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

We Are All Third Wayers Now

The Third Way doesn’t have to be market conservatism in centrist clothing.

I s the Third Way a new public philosophy likely to shape capitalism in a postcommunist twenty-first century? Or is it, as some from both ends of the political spectrum suspect, little more than a watered-down version of Reaganism-Thatcherism: less a new movement than a pragmatic, if not cynical, means of keeping liberals mollified while continuing the long-term shift rightward—a global version of Dick Morris's "triangulation"? Years ago, the "Third Way" referred to Sweden's social democratic middle ground between capitalism and communism, but in recent years the term has taken on a more varied meaning. Around Boston the "third way" describes the back route to Logan Airport, avoiding the tunnels. Others have used it in reference to a novel position for having sex. But when Britain's Tony Blair used the phrase in his successful bid to oust the Tories in 1997, he had something different in mind: a set of public policies equidistant from Margaret Thatcher and Old Labour, redolent...

Controversy: The Rhetoric of "Corporate Welfare"

Since Robert Reich coined the phrase several years ago, "corporate welfare" has become a rhetorical target for progressives. Activists argue that government subsidies to private businesses amount to giveaways, which sometimes even promote harmful activity. These critics have established "corporate welfare" in the lexicon of both liberal and conservative politics: a recent computer search turned up the phrase in 520 articles from major newspapers and 107 articles in popular magazines over just the last two years. The critics are sometimes right, but their polemics can be politically insidious and discourage serious discussion about when and how government should get involved in private industry. Invoking "welfare" legitimizes the idea that government in volvement in the economy is intrinsically corrupting. The phrase draws on the image of contemptible dependency on government that has dogged social programs for the poor and tries to transfer some of that contempt to CEOs. It risks...

It's the Year 2000 Economy, Stupid

Exactly eight years ago, I trudged through New Hampshire sleet and slush, telling anyone who'd listen that Bill Clinton would do wonders for the American economy. Now, as the nation lurches into a millennial election year, most Americans seem largely content. The economy has faded as an election-year issue. But it shouldn't have—there are Two Big Things about the American economy that ought to be framing the upcoming election. Big Thing Number One: America has been growing faster than ever. Productivity has been rising 2.1 percent a year since 1993, according to just-revised statistics. I wish the Clinton administration could take full credit, but it turns out that, as Barry Bluestone explains in this issue [see "Conversation: Clinton's Bequest Reconsidered," page 18], the productivity-growth spurt actually began picking up steam in the early 1980s. The recession of 1991-92 was only a temporary pause. Neither Reagan's supply-side tax cuts nor Clinton's deficit-thwacking budget...

The New Power

It seemed appropriate to begin my series of modest screeds with a short pre- snake person analysis of where power is moving to in America. Here's who's losing it: Giant corporations and their CEOs. They've made money in the current expansion, but they're losing clout. Vast industrial- age bureaucracies can't move fast enough. All are downsizing, and many CEOs are losing their jobs. Since 1990, heads have rolled at IBM, AT&T, General Motors, Sears, and other corporate behemoths. As the economy slows, expect more heads, lower profits, and downsizings on a monumental scale. Labor unions. Even with the tough- minded John Sweeney at the helm of the AFL- CIO, the percentage of private- sector workers belonging to labor unions continues to drop. Unless the AFL- CIO succeeds in organizing vast numbers of low- wage service workers in hotels, hospitals, retail stores, restaurants, and laundries, as well as platoons of overworked and underpaid high- tech workers, organized labor is in danger...

Mobilizing American Industry for War

The Wall Street Journal As America mobilizes for war, Washington must think more clearly about what it wants from American industry. K Street is ablaze with proposed subsidies, loan guarantees, tax breaks, and regulatory relief for industries termed "vital" to the anti-terrorist effort. In war-fevered Washington, politicians of all stripes may be too eager to accommodate. The airline bailout was notable not only for its size (its price tag exceeding the combined market value of United, American, Delta, Northwest, US Airways, America West, and Continental), but also the speed and near-unanimity with which it was granted. Senator John McCain warned his colleagues that "[i]f we don t act soon, I m afraid that it will be even more difficult to resuscitate this key industry in the future." The attack has also fueled efforts to protect the American steel industry from lower-cost imports. Noting the renewed importance of steel to national security, Commerce Secretary Don Evans pledged last...

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