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.
President 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!
Is 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.
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 havethere are Two Big Things about the American economy that ought to be framing the upcoming election.
It seemed appropriate to begin my series of modest screeds with a short pre- millennial analysis of where power is moving to in America.
Here's who's losing it:
Giant corporations and their CEOs. They've made money in the current expansion, but they're losing clout. Vast industrial- age bureaucracies can't move fast enough. All are downsizing, and many CEOs are losing their jobs. Since 1990, heads have rolled at IBM, AT&T, General Motors, Sears, and other corporate behemoths. As the economy slows, expect more heads, lower profits, and downsizings on a monumental scale.
A growing chorus is telling Americans that one of the best ways to demonstrate that the nation won't be cowed by terrorism is to continue to buy shares of stock and retail goods. Vice President Cheney said he hoped Americans would "stick their thumb in the eye of the terrorists and . . . not let what's happened here in any way throw off their normal level of economic activity." House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt proclaimed that Americans were "not giving up on America, they're not giving up on our markets." Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill said, "We're going to show we have backbone." On Thursday night, President Bush asked Americans for their "continued participation and confidence in the American economy."