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

Congress Without Cohabitation: The Democrats' Morning-After

The budget rebellion in October seemingly ended Congress’s long night of unholy cohabitation with the Reagan and Bush administrations. But can the Democrats really get out of bed?

On September 30, 1990, after being closeted for weeks at Andrews Air Force Base with White House representatives Richard Darman and John Sununu, Democratic congressional leaders brought back an agreement on the federal budget that the press initially treated as a historic compromise. It was actually an astonishingly Republican document -- and a symbol of how deeply compromised the Democrats had become sharing power with a Republican administration. To slay the deficit, the agreement cut Medicare by $60 billion, limited any peace dividend, blocked new domestic spending, and relied on regressive taxes that would have increased the tax burden of the poorest Americans by 11 percent, the middle class by 3.3 percent, and the richest one percent of Americans by just 1.7 percent. After ten years of deficits and failed supply-side dogma, why had the Democrats continued to accept the hand the Republican White House dealt them? "[Speaker] Tom Foley started off with the premise that if no budget...

Beyond the Guns of August

At this writing, American and Iraqi forces still face each other warily across the Saudi sands. Sooner or later, Iraq will likely have to reverse course. But beyond the question of how and when the immediate military crisis will be resolved, the Iraqi annexation of Kuwait has given momentum to the development of a post-Cold War international system based on collective security. That movement may also help bring about progress toward a regional settlement in the Mideast and a more stable regime for the price and supply of oil. In his address to Congress on September 11, President Bush declared, "We are now in sight of a United Nations that performs as envisioned by its founders." For a decade, the U.N. has been the stepchild of American diplomacy, the object of disuse and scorn. The original vision of collective security, of course, was predicated on a concert of great powers. The U.N. could not function as planned so long as the central geopolitical reality was the rivalry of the two...

Atlas Unburdened: America's Economic Interests in a New World Era

In 1944 Western statesmen redesigned the global economic order. The end of the Cold War and the new economic realities of the 1990s call for an equally far-sighted reconstruction and clear grasp of America's interests.

T he end of the Cold War era invites a strategic shift in the economic as well as the military posture of the United States. Pluralism in the former Eastern bloc means that the East-West conflict ceases to be the defining strategic reality. Moreover, the coming of age of Western Europe and Japan signals a new pluralism of economic power in the West. The birth of these twin pluralisms calls for a fundamental redefinition of the American national interest. Yet, thus far, these dramatic changes have not generated a fundamental reappraisal or major initiatives from American officials, other than a willingness to begin gradual arms reduction. For the basic American conception of its global interest tenaciously resists revision. Since the late 1940s, the American stance in the world has been built on two bedrock premises: the containment of Soviet communism, which was legitimate and necessary, and the promotion of global laissez-faire, which always had a more doubtful foundation. To...

Is There a Democratic Economics?

The real issue is not the current downturn, but the fifteen-year decline in living standards. That should be the focus of a reframed debate—and different remedies.

Yes, there is a Democratic economics. What remains to be seen is whether there is a Democratic politics. The real economic issue is not the current recession, but fifteen years of invisible depression. That should be the focus of the reframed debate. A steady erosion of living standards for wage and salary earners suggests a very different construction of the problem, different remedies, and a far superior politics. At this writing, George Bush is at last reaping the consequences of eleven years of wrong-headed economic policy. He, and we, face an improbable economic bind, in which annual deficits of $300 billion are necessary for the economy merely to tread water. For Bush to propose capital gains cuts as a remedy is not only bad economics; as politics it plays into the Democrats' hands. Add to this the shaky condition of banks and real estate markets, the visible decay of public services and infrastructure, the richly deserved voter skepticism about various experiments in...

China Fallout

W ill the Democratic Party's divisions over the China/ WTO vote prove fatal? For the sputtering Gore campaign, the timing could hardly be worse. The scenario recalls the 1994 NAFTA split prefiguring the party's defeat in the 1994 midterm elections. In both cases, President Clinton depended heavily on Republican allies to win an agenda shaped by global business and opposed by labor and most Democratic congressmen. In both cases, the fight left a bitter taste and diverted precious resources and passions needed for November. This time, the stakes are higher: not just Congress, but the presidency. Now, the labor movement is more powerful politically. As many as three major unions--the Auto Workers, Steelworkers, and Teamsters--may sit on their hands or even endorse a third-party candidate. AFL-CIO President John Sweeney hopes to quickly switch gears and convert the labor movement into a general election machine for Al Gore. But having defined regulation of global commerce as its top...

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