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 The Huffington Post, The Boston Globe, and the New York Review of Books. 

Follow Bob at his site, robertkuttner.com, and on Twitter. 

Recent Articles

NAFTA: More Fake News from Trump

Yichuan Cao/Sipa USA via AP Images President Donald Trump is seen silhouetted in the back seat of his presidential limo T he White House threw together a rushed announcement of a “preliminary” agreement with Mexico on auto industry tariffs and perhaps wages. This was conjured up on short notice to divert attention from Trump’s rising legal woes and the appalled reaction from legislators of both parties to his refusal to keep the White House flag at half-staff to honor Senator John McCain, who passed away on August 25. What makes the NAFTA announcement fake? First, an agreement to raise slightly the North American content (from 62.5 percent to 75 percent) required to qualify autos for tariff-free import into the U.S. has always been the low-hanging fruit of the deal. It’s all the other provisions—on the environment, on the ability of corporations to sue in special tribunals to block regulations, on farm and energy provisions, and on myriad others, that have and continue to be the...

Trump's Fall: The End Game

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) I t’s now clear that President Donald Trump cannot survive. Personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen’s blunt admission before a federal judge that candidate Trump directed him to commit an illegal act—paying and then covering up hush money—is just the beginning. Cohen and former campaign manager Paul Manafort, who both face long prison terms, are likely to cooperate with the special counsel and provide further damaging information in exchange for recommendations of leniency that will come at their sentencing. The revelations of Cohen and Manafort, both part of Trump’s inner circle, are plenty damaging. But they are just a warm-up for special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings on even more explosive matters: likely fraudulent behavior in Trump’s business dealings, which could include tax evasion; his collusion with Russia to steal the 2016 election; and his efforts to obstruct justice in undermining the special counsel. Much of this has been hidden in...

Stop Wallowing in Your White Guilt and Start Doing Something for Racial Justice

Shutterstock Protester carrying a Black Lives Matter sign at the March for Our Lives protest at the Minnesota State Capitol This article originally appeared at The Huffington Post . Subscribe here . T he New York Times recently ran an exchange in its “Sweet Spot” advice column from an apparently anguished reader. The letter, signed Whitey, began: I’m riddled with shame. White shame. This isn’t helpful to me or to anyone, especially people of color. I feel like there is no “me” outside of my white/upper middle class/cisgender identity. I feel like my literal existence hurts people, like I’m always taking up space that should belong to someone else. I consider myself an ally. I research proper etiquette, read writers of color, vote in a way that will not harm P.O.C. (and other vulnerable people). I engage in conversations about privilege with other white people. I take courses that will further educate me. I donated to Black Lives Matter. Yet I fear that nothing is enough. Part of my...

The Economy Won’t Save Republicans in the Midterms

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)
(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images) Republican Senators John Barrasso, Roy Blunt, Mitch McConnell, John Thune, and John Cornyn on July 31, 2018 D onald Trump keeps bragging about the economy —an unemployment rate of just 3.9 percent, 3.7 million jobs created since he took office, consumer confidence up. Will this help the Republicans in the 2018 midterms? Probably not. If anything, the good economic performance paradoxically will hurt the GOP. Why? Because it’s not trickling down to ordinary people. Voters hear news reports and claims about the strong economy but know that their own wages are still lousy . This reinforces their sense that someone else is making off with the gains. And the statistics bear them out. Because of structural changes in the job market, real wages adjusted for inflation are actually flat. What structural changes? A shift in power from the worker to the boss. A shift to part-time, temp, and contract work. An escalation in the war against unions. This the...

Labor's Astonishing Missouri Win — and the Opening It Portends

Ohio’s razor-thin vote for an open House seat got most of the headlines, but the bigger story was the defeat of a right-to-work ballot proposition in supposedly right-wing Missouri.

The bill to make Missouri America’s 28th state with a “right to work” law was passed by the legislature in 2017 and signed by then–Republican Governor Eric Greitens. But the labor movement qualified a ballot initiative overturning the measure, and it passed by a margin of 2 to 1, including in very conservative parts of a state carried overwhelmingly by Trump.

The “right to work” option was added to labor law by the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act. Passed by the Republican 80th Congress over President Truman’s veto (he denounced it as a “slave labor act”), Taft-Hartley allows states to pass laws permitting workers to opt out of paying union dues even when a majority of workers sign union cards.

The name “right to work” was always a fraud. Even in states without such laws, anybody can take a job at a unionized facility. Workers merely have to join, or if they don’t want to join, to pay dues after they are hired.

“Right to work” makes it much harder to organize in such states. Until the last few decades, these measures were largely confined to the anti-union South and Mountain West. Lately, they have been enacted in Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin. In the past decade, they've been beaten with ballot initiatives in California and Ohio.

The Missouri vote not only extends and intensifies that success in a supposedly far more conservative state. It shows the latent appeal of pocketbook issues and trade unionism even in Trump country. It shows that the labor movement may be down, but it is far from out.

In Missouri, just 8.7 percent of workers are members of unions. But most working families know someone with a union job and they know the difference a union can make.

The right to have a union signals concern for the forgotten working class. By trying to crush labor, Missouri Republicans signaled not individual rights—the usual pitch for the misnamed “right to work” law—but their contempt for working people, who got the message.

The Missouri outcome also bodes well for the re-election of Senator Claire McCaskill, one of the supposedly endangered Democrats up this fall. More importantly, it signals the resurgence of the labor movement—and reminds Democrats that progressive economics are the indispensable ingredient for success on the beaten-down American heartland.

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