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

Beyond Red And Blue

To hear network commentators and read innumerable press stories, you would think the United States was divided into two bitterly opposed cultural worlds known as red states and blue states. As widely used political concepts, these phrases actually date back only to the 2000 presidential elections, when all the networks used the same color-coded maps to show which states went Republican or Democrat. But a very lazy press corps has increasingly used the terms as shorthand. They have now passed into the political language, reinforcing the image of an America split into hardened and warring camps. The reality is quite different. In the very close 2004 election, for instance, the contest was decided by 10 points or less in 21 states. And a surprising number of states voted one way for president, the other for senator or governor. Montana, which George W. Bush won by better than 20 points, elected a Democratic governor and gave Democrats control of both houses of the legislature. Wyoming,...

Chopping Unions

To nobody's great surprise, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the Teamsters have left the AFL-CIO, and at least two other unions may soon follow. In part, this schism reflects rivalries of turf, personality, pride, and money -- the ambition of new challengers versus the self-interest and dignity of the existing leadership. The challengers didn't have the support to vote John Sweeney out, so they walked. As my friend Marshall Ganz, former organizing director of the United Farm Workers, observes, this schism is also about principled differences of how to rebuild a struggling movement. Organize by trade, industry, or community? Build a centralized movement or a popular, democratic one? These differences have echoes in the history of the labor movement, going back to the 19th-century Knights of Labor, the “Wobblies,” and the Committee for Industrial Organization (CIO). Ironically, Sweeney himself is a militant at heart. As the anti-establishment candidate in 1995, he...

Rights Wronged

The other day, the new Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, scrapped the moronic rule requiring everyone to stay seated for 30 minutes coming in or out of Washington's National Airport. The premise of the rule, enacted after September 11, was that if everyone remained in their seats, it would be illegal for a terrorist to rush the cockpit. Apparently, it didn't occur to the genius who wrote the order that only law-abiding citizens would obey. It's a perfect, if small, example of the idiocy of unchecked state power. Chertoff did not change the rule because some open evidentiary process required him to, but because he felt like it. As an immensely powerful official in an increasingly authoritarian age, he did it as a regal act of noblesse oblige: In my majesty/I now decree/the people are free/to go and pee. As his reason for granting relief, so to speak, Chertoff disingenuously declared that security conditions had improved. This was the week of the London bombings. But as...

Exit With Honor

The American people want out of Iraq, but critics of the Iraq War seem stymied by the mess that the Bush policy has created. Here is an exit strategy that makes sense as geopolitics and domestic politics: The U.S. commits to leave Iraq on a date certain, say August 1, 2006. We use this yearlong period to negotiate the creation of an international peacekeeping entity, also responsible for aiding Iraq's reconstruction. The date certain signals that we're serious. This force would include troops from moderate Muslim nations, such as Tunisia and Egypt; other nonaligned nations such as India; and traditional peacekeepers, such as the Scandinavian countries. It could be sponsored by the United Nations or as a freestanding body. The U.S. would pay at least half the cost. This policy works on four grounds. First, it re-engages the international community with an enterprise in which the United States has placed itself in costly and feckless isolation. It would also help repair the broader...

Bubblehead

Most economists expect something bad to happen to the U.S. economy sometime this decade, due to the deficit and debt overhang, the trade imbalance, the dependence on foreign borrowing, the sundry asset bubbles, and more. When the history of the next crash is written, President Bush's appointment of California Republican Congressman Christopher Cox to chair the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) during this fragile era will deserve its own chapter. If confirmed, as he almost surely will be, Cox could very well be Bush's single most destructive regulatory appointee. Financial markets are one of the very few areas where even laissez-faire types concede that a measure of regulation is necessary. But Cox is a true believer who imagines that financial markets can police themselves. He has been a relentless foe of even the modest regulation enacted by the outgoing Republican SEC chairman, William Donaldson. The two other Republican commissioners are ideological clones of Cox, who will...

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