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 Fall of Davos Man

The annual confab of the captains of global industry, finance, and wealth is underway in Davos, Switzerland, at the World Economic Forum. Meanwhile, Oxfam reports that the wealth of the 2,200 billionaires across the globe increased by $900 billion last year—or $2.5 billion a day. Their 12 percent increase in wealth contrasts with a drop of 11 percent in the wealth of the bottom half of the people of the world. In fact, the world’s 26 richest billionaires now own as much as the 3.8 billion who comprise the bottom half of the planet’s population. If Davos’s attendees ignore all this, and blame the rise of right-wing populism around the globe on racism fueled by immigrants from the Middle East and from Central America, they’re deluding themselves. The real source of the rise of repressive authoritarianism, nativism, and xenophobia in the United States as well as Italy, Spain, Austria, Poland, Hungary, Denmark, Bulgaria, Greece, France, and Britain is a...

Trump’s Assault on the Rule of Law

The “rule of law” distinguishes democracies from dictatorships. It’s based on three fundamental principles. Trump is violating every one of them. The first principle is that no person is above the law, not even a president. Which means a president cannot stop an investigation into his alleged illegal acts. Yet Trump has done everything he can to stop the Mueller investigation, even making Matthew Whitaker acting attorney general—whose only distinction to date has been loud and public condemnation of that investigation. The second principle is that a president cannot prosecute political opponents. Decisions about whom to prosecute for alleged criminal wrongdoing must be made by prosecutors who are independent of politics. Yet Trump has repeatedly pushed the Justice Department to bring charges against Hillary Clinton, his 2016 rival, for using a private email server when she was secretary of state, in alleged violation of the Presidential Records Act. The third...

The Big Economic Switcheroo

The biggest untold story about how we pay for government involves a big switcheroo by America’s wealthy. Decades ago, wealthy Americans financed the federal government mainly by paying taxes. Their tax rate was far higher than what it is today. Now, wealthy Americans finance the federal government mainly by lending it money, and collecting interest payments on those loans, profiting when the rest of us pay them back. Follow the money: As the debt continues to grow, interest payments are becoming huge. Taxpayers could soon be paying more in interest on the federal debt than we spend on the military or on Medicaid. Interest on the debt is expected to hit $390 billion next year, nearly 50 percent more than in 2017, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Who’s receiving these interest payments? Mostly Americans, not foreigners. And most of these Americans are wealthy investors who park their savings in treasury bonds held by mutual funds, hedge funds, pension funds,...

What to Expect of House Democrats

Democrats are now in control of the House of Representatives, under Speaker Nancy Pelosi. I know and have worked with many of them. They are people of integrity who will strive to do what’ right for America. Pelosi is tough and courageous. Were it not for her insistence, Obama would not have pushed for the Affordable Care Act. But they are not miracle workers. Republicans still control the Senate. They will make life harder for Trump, to be sure. They will investigate. They have the power of subpoena. The House Ways and Means Committee is specifically authorized to subpoena Trump’s tax returns. They might even move to impeach Trump, if Mueller reports what I expect him to. But they will do little to change the growing imbalance of wealth and power in this country unless they are pushed to do so. Do not ever underestimate the influence of Wall Street Democrats, corporate Democrats, and the Democrat’s biggest funders. I know. I’ve been there. This is where you...

Why Trump's Private Transactions Are Terrifying

Trump has described the payments his bag man, Michael Cohen, made to two women during the 2016 campaign so they wouldn’t discuss their alleged affairs with him, as “a simple private transaction.” Last Saturday, when ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked Cohen if Trump knew the payments were wrong and were made to help his election, Cohen replied “Of course. … He was very concerned about how this would affect the election.” Even if Trump intended that the payments aid his presidential bid, it doesn’t necessarily follow that he knew they were wrong. Trump might have reasoned that a deal is a deal: The women got hundreds of thousands of dollars in return for agreeing not to talk about his affairs with them. So where’s the harm? After two years of Trump we may have overlooked the essence of his insanity: His brain sees only private interests transacting. It doesn’t comprehend the public interest. Private transactions can’t be...

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