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 Can Democracy Survive Global Capitalism? In addition to writing for the Prospect, he writes for The Huffington Post, The Boston Globe, and the New York Review of Books. 

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Recent Articles

Better Late Than Never

My father was a machine gunner with the Army's 28th Infantry Division, which was among the first units to march down the Champs-Elysées after the Allied liberation of Paris . In December 1944, having landed at Normandy and fought across France and Belgium, he was captured in the Battle of the Bulge, and sent hundreds of miles through northern Germany in an unheated boxcar in the dead of winter to a prison camp at Muhlberg in the east. My father survived the war not because of the generosity of the Nazis to Jewish soldiers. The Germans must have been tempted to send captured Jewish American soldiers to Auschwitz along with Polish, German, and Dutch Jews and kindred human garbage. But they did not. My father survived because, amazingly, even the Nazis respected the reciprocal agreements on humane treatment of prisoners. The doctrine was simple: You don't abuse my soldiers when you take them prisoner, and I won't abuse yours. Mostly, despite the multiple atrocities of World War II, the...

A Slight Oversight

When Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson became vice president in 1961, he persuaded his protégé and successor, Senator Mike Mansfield of Montana, to let Johnson continue running the Senate Democratic caucus. The vice president, constitutionally and ceremonially, is Senate president, voting only to break ties. However, no vice president had ever proposed to function as a quasi-senator, much less caucus leader. Mansfield loyally acceded to Johnson's scheme, but the caucus rebelled. According to the official transcript quoted by biographer Robert Caro, Senator Mike Monroney of Oklahoma, a Johnson ally, indignantly warned, “We are creating a precedent of concrete and steel. The Senate will lose its powers by having a representative of the executive branch watching our private caucuses.” Quite so. But what LBJ, the most powerful majority leader in Senate history, could not obtain by persuasion, Vice President Dick Cheney, who never served in the Senate, simply arrogated. Cheney...

Thinking About the Government

America may get its two-party system back after November. But the competition could turn out to be neoconservative Republicans versus Eisenhower Republicans, with the latter played by Democrats. As the society becomes more unequal and working families face increasing economic stress about their jobs, wages, pensions, health coverage, housing, and child-care costs, a considerable faction of the Democratic Party contends that government neither can, nor should, address these ills. That would leave the Democrats as the party of fiscal stewardship, token programs, and empty talk -- none of which addresses ordinary people where they live. One strand of this argument contends that, despite rising insecurity and inequality, most people are doing fine; so it's a mistake for Democrats to emphasize pocketbook issues, lest Democrats become a minority party of the poor. The ur-text for this view is Stephen Rose's April 2006 piece for the Democratic Leadership Council, “The Trouble with Class-...


THE LESSON OF RHODE ISLAND. The Republican story on Connecticut and Rhode Island, repeated a little too credulously by much of the press, is that the Dems shoved aside their moderate incumbent, Joe Lieberman , while the Republicans wisely kept theirs, Lincoln Chafee . But hold on a minute. Didn't voters in both states' primaries choose the guy who is opposed to Bush 's Iraq War? The man who narrowly lost to Chafee, Warwick Mayor Stephen Laffey , was actually the faithful Bush supporter, just like Joe Lieberman. The RNC held its nose and poured money into Chafee's race, calculating that the moderate Chafee had the better chance of holding onto the seat for the GOP in the blue, blue Ocean State. But Chafee's win hardly validates voter enthusiasm for Bush. Maybe the Republican National Committee should be disparaging Chafee in the same terms they disparage Lamont . (How do you spell Defeat-o-Rep?) --Robert Kuttner

Lame Ducks' Last Quack

Congress is back at work for a brief session before the full-time electioneering begins. It will return after Election Day for a "lame-duck" session, where the outgoing Congress -- with many members repudiated by the voters -- have one last chance to do damage. This year's legislative politicking is particularly fraught, because Republicans expect to lose seats, and quite possibly their majority in at least one house. Their top domestic priority is permanent repeal of the estate tax. Under President Bush, Congress enacted bills gradually reducing the taxes paid by the wealthiest estates, but the law sunsets in 2011. As Chuck Collins of the organization Responsible Wealth puts it, "If we are going to have any taxes at all, the fairest place to start is with dead billionaires." Under current law, only the richest 1 percent of estates pay taxes at all, yet wealth is so concentrated in America that this tax brings in half a trillion dollars over the next decade. If we repeal that tax,...