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 Can Democracy Survive Global Capitalism? In addition to writing for the Prospect, he writes for The Huffington Post, The Boston Globe, and the New York Review of Books. 

Follow Bob at his site, robertkuttner.com, and on Twitter. 

Recent Articles

Labor's Astonishing Missouri Win — and the Opening It Portends

Ohio’s razor-thin vote for an open House seat got most of the headlines, but the bigger story was the defeat of a right-to-work ballot proposition in supposedly right-wing Missouri.

The bill to make Missouri America’s 28th state with a “right to work” law was passed by the legislature in 2017 and signed by then–Republican Governor Eric Greitens. But the labor movement qualified a ballot initiative overturning the measure, and it passed by a margin of 2 to 1, including in very conservative parts of a state carried overwhelmingly by Trump.

The “right to work” option was added to labor law by the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act. Passed by the Republican 80th Congress over President Truman’s veto (he denounced it as a “slave labor act”), Taft-Hartley allows states to pass laws permitting workers to opt out of paying union dues even when a majority of workers sign union cards.

The name “right to work” was always a fraud. Even in states without such laws, anybody can take a job at a unionized facility. Workers merely have to join, or if they don’t want to join, to pay dues after they are hired.

“Right to work” makes it much harder to organize in such states. Until the last few decades, these measures were largely confined to the anti-union South and Mountain West. Lately, they have been enacted in Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin. In the past decade, they've been beaten with ballot initiatives in California and Ohio.

The Missouri vote not only extends and intensifies that success in a supposedly far more conservative state. It shows the latent appeal of pocketbook issues and trade unionism even in Trump country. It shows that the labor movement may be down, but it is far from out.

In Missouri, just 8.7 percent of workers are members of unions. But most working families know someone with a union job and they know the difference a union can make.

The right to have a union signals concern for the forgotten working class. By trying to crush labor, Missouri Republicans signaled not individual rights—the usual pitch for the misnamed “right to work” law—but their contempt for working people, who got the message.

The Missouri outcome also bodes well for the re-election of Senator Claire McCaskill, one of the supposedly endangered Democrats up this fall. More importantly, it signals the resurgence of the labor movement—and reminds Democrats that progressive economics are the indispensable ingredient for success on the beaten-down American heartland.

Why Trump Won’t Be the GOP Nominee in 2020

AP Photo/John Minchillo Supporters cheer for President Donald Trump during a rally in Lewis Center, Ohio T here is a saying attributed to various wise men: “Never make predictions, especially about the future.” Allow me to tempt fate and offer some musings about the 2020 election and America’s democratic future: The Republicans. I will be amazed if Donald Trump is the Republican nominee. The water around him is rising fast, and he is likely to be long gone by 2020, either via impeachment or resignation in a deal that spares him prosecution. Trump’s Sunday morning tweet admitted that a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between campaign aides and a Kremlin-linked lawyer was designed to “get information on an opponent.” Fake News reporting, a complete fabrication, that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower. This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics - and it went nowhere. I did not know about...

Why Dems Should Make a $15 Wage Their First Order of Business

Let’s make the increasingly likely assumption that Democrats take back the House in November. Nothing symbolizes concern for working people better than a higher minimum wage. And nothing jams Republicans quite as starkly as making them take a vote on this.

Do you doubt that? Here is a true fact. In the election of 2004—that’s the one where John Kerry booted a winnable election—activists in Florida qualified a ballot initiative raising that state’s minimum wage by one dollar, from $5.15 to $6.15

Well, you might say, that doesn’t affect all that many people, right? John Kerry was asked to come down and campaign for it. He declined.

How do you think the initiative did in this quintessential swing state, which George W. Bush carried in that election?

The minimum-wage initiative won overwhelmingly, with 71 percent of the vote. It carried every single Florida county, including some very conservative ones where the sort of working people who later voted for Donald Trump care about their paychecks.

The minimum-wage initiative won by three million votes. It received about two million votes more than Kerry did, and a million votes more than Bush did. If Kerry had accepted the invitation to go out on street corners and campaign for the minimum-wage hike, he might have been elected president.

So as I was saying, when Democrats take back the House, they should make a vote on a $15 minimum wage their first order of business. Any questions?

Yes, a Big Blue Wave Is Likely in November

Luke Harbur /The Kansas City Star via AP Senator Bernie Sanders speaks in support of Kansas Democrat Brent Welder at Jack Reardon Convention Center in Kansas City, Kansas C an we really expect a blue wave election in November, with Democrats taking back the House and even possibly the Senate? On the one hand, there are some encouraging portents. Since the 1840s, the president’s party has lost seats in 41 of 44 midterm elections. The pattern has been for the out-party to pick up something like 25 seats in the first off-year election after a new president takes office. Trump is of course far less popular than most. And Democratic activism is at a fever pitch. On the other hand, we have an unprecedented level of voter suppression—purges of the rolls, needlessly stringent ID requirements, games played with polling places and their hours, extreme gerrymandering, and questions about whether systems will be hacked—either by the Russians or by Trumpian locals. According to the Brennan Center...

Yes, Democrats Need to Run Left -- on Economics

AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana Senator Bernie Sanders with Maryland gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous at a campaign rally in Silver Spring H ave you noticed the irritating spate of articles in the mainstream press expressing alarm that the Democratic Party may be moving too far to the left? This has become a trope among commentators. The lead piece in Sunday’s New York Times , for instance, is headlined, “Democrats Brace as Storm Brews to Their Left.” So right from the headline, the progressive energy that is bringing new people into politics and challenging Republican incumbents is condemned as some kind of threat to “Democrats.” The reporter, Alexander Burns, goes on to quote party leaders warning of the possible ill-effects: “‘There are a lot of moderate and even conservative Democrats in Michigan,’ Mr. Brewer (the former state party chair) cautioned.” Note the use of the loaded verb, cautioned. This is a classic sort of piece in which the writer has a point of view that he wants to...

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