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 Political Center, Straight Up

Tony Blair moved there with great success. So, of course, did Bill Clinton after 1994. George W. Bush was supposed to move there when he assumed office but hasn't yet, which cost the Republicans the Senate; maybe he'll move there now. Trent Lott seems constitutionally unable to travel there. John McCain is doing everything he can to get there. Al Gore lost what should have been an easy win by not remaining there. Where? The Center. Such is the new wisdom according to political consultants, pundits and editorial writers. By moving to the center and claiming the ground as your own, the contemporary politician is almost guaranteed a second term, a second wind, favorable press, ! public esteem, his party's revival. We are living in the golden age of political centrism, or so it seems. But all that is meaningless blather. The political "center" is imaginary, and its recent elevation as a desirable place for politicians to inhabit is dangerously misleading. What's more, the politician who...

Why Bush is Winning

T he puzzling question is why George W.'s three big plans are moving forward. The immense tax cut whose benefits will go mostly to the rich, the hugely expensive missile-defense shield of dubious technical possibility, and the aggressive expansion of oil, gas, coal, and nuclear-energy availability coupled with a rollback of environmental regulations--all of these are said to be necessary to the nation's continued prosperity and peace. Each move is ostensibly in response to a current or pending crisis: a major economic downturn; an escalating probability of attack from China, North Korea, or a "rogue" state; an energy crisis. But in fact, these so-called crises have been manufactured by the White House. The economy has slowed, but it's hardly in free fall. The fundamentals (growth, productivity, unemployment) continue to be in relatively good shape. And the Fed is responding to a countercyclical slowdown with interest-rate cuts. There's no new foreign peril. China is every day growing...

The Nationalism We Need

There are two faces of American nationalism-one negative, one positive. The negative face wants to block trade, deter immigrants, and eschew global responsibilities. The positive one wants to reduce poverty among the nation's children, ensure that everyone within America has decent health care, and otherwise improve the lives of all our people. Both give priority to "us" inside the borders over "them" out there. Both believe that America should come first. Both depend for their force on a nation's sense of common purpose. But negative nationalism uses that commonality to exclude those who don't share it. Positive nationalism uses it to expand opportunities for those who do. Negative nationalism assumes that the world is a zero-sum game where our gains come at another nation's expense, and theirs come at ours. Positive nationalism assumes that when our people are better off, they're more willing and better able to add to the world's well-being. These are America's two real polit ical...

The Case (once again) for Universal Health Insurance

F orget a tax cut, other than an immediate one-year stimulus that puts money into the hands of people earning less than $50,000 a year. Forget paying down the debt. Use the federal surplus for universal health insurance. Working families won't get much out of any tax cut, and debt elimination is foolish. But working families keenly need affordable health care, now more than ever. The dirtiest little secret about the Roaring Nineties is that average working families gained almost no income, while their health care costs soared. From 1986 through 1997 (the latest year for which detailed IRS data are available), the average income of the richest 1 percent of Americans rose 89 percent, to $517,713. During these same years, the average income of the bottom 90 percent of Americans rose 1.6 percent, to $23,815. (These figures, not incidentally, are after all federal income taxes were paid.) Meanwhile, health care costs rose faster than inflation, hitting middle-income families especially...

Suite Greed

But for the fact that Democrats are now drinking from the same campaign-finance trough as Republicans, the scandal of executive salaries would be a major issue in the 1992 campaign. The scandal has been growing for years, of course, even before the Reagan-Bush greed decade. In 1960, the chief executive of one of America's 100 largest nonfinancial corporations earned, on average, $190,000, or about forty times the wages of his (rarely hour) average factory worker. After taxes, the chief executive earned twelve times the factory worker's wages. By 1990, the chief executive earned, on average, more than $2 million, not even including stock options that hadn't yet paid out -- a sum equal to ninety-five times the wage of his average factory worker. The regressive shift in the tax burden during the Reagan-Bush years has made the disparity even more absurd. After taxes, the 1990 chief executive's compensation was seventy times that of the average factory worker. Now, after three years of bad...

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