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

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...

No Tax Cut. Period.

D emocrats should draw a bright line: No tax cut. Period. The surplus should be used instead for the three things regular working families need most: affordable health care (including prescription drugs), child care, and better schools. Instead Democrats are putting all their energies behind keeping Bush's tax cut closer to the $1.2 trillion they squeezed it down to in the Senate several weeks ago rather than the $1.6 trillion passed by the House. The $1.2 trillion "was a great victory for us," one prominent Democratic senator assured me recently. "In the end, if we can just keep 51 votes together, we'll triumph." Triumph? How can a tax cut anywhere near $1.2 trillion be considered a Democratic triumph? The public won't see any significant difference between it and Bush's $1.6 trillion proposal. Besides, either way, Republicans (who, let us remind ourselves, have the majority in both houses of Congress, plus the presidency) will make sure that most of its beneficiaries are people in...

Eliminating the Debt

One party claims that the budget surplus will be small and that the most important goal is to eliminate the debt. The other says the surplus will be big and we can do ambitious things with it. You'd be forgiven if you thought that the first party was the Democrats and the second the Republicans. But it's actually the reverse. The Democrats are marching under the banner of fiscal austerity, and the Republicans proclaim this the era of large ambition. "Here's the facts," says George W., pointing to the latest estimate from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) showing that the nation could well afford his plan to trim income taxes by $1.3 trillion over 10 years and still have enough money to fund social programs. The White House claims the surplus is far less. And it says retiring the debt should be the nation's first big priority. "Let's make America debt-free for the first time since 1835!" the president exuded in his State of the...

The Wrong War

The Financial Times Like generals preparing to fight the old war, the world's central bankers are still obsessed with inflation. They should be looking forward to the real enemy: deflation. Look around the world and what you see are identical policies in favour of trimming public spending, cutting debt, raising interest rates and squeezing money supply. Euroland has made deficit reduction the ticket to admission. The International Monetary Fund still screams "austerity!" at any hint that capital may flee a developing nation. And in the US, the Delphic and venerable Alan Greenspan, the US Federal Reserve chairman, told the Senate banking committee last month that the Fed would continue to evaluate "whether the full extent of the policy easings undertaken last fall to address the seizing-up of financial markets remains appropriate as those disturbances abate". Translated: If we do anything over...

Democrats Are Falling Into the Austerity Trap

Broadcast August 24, 2001 The butcher metaphors of modern management are back: cutting out the fat, slicing to the bone, getting leaner and meaner. Well, all this butchering may slow the slide of stock prices, but it's not a way to build long-term competitive strengths. The fact is, the key competitive assets of most companies these days is their people, not their machines or plants or even their patents, but their employees. Their employees' intellectual capital, knowledge about the companies' products, services and technologies. Their employees social capital, relations they built up over the years with clients and customers. And inside the company, relationships among employees who've become a team. And beyond the intellectual and social capital is what might be called trust capital, the sense among employees that the company will be there for them when times are tough, so that employees are willing to go the extra mile, make that extra commitment because they feel loyal to the...

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