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 HuffPost, The Boston Globe, and The New York Review of Books. 

Follow Bob at his site,, and on Twitter. 

Recent Articles

How Will Hate Play in the Midterms?

For months, President Donald Trump has been trying to nationalize the midterm elections. The strategy had a certain logic — until this past week. Normally, there is a dramatic falloff in turnout from a presidential election to a midterm. But given that Trump’s base adores him, if he can get those voters to turn out at anything like 2016 rates, the usual rules won’t apply and his allies will hold Congress. Thus, Trump has been campaigning for Republicans far more aggressively than the usual president in a midterm―certainly more aggressively than a president with overall popularity ratings in the mid-forties in a good week. In some GOP quarters, optimism was growing about the party’s prospects on November 6. But then something happened that threw Trump off balance. Hateful chickens came home to roost. Just days after Trump praised Representative Greg Gianforte of Montana for decking a journalist―“Anybody that can do a body-slam,” Trump...

China Keeps Displacing U.S. Jobs. Where's Trump?

Here is today’s must read: the definitive piece on just how much Chinese abuses of the trading system are costing U.S. workers. 

Economists Robert E. Scott and Zane Mokhiber, in the most exhaustive study yet of the costs of the lopsided U.S.-China trade, report in an Economic Policy Institute study that since China was admitted to the World Trade Organization in 2001, U.S. trade with China has been responsible for a $100 billion increase in the annual trade deficit—and the loss of 3.4 million U.S. jobs. 

Three-quarters of the lost jobs were in manufacturing, a sector that pays well above the average wage. All this translates to a direct loss of 1.5 percent of GDP. Manufacturing job losses due to the China trade deficit account for roughly four out of five U.S. manufacturing jobs lost in this entire period.

Jobs displaced by imports from China paid 17 percent more than jobs exporting to China—$1,021.66 per week versus $872.89 per week. This flatly contradicts Bill Clinton’s projection that letting China into the WTO would be a “win-win” for both nations.

Even advanced tech jobs, supposedly a big winner for the U.S., are actually dominated by China, EPI reports. The growing trade deficits reduced U.S. incomes by $37 billion between 2001 and 2011 alone, and more since.

None of this was the result of China’s natural advantages. The trade imbalance and the lost U.S. jobs are the result of China’s suppression of free unions and wages, its industrial subsidies, and its currency manipulations, the EPI study finds.

Where is our self-proclaimed “nationalist” president in all this? China is a much bigger deal than NAFTA and a far more serious threat. 

The U.S. has immense leverage, as the lopsided deficit shows, because we are China’s biggest customer. Yet Trump’s China policy has been mainly bluster plus scattershot tariffs that add up to no strategic approach. 

A lot of blue-collar workers voted for this guy. They and we deserve a lot better. 

Will Democrats Win the Turnout War?

Things are looking pretty hopeful again, but it isn’t over until it’s over.

(Christopher Millette/Erie Times-News via AP)
Midterm elections for the House are usually major defeats for the party of a newly elected incumbent president, and that bodes poorly for Trump and the Republicans, right? Well, sort of. But there are lots of crosscurrents that could swamp this basic rule of American politics. For starters, Trump is no ordinary Republican president. He is unpopular in the country as a whole, but wildly popular among his base. More than most presidents, Trump is trying to turn the midterms into a referendum on himself. Normally, that would be a dubious idea for a president whose popularity has never broken 50 percent. But it’s probably a smart idea for the Republicans this year, since it could spike the crucial variable of Republican turnout. Turnout in midterms invariably falls relative to presidential elections. But it doesn’t fall uniformly. Other things being equal, Republicans tend to vote in midterms at higher percentages than Democrats. That’s why the recent Democratic losses...

It Was Vulture Capitalism that Killed Sears

If you’ve been following the impending bankruptcy of America’s iconic retailer, as covered by print, broadcast, and digital media, you’ve probably encountered lots of nostalgia, and sad clucking about how dinosaurs like Sears can’t compete in the age of Amazon and specialty retail. But most of the coverage has failed to stress the deeper story. Namely, Sears is a prime example of how hedge funds and private-equity companies take over retailers, encumber them with debt in order to pay themselves massive windfall profits, and then leave the retailer without adequate operating capital to compete. Part of the strategy is to sell off valuable real estate, the better to enrich the hedge fund, and stick the retail company with costly rental payments to occupy the space that it once owned. In the case of Sears, the culprit is a hedge-fund operator named Edward Lampert, once a senior merger guy at Goldman Sachs. In 2005, Lampert merged Sears with Kmart, loaded both up...

The Fraudulence of Susan Collins

When it counts, the supposedly independent Maine senator is a reliable McConnell vote.

People who expected Senator Susan of Collins, allegedly one of two remaining Republican moderates in the Senate, to save us from the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, have not studied Collins’s record with sufficient care. The Maine senator has reduced the choreography of legislative head-fakes to a sublime art, in order to preserve her bogus reputation as an independent minded centrist. When a contentious issue arises, Collins will elaborately explain that she hasn’t made up her mind yet. She needs to give the issue careful study. And then, wondrously, after very careful and well advertised research, the senator almost always votes with Mitch McConnell. Funny how her study leads to that conclusion. She is especially loyal to her party when her vote counts. She has voted to confirm virtually all Trump nominees. Collins also voted for the Trump tax bill (which passed 51-49) and for the confirmation of Justice Neal Gorsuch. Thus last week, she joined two...