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

The Coming Bush Recession

P resident of the United States Economy Alan Greenspan is frustrated. George W., the mere president-elect, won't deal. Worse, Greenspan can't punish W. for not dealing. He can't even credibly threaten punishment, because punishment is just what W. wants. Don't throw me into that briar patch, Br'er Greenspan! The last two presidents have been willing to strike a deal. Bush the Elder struck it too late, of course. Greenspan began raising short-term interest rates in 1988, at the start of the Elder's presidency, and squeezed and squeezed until Elder cried uncle. Elder finally agreed to raise taxes, despite what the public had read on his lips. But by then, growth had stalled and unemployment had shot upward. Elder was kicked out of office by an electorate worried about the economy, stupid. When Bill Clinton was elected, Greenspan made the deal explicit at their first meeting: You saw what I did to Elder Bush, he said. I could do the same to you,...

Gen. Greenspan's Timid March

We're not in a war economy yet. We're in an economy that's just plain sinking. What to do? Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan has told Congress to "wait and see" what happens before enacting a stimulus package lest it create inflationary fantasies among traders of long-term bonds. In an extraordinary show of newly bipartisan gutlessness, our representatives in Washington are heeding his advice. Congress shouldn't listen to Greenspan. A stimulus is needed right now. Even before the September 11 terrorist attacks, American consumers were in a deep funk. Personal-savings rates were nearing a 70-year low and credit-card and mortgage debt were at record heights. Millions of Americans were already stepping back from the brink. In June they paid down $1.8 billion of debt and in July they took on no additional debt--the biggest two-month retreat from borrowing in nine years. Meanwhile, their jobs were disappearing. Last year the U.S. economy gained 1.76 million jobs. But since last March...

Controversy: The Rhetoric of "Corporate Welfare"

Since Robert Reich coined the phrase several years ago, "corporate welfare" has become a rhetorical target for progressives. Activists argue that government subsidies to private businesses amount to giveaways, which sometimes even promote harmful activity. These critics have established "corporate welfare" in the lexicon of both liberal and conservative politics: a recent computer search turned up the phrase in 520 articles from major newspapers and 107 articles in popular magazines over just the last two years. The critics are sometimes right, but their polemics can be politically insidious and discourage serious discussion about when and how government should get involved in private industry. Invoking "welfare" legitimizes the idea that government in volvement in the economy is intrinsically corrupting. The phrase draws on the image of contemptible dependency on government that has dogged social programs for the poor and tries to transfer some of that contempt to CEOs. It risks...

We Are All Third Wayers Now

I s the Third Way a new public philosophy likely to shape capitalism in a postcommunist twenty-first century? Or is it, as some from both ends of the political spectrum suspect, little more than a watered-down version of Reaganism-Thatcherism: less a new movement than a pragmatic, if not cynical, means of keeping liberals mollified while continuing the long-term shift rightward—a global version of Dick Morris's "triangulation"? Years ago, the "Third Way" referred to Sweden's social democratic middle ground between capitalism and communism, but in recent years the term has taken on a more varied meaning. Around Boston the "third way" describes the back route to Logan Airport, avoiding the tunnels. Others have used it in reference to a novel position for having sex. But when Britain's Tony Blair used the phrase in his successful bid to oust the Tories in 1997, he had something different in mind: a set of public policies equidistant from Margaret Thatcher and Old Labour, redolent of Bill...

It's the Year 2000 Economy, Stupid

Exactly eight years ago, I trudged through New Hampshire sleet and slush, telling anyone who'd listen that Bill Clinton would do wonders for the American economy. Now, as the nation lurches into a millennial election year, most Americans seem largely content. The economy has faded as an election-year issue. But it shouldn't have—there are Two Big Things about the American economy that ought to be framing the upcoming election. Big Thing Number One: America has been growing faster than ever. Productivity has been rising 2.1 percent a year since 1993, according to just-revised statistics. I wish the Clinton administration could take full credit, but it turns out that, as Barry Bluestone explains in this issue [see "Conversation: Clinton's Bequest Reconsidered," page 18], the productivity-growth spurt actually began picking up steam in the early 1980s. The recession of 1991-92 was only a temporary pause. Neither Reagan's supply-side tax cuts nor Clinton's deficit-thwacking budget cuts...

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