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 Guns of August, and Why the Right Was So Adept at Using Them on Health Care.

What we learned in August is something we've long known but keep forgetting: The most important difference between America's Democratic left and Republican right is that the left has ideas and the right has discipline. Obama and progressive supporters of health care were outmaneuvered in August -- not because the right had any better idea for solving the health-care mess but because the right's attack on the Democrats' idea was far more disciplined than was the Democrats' ability to sell it. I say the Democrats' "idea," but in fact there was no single idea. Obama never sent any detailed plan to Congress. Meanwhile, congressional Dems were so creative and undisciplined before the August recess they came up with a kaleidoscope of health-care plans. The resulting incoherence served as an open invitation to the Republican right to focus with great precision on convincing the public of their own demonic version of what the Democrats were up to -- that it would take away their Medicare,...


I would have preferred a single-payer system like Medicare but became convinced earlier this year that a public, Medicare-like optional plan was just about as much as was politically possible. Now the White House is stepping back even from the public option, with the president saying it's "not the entirety of health-care reform," the White House spokesman saying the president could be "satisfied" without it, and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius saying that a public insurance plan is "not the essential element." Without a public Medicare-like option, health-care reform is a band-aid for a system in critical condition. There's no way to push private insurers to become more efficient and provide better value to Americans without being forced to compete with a public option. And there's no way to get overall health-care costs down without a public option that has the authority and scale to negotiate lower costs with pharmaceutical companies, doctors, hospitals, and...


Citigroup -- the giant Wall Street bank still on life-support courtesy of $45 billion from American taxpayers -- wants to pay its 25 top executives an average of $10 million each this year, and award its best trader $100 million. Whaaat? Second only to health-care reform as a test of Obama 's toughness and resolve is reform of Wall Street. And like the health-care industry, Wall Street has platoons of lobbyists and an almost unlimited war chest to protect its interests and prevent change. So what can we learn by what's going on now, regarding pay for the top brass at big "too big to fail" banks? After the bonus plan for AIG executives blew up last year, a law enacted last February requires that any "too big to fail" institution that's received bailouts get Treasury's approval on pay for their top earners. So far, most are seeking around $7 million each for their top 25. More after the jump. -- Robert Reich


Three years ago, my mother died after a long and painful illness. During her last months she was only partially conscious, and in her brief intervals of awareness was often distraught. At several points my father, sister, and I met with doctors to figure out how to ease her obvious suffering with pain medications, and how we could get her into a hospice facility. We could afford the counseling, but millions of other families cannot -- which is why one of the useful heath care reforms now moving through Congress authorizes Medicare to reimburse doctors for such voluntary end-of-life consultations. The American Medical Association and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization support the provision. But in a cruel contortion, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin calls these consultations "death panels," and in a Facebook posting late Wednesday night charges that they'll force the elderly to accept minimal end-of-life care in order to reduce health care costs: "It's misleading...


My friend, Keith , from New Orleans, just emailed to say he attended a local "town meeting" on health care and tried to get a word in favor but was almost hounded out of the room. Why are these meetings brimming with so much anger? Because Republican Astroturfers have joined the same old right-wing broadcast demagogues that have been spewing hate and fear for years, to create a tempest. But why are they getting away with it? Why aren't progressives -- indeed, why aren't ordinary citizens -- taking the meetings back? More after the jump. -- Robert Reich