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

Back of the Hand to the Safety Net

In Washington, a "gaffe" occurs when a high-level official accidentally says what he means. The Bush administration has been remarkably gaffe-free so far, with almost everyone sticking to the same bland script. All except Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, that is, whose gaffes offer a glimpse into the real philosophy of the Bush corporation that now runs the United States. O'Neill's latest occurred in a recent interview with the Financial Times in which he questioned why the government should provide Social Security, Medicare or any other social insurance. "Able-bodied adults should save enough on a regular basis so that they can provide for their own retirement and, for that matter, health and medical needs," he said. The Treasury secretary's candor goes a long way toward explaining why Bush's giant $1.3-trillion tax cut--most of whose benefits will go to multimillionaires like O'Neill--hasn't caused more worry in the White House about what will happen to Social Security and Medicare...

Pandemonium

A s more Americans become disengaged from politics, America's political class has declared civil war. The 2000 election is a case in point. Prior to election day, it was dull, lifeless, and tightly scripted. The candidates fulminated over their differing versions of prescription drug benefits. Half of America's eligible voters didn't even bother voting. After election day, all hell broke loose. Americans didn't suddenly become more fiercely partisan. It was politicians and party loyalists who did, because there was no longer a script. Neither candidate had much to lose by escalating the post-election battle into a no-holds-barred civil war, and each had everything to gain if he won. Politics was exposed for what it has become--a power grab. One result: More exciting television. Pandemonium is a great spectator sport. Far larger numbers of Americans tuned in after election day than before. Chris Matthews told me his ratings were twice as high. CNN and...

You can't have it both ways, Al…

The London Observer Al Gore is finally on a roll. But where will it take him? This past week he's been telling Americans 'we've got to put you first' and not 'the ones with connections, the ones with wealth, the ones with power above and beyond what the average family has in this country'. He's for the people, while 'the other side' is for the powerful. It's good old-fashioned hell-fire-and-brimstone political rhetoric. During the Thirties, Franklin D. Roosevelt condemned the 'economic royalists' - America's big businesses that, he said, were stomping on average Americans. In 1912, progressive Republican Teddy Roosevelt blamed the 'malefactors of great wealth' for subjugating the 'little man' of America. In the 1890s, prairie populist William Jennings Bryan (who almost made it to the White House) railed at the bankers and other 'powerful interests' who were 'bankrupting' hard-working people. But this...

The Democrats May Be Hoist on Clinton's Own Petard

The Los Angeles Times In this election cycle, those 'issues ads' he created last time are likely to be exceeded by the GOP. You'd be forgiven if you thought of the contest for the presidency as two big battles--first, the primary battle to choose each party's nominee, which this year is effectively over, and then the general election battle, which starts just after the nominating conventions in August and runs through election day. So you might suppose that now we'll have a 5-month breather. But you'd be wrong. One of the most important battles of the election will be between now and Aug. 15. That's when each likely nominee will launch intense barrages of televised ads designed to raise questions in voters' minds about the suitability of his rival in the opposite party. The ads will be paid for largely by big, unregulated donations to the Republican and Democratic national committees-- "soft...

How Challengers Go From 'Wow' to 'Oops'

The Wall Street Journal Pundits have a host of explanations for why Bill Bradley's and John McCain's candidacies failed: Mr. Bradley failed to respond to Al Gore's attacks; Mr. McCain blundered in attacking the religious right; Mr. McCain stole Mr. Bradley's thunder; the public isn't that interested in reform after all. The real explanation is simpler, and it lies in the dynamic of political insurgency. Insurgents can't match the large-scale political organizations that governors and congressional delegations give establishment candidates like Al Gore and George W. Bush. Mr. Bradley and Mr. McCain had to rely on ragtag armies of idealists with lots of zeal but little experience. And since insurgents can't count on large reservoirs of cash for advertisements, they are much more dependent on "free media" -- that is, news stories. Therein lies the insurgent's trap. The media have only two basic stories...

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