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

Harry Reid, and What Happened to the Public Option.

First there was Medicare for all 300 million of us. But that was a non-starter because private insurers and Big Pharma wouldn't hear of it, and Republicans and "centrists" thought it was too much like what they have up in Canada -- which, by the way, costs Canadians only 10 percent of their GDP and covers every Canadian. (Our current system of private for-profit insurers costs 16 percent of GDP and leaves out 45 million people.) So the compromise was to give all Americans the option of buying into a "Medicare-like plan" that competed with private insurers. Who could be against freedom of choice? Fully 70 percent of Americans polled supported the idea. Open to all Americans, such a plan would have the scale and authority to negotiate low prices with drug companies and other providers, and force private insurers to provide better service at lower costs. But private insurers and Big Pharma wouldn't hear of it, and Republicans and "centrists" thought it would end up too much like what...

The Great Disconnect Between Stocks and Jobs.

How can the stock market hit new highs at the same time unemployment is hitting new highs? Simple. The market is up because corporate earnings are up. Corporate earnings are up because companies are cutting costs. And the biggest single cost they’re cutting is their payrolls. So they let people go and, presto, their balance sheets look better and their stock prices rise. In the old-fashioned kind of recession decades ago, big companies laid off people with the expectation of rehiring them when the economy turned up. Then a few recessions back, companies started laying off people for good, never rehiring them even when the economy recovered. In the Great Recession of 2008-2009, companies are going a step further. They’re using this sharp downturn to cut payrolls even below where they were when times were good. Outsourcing abroad, setting up shop in China and elsewhere, contracting out, replacing people with software and automated machines – they're doing whatever it takes to get...

Obama, China, and Wishful Thinking About American Jobs.

President Obama says he wants to "rebalance" the economic relationship between China and the U.S. as part of his plan to restart the American jobs machine. "We cannot go back," he said in September, "to an era where the Chinese ... just are selling everything to us, we're taking out a bunch of credit-card debt or home equity loans, but we're not selling anything to them." He hopes that hundreds of millions of Chinese consumers will make up for the inability of American consumers to return to debt-binge spending. This is wishful thinking. True, the Chinese market is huge and growing fast. By 2009, China was second only to the U.S. in computer sales, with a larger proportion of first-time buyers. It already had more cell-phone users. And excluding SUVs, last year Chinese consumers bought as many cars as Americans (as recently as 2006, Americans bought twice as many). Even as the U.S. government was bailing out General Motors and Chrysler, the two firms' sales in China were soaring; GM's...

How Obama Can Convince Congress to Enact a Larger Stimulus, and Why He Must.

The administration's biggest economic mistake so far was to badly underestimate last January how terrible the employment situation would become by fall. As a result, it low-balled the stimulus -- settling for a plan that, while avoiding even worse job losses, didn't go nearly far enough. Obama has to return to Congress, seeking a larger stimulus. Yes, I know. We're already in the gravitational pull of the midterm elections (look at the bizarre attention given to gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia, and even to a congressional election in the 23rd district of New York, as supposed harbingers of voter behavior a year from now!). So it will be even harder to round up the needed votes from Blue Dog Dems fretting over the deficit. And you can forget the Republicans. And yes, I know: Only about half the current stimulus has been spent, so it will be awkward to make the case that we need a larger one. But here's the problem. Everything else on the table -- a new jobs tax...

Too Big to Fail: Why The Big Banks Should Be Broken Up, But Why The White House and Congress Don't Want To.

And now there are five -- five Wall Street behemoths, bigger than they were before the Great Meltdown, paying fatter salaries and bonuses to retain their so-called talent, and raking in huge profits. The biggest difference between now and last October is these biggies didn't know then that they were too big to fail and the government would bail them out if they got into trouble. Now they do. And like a giant, gawking adolescent who's just discovered he can crash the Lexus convertible his rich dad gave him and the next morning have a new one waiting in his driveway courtesy of a dad who can't say no, the biggies will drive even faster now, taking even bigger risks. What to do? Two ideas are floating around Washington, but only one is supported by the Treasury and the White House. Unfortunately, it's the wrong one. The right idea is to break up the giant banks. I don't often agree with Alan Greenspan but he was right when he said last week that "[i]f they're too big to fail, they're too...

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