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. 

Follow Bob at his site, robertkuttner.com, and on Twitter. 

Recent Articles

Filling the Breach

Are the liberals dividing the Democratic Party once more and weakening Democrats' credibility on defense? Or are they stepping into a leadership vacuum? The Democrats' schisms over Iraq were on display at last week's Take Back America convention in Washington. Senator Hillary Clinton, whose speech to the gathering was mostly applauded, got scattered boos when she declared that it was not "smart strategy" to "set a date certain for troop withdrawal." The hawkish Senator Clinton, one senior Democratic strategist observed, is prematurely positioning herself for the 2008 general election. First she has to win her own party's primaries. At the rate she's going, she is fast alienating the party's overwhelmingly antiwar base. Senator John Kerry quickly differentiated his position from hers. Speaking shortly after Clinton, Kerry won cheers when he pledged to introduce a Senate resolution calling for withdrawal of most troops by the end of 2006 (though several in the audience could be heard...

What's the Matter With Class?

On June 6, California voters decisively rejected a ballot initiative to provide tax-supported public pre-kindergarten. A special surtax would have touched only residents making at least $400,000 or $800,000 for a couple. It's hard to think of a better use of social outlay for the middle class and the poor, or a better-targeted tax. Yet the measure lost, 61 to 39 percent. Yes, there were extenuating circumstances -- low turnout, ambivalence of the state's political elite, and damaging fallout over the dual role of prime sponsor Rob Reiner, who also chaired a state-funded commission on early education. But the defeat was no fluke. Two years ago, writing in the Prospect , Princeton political scientist Larry Bartels reported that voters of all classes supported repeal of the estate tax, which affected only the richest 2 percent. Even moderate-income voters who deplored rising inequality and supported activist government favored repeal by 2-to-1. Last year, Bartels went on to challenge Tom...

Solidarity Man

On April 3, at an unpublicized strategy meeting, Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack assembled AFL-CIO president John Sweeney, AFSCME president Gerry McEntee, and several other senior labor leaders with officials of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), including Clinton administration veteran and DLC president Bruce Reed. Vilsack, the current DLC chairman, encouraged the two factions to stop sniping and start collaborating. People around the table committed to a long-term process of detente. Then Vilsack asked each side what it wanted from the other. One of the union presidents said the DLC should support “card check,” the process whereby a majority of employees at any workplace can sign union cards and form an officially recognized union. (It's one of the labor movement's top legislative priorities, co-sponsored by 43 senators and 216 members of the House.) The DLC people, including Reed, agreed that this was a core Democratic position that the group could endorse. (DLC founder Al From was...

A Losing Formula

It has now become less politically risky for Democrats to accept gay marriage than to support taxing the richest 1 percent of Americans. And that reality speaks volumes about the Democratic dilemma. On Wednesday, Senate Republicans offered a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage that they knew had no chance of passage. Their purpose was simple and cynical: Rally the faltering Republican hard-core base, and force a vote that they hoped would embarrass Democrats. The constitutional measure, which required 67 votes to pass, got only 49. Just one Democrat, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, supported it. Seven Republicans, including all five New England GOP senators, voted against. It's not that most Democrats endorse same-sex marriage (though civil union commands wide support). Democrats said they opposed the measure because marriage is an issue for the states. Yet you can be sure that in this fall's elections, Republicans will chide Democrats for failing to vote for a constitutional...

A Sad Estate of Affairs

This week, the Republican leadership in the U.S. Senate will attempt to ram through a permanent repeal of the estate tax. A companion bill has already passed the House. Under the Bush administration, the estate tax has been cut to the point where less than one estate in a hundred pays any tax. The revenue loss is one big source of the mounting national debt. The recent cuts in the estate tax expire in 2011. Republicans, who expect to lose seats in November, want to enact permanent repeal now, while they still have the votes. If they can't find the votes for total repeal, they at least want to further cut the rate to something like 15 percent and raise the exemption to at least $3.5 million for an individual and $7 million for a couple. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, getting rid of the estate tax altogether would cost the Treasury a trillion dollars over 10 years. The "compromise" would cost about $500 billion to $600 billion. Republicans also want to get this...

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