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 Meaning of America

Alex Edelman/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
Alex Edelman/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images Supporters hold campaign signs during a Make American Great Rally at Atlantic Aviation in Moon Township, Pennsylvania When Trump and his followers refer to “America,” what do they mean? Some see a country of white English-speaking Christians. Others want a land inhabited by self-seeking individuals free to accumulate as much money and power as possible, who pay taxes only to protect their assets from criminals and foreign aggressors. Others think mainly about flags, national anthems, pledges of allegiance, military parades, and secure borders. Trump encourages a combination of all three—tribalism, libertarianism, and loyalty. But the core of our national identity has not been any of this. It has been found in the ideals we share—political equality, equal opportunity, freedom of speech and of the press, a dedication to open inquiry and truth, and to democracy and the rule of law. We are not a race. We are not a creed...

Trump’s Big Buyback Bamboozle

AP Photo/Evan Vucci
Trump’s promise that corporations will use his giant new tax cut to make new investments and raise workers’ wages is proving to be about as truthful as his promise to release his tax returns. The results are coming in, and guess what? Almost all the extra money is going into stock buybacks. Since the tax cut became law, buy-backs have surged to $88.6 billion. That’s more than double the amount of buybacks in the same period last year, according to data provided by Birinyi Associates. Compare this to the paltry $2.5 billion of employee bonuses corporations say they’ll dispense in response to the tax law, and you see the bonuses for what they are—a small fig leaf to disguise the big buybacks. If anything, the current tumult in the stock market will fuel even more buybacks. Stock buybacks are corporate purchases of their own shares of stock. Corporations do this to artificially prop up their share prices. Buybacks are the corporate equivalent of steroids...

Trump's Divide-and-Conquer Strategy

AP Photo/Evan Vucci
If Robert Mueller finds that Trump colluded with Russia to fix the 2016 election, or even if Trump fires Mueller before he makes such a finding, Trump’s supporters will protect Trump from any political fallout. Trump’s base will stand by him not because they believe Trump is on their side, but because they define themselves as being on his side. Trump has intentionally cleaved America into two warring camps: pro-Trump and anti-Trump. And he has convinced the pro-Trumps that his enemy is their enemy. Most Americans are not passionate conservatives or liberals, Republicans or Democrats. But they have become impassioned Trump supporters or Trump haters. Polls say 37 percent of Americans approve of him, and most disapprove. These numbers are the tips of two vast icebergs of intensity. Trump has forced all of us to take sides, and to despise those on the other. There’s no middle ground. The Republican Party used to stand for fiscal responsibility, states' rights, free...

The Political Roots of Widening Inequality

The key to understanding the rise in inequality isn’t technology or globalization. It’s the power of the moneyed interests to shape the underlying rules of the market.

(Illustration: Victor Juhasz)
This article appears in the Spring 2015 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . Celebrate our 25th Anniversary with us by clicking here for a free download of this special issue . For the past quarter-century—at least since Bob Kuttner, Paul Starr, and I founded The American Prospect—I’ve offered in articles, books, and lectures an explanation for why average working people in advanced nations like the United States have failed to gain ground and are under increasing economic stress: Put simply, globalization and technological change have made most of us less competitive. The tasks we used to do can now be done more cheaply by lower-paid workers abroad or by computer-driven machines. My solution—and I’m hardly alone in suggesting this—has been an activist government that raises taxes on the wealthy, invests the proceeds in excellent schools and other means people need to become more productive, and redistributes to the needy. These...

Public Debt and Economic Growth

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In the election of 1952 my father voted for Dwight Eisenhower. When I asked him why he explained that “FDR’s debt” was still burdening the economy—and that I and my children and my grandchildren would be paying it down for as long as we lived. I was only six years old and had no idea what a “debt” was, let alone FDR’s. But I had nightmares about it for weeks. Yet as the years went by my father stopped talking about “FDR’s debt,” and since I was old enough to know something about economics I never worried about it. My children have never once mentioned FDR’s debt. My four-year-old grandchild hasn’t uttered a single word about it. By the end of World War II, the national debt was 120 percent of the entire economy. But by the mid-1950s, it was half that. Why did it shrink? Not because the nation stopped spending. We had a Korean War, a Cold War, we rebuilt Germany and Japan, sent our GI’s to college and helped...

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