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 Audacity of Greed: How Private Health Insurers Just Blew Their Cover.

The health-insurance industry has finally revealed itself for what it is. Background: The industry hates the idea that's emerged from the Senate Finance Committee of lowering penalties on younger and healthier people who don't buy insurance. Relying on an analysis by PricewaterhouseCoopers, insurers say this means new enrollees will be older and less healthy -- which will drive up costs. And, says the industry, these costs will be passed on to consumers in the form of higher premiums. Proposed taxes on high-priced "Cadillac" policies will also be passed on to consumers. As a result, premiums will rise faster and higher than the government projects. It's an eleventh-hour bombshell. But the bomb went off under the insurers. The only reason these costs can be passed on to consumers in the form of higher premiums is because there's not enough competition among private insurers to force them to absorb the costs by becoming more efficient. Get it? Health insurers have just made the best...

Empty Hands on the Climate, and What Obama Needs to Do.

On Friday, Denmark's climate and energy minister, Connie Hedegaard , who will be chairing U.N.-sponsored climate talks in December in Copenhagen, said President Obama needs to do more on climate. "It is hard to imagine that he will be receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo on Dec. 10 and then come empty-handed to Copenhagen a week later," she said. But there's no way between now and then Obama can get a strong climate bill through Congress. Over the next months, the White House needs to focus on health care if it's to have any hope of coming up with anything more than Big Pharma and the private insurance companies want. This is the cost of trying to do so much so quickly. Initiatives revert to powerful industry lobbyists because there's no time to organize countervailing power. When he's trying to do everything at once, the president can't mobilize public opinion behind any one thing. Progressive voices (which have difficulty being heard even under the best of circumstances) drown...

Why Obama Should Not Have Received the Peace Prize -- Yet.

President Obama 's only real diplomatic accomplishment so far has been to change the direction and tone of American foreign policy from unilateral bullying to multilateral listening and cooperating. That's important, to be sure, but not nearly enough. The Prize is really more of Booby Prize for Obama's predecessor. Had the world not suffered eight years of George W. Bush , Obama would not be receiving the prize. He's prize-worthy and praiseworthy only by comparison. I'd rather Obama had won it after Congress agreed to substantial cuts in greenhouse gases comparable to what Europe is proposing, after he brought Palestinians and Israelis together to accept a two-state solution, after he got the United States out of Afghanistan and reduced the nuclear arm's threat between Pakistan and India, or after he was well on the way to eliminating the world's stockpile of nuclear weapons. Any one of these would have been worthy of global praise. Perhaps the Nobel committee can give him half the...

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...

Pages