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

Revenue Sharing, Anyone?

House and Senate leaders are now deadlocked between a Republican House stimulus bill that is a shameless tax giveaway to large corporations and a Senate Democratic spending bill that is well intended but too paltry. The country is facing a serious recession as well as increased national security needs. The safety net is frayed. Joblessness is rising, but unemployment insurance now covers fewer workers with stingier benefits. Welfare is no longer an entitlement, and many mothers who have played by the new rules and taken jobs are being laid off with no prospect of public assistance. Since health insurance is tied to employment for most Americans, loss of job means loss of health coverage. State budgets face alarming shortfalls, which could exceed $100 billion. Forty-nine of the 50 states are not allowed to run annual deficits (the exception is Vermont). So when recession strikes, states must lay off workers and cut program benefits just when more people depend on them. The alternative...

Comment: Brighter Prospects

A decade ago, in year nine of the Reagan-Bush era, Paul Starr, Robert Reich and I founded a new liberal journal. The Prospect began as a quarterly, with 2,700 subscribers. Longtime readers may notice a few changes in this, our forty-seventh issue, the first to be published biweekly. 1989 was not a liberal moment. The right had the political and intellectual energy. The collapse of communism was too easily taken as a vindication of laissez faire. Ronald Reagan's budget deficit had created a politics of permanent fiscal crisis. Around us, a cottage industry of one time liberals, prosperously reborn as neo-conservatives, was warning that government had overreached, that rights had run riot, that taxes and regulations were strangling economic growth, and inclusion becoming political correctness. These were essentially conservative arguments. The only "neo" part, as Peter Steinfels dryly observed, was who was making them. Indeed, when the first issue of the Prospect came off the press,...

Comment: Incremental Reform Toward What?

How to cure the American health care system depends on what you think ails it. The center and the right identify three basic maladies. First, there is a cost crisis. This view reflects the concerns of "payers"--employers who face rising premiums, federal budget balancers projecting Medicare deficits, and insurance companies whose profits are squeezed by new drugs, more complex technologies, and patients who live longer. Second, there is a coverage crisis. Some 44 million Americans are uninsured, a million more than last year. In addition, prescription drugs are not adequately covered by many plans, including Medicare. Join the conversation! Discuss this article in Political Prospects , part of The American Prospect's Online Forums . Third, managed care has become too heavy-handed. Both the center and the right would add new patients' rights legislation and rely on greater...

Terrorism and Our Democracy

The first casualty of war is said to be truth, and a close second is civil liberty. As we necessarily become more alert to terrorist threats, we should be just as vigilant of our own liberties as Americans. If the defense against terrorism makes us a police state, terror will have won. America is now a different country. But even in a world where every American is a potential target, it's possible to have higher levels of security without sacrificing basic liberty. Europe takes airport security far more seriously than we do, but still maintains functioning democracies. Even Israel's state airline, El Al, keeps its planes flying safely, with meticulous inspections, armed guards, and anti-terror training. The risk now is that the Bush administration will sponsor needless assaults on our liberties, and still not make America invulnerable to attack. The new wave of brazen terror gives license to the most retrograde people in the national security establishment--people for whom civil...

No Blank Check On Economic Policy

On Monday when the stock exchange opened the Dow dropped by 5 percent. The economy was deteriorating even before the September 11 attack. The stock market was already reflecting this underlying deterioration. Three major financial industries will be directly hurt by last week's tragic events - financial services, airlines, and tourism. There is also an incalculable blow to confidence, and markets live or die on confidence. On the other hand, military expenditures and relief outlays are a form of economic stimulus. Right now, it's hard to know which effect will predominate. One fortuitous side effect: Last Tuesday, the bipartisan conceit that government should never run deficits was also blown away. That entire framing of fiscal debate went up in smoke. But a lot of important debate lies ahead. There is a tradition that partisanship stops at the water's edge in times of national crisis. Leaders of both parties are united on one thing. Global terrorism must end, and that may well take...

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