Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich, a co-founder of The American Prospect, is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. His website can be found here.

Recent Articles

Where Your Tax Dollars Really Go

Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress claim that America spends too much on things like food stamps, welfare, and foreign aid. But let’s look at how the government actually spends your federal tax dollars each year. We’re going to look at what’s known as the “discretionary budget,” which has to be reappropriated by Congress each year. Start with foreign aid, the conservatives’ favorite boogeyman. It’s $29 billion a year. That may sound like a lot but it’s only 2 percent of all discretionary spending. Add all spending on international affairs, it’s 4 percent. What about science and technology, including NASA, the National Science Foundation, and research in clean energy, which conservatives love to hate? Just 3 percent . The environment and natural resources—money for clean air, safe drinking water, and protecting public lands? Another 3 percent . Roads, bridges, highways, airports, all transportation funding: Another 3...

The Real Reason for Impeachment

In today’s political climate, the question of whether or not to impeach the President of the United States is often thought of in political terms. But there is a much deeper concern at the heart of the question. An impeachment inquiry in the House is unlikely to send Trump packing before Election Day 2020 because Senate Republicans won’t convict him . And it’s impossible to know whether an impeachment inquiry will hurt or help Trump’s chances of being reelected. Does this mean impeachment should be off the table? No. There’s a non-political question that Congress should consider: Is enforcing the United States Constitution important for its own sake— even if it goes nowhere , even if it’s unpopular with many voters , even if it’s politically risky ? Every child in America is supposed to learn about the Constitution’s basic principles of separation of powers, and checks and balances. But these days, every child and every adult in...

How Corporate Welfare Hurts You

You often hear Trump and Republicans in Congress railing against so-called “welfare programs”—by which they mean programs that provide health care or safety nets to ordinary Americans. But you almost never hear them complaining about another form of welfare that lines the pockets of wealthy corporations. We must end corporate welfare. Now. There are several ways corporations get rich on the taxpayer’s dime. The most obvious comes through subsidies or tax breaks for certain businesses or industries. Consider the fossil fuel industry, one of the most profitable and privileged sectors of the economy. Every year, oil companies get to deduct millions of dollars from their tax bills for the cost of new wells, oil exploration, and other drilling and mining expenses. It’s been estimated that repealing these special tax breaks would save taxpayers $39 billion over 10 years. Other examples of corporate welfare include billions in government subsidies for...

America's Real Divide Isn't Left vs. Right. It's Democracy vs. Oligarchy.

John Rudoff/Sipa via AP Images Police patrol in front of Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. I keep hearing that the Democratic party has moved “left” and that some Democratic candidates may be “too far left”. But in this era of unprecedented concentration of wealth and political power at the top, I can’t help wondering what it means to be “left”. A half-century ago, when America had a large and growing middle class, those on the “left” sought stronger social safety nets and more public investment in schools, roads and research. Those on the “right” sought greater reliance on the free market. But as wealth and power have concentrated at the top, everyone else—whether on the old right or the old left—has become disempowered and less secure. Safety nets have unraveled, public investments have waned and the free market has been taken over by crony capitalism and corporate welfare cheats. Washington...

The Four Biggest Conservative Lies About Inequality

America’s lurch toward widening inequality can be reversed. But doing so will require bold political steps.

Even though we’re heading toward levels of inequality not seen since the days of the 19th-century robber barons, conservatives keep lying about what’s happening and what to do about it. Here are their four biggest lies about inequality, followed by the truth. 1. The rich and CEOs are America’s job creators, so we dare not tax them. The truth is the middle class and poor are the job-creators through their purchases of goods and services. If they don’t have enough purchasing power because they’re not paid enough, companies won’t create more jobs and the economy won’t grow. The giant Trump-Republican tax cut for corporations and the rich hasn’t trickled down to ordinary Americans . It’s just made the rich even richer. 2. People are paid what they’re worth in the market, so we shouldn’t tamper with pay. Wrong. Four decades ago, CEOs of big companies got 30 times the pay of typical workers . Now they get 361 times their...

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