Jeff Faux

Jeff Faux was the founder, and is now Distinguished Fellow, of the Economic Policy Institute. His latest book is The Servant Economy.

Recent Articles

Losing Ground

During the 2000 presidential TV debates, George W. Bush relentlessly repeated the tired Republican mantra that government, especially the federal government, is the enemy of American workers. As president, he's turned that rhetoric into reality. Actually, Bush is as much a big-government guy as was Lyndon Johnson or FDR. But in his case, Bush has used federal power to undercut workers' bargaining power, dumping workers out of the middle class and kicking the ladder away from those trying to get in. Jobs in factories and services that pay good wages and offer decent benefits are disappearing. As a result, the overwhelming majority of Americans -- those who must work to put food on their tables and roofs over their heads -- are more financially insecure and have seen their living standards erode. In 1980, Ronald Reagan famously asked the American people, "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?" When John Kerry poses that question later this year, the answer, by virtually...

Talk Back

Bradford DeLong wrote about Robert Rubin in the February issue of The American Prospect . Here, Jeff Faux addresses some of the issues raised by DeLong. Brad DeLong is a smart guy and a good economist. He makes the best argument one can that Bill Clinton and Bob Rubin did the best economic-policy job they could have under the political circumstances of the 1990s. But it does not convince. The "double-or-nothing" social-democratic alternative, says Mr. DeLong, was politically infeasible. This, of course, is the classic political conversation stopper. But as the probabilistic thinking of Rubin that Mr. DeLong so admires tells us, nothing is certain. Political feasibility is in the eye of the beholder. In recent years, Ronald Reagan and George Bush Senior managed to ram through right-wing agendas that the conventional Washington wisdom told us were infeasible. Anyway, isn't making things feasible the function, and the test, of leadership? Clinton and Rubin gave so much to the Republican...

Debate Club

The High Cost of Rubinomics By Jeff Faux If a Democratic president gets to replace Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan when the latter's term is up in 2006, Bob Rubin is the odds-on favorite. He has the financial credentials: Goldman-Sachs, U.S. Treasury, Citigroup. He raises money for Democrats. And he is credited with the one accomplishment of the Clinton era that all Democrats are proud of: eight years of peacetime economic growth that, by 2000, had produced something pretty close to full employment. As Rubin tells the story in his new memoirs, he persuaded Clinton early on to make financial-market "confidence" the administration's chief economic priority. Key to the strategy was Greenspan, who was supposedly concerned that spiraling federal deficits would ignite inflation, forcing him to raise interest rates and thus choke off growth. Cut the deficit, argued Rubin, and Greenspan will let the economy live. Clinton was an easy sell. He not only reduced the deficit but also went...

Robert Rubin's Contested Legacy

In an Uncertain World: Tough Choices From Wall Street to Washington By Robert Rubin and Jacob Weisberg, Random House, 448 pages, $35.00 If a Democratic president gets to replace Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan when the latter's term is up in 2006, Bob Rubin is the odds-on favorite. He has the financial credentials: Goldman-Sachs, U.S. Treasury, CitiGroup. He raises money for Democrats. And he is credited with the one accomplishment of the Clinton era that all Democrats are proud of: eight years of peacetime economic growth that, by 2000, had produced something pretty close to full employment. As Rubin tells the story in his new memoirs, he persuaded Clinton early on to make financial-market "confidence" the administration's chief economic priority. Key to the strategy was Greenspan, who was supposedly concerned that spiraling federal deficits would ignite inflation, forcing him to raise interest rates and thus choke off growth. Cut the deficit, argued Rubin, and Greenspan will...

How NAFTA Failed Mexico

During the 1993 battle over the North American Free Trade Agreement, the proposal's promoters' most politically effective argument was that NAFTA would keep Mexicans out of the United States. As political writer Elizabeth Drew later observed, "Anti-immigration was a sub-theme used, usually sotto voce, by the treaty's supporters." The voce was not always sotto. "We don't want a huge flow of illegal immigrants into the United States from Mexico," said former President Gerald Ford, speaking at one of then-President Bill Clinton's pro-NAFTA rallies. "If you defeat NAFTA, you have to share the responsibility for increased immigration into the United States, where they want jobs that are presently being held by Americans." Leaving aside the xenophobia, Ford's argument made economic sense: If NAFTA were to create more jobs in Mexico, fewer Mexican workers would leave. When people can earn a decent living in their own country, they would generally rather stay put. Thus although workers in the...

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