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. 

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Recent Articles

Socialism Rears Its Ugly Head

Mikhail Metzel / AP Photo / File
The right-wing organs are aghast that socialism is ceasing to be a dirty word and that other Democratic candidates besides self-described socialist Bernie Sanders are embracing a major role for public institutions. Fox News has been obsessing about this, and The Wall Street Journal ran a lead editorial Tuesday (“All Bernie’s Socialists”) that is suitable for framing. One of the right’s standard themes is to conflate Swedish-style social democrats with thugs like Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro. The Journal thinks it has nailed Sanders because it unearthed an op-ed from 2013 written by Sanders’s recently hired staffer, David Sirota, that said some kind things about Hugo Chavez’s economic program. In fact, Sirota was careful to add that Chavez had failed to respect human rights and basic democracy. In this, the late Venezuelan strongman Chavez and his protégé Maduro have a lot more in common with Donald Trump than with Bernie...

Those Boeing Crashes and Donald Trump

If you are a casual follower of the story of the crashes of two Boeing 737 MAX airliners, you are probably aware that a sensor malfunction caused an automatic software program to mistakenly point the plane’s nose downward to prevent a stall, overriding the pilot, and sometimes putting the plane on a crash trajectory. If you read a little deeper, you know that pilots often had less than a minute to take back control from the flawed automatic system, and were not adequately trained in how it worked. So the sensors, the software, and Boeing’s provision of crucial information to pilots were all badly flawed. If that were the full story, it would be bad enough. But there are two deeper stories, which are even more damning both of Boeing and of the federal government. And they connect to an even more fundamental story that takes us back to how Trump managed to get elected in the first place. Why did Boeing need to add those sensors and that software? Because the design of the...

Trump and China: The Art of the Desperate Deal

Will Robert Lighthizer restrain Donald Trump’s impulse to take a headline-grabbing and self-defeating China deal?

This article appears in the Spring 2019 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . Ever since China was admitted to the World Trade Organization in 2001, the trade imbalance between the United States and China has become ever more lopsided. In 2001, the deficit stood at $83 billion. In 2017, it reached $375 billion. Rather than moving toward a more open economy, as enthusiasts of WTO membership predicted, China has intensified its policies of state-led capitalism and protectionism. Combined with its outright technology theft, these policies have enabled China to achieve domination in industry after industry, with grave economic and geopolitical consequences for the U.S. Robert Lighthizer, the U.S. trade representative, aims to change that. He is dead serious about using America’s economic and political leverage to reset the U.S.-China relationship. An anomaly among Trump’s appointees, Lighthizer is deeply knowledgeable about his subject, strategically clear...

It’s a Wide Open Race

On December 12, 1974, when Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter announced his candidacy for President of the United States, he had two percent national name recognition. As the junior man on the national staff of the Washington Post, I drew the assignment to cover his press conference at the National Press Club. Hardly any other reporters showed up. The Post put my story on the shipping page. As late as early January of 1976, after more than a year of campaigning, the Gallup Poll showed Carter to be the choice of just four percent of likely Democratic voters. Yet the centrist Carter went on to win the Iowa caucuses as four liberals in the race split the liberal vote. With that momentum, Carter went on to win the New Hampshire primary, the Democratic nomination, and the presidency. He was the ultimate outsider in a year when insiders were disgraced. The rest of the Democratic field proved surprisingly weak; and Carter quickly became a media favorite. Could 2020 be like 1976? In 1976, of...

Pelosi’s Perverse PAYGO Play

Nancy Pelosi has done an outstanding job of keeping a fractious House Democratic Caucus together and sending a consistent progressive message. She has been brilliant at helping newly muscular progressive legislators, while keeping Blue Dogs and New Dems from defecting to Republicans. She’s my hero, and I offer even gentle criticism with trepidation—but here goes. There is one weird anomaly in Pelosi’s game. That is her embrace and relentless enforcement of the pay-as-you-go budgeting rule, known as PAYGO. When the new Democratic House majority enacted the rules for this session of Congress in January, Pelosi whipped the Caucus so that skeptical progressives, with only a few dissenters, voted for PAYGO despite widespread misgivings. But in era when even Larry Summers, who sided with austerity hawks back when he had real power, feels compelled to make the case for deficits, PAYGO is archaic, and worse. It is a totally needless and self-defeating fiscal straitjacket at...