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

The Brutal Price of Bush's Tax Cut

The great budget surplus is evaporating. The culprit is George W. Bush's tax cut, compounded by the economic slowdown. Seemingly, this spells bad political news for Bush. He is having to violate his pledge that the Social Security surplus would never be tapped for general government outlays. The vanishing surplus vindicates the criticism that the tax cut was excessive, and also sets back spending plans for pet administration boondoggles, such as missile defense. All of this gives the opposition Democrats lots of ammunition for now. But hold the champagne. This whole way of thinking about budget politics is a long-term trap for Democrats. Budget politics now equates austerity with virtue. Defending the surplus is good; spending it is bad. The surplus is also associated with protecting Social Security. Supposedly, by using the current Social Security surplus accounts to retire public debt, we set the stage for new borrowing 40 years in the future when Social Security payouts could...

America's Children

I t's no accident that politicians kiss babies. America is a nation that professes to love its children. Yet the policies we have in place to raise the next generation are those of a nation that kisses children off. This special report offers a tour of the horizon. In the opening piece, Janet C. Gornick and Marcia K. Meyers bring news that may surprise a lot of American readers: The European welfare state is far from dead, at least in the way that it eases the work-family straddle. Europe's profamily policies have profound implications, not just for the well-being of children but for the changing role of gender in paid work and nurturing. If we want mothers and fathers to have equal opportunities, both at home and in the workplace, somebody competent needs to be looking after children. Otherwise, someone suffers. If not children, then parents. If not parents, then children. If not our working selves, our parenting selves. Visit TAP Online's Special Segment on Children and Families Our...

Opposition as Opportunity

With Republicans in narrow control of Congress, Democrats should think big.

At this writing, there is a chance that the courts may yet order a Florida rerun, but the next president is likely to be George W. Bush. Where does this leave progressives? The task of a political opposition is to prevent damage in the short run and rebuild for the long term--and this could be a more propitious moment than it seems. For starters, Bush's win would be the shallowest mandate in more than a century. Gore's issues did a lot better than Gore did. Conservative themes, such as tax cutting, limits on reproductive choice, the privatization of Social Security, and the voucherization of Medicare, simply did not resonate with voters. Instead of being angry at government, the public was dismayed by the assaults of the market. Voters plainly agreed with progressive Democrats on most policy questions, and Democrats in Congress are now freed from the crosscurrents of Clintonism to be a more progressive party. So the challenge for progressives and...

Comment: Civics as Politics

V oting turnout is very likely to decline again this year. Some of the decline reflects the fact that both candidates are widely seen as boring. But dwindling voter interest also represents a long-term trend. In this issue of the Prospect , "Rousing the Democratic Base" by Robert Dreyfuss underscores what political scientists have long observed: The mobilization of voters is not a generic civic process but rather the work of engaged political organizations committed to a particular viewpoint and candidate. In this case, the labor movement and the NAACP are working hard to get out the vote, presumably for the Democrats and Al Gore. If Gore should win, it will not be because working- and middle-class voters suddenly grasped the value of Gore's program, but because activist groups took the trouble to organize prospective Gore supporters. Oddities of our tax laws and campaign finance system do not quite require these worthy groups to...

Thank You, Al Gore

A funny thing happened to Al Gore on the way to his surprisingly effective acceptance speech. He became a liberal. The speech was as liberal as anything FDR or LBJ or Jesse Jackson or one of the Kennedys might have delivered. It was built around a commitment to fight for ordinary people, against large and powerful interests. This, of course, is precisely what made it effective. The emotional heart of the speech, Gore's honoring of four ordinary American lives, did not just salute the struggles of workaday families, the way Ronald Reagan often did. It identified who was dishonoring their struggles - corporations. He singled out heartless HMOs who pressure a family to sacrifice a child; drug companies that force a pensioner to choose between food and medicine; corporate polluters; corporations that pay workers inadequate wages. And he identified the solution: strong, reliable public Social Security; better Medicare; welfare reform that rewards work rather than punishing the needy;...

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