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.
By the third week of July, at its so-called "midyear budget review," the White House will unveil its new projected 10-year federal budget. Insiders tell me it's likely to show a surplus that's half a trillion dollars larger than the one now projected. Why? Because America's wealthiest 5 percent are becoming far richer, far faster than budget planners had predicted. Even with the aid of high-paid tax attorneys and planners, they're paying a lot more in income taxes and capital gains taxes than had been projected. The surplus is rising like yeasty dough.
As we reach the climax of the great battle over trade with China, it's worth taking a closer look at the main sticking point of this and every other major global agreement likely to arise in future years. There's widespread acceptance of the need for "global labor standards" and "global environmental standards." But apart from agreeing that no nation should permit forced labor, slave labor, employment of six-year-old children in factories seven days a week, and ocean dumping of nuclear wastes, there's almost no agreement on what labor and environmental standards actually mean. That's where the trouble begins.