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

Electoral Dysfunction

T he wrong lesson to be drawn from Super Titanic Tuesday is that both Bradley and McCain were too far to the left of their respective parties. The right lesson is that there's a large and growing party of independents and nonvoters in America that neither party's establishment has been interested in courting. The question now is whether Bush or Gore will try to attract them, or whether these potential voters will go back to sleep. Bill Clinton famously repositioned the Democrats in the middle of people who vote, but not in the middle of people who are eligible to vote. Note the distinction. In 1960, 62.8 percent of voting-age Americans chose between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. In 1996 just 48.9 percent of voting-age Americans chose between Bill Clinton, Bob Dole, and Ross Perot. Apart from the old South, where the 1965 Voting Rights Act has had its largest impact, the drop in voter participation between 1960 and 1996 marks the longest and most persistent decline in voting in...

How Bouncing Bush has Cornered Gore

The London Observer The consensus among political junkies and talking heads on this side of the Atlantic is that Al Gore's pick of Joe Lieberman as his running mate saved Gore's tush. But the new Gore-Lieberman brand has yet to be tested. And the first big test is whether it will fall into the trap the Republicans have set for it this week in Los Angeles. Gore's choice of Lieberman was smart on three grounds. First, the chutzpah of picking an orthodox Jew grabbed the political momentum away from George W. Bush right after Bush's perfectly-scripted Republican convention, thereby checking Bush's convention 'bounce' in the polls. Second, given Lieberman's concern about moral values in America and his outspoken criticism of President Clinton's liaison with Monica Lewinsky, the pick gives Gore some protection against Republican attempts to tar him with Clinton's turpitude. Finally, Lieberman is a conservative Democrat, which helps Gore with the same moderate swing-voters Bush is trying to...

Amid the Mess, It's the Same Ol' Same Ol'

So who will be in charge of the most powerful nation on Earth come January? Neither George W. Bush nor Al Gore. The new center of power in Washington will lie with the moderates in both parties--liberal-leaning Republicans and conservative-leaning Democrats who together will be the only ones capable of setting Washington's agenda. A president will occupy the Oval Office, but he will be dependent on the approval of congressional moderates for almost anything he'd like to accomplish. Forget George W.'s proposal to use much of the government's projected budget surplus for a large tax cut. The congressional moderates will whittle it down. Gore's proposals for an expensive new prescription-drug scheme for retirees and for a new government-subsidized savings plan on top of Social Security will be similarly downsized. In fact, you can safely forget most of what the presidential candidates proposed during their interminable campaigns. None of it matters any longer. In the end, the moderates...

Trial ties up Senate? Don't worry; Congress is irrelevant

USA Today Virtually every member of the U.S. Senate knows there aren't nearly enough votes there to convict the president and send him packing. The only real question is whether the Senate, which is likely to open the trial today, censures the president within a couple of weeks or the process drags on for months. Should we care? If it goes on and on, you can forget Social Security reform or tax cuts. But these were long shots anyway. Even if it were business as usual, the Democrats would block any privatization of Social Security. And the Republicans want to reserve their big tax-cutting crusade for the millennial election. Congress has been deadlocked for a year. Even when it had no impeachment trial on its hands, the Senate did nothing. Why suppose that a long impeachment trial would stop it from doing something else? The dirty little secret is that both houses of Congress have become increasingly irrelevant. The nation's business will go on, regardless of whether there's a long,...

Coolidge's Democratic Disciples

The New York Times One party claims that the budget surplus will be small, and that a central goal should be 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 Republicans and the second the Democrats. But it's actually the reverse. The Democrats are marching under the banner of fiscal austerity, and the Republicans proclaiming this the era of large ambition. "Here's the facts," said George W. the other day, pointing to the latest estimate from the Congressional Budget Office showing that the nation could well afford his plan to trim income taxes by $1.3 trillion over ten years and still have enough money to fund social programs. But in his new budget, released today, the President claims the surplus that's left over after saving all Social Security receipts is a little more than half that sum -- $746 billion over ten years. The President's estimate is even smaller than...

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