfare state is an insufficient one

div#sidebar-first { margin-top:1610px; } div.introduction { position:absolute; width:285px; left:675px; margin-top:1150px !important; padding:15px; border:1px solid #cccccc; height:300px; overflow-y:scroll; } div.introduction p { font-size:12px !important; line-height:18px !important; font-family: 'droid sans'; } div#table-of-contents { display:block; margin-top:0px; } #table-of-contents { position:absolute; width:285px; left:675px; padding:15px; border:1px solid #cccccc; } #table-of-contents h4 { font-size:28px; text-align:center; font-family:'Oswald', sans-serif;; } #table-of-contents p { font-family: 'Oswald', sans-serif; } Table of Contents Introduction: The Future of the Social Safety Net Triumph and Tribulation Henry Aaron When Public Opinions Collide Andrew Levison Social Insurance: The Real Crisis Robert Kuttner Thoughts on a Center-Left Entitlements Strategy William Galston Fiscal Policy, the Long-Term Budget, and Inequality Dean Baker "Entitlements" Are Just a Budget...

The State of Our Union? Economically Unjust

AP Images
To honor Martin Luther King, Jr., the White House declared a “day of service” in Dr. King’s memory, and President Obama spent a few minutes on Monday helping to serve meals in a soup kitchen near the White House. Talk about a tin ear, or a timid one. For starters, Martin Luther King’s life was not about soup kitchens. It was about radical, disruptive struggle to win civil rights; and then in his last five years it was about connecting racial justice to economic justice. Dr. King took pains to define the 1963 March on Washington as about jobs as well as justice. He was murdered while helping striking sanitation workers in Memphis fight for decent wages. If we had more good jobs, and less Republican assault on what’s left of our social safety net, we’d need fewer soup kitchens. The president might have honored Dr. King’s legacy by giving a speech about that. One can sympathize—to a point—with President Obama’s wish to downplay both the radicalism and the racial aspect of Dr. King. As...

David Brooks’s Worst Column Ever

Well, this is getting to be a habit. Alert readers may recall that a few weeks ago, I wrote a piece about Tom Friedman’s worst column ever, plugging efforts by a billionaire hedge fund friend to persuade college students that their enemy was Social Security. Now, Friedman’s colleague David Brooks has written an even worse column . It’s really hard to determine Brooks’ worst column ever, since he seems to turn out one every week. Brooks’ latest piece, in Friday’s Times , begins inauspiciously, “Suddenly, the whole world is talking about income inequality.” (Where has Brooks been, Jupiter?) He goes on to argue that the inequality debate is miscast. Income inequality, according to Brooks, has two entirely different parts—the pulling away of the very top (he’s surely right about that); and the poverty of the bottom. The trouble with the bottom, says Brooks, is that poverty isn’t just economic; it has complex socio-cultural roots, etc., etc., and you don’t solve it with measures like the...

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