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

Forward Progress

"Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood." -- Daniel H. Burnham With one exception, the health plans released by the Democratic presidential contenders are a set of little plans. They leave the current system largely intact and use subsidies and tax credits to reduce the number of uninsured -- as if the whole system were not broken. With slight variations, this is the approach chosen by both former Vermont Governor Howard Dean and Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. And North Carolina Senator John Edwards and Connecticut's Joe Lieberman will likely do the same. Congressman Dick Gephardt, by contrast, had the nerve to throw a long pass. The problem is that he hurled it in the wrong direction. Gephardt began well. He proposed to repeal Bush's entire 2001 tax cut. He added another bold feature: opening Medicare to people over 55. But the rest of his plan mainly gives tax breaks to corporations that provide health coverage for their workers. This sounds good, until you...

The Great Crash, Part II

In the Company of Owners: The Truth about Stock Options (And Why Every Employee Should Have Them) By Joseph Blasi, Douglas Kruse and Aaron Bernstein, Basic Books, $27.50, 344 pages Pipe Dreams: Greed, Ego, and the Death of Enron By Robert Bryce, Public Affairs, $27.50, 320 pages What Went Wrong at Enron: Everyone's Guide to the Largest Bankruptcy in U.S. History By Peter C. Fusaro and Ross M. Miller, John Wiley & Sons, $14.95, 256 pages Take on the Street: What Wall Street and Corporate America Don't Want You to Know By Arthur Levitt with Paula Dwyer, Pantheon Books, $24.95, 352 pages Final Accounting: Ambition, Greed, and the Fall of Arthur Andersen By Barbara Ley Toffler with Jennifer Reingold, Broadway Books, $24.95, 288 pages The lessons of the stock-market crash and corporate scandals of 1999-2002 are only now beginning to sink in. The larger story is the second collapse of laissez-faire as a plausible ideology and an efficient way of organizing the economy. But unlike its...

Redefining Democracy

"Freedom's untidy," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld airily explained, referring to the anarchy and looting in Baghdad, which closed all but one hospital, sacked one of the world's most treasured archeological museums and plundered the homes and shops of ordinary Iraqis. Untidy? Untidy is when your 15-year-old leaves his room a mess. Untidy is letting the dinner dishes stack up in the sink. Rumsfeld added that "free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes." By way of further clarification, retired lieutenant general Jay Garner, Bush's newly appointed American viceroy in Baghdad, told a New York Times reporter, "I don't think they had a love-in when they had Philadelphia." Garner was referring to the American Constitutional Convention. What these people understand about freedom could fit in a thimble. If they are democracy's emissaries, God help us all. You may recall that the whole point of the Constitutional Convention was to reconcile liberty with order, and the will of...

Sharing America's Wealth

The Bush administration settled the argument about whether inspections could ever contain Saddam Hussein by making the issue moot. But the next phase of a broader debate continues. The Iraq War is the first step in a new and alarming policy, which we might call the Wolfowitz Doctrine. On the issue of unilateralism, the doctrine holds that multilateral institutions such as the United Nations are distractions at best and that European allies are weak sisters who put their own parochial interests ahead of global security. Both sets of associations require strong U.S. leadership to be useful at all; and when the United Nations or our allies resist, they are to be overridden. We do this because we need to, and because we can. On the issue of preemption, the doctrine considers preemptive war a straightforward calculus of costs and benefits, not of international law or global public opinion. Saddam Hussein could be deposed with relatively light loss of American and Iraqi civilian life. The...

Sharing America's Wealth

The necessary role of government in broadening the middle class.

The Bush administration settled the argument about whether inspections could ever contain Saddam Hussein by making the issue moot. But the next phase of a broader debate continues. The Iraq War is the first step in a new and alarming policy, which we might call the Wolfowitz Doctrine. On the issue of unilateralism, the doctrine holds that multilateral institutions such as the United Nations are distractions at best and that European allies are weak sisters who put their own parochial interests ahead of global security. Both sets of associations require strong U.S. leadership to be useful at all; and when the United Nations or our allies resist, they are to be overridden. We do this because we need to, and because we can. On the issue of preemption, the doctrine considers preemptive war a straightforward calculus of costs and benefits, not of international law or global public opinion. Saddam Hussein could be deposed with relatively light loss of American and Iraqi civilian life. The...

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