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

Russian Capitalism

Broadcast April 26, 2001 Attention all thrill-seekers. You can now be a launched into outer space -- if you re willing to pay the freight. Just call up the Russians. That s what Dennis Tito did. And this Sunday -- after paying the Russians a mere $20 million -- Dennis will lift off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhastan on a ten-day round trip to the International Space Station hovering above the world. Even though Dennis is an American, and we Americans are jointly building that Space Station, Dennis made his deal with the Russians. That s because our own National Aeronautics and Space Administration turned Dennis down flat. NASA doesn t think outer space is safe enough yet for amateur tourists. NASA finally consented to the Russians taking Dennis up there in order to avoid an international incident. So here s Russia -- a dozen years after Soviet communism -- engaging in the most capitalist of practices -- selling exactly what somebody wants, at the price the market is willing...

The Global Economy Is Teetering

The Los Angeles Times The White House is working with other nations to fight global terrorism. It also should be working with them to stave off a global economic meltdown. There's no longer any doubt that we're in a recession. More than 400,000 jobs were lost last month, the biggest job loss in two decades. Meanwhile, national output is shrinking. Consumer spending is dropping. And consumer confidence is plummeting. That's just the United States. The rest of the world is as bad or worse. Germany, the largest economy in Europe, is in a slump, dragging the rest of Europe down with it. The Japanese economy is nearly comatose. Argentina, until recently South America's powerhouse, is in deep recession and about to default on its international loans. The former "tigers" of Southeast Asia--Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan--are basket cases. The global economy is teetering. That's partly because American consumers--deep in debt, worried about keeping their jobs and now stressed out...

Fiscal Irresponsibility

I t's time to strike the term "fiscal responsibility" from responsible political rhetoric. Few terms in public discourse have moved as directly as this one has from imprecision to meaninglessness without any intervening period of coherence. Democrats have been particularly loose-lipped about it lately. House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, recently campaigning in Iowa for a fellow Democrat, was quoted in The Des Moines Register as calling the Bush tax cut fiscally irresponsible and touting the Democrats' 1993 effort to reduce the budget deficit. "I'm glad we did what was right in 1993," he said, "and I'll do it again because I believe in being fiscally responsible with taxpayers' money." The reporter for the Register assumed that Gephardt had meant that Democrats would repeal the Bush cut if they controlled the House. The minority leader's office promptly issued a rejoinder: He'd meant no such thing. Then what did Gephardt--who is among the Democrats' shrewdest politicians--mean? In...

The Big Split

I t would be bad enough if the Republicans' tax plans were merely extravagantly regressive, rewarding the rich and leaving a big budget hole for everyone else to fill. But they appear just when the income gap has grown wider than it has been in more than a century. It's a double whammy. Al Gore correctly assails the Republican tax proposals, yet Gore and most Democrats have failed either to emphasize the larger regressive trends in American income and wealth or to propose the most direct remedy--a more progressive tax. Neither Bush nor Gore talks about the biggest consequence of the 1990s boom: America's rich have become much, much richer. Bush doesn't mention it because his proposals would make things worse. Gore wants to claim the boom was good for everybody. But here are the unadorned facts. First, income: The average income of the richest 1 percent of Americans--after they paid all federal income taxes, and adjusting for inflation--rose from $273,562 in 1986 to $517,713 in 1997 (...

Of Our Time: The Missing Options

H ow the national debate is framed, and what options are put before the public, can be more important ultimately than the immediate choices made. The framing defines the breadth of the nation's ambition, and thus either raises or lowers expectations, fires or depresses imaginations, ignites or deflates political movements. A future generation pondering the present era may find it strange that the nation focused most of its collective energies between the start of 1993 and the end of 1997 on bringing the federal budget into balance by 2002 (after which time it will likely fall out of balance again), cutting taxes (mostly on the wealthy), and forcing the poorest Americans off welfare without a guarantee of a job at a livable wage. Republicans had wanted to do all of this somewhat more aggressively, and Democrats, somewhat more equitably. But the differences were of degree and there was no real debate. The larger issues facing the nation had either been put aside, or were declared, by...

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