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

HOW THE WHITE HOUSE'S DEAL WITH BIG PHARMA UNDERMINES DEMOCRACY.

I'm a strong supporter of universal health insurance, and a fan of the Obama administration. But I'm appalled by the deal the White House has made with the pharmaceutical industry's lobbying arm to buy their support. Last week, after being reported in the Los Angeles Times , the White House confirmed that it has promised Big Pharma that any health-care legislation will bar the government from using its huge purchasing power to negotiate lower drug prices. That's basically the same deal George W. Bush struck in getting the Medicare drug benefit, and it's proven a bonanza for the drug industry. A continuation will be an even larger bonanza, given all the boomers who will be enrolling in Medicare over the next decade. And it will be a gold mine if the deal extends to Medicaid, which will be expanded under most versions of the health-care bills now emerging from Congress, and to any public option that might be included. (We don't know how far the deal extends beyond Medicare because its...

ASTROTURF ALONG AMERICAN HIGHWAYS, AND THE REPUBLICAN PLAN.

On our drive across America, my son and I have spotted spiffy white vans emblazoned with phrases like "ObamaCare will raise your taxes" and "ObamaCare will put bureaucrats in charge of your health." Just outside Omaha we drove close enough to take a peek at the driver, who looked as dutifully professional as the spanking new van he was driving. This isn't grass roots. It's Astroturf. The vans carry the logo "Americans for Prosperity," one of the Washington front groups orchestrating the fight against universal health. They're using Congress' August recess to heckle Democratic representatives when they meet with their constituents, stage ersatz local anti-universal-health rallies, and fill home-town media with carefully crafted, market-tested messages demonizing health-care reform. The Republican Party's fingerprints are all over this. FreedomWorks, another group now Astroturfing its way around America, is chaired by former House Republican Leader Dick Armey . Texas Republican Pete...

THE FUTURE OF UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE, AS OF NOW.

Every day that goes by without a vote in the House or Senate on universal health care makes it less likely that major reform will occur, because (1) opponents have more time to stir up public anxieties about it; (2) Democrats up for reelection next year come ever closer to the gravitational pull of the midterms, and grow increasingly worried about voting for a bill that could be a political liability in a year when unemployment may well reach double digits and the electorate is restless and unhappy; and (3), as a result of the first two, proponents increasingly have to rely for support and cover on industries like Big Pharma and insurance, as well as physician specialists and equipment suppliers, none of whom have any interest in fundamental reform but all of whom see possibilities for making more money out of whatever bill emerges. In other words, next fall we get something called "universal health insurance" that still leaves millions of Americans uninsured and doesn't substantially...

THE WALL STREET RALLY: WATCH YOUR WALLETS.

Been Down So Long It Seems Like Up To Me , the precocious 1966 novel by the late Richard Farina , defined the late 1960s counterculture. The stock market rally that pushed the Dow Jones Industrial Average back above 9000 for the first time since early January could be given the same title, and it might well come to define the much-wished-for financial recovery. What's pushing the stock market upward? Mainly, unexpectedly positive second-quarter corporate profits. But those profits aren't being powered by consumers who have suddenly found themselves with a lot more money in their pockets. The profits are coming from dramatic cost-cutting -- including, most notably, payroll cuts. If a firm cuts its costs enough, it can show a profit even if its sales are still in the basement. The problem here is twofold. First, such profits can't be maintained. There's a limit to how much can be cut without a business eventually disappearing -- becoming, in effect, a balance sheet in space. Second,...

OBAMACARE AT WAR WITH ITSELF OVER FUTURE COSTS.

Right now, Obamacare is at war with itself. Political efforts to buy off Big Pharma, private insurers, and the American Medical Association are all pushing up long-term costs -- one reason why Douglas Elmendorf , head of the Congressional Budget Office, told Congress late last week that "the cost curve is being raised." But this is setting off alarms among Blue Dog Democrats worried about future deficits -- and their votes are critical. Big Pharma, for example, is in line to get just what it wants. The Senate health panel’s bill protects bio-tech companies from generic competition for 12 years after their drugs go to market, which is guaranteed to keep prices sky high. Meanwhile, legislation expected from the Senate Finance committee won't allow cheaper drugs to be imported from Canada and won't give the federal government the right to negotiate Medicare drug prices directly with pharmaceutical companies. Last month, Big Pharma agreed to what the White House touted as $80 billion in...

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