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

Impeachment: the False Choices

Jon Elswick/AP Photo
In recent days, the Democrats have been obsessively arguing about two questions. First, should they turn the country’s attention to an impeachment, or stay focused on policy arguments where they can gain ground against Trump? That way, presumably, they can oust him the old-fashioned way, in an election. Second, should they move directly to an impeachment? Or should they let the House investigating committees take the lead? Both of these debates miss the point. Take the first debate. If some Democrats think that an impeachment will crowd out discussions of, say, debt relief for college students, or shoring up Social Security, or a massive public infrastructure program, or an expansion of Medicare, they misunderstand politics, and underestimate the voters. People are actually capable of focusing on more than one thing. And the more Trump is consumed by defending himself against the corrupt reality of his presidency and calling on Republicans to spend political capital to save his...

Trump’s Huddled Masses and the Politics of 2020

Eric Gay / AP Photo
Eric Gay/AP Photo Immigrants from Central America seeking asylum prepare for bed at Travis Park Church, which is serving as a make-shift shelter, in downtown San Antonio, April 2, 2019. Here’s a hard question for progressive advocates of refugee rights. Did Trump just get perversely lucky? Until a few months ago, critics of Trump’s wall, his caravan obsession, and his claim of an invasion had a foolproof rejoinder. His story was a fantasy. Immigration from Mexico was notably down over the past several years. Now, however, border crossings from refugees are way up . And Trump’s story of what draws refugees from Central America is not entirely wrong. They’ve heard from friends and relatives that parents with kids and credible accounts of persecution are sometimes allowed into America and released in short order. None of this excuses Trump’s brutal policies of separating parents from kids. Nor could the U.S. bar such refugees without violating treaty...

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...