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

So Much Happening in Washington and So Little To Show for It, So Far.

The Senate Finance Committee is set to vote Tuesday on a health-care bill that just got a seal of approval from the Congressional Budget Office and is very likely to garner the vote of Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe -- a twofer that gives the bill preeminence over four other health-care bills that have emerged from House and Senate committees over these long months. Unlike those bills, though, the Senate Finance bill won't have a public insurance option to compete with private insurers. Nor does it allow Medicare to use its bargaining power to negotiate lower drug prices, or adequately subsidize millions of middle-class families who will be required to buy health insurance that will be hard for them to afford. In short, it's a great deal for private insurers and Big Pharma, but not such a great deal for middle-class Americans. Meanwhile, the House banking committee is quietly circulating a draft set of reforms of financial markets likely to become the basis for whatever legislation...

Specifically, What Should Be Done For Jobs?

In his Saturday radio address, President Obama acknowledged the White House is exploring "additional options to promote job creation.” It's about time. This is the worst job market in 70 years -- including the longest duration of steep job losses. If anyone had any doubt that something far more dramatic must be done, listen to former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan . He warned Sunday against further stimulus because “we are in a recovery, and I think it would be a mistake to say the September numbers alter that significantly.” Greenspan has turned into an inverse soothsayer. After his cataclysmic error about where the economy was headed before the meltdown, his views about the future should be carefully noted as being the exact opposite of what's likely to be in store. The economy may be in a technical recovery but this is not a real recovery and the "green shoots" or "positive signs" that Wall Street cheerleaders love to shout about are phantoms of their ever-optimistic...

The Truth About Jobs That No One Wants To Tell You.

Unemployment will almost certainly be in double-digits next year -- and may remain there for some time. And for every person who shows up as unemployed in the Bureau of Labor Statistics' household survey, you can bet there's another either too discouraged to look for work or working part time who'd rather have a full-time job or else taking home less pay than before (I'm in the last category, now that the University of California has instituted pay cuts). And there's yet another person who's more fearful that he or she will be next to lose a job. In other words, 10 percent unemployment really means 20 percent underemployment or anxious employment. All of which translates directly into late payments on mortgages, credit cards, auto and student loans, and loss of health insurance. It also means sleeplessness for tens of millions of Americans. And, of course, fewer purchases (more on this in a moment). Unemployment of this magnitude and duration also translates into ugly politics,...

Explaining the Dow's Surge.

So how can the Dow be flirting with 10,000 when consumers, who make up 70 percent of the economy, have had to cut way back on buying because they have no money? Jobs continue to disappear. One out of six Americans is either unemployed or underemployed. Homes can no longer function as piggy banks because they’re worth almost a third less than they were two years ago. And for the first time in more than a decade, Americans are now having to pay down their debts and start to save. Even more curious, how can the Dow be so far up when every business and Wall Street executive I come across tells me government is crushing the economy with its huge deficits, and its supposed “takeover” of health care, autos, housing, energy, and finance? Their anguished cries of “socialism” are almost drowning out all their cheering over the surging Dow. The explanation is simple. The great consumer retreat from the market is being offset by government’s advance into the market. Consumer debt is way down from...

The Continuing Disaster of Wall Street, One Year Later.

As he attempted to do with health-care reform last week, the president is trying to breathe new life into financial reform. He's using the anniversary of the death of Lehman Brothers and the near-death experience of the rest of the Street, culminating with a $600 billion taxpayer financed bailout, to summon the political will for change. Yet the prospects seem dubious. As with health-care reform, he has stood on the sidelines for months and allowed vested interests to frame the debate. Nor has he come up with a sufficiently bold or coherent set of reforms likely to change the way the Street does business, even if enacted. Let's be clear: The Street today is up to the same tricks it was playing before its near-death experience. Derivatives, derivatives of derivatives, fancy-dance trading schemes, high-risk bets. “Our model really never changed, we’ve said very consistently that our business model remained the same,” says Goldman Sach's chief financial officer. The only difference now...

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