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

Trump Wants Socialism for the Rich, Harsh Capitalism for the Rest

“America will never be a socialist country,” Donald Trump declared in his State of the Union address. Someone should alert Trump that America is now a hotbed of socialism. But it is socialism for the rich. Everyone else is treated to harsh capitalism. In the conservative mind, socialism means getting something for doing nothing. That pretty much describes the $21 billion saved by the nation’s largest banks last year thanks to Trump’s tax cuts, some of which went into massive bonuses for bank executives. On the other hand, more than 4,000 lower-level bank employees got a big dose of harsh capitalism. They lost their jobs. Banks that are too big to fail—courtesy of the 2008 bank bailout—enjoy a hidden subsidy of some $83 billion a year, because creditors facing less risk accept lower interest on deposits and loans. Last year, Wall Street’s bonus pool was $31.4 billion. Take away the hidden subsidy and the bonus pool disappears. Trump and his...

The Disaster of Howard Schultz

There are three big reasons why Howard Schultz’s self-proclaimed candidacy is troubling: 1. He could be a spoiler in 2020, splitting the vote and putting Trump back in the White House. Even Bill Burton, a former Obama adviser who has joined the Schultz team, publicly warned against third-party voting in 2016. 2. His message is without substance (he uses empty catchphrases like “silent majority” and “common sense solutions”) and his policy proposals are zilch. When asked by John Dickerson on CBS This Morning what his “big idea” was, Schultz declared: “The big idea is very simple: to unite the country. For us to come together. To do everything we can to realize that the promise of America is for everyone.” To the extent Schultz has defined his candidacy, it’s focused on what he’s against—for example, Democratic proposals to raise taxes and provide Medicare for All. 3. He represents the very worst aspect of America...

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,...

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