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

Warren’s Astonishing Plan for Economic Patriotism

I have been a fan of Elizabeth Warren for a long time . Her combination of deep knowledge of how American capitalism works, her capacity to narrate the lived experience of American working families and tie it to radical reforms, and her sheer integrity are unsurpassed. Her rollout of one brilliant policy proposal after another and her ability to connect those to a political understanding of the American situation has been just stunning. But Warren’s latest plan is in a class by itself, even for Warren. She calls it an Agenda for Economic Patriotism . Warren’s proposal does nothing less than turn inside out the globalist assumptions pursued by the past several administrations, Democrat and Republican alike. Where they have pursued more globalization of commerce as an end in itself (and as a profit center for U.S.-based multinational corporations and banks), Warren’s goal is to bring production and good jobs home. Even better, she knits it all together with a coherent...

How Trump Stole the Dems’ Clothes on Deficits and Trade

Donald Trump has stolen the Democrats’ clothes in two key policy areas with huge political implications. One is the issue of budget deficits and economic growth. The other is trade, specifically China trade. Recent Democratic presidents have only themselves to blame. Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama embraced the idea that budget deficits were ruining the economy. Supposedly, budget balance would reassure financial markets, produce low interest rates, and higher growth would follow. Clinton and Obama both delivered policies to match. Clinton actually moved the budget to surplus by 1999. Obama shifted the emphasis from stimulus to deficit reduction in his 2010 State of the Union address, long before the economy was in a strong recovery. These policies reflected the advice of the orthodox economists around both presidents, and also of Federal Reserve chairs Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke, as well as other Wall Street notables who were phobic about the slightest risk of...

Elizabeth Warren’s Unifying Race Narrative

Elizabeth Warren has been getting a lot of attention for her smart, creative policy proposals. She deserves praise for something else. Warren talks about race better than any candidate, certainly any white candidate, we’ve seen for a long time. This is crucial because Trump once again will use racism to deflect attention from the real issues of class that are leaving Americans of all races so vulnerable. It’s also crucial because voters of color are still experiencing extreme whiplash in the aftermath of the abrupt transition from Obama to Trump—and expect a candidate who will keep faith with them. And Democrats need both blacks and whites to turn out, big-time. The challenge is to define and narrate the top-down class war in today’s America in a way that bridges over race, while also acknowledging the more damaging impact on black Americans. Warren is just about pitch-perfect on that. Here is Warren at Netroots Nation last August: In Trump’s story, the...

A Conversation with Sherrod Brown

Susan Walsh/AP Photo
Susan Walsh/AP Photo Senator Sherrod Brown speaks during a Senate Finance Committee hearing. S enator Sherrod Brown of Ohio disappointed many Democrats when he announced in March that he would not be a candidate for president. Brown was re-elected to the Senate last November in a race where other Democrats running statewide in Ohio were defeated. He is especially effective at reaching working class voters based on pocketbook issues—voters who are otherwise attracted to rightwing racist nationalists. Yet Brown does so without sacrificing leadership on progressive social issues. Though he is not running for president, his voice is an important one. We were curious to explore how he might continue to exercise influence in the campaign. Sherrod Brown spoke with Prospect co-editor Robert Kuttner. Robert Kuttner: In the upcoming campaign, how do we make Donald Trump vulnerable for having failed to deliver for the kind of people who voted for him? You must have a lot of insights on...

Unions Take On the Worst of the Hedge Funds Pillaging the News Biz

Richard Drew/AP Photo
Alden Global Capital, one of the most predatory of hedge funds, has been trying since last December to mount a hostile takeover of the Gannett newspaper chain. Gannett, with over 100 dailies and nearly 1,000 weeklies and 19,000 employees in 43 states, is one of the main surviving newspaper chains. Legacy chains like Gannett have been laying off workers. They are not exactly the heroes of this story, but they do maintain some residual commitment to journalism. Outfits like Alden, which treat news, shoes, real estate, and workers as just so many objects of financial plays, are far worse. Last year, a colleague and I wrote about the business model of private equity companies and hedge funds like Alden and its subsidiary Digital First Media. They strip assets from newspapers, sell off real estate, cut staff to the bone, incur debt that they then put on the newspaper’s own balance sheet, and pull out short-term profits. They take out so much money so fast, much of it from debt, that...