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

SARAH PALIN'S DEATH PANELS.

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...

HOW TO FIGHT HEALTH-CARE FEARMONGERERS AND DEMAGOGUES.

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

The Limits of Likeability

The president remains popular even as many of his supporters become uneasy about what he's actually doing.

President Barack Obama jogs in to speak at a town hall meeting on health care in Belgrade, Mont. Friday, Aug. 14, 2009.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
My friend Fred voted for Obama and trusts him to do the right thing. "He's the brightest and most decent person who's occupied the Oval Office in my lifetime," Fred says. His trust for the man extends to Obama's agenda. "I don't have time to wade into the details of the economy or health care or climate change legislation or anything else, but I know he's got my interests at heart." My friend Sally also voted for Obama and still likes him, but she's increasingly upset about his policies. "He's giving away the store," she complains, pointing to his penchant for compromise. "He gave Wall Street $600 billion in bailouts and doesn't even want to regulate it, gave big polluters 85 percent of the cap-and-trade permits, and has promised the American Medical Association, Big Pharma, and private insurers whatever they want in return for their support of universal health care." Sally says she voted for Obama because he promised to change American politics, but she thinks corporate interests are...

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...

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