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

The Power of the Public Option: A Q&A With Ganesh Sitaraman and Anne Alstott

Ganesh Sitaraman and Anne Alstott have co-authored an important new book, The Public Option: How to Expand Freedom, Increase Opportunity, and Promote Equality , making a powerful case for more public provision in several realms of economic and social policy. They discussed the book in email conversation with Prospect Co-Editor Robert Kuttner. R obert Kuttner: Your book is very astute at explaining that there are areas where both public and private options can and should be available, such as the post office versus FedEx and UPS, or both public schools and private ones, or public systems of health insurance versus private or supplemental ones. What about the problem of political feedback loops, in which the private players recognize the risk that the public system will prove more cost-effective and attractive, and use their political power to game the rules to make the public option less competitive. You mention this dynamic in the case of the post office, where private competitors...

The Inevitability of Impeachment

More than half of the House Democratic Caucus has now come out for impeachment—118 of 235. Mueller’s testimony, though lackluster in performance, was devastating in detail. As I wrote at the time, the pundits who thought that it had killed impeachment had it backwards. Several members of the House leadership have newly called for impeachment. These include Foreign Affairs Chair Eliot Engel of New York and Nita Lowey of Appropriations, both of whom will face progressive primary challengers (thank you, Justice Democrats), as well as Caucus Vice Chair Katherine Clark. These numbers will keep building, and they include members in swing districts that Trump carried. Speaker Nancy Pelosi will soon be compelled to support a full impeachment inquiry, as urged by Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler. This is right on schedule. In Watergate, only 19 percent of Americans supported impeaching Richard Nixon in June 1973, well after most of the facts had been established. Even in February 1974...

Harris’s Fake Medicare-for-All Plan

In the extensive jousting over Medicare for All, Kamala Harris has evaded scrutiny for the most insidious aspect of her plan: It significantly expands for-profit insurance at the expense of true Medicare by promoting more use of commercial products spuriously known as “Medicare Advantage” and calling that a version of Medicare for All. One of the successes of Republicans and the insurance industry in recent decades has been to take private, for-profit insurance plans whose business model is based on denying needed care—and brand them as “Medicare.” This tactic, ironically, proves the popularity of universal public programs; Medicare is held in such high regard that private companies feel the need to steal its brand. As the saying goes, hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue. Two examples are the “Medicare” drug benefit, which is purely private, and so-called Medicare Advantage plans, which Harris would dramatically expand. Unlike...

The Plausible Path to Medicare for All

It is indeed possible to get to universal coverage under the auspices of Medicare, without bankrupting the public treasury or increasing net costs to the middle class. And the coverage would be better, more reliable, and more cost-effective than even the best insurance that people now get from their employers. Today’s employer-provided insurance is riddled with deductibles, co-pays, denials of reimbursement, limits on which doctor or hospital you can use, and loss of insurance when you change jobs. Sanders and Warren are right about all that. But the transition problems are far from trivial. The biggest problem is that the people who will save money when they no longer pay premiums are not the same people who will likely pay more in taxes. So the sponsors of Medicare for All should recognize that a better transition strategy may be the best way to disarm critics, among centrist Democrats, Republican attackers, and the press; and to reassure the electorate and make Medicare for...

Warren’s Stunning Plan for Trade

Just when you think Elizabeth Warren can’t do it again, she does it again. Trade has been a bewildering issue for Democrats. Corporate Democrats have bought the view that anything that dismantles “barriers” is good economics, even if the result undermines the very brand of managed capitalism that has been the Democrats’ signature since FDR. Labor Democrats have been branded “protectionists,” even when they are resisting the overt protectionism of other nations such as China. Most of the economics profession, meanwhile, teaches the theory of comparative advantage as if the world hadn’t changed since Adam Smith and David Ricardo. As Paul Krugman’s early work pointed out, advantage is no longer a matter of climate and natural characteristics—advantage can be created by government policies. And the press, for the most part, still embraces the simpleminded frame that free traders are good and “protectionists” are bad, and...

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