Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich, a co-founder of The American Prospect, is a Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. His website can be found here and his blog can be found here.

Recent Articles

Take Social Security and Medicare Off the Bargaining Table

Flickr/Adam Fagen

Prominent Democrats—including the president and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi—are openly suggesting that Medicare be means-tested and Social Security payments be reduced by applying a lower adjustment for inflation. 

This is even before they’ve started budget negotiations with Republicans—who still refuse to raise taxes on the rich, close tax loopholes the rich depend on (such as hedge-fund and private-equity managers’ “carried interest”), increase capital gains taxes on the wealthy, cap their tax deductions, or tax financial transactions. 

It’s not the first time Democrats have led with a compromise, but these particular pre-concessions are especially unwise.

The Contest Over the Real Economic Problem

flickr/Starley Shelton

“Our biggest problems over the next ten years are not deficits,” the president told House Republicans Wednesday, according to those who attended the meeting. The president needs to deliver the same message to the public, loudly and clearly. The biggest problems we face are unemployment, stagnant wages, slow growth, and widening inequality—not deficits. The major goal must be to get jobs and wages back, not balance the budget. Paul Ryan’s budget plan—essentially, the House Republican plan—is designed to lure the White House and Democrats, and the American public, into a debate over how to balance the federal budget in ten years, not over whether it’s worth doing.

Bull Market for Stocks, Bear Market for Workers

Flickr/Michael Aston

Today the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose above 14,270completely erasing its 54 percent loss between 2007 and 2009.

The stock market is basically back to where it was in 2000, while corporate earnings have doubled since then.

Yet the real median wage is now 8 percent below what it was in 2000, and unemployment remains sky-high.

Why is the stock market doing so well, while most Americans are doing so poorly? Four reasons:

Sequestration Nation and Remembering Robert Kennedy

Flickr/Kemon01

With the sequester now beginning, I find myself thinking about Robert F. Kennedy—and 46 years ago when I was an intern in his Senate office.

1967 was a difficult time for the nation. America was deeply split over civil rights and the Vietnam War. Many of our cities were burning. The war was escalating. 

But RFK was upbeat. He was also busy and intense—drafting legislation, lining up votes, speaking to the poor, inspiring the young. I was awed by his energy and optimism, and his overriding passion for social justice and the public good. (Within a few months he’d declare his intention to run for president. Within a year he’d be dead.) 

Trading The Blame Game for The Bully Pulpit

Flickr/Neon Tommy

The White House apparently believes the best way to strengthen its hand in the upcoming “sequester” showdown with Republicans is to tell Americans how awful the spending cuts will be and blame Republicans for them.

It won’t work. These tactical messages are getting in the way of the larger truth, which the president must hammer home: The Republicans’ austerity and trickle-down economics are dangerous, bald-faced lies.

Yes, the pending spending cuts will hurt. But even if some Americans begin to feel the pain when the cuts go into effect Friday, most won’t feel it for weeks or months, if ever.

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