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

The Myth of Triangulation

Obama must resist the Republican push to cut federal spending or else face voters in 2012 with continued high unemployment.

Former President Bill Clinton on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Shortly after the Democrats' "shellacking" last November, I phoned a friend in the White House who had served in the Clinton administration. "It's 1994 all over again," he said somewhat gloomily. "Now we move to the center." The supposed parallel between 2010 and 1994 is something of an article of faith in the Obama White House. That's partly because so many of President Barack Obama's current aides worked for Bill Clinton and vividly recall Clinton's own shellacking in 1994. It's also because the Clinton story had a happy ending, at least electorally. The fact that Bill Clinton went on to win re-election is a source of comfort to the current White House as it looks ahead to 2012. From this, many in the Obama White House have concluded that the president should follow Clinton's campaign script -- distancing himself from congressional Democrats, embracing further deficit reduction and deregulation, and seeking guidance from big business. If it worked for Clinton, it must work for Obama...

Telling Tales

The story that must be told isn't one of big government and deficits but of power and privilege amassing at the top.

Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention in Boston in 2004 (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian, File)
Editors' Note: This piece has been corrected . Americans want to know what happened to the economy and how to fix it. At least Republicans have a story -- the same one they've been flogging for 30 years. The bad economy is big government's fault, and the solution is to shrink government. But what exactly is President Barack Obama's story or the Democrats'? That Wall Street screwed up big time and the solution is to fix the Street? That Americans have lived beyond our means and now we have to tighten our belts? That our trade imbalance got too big and the Chinese have to spend more and we have to save more? That American companies have been outsourcing jobs abroad and must be deterred? Without a clear story, there's no competition. Republicans win. Here's the real story. For three decades, an increasing share of the benefits of economic growth have gone to the wealthiest 1 percent. Thirty years ago, the top got 9 percent of total income. Now they take in almost a quarter. Meanwhile,...

Steal This Author

In a few years, we'll be able to do without publishers.

Rolls on a printing press (Flickr/Matt Miller)
Several years ago, I was put in the window of a Midwestern bookstore next to a large sign announcing, "Robert Reich is here to sign his latest book." Some passers-by glanced curiously into the window; a few stopped to gawk. I lamely smiled and waved. The ordeal lasted only a half-hour, but the humiliation is still with me. Here I was, having written from conviction on an issue I felt deeply about, being forced to sell myself like one of those ladies on display in storefronts of Amsterdam's red-light district. (At least those ladies attracted eager customers. I don't recall anyone coming into the bookstore for my signature.) That was the worst book-promoting experience I remember, but even the normal process of selling a book can feel demeaning. I have no trouble trying to market ideas or proposals I believe to be important; indeed, I've spent most of my adult life doing this in one way or another -- not for the money but in order to influence public policy. In trying to sell a book,...

Fire on the Left

Tea Partiers are getting all the press, but it's the anger on the left that spells trouble for Dems in the midterms.

President Barack Obama. (White House Photo/Pete Souza)
A friend whom I'll call David raised a ton of money for Democrats in 2008 and now tells me they can go to hell. He's furious about the no-strings bailout of Wall Street, the absence of a public option in health reform, financial reform that doesn't cap the size of banks or reinstate the Glass-Steagall wall between investment and commercial banking, and a stimulus that was too small to do much good but big enough to give Republicans a campaign issue. He's also upset about tens of thousands of additional troops being sent to Afghanistan, a watered-down cap-and-trade bill that's going nowhere, and no Employee Free Choice Act. David won't raise a penny this fall and doubts he'll even vote. "I busted my chops getting them elected, and they caved," he fumes. "They're all lily-livered wimps, and Obama has the backbone of a worm." Tea Partiers are getting all the press. But the anger on the left, including much of the Democratic base, is almost as intense. And it spells trouble for Democrats...

Everyday Corruption

The policy-making process has become an extension of the market battlefield.

(iStock Photo)
In 2006, congressional Democrats accused Republicans of wallowing in a "culture of corruption," pointing to the peccadilloes of Tom DeLay and the excessive political generosity of Jack Abramoff. Now, in the months leading up to the 2010 midterms, congressional Republicans accuse Democrats of much the same. But most of this is for the cameras. If we define political corruption as actions causing the public to lose confidence that politicians make decisions in the public's interest rather than in the special interest of those who give them financial support, the biggest corruption of our political process is entirely legal. It comes in the form of campaign contributions that would not be made were it not for implicit quid pro quos by politicians, bestowing favors of one sort or another on the contributors. These are not, technically, bribes. Elected officials are not personally enriched -- at least not directly (their offices may be stepping stones to lucrative lobbying positions later...