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

Stop 'Spinning' and Start Fixing the Economy

The Los Angeles Times Almost everyone agrees that the economy needs a kick. Anxieties about terrorism, job losses and record household debt are causing consumers to pull in their belts. Businesses have all but stopped spending. So why is the federal government's much-heralded "stimulus plan" getting nowhere? Blame politics. Senate Democrats and House Republicans are locked in a game of chicken. Both sides are eyeing the midterm elections next November. A small shift in voter allegiance could swing the balance of power in either chamber. Both sides want to tell their constituents that they've gone to bat for them. House Republicans want to crow about tax cuts for businesses and individuals. Democrats want to boast that they've fought for expanded health and unemployment benefits to laid-off workers and more spending on domestic security. Neither side has much incentive to compromise except for the possibility that the recession will deepen and that they, rather than their opponents,...

Lost Jobs, Ragged Safety Net

The New York Times The economic fallout from terrorism is hitting some Americans much harder than others, and we need to respond. Last year, when the slowdown began, layoffs and pay cuts hit hardest at manufacturing workers, white-collar managers and professionals. But since the terrorist attacks, consumers have cut their spending, and now a different group is experiencing the heaviest job losses: the mostly low-paid workers in America's vast personal-service sector. With retail sales down, there's less need for sales clerks. Half-empty hotels don't need nearly as many cleaners and bellmen. Vacant convention halls have no use for platoons of custodians and staffers. Unfilled restaurants can't keep waiters and busboys busy. And so on through all the workers who attend, drive, pamper, launder, polish, clean, prepare and otherwise make life more pleasant for the people who pay them. In October 439,000 private-sector jobs were lost — the largest monthly decline in more than a quarter-...

Why Bush's Trade Agenda Is Going Nowhere

Broadcast November 8, 2001 The trade talks starting this weekend are a side show to the main trade event. That's a bill that the White House has been pushing to give the president what's now dubbed "trade promotion authority." It would allow Congress to vote yes or no on any new trade treaty, but not change the terms. That's the only way other countries will be willing to sign trade deals with us. Yet despite a lot of flag-waving and upbeat talk from the White House about getting trade promotional authority from Congress, the bill is going nowhere. The White House just doesn't have the votes to pass it, even in a Republican-controlled House and even with the backing of the most popular president in recent history. Why? Put simply, because Americans don't want more free trade. If polls are to be believed, a bare majority of Americans fear that more free trade will threaten their jobs. Last week's gloomy unemployment report showing 439,000 private sector jobs lost last month, the...

Prescription Drugs and More

Broadcast August 16, 2001 Just about the only thing George W. Bush and Al Gore agreed on during that interminable campaign last year was a prescription drug benefit for the elderly. Well, the first 100 days of the Bush administration came and went and still no prescription drug benefit, which isn't surprising. Prescription drugs are like the thread sticking out on a tattered sweater. Pull on it and all of Medicare starts to unravel. The recent budget agreement earmarks $300 billion over the next 10 years for prescription drugs. But that'll cover only a fraction of what the elderly are expected to pay for drugs. The president wants the elderly to join for-profit buying clubs that would negotiate with drug companies for lower rates. The idea is that when elderly people combine this way, they'll have more market power relative to the drug companies. But drug companies already have huge market power that's not going to erode simply because they have to deal with some buying clubs. It...

Security and Privacy

Aired September 12, 2001 Before yesterday, national security was mainly a matter of protecting our borders and containing foreign aggressors. We assumed that with enough border guards, a large enough missile defense shield and a sufficiently equipped military, we could keep bad things out. Inside `Fortress America,' we could lead our private lives pretty much as we wished. But we have entered a new era. Before terrorism entered our lives -- when we were still innocent, when we believed America was protected from the rest of the world by vast oceans, when it seemed that mass terrorism could never strike at the heart of our nation -- back then, we didn't have to sacrifice our personal privacy in order to maintain our security. After yesterday, the notion that national security is mainly about protecting borders and warding off foreign aggressors doesn't seem nearly as convincing. Countering terrorism will require much more. No fortifications or defense shields and no amount of military...

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