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 Case for 'Progressive' Vouchers

The Wall Street Journal Education tops the list of Americans' concerns. But there's no agreement on what to do about it. The biggest emerging battle is between people who advocate school choice and those who want more money for schools. George W. Bush wants to give vouchers to poor kids in failing schools so they, and their parents, can shop for a better education. But Al Gore says no way. He would prefer to spend $115 billion more on schools over the next 10 years, by contrast with the $13.5 billion over five years that Mr. Bush proposes . Joe Lieberman, who has sponsored legislation calling for experiments with vouchers for private schools, is now mute on the subject. Meanwhile, voucher plans in Cleveland and Florida are in the courts, and initiatives to authorize statewide voucher schemes will be on ballots this fall in California and Michigan. Vouchers Work The standoff between...

Drop Your Standards

The Times Higher Education Supplement The latest rage in education on both sides of the Atlantic is standardized tests. Tests have been around for a long time, of course, but have never been employed to the extent they are now. Young people are now being tested and then retested a year or two later, and then retested again and again. Our schools are morphing into test-taking factories. Politicians like tests because they don t cost much money and they reassure the public that children are at least learning something. Paradoxically, we re embracing standardized tests just when the new economy is eliminating standardized jobs. If there s one certainty about what today s school children will be doing a decade or two from now, it s that they won t all be doing the same things, and they certainly won t be drawing on the same body of knowledge. The purpose of education is not only to train people to become productive participants in an economy, of course. And yet, the work that people will...

Stop 'Spinning' and Start Fixing the Economy

The Los Angeles Times Almost everyone agrees that the economy needs a kick. Anxieties about terrorism, job losses and record household debt are causing consumers to pull in their belts. Businesses have all but stopped spending. So why is the federal government's much-heralded "stimulus plan" getting nowhere? Blame politics. Senate Democrats and House Republicans are locked in a game of chicken. Both sides are eyeing the midterm elections next November. A small shift in voter allegiance could swing the balance of power in either chamber. Both sides want to tell their constituents that they've gone to bat for them. House Republicans want to crow about tax cuts for businesses and individuals. Democrats want to boast that they've fought for expanded health and unemployment benefits to laid-off workers and more spending on domestic security. Neither side has much incentive to compromise except for the possibility that the recession will deepen and that they, rather than their opponents,...

Lost Jobs, Ragged Safety Net

The New York Times The economic fallout from terrorism is hitting some Americans much harder than others, and we need to respond. Last year, when the slowdown began, layoffs and pay cuts hit hardest at manufacturing workers, white-collar managers and professionals. But since the terrorist attacks, consumers have cut their spending, and now a different group is experiencing the heaviest job losses: the mostly low-paid workers in America's vast personal-service sector. With retail sales down, there's less need for sales clerks. Half-empty hotels don't need nearly as many cleaners and bellmen. Vacant convention halls have no use for platoons of custodians and staffers. Unfilled restaurants can't keep waiters and busboys busy. And so on through all the workers who attend, drive, pamper, launder, polish, clean, prepare and otherwise make life more pleasant for the people who pay them. In October 439,000 private-sector jobs were lost — the largest monthly decline in more than a quarter-...

Why Bush's Trade Agenda Is Going Nowhere

Broadcast November 8, 2001 The trade talks starting this weekend are a side show to the main trade event. That's a bill that the White House has been pushing to give the president what's now dubbed "trade promotion authority." It would allow Congress to vote yes or no on any new trade treaty, but not change the terms. That's the only way other countries will be willing to sign trade deals with us. Yet despite a lot of flag-waving and upbeat talk from the White House about getting trade promotional authority from Congress, the bill is going nowhere. The White House just doesn't have the votes to pass it, even in a Republican-controlled House and even with the backing of the most popular president in recent history. Why? Put simply, because Americans don't want more free trade. If polls are to be believed, a bare majority of Americans fear that more free trade will threaten their jobs. Last week's gloomy unemployment report showing 439,000 private sector jobs lost last month, the...

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