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

A Stimulus Right Now, Aimed at Lower-Wage Workers

Broadcast September 27, 2001 Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan has told Congress to wait and see what happens before enacting a stimulus package. Congress is heeding his advice. It shouldn't. A stimulus is needed right away. Even before the September 11th terrorist attack, American consumers were in a deep funk. Personal savings rates were nearing a 70-year low, and debt was at record heights. Jobs were already disappearing. No wonder that, according to the Conference Board survey released this week, September marked the largest one-month drop in consumer confidence since October 1990, and almost all that survey was done before the terrorist attack. As consumers pull back from spending and the economy falls into recession, the people hurt the most are those likely to lose their jobs first and have no cushion to fall back on. I'm talking about retail store clerks, restaurant workers, janitors, hotel cashiers and other low-wage service workers. It's estimated that more than 100,...

Best place to invest surplus: our children

USA Today To listen to the White House and Republicans, you'd think the biggest choice facing the nation is whether to use projected budget surpluses to "save Social Security," as the White House proposes, or to cut taxes across the board, as Congressional Republicans propose. Because the polls show most Americans want both, you can bet that whatever emerges will be a mushy combination. Is this really the Great Debate we ought to be having? No. Look closely, and neither alternative makes any sense. Social Security doesn't have to be saved because it's not heading for a crisis. The projected bankruptcy of Social Security by 2032 is based on the wildly pessimistic prediction that between now and then the U.S. economy will grow only 1.8% a year. Almost all economists predict growth will be 2.4% or better. It's been 4% for the last three years. If the economy grows by at least 2.4%, Social Security is fine for 75 years without spending a dime of the surplus. The White House doesn't want...

The Fiscal Response Is Too Tepid

Broadcast Oct 5, 2001 Alan Greenspan is pushing on a wet noodle. The Fed has repeatedly cut interest rates since January and nothing's happened which means that we shouldn't expect this week's half percent rate cut to have much impact either. Even figuring in the normal time lag between a rate cut and response, the fact is this economy just isn't responding. Luckily the car has two accelerators. If the Fed's monetary policy isn't enough, there's fiscal policy. This week, the president lent his support to a stimulus package of between $60 billion and $75 billion in the form of additional tax cuts and spending. Now the good news is that the White House and Congress are no longer obsessing about saving the Social Security surplus or indulging in any other accounting fiction. The national economy is near or in a recession, and Washington understands that now is the time for government to spend more and tax less even if that means temporarily going into the red. The bad news is that...

Pandemonium

A s more Americans become disengaged from politics, America's political class has declared civil war. The 2000 election is a case in point. Prior to election day, it was dull, lifeless, and tightly scripted. The candidates fulminated over their differing versions of prescription drug benefits. Half of America's eligible voters didn't even bother voting. After election day, all hell broke loose. Americans didn't suddenly become more fiercely partisan. It was politicians and party loyalists who did, because there was no longer a script. Neither candidate had much to lose by escalating the post-election battle into a no-holds-barred civil war, and each had everything to gain if he won. Politics was exposed for what it has become--a power grab. One result: More exciting television. Pandemonium is a great spectator sport. Far larger numbers of Americans tuned in after election day than before. Chris Matthews told me his ratings were twice as high. CNN and Fox News reached new records...

The Democrats May Be Hoist on Clinton's Own Petard

The Los Angeles Times In this election cycle, those 'issues ads' he created last time are likely to be exceeded by the GOP. You'd be forgiven if you thought of the contest for the presidency as two big battles--first, the primary battle to choose each party's nominee, which this year is effectively over, and then the general election battle, which starts just after the nominating conventions in August and runs through election day. So you might suppose that now we'll have a 5-month breather. But you'd be wrong. One of the most important battles of the election will be between now and Aug. 15. That's when each likely nominee will launch intense barrages of televised ads designed to raise questions in voters' minds about the suitability of his rival in the opposite party. The ads will be paid for largely by big, unregulated donations to the Republican and Democratic national committees-- "soft money," in campaign lingo. President Clinton will be remembered for many things, but his...

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