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

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...

The Final Sprint for Health Care Has Now Begun, and Where the White House is Placing Its Bets.

The real political race for health care has just begun. The significance of the president's speech to Washington insiders was its signal about where the White House is placing its bets and its support. More on this in a moment. First, let's be clear about who's racing and why. Think of the speech as the starting gate of a two-month sprint between two competitors -- and they're not Democrats and Republicans. On one side are America's biggest private insurers and Big Pharma. They're drooling over the prospect of tens of millions more Americans buying insurance and drugs because the pending legislation will require them to, or require employers to cover them. The pending expansion of Medicaid will also be a bonanza. Amerigroup Corp., UnitedHealth Group Inc. and other companies that administer Medicaid are looking at 10 million more customers. Healthcare Inc.’s Medicaid enrollment is expected to jump by 43 percent, according to its CEO. WellPoint Inc., the largest U.S. insurer, is also...

The Snowe Job, and Why a "Trigger" for a Public Option is Nonsense.

I was just on the phone talking with a reporter for a national media outlet who referred to Sen. Olympia Snowe 's idea for a public option "trigger" as the "centrist position." Whoa. When the mainstream media start naming something as "centrist" the game is almost over because just about everyone with any authority in our nation's capital wants to be at the "center." Let me back up a step. The public insurance option has become a lightening rod for Republicans, hate radio jocks, Fox News, the Wall Street Journal 's editorial page, and lobbyists for the health-industrial complex who accuse the White House and Democrats of planning a "government takeover" of health care. Anything that has the word "public" in it is always an automatic target for their rants. But most Democrats understand that a public insurance option is essential to control health-care costs and expand coverage -- both because private for-profit insurers now face so little competition in most markets that only the prod...

The Lessons from History on Health-Care Reform.

With Congress returning from recess to consider health care legislation and the president set to deliver a major address on the subject to both houses of Congress tomorrow, a bit of history may be in order. An excellent starting place David Blumenthal 's and James Marone 's The Heart of Power , which I reviewed for The New York Times this past weekend. Here are the major points: Universal health care has bedeviled, eluded or defeated every president for the last 75 years. Franklin Roosevelt left it out of Social Security because he was afraid it would be too complicated and attract fierce resistance. Harry Truman fought like hell for it but ultimately lost. Dwight Eisenhower reshaped the public debate over it. John Kennedy was passionate about it. Lyndon Johnson scored the first and last major victory on the road toward achieving it. Richard Nixon devised the essential elements of all future designs for it. Jimmy Carter tried in vain to re-engineer it. The first George Bush toyed with...

The Real News About Jobs and Wages -- An Ode to Labor Day.

Why aren't we hearing more about the worst job and wage situation since the Great Depression? The latest employment figures (released this morning) show job losses continuing to grow. According to the payroll survey, job losses are increasing more slowly than in previous months. According to the household survey, they're accelerating -- from 9.4 percent of the workforce in July to 9.7 percent in August. Bottom line: almost one out of six Americans who needs a full-time job either can't find one or is working part-time. Meanwhile, wage growth among people who have jobs has just about stopped. The Economic Policy Institute reports that between 2006 and 2008, wages grew at an annualized rate of 4.0 percent; by contrast, over the past three months annual wage growth has plummeted to just 0.7 percent . At the same time, furloughs -- requiring workers to take unpaid vacations -- are on the rise: recent surveys show 17 percent of companies imposing them. More than 20 percent of companies...

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