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

Steal This Author

In a few years, we'll be able to do without publishers.

Rolls on a printing press (Flickr/Matt Miller)
Several years ago, I was put in the window of a Midwestern bookstore next to a large sign announcing, "Robert Reich is here to sign his latest book." Some passers-by glanced curiously into the window; a few stopped to gawk. I lamely smiled and waved. The ordeal lasted only a half-hour, but the humiliation is still with me. Here I was, having written from conviction on an issue I felt deeply about, being forced to sell myself like one of those ladies on display in storefronts of Amsterdam's red-light district. (At least those ladies attracted eager customers. I don't recall anyone coming into the bookstore for my signature.) That was the worst book-promoting experience I remember, but even the normal process of selling a book can feel demeaning. I have no trouble trying to market ideas or proposals I believe to be important; indeed, I've spent most of my adult life doing this in one way or another -- not for the money but in order to influence public policy. In trying to sell a book,...

Fire on the Left

Tea Partiers are getting all the press, but it's the anger on the left that spells trouble for Dems in the midterms.

President Barack Obama. (White House Photo/Pete Souza)
A friend whom I'll call David raised a ton of money for Democrats in 2008 and now tells me they can go to hell. He's furious about the no-strings bailout of Wall Street, the absence of a public option in health reform, financial reform that doesn't cap the size of banks or reinstate the Glass-Steagall wall between investment and commercial banking, and a stimulus that was too small to do much good but big enough to give Republicans a campaign issue. He's also upset about tens of thousands of additional troops being sent to Afghanistan, a watered-down cap-and-trade bill that's going nowhere, and no Employee Free Choice Act. David won't raise a penny this fall and doubts he'll even vote. "I busted my chops getting them elected, and they caved," he fumes. "They're all lily-livered wimps, and Obama has the backbone of a worm." Tea Partiers are getting all the press. But the anger on the left, including much of the Democratic base, is almost as intense. And it spells trouble for Democrats...

Everyday Corruption

The policy-making process has become an extension of the market battlefield.

(iStock Photo)
In 2006, congressional Democrats accused Republicans of wallowing in a "culture of corruption," pointing to the peccadilloes of Tom DeLay and the excessive political generosity of Jack Abramoff. Now, in the months leading up to the 2010 midterms, congressional Republicans accuse Democrats of much the same. But most of this is for the cameras. If we define political corruption as actions causing the public to lose confidence that politicians make decisions in the public's interest rather than in the special interest of those who give them financial support, the biggest corruption of our political process is entirely legal. It comes in the form of campaign contributions that would not be made were it not for implicit quid pro quos by politicians, bestowing favors of one sort or another on the contributors. These are not, technically, bribes. Elected officials are not personally enriched -- at least not directly (their offices may be stepping stones to lucrative lobbying positions later...

Why Deficit Hawks are Killing the Recovery.

Consumer spending is 70 percent of the American economy, so if consumers can’t or won’t spend we’re back in the soup. Yet the government just reported that consumer spending stalled in April – the first month consumers didn’t up their spending since last September. Instead, consumers boosted their savings, probably because they’re worried about the slow pace of job growth (next Friday’s report will likely show gains, but the number will continue to be tiny compared to the overall ranks of the jobless), as well as a lackluster “recovery.” They’re also still carrying enormous debt burdens. One in four homeowners is still underwater. And median wages are going nowhere. So what’s Congress doing to stoke the economy as consumers pull back? In a word, nothing. Democratic House leaders yesterday shrank their jobs bill to a droplet. They jettisoned proposed subsidies to help the unemployed buy health insurance, as well as higher matching funds for state-run health programs such as Medicaid...

The Challenge of Closing Tax Loopholes for Billionaires.

Who could be opposed to closing a tax loophole that allows hedge-fund and private-equity managers to treat their earnings as capital gains – and pay a rate of only 15 percent rather than the 35 percent applied to ordinary income? Answer: Some of the nation’s most prominent and wealthiest private asset managers, such as Paul Allen and Henry Kravis , who, along with hordes of lobbyists, are determined to keep the loophole wide open. The House has already tried three times to close it only to have the Senate cave in because of campaign donations from these and other financiers who benefit from it. But the measure will be brought up again in the next few weeks, and this time the result could be different. Few senators want to be overtly seen as favoring Wall Street. And tax revenues are needed to help pay for extensions of popular tax cuts, such as the college tax credit that reduces college costs for tens of thousands of poor and middle-class families. Closing this particular loophole...

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