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 The Stakes: 2020 and the Survival of American Democracy. 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, robertkuttner.com, and on Twitter

Recent Articles

Waiting for Lefty

How is it that not just one but two of the top three Democratic contenders this year are progressives, and both seem to be gaining on centrist corporate Democrat Joe Biden? Why is this election different from all other elections? Three reasons, I think: First the American economy has become so totally rigged against ordinary working families that the political logic of a progressive populist nominee finally broke through the usual blather about needing moderation to win, especially after Trump rode the fake populist horse to victory in 2016. Second, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, each in their own way, are unusually gifted leaders. Sanders is revered as a truth teller who tapped pent-up frustrations in 2016 to the point where he very nearly wrested the nomination from Hillary Clinton, one of the best bolstered front runners of all time—this despite the liability of being a 74-year-old professed socialist. As for Warren, she may be the most effective leader at narrating the...

Don’t Blame Mental Illness for Mass Shootings

Elaine Thompson/AP Photo
Elaine Thompson/AP Photo By all means, let’s keep making progress on the prevention and treatment of mental illness. But let’s not kid ourselves. Mass gun violence is its own malady. In addressing the spate of mass shootings, President Trump and the gun lobby have tried to deflect attention from our gun-crazy society and lax gun laws to the issue of mental health. After the El Paso Walmart killings, President Trump referred to mass shooters as “mentally ill monsters.” While this ploy may help bring needed resources to prevention and treatment of mental illness, it’s a totally bogus story when it comes to explaining mass gun murder. If you think about what has changed in the past several decades, there is no evidence that mental illness is on the rise. And other rates of violent crime have been declining for decades. Rather, four things have changed, three of them having to do with guns. First, gun control laws are weaker; second, military-style weapons...

The Business Roundtable’s Strange Outbreak of Social Conscience

This week, the Business Roundtable put out a statement signed by 181 corporate CEOs purporting to redefine the purpose of the corporation. The statement, which has garnered widespread praise among commentators, basically proposes to junk the idea, fashionable since the 1980s, that the purpose of a corporation is to “maximize shareholder value.” Now these captains of industry propose to have the corporation revert to something like its posture during the New Deal–Great Society era, when corporations recognized a broader duty to “stakeholders,” meaning workers, communities, and the economy as a whole. That earlier model didn’t just happen, of course. It was the result of a power shift against capital and in favor of labor, and three decades of tough regulation. In the press release, Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase and also chairman of the Business Roundtable, is quoted as saying: Major employers are investing in their workers and communities...

Trump’s Trade Policy: Bluster and Cave

Trump has just walked back his threatened new tariffs on China again, this time supposedly to spare customers for Christmas toys and electronic products made in China. Retailers will be ordering these products over the next few months. The 10 percent tariffs on $300 billion worth of Chinese products were set to take effect September 1. That has now been moved back to December 15. The Dow promptly soared by several hundred points. Merry Christmas, Beijing. The action came after a round of consultations between Trump’s top trade officials, chief negotiator Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and their Chinese counterparts. Once again, the negotiators will have some more time—to spin their wheels yet again. These discussions are plainly going nowhere—and time is on the side of the Chinese. Trump’s vaunted toughness with China is mainly bluster, and he looks weaker every time he reverses his latest impulsive move. It’s a pity that so many...

The Coming Wave of Primary Challenges to Corporate House Democrats

Representative Richard Neal, chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, is the poster child for everything that’s wrong about corporate Democrats. His newly announced primary challenger in Massachusetts’s First Congressional District, Alex Morse, epitomizes the grassroots dynamism that is making over the party. Beyond this primary contest is a much larger story involving the unsavory role of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the creative disruption of a growing wave of challengers to other corporate Democratic incumbents. Neal, 70, raises large sums of business money and reciprocates by delivering corporate-friendly policies. He was literally elected to Congress before Morse was born. Morse, 30, is in his eighth year serving as mayor of Holyoke, population about 40,000, a onetime thriving mill town. Holyoke was one of the Northeast’s most depressed cities when Morse was elected mayor in 2011, at age 22. The city’s unemployment...

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