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

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...

Trump Takes on General Motors (And Guess Who Wins?)

Donald Trump’s “America first” economic nationalism is finally crashing into the reality of America’s shareholder-first global capitalism. Last week, General Motors announced it would cut about 14,000 jobs, most of them in the politically vital swing states of Michigan and Ohio. This doesn’t quite square with the giant $1.5 trillion tax cut Trump and the Republicans in Congress enacted last December, whose official rationale was to help big corporations make more investments in America and thereby create more jobs. Trump told Ohio residents “don’t sell your homes,” because lost automaking jobs “are all coming back.” GM got a nice windfall from the tax cut. The company has already saved more than $150 million this year. But some of those Ohio residents probably should have sold their homes. Trump is (or is trying to appear) furious, tweeting up a storm of threats against GM, including taking away its federal subsidies. In...

What's a Subpoena, and Why Should Trump Fear It?

A primer on one of the Democrats' most powerful tools to rein in the president

You’re probably hearing a lot about subpoenas. Or you will very soon, once Democrats take control of the House. A subpoena is a legal command from a court or from one or both houses of Congress to do something— like testify or present information . The term “subpoena” literally means “under penalty.” Someone who receives a subpoena but doesn’t comply with it may be subject to civil or criminal penalties . Here’s how it works. Step One : Let’s say the Intelligence Committee of the House of Representatives issues a subpoena to the president for information about alleged conversations with Russian officials seeking their help in the 2016 election. Or say the House Ways and Means Committee subpoenas the president’s tax returns–which, in fact, a law enacted in 1924 after the Teapot Dome scandal of the Harding administration specifically authorizes that committee to do . Step Two : If the person named in a subpoena–in...

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 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 in recent weeks Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who at least had possessed enough integrity to recuse himself from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump’s possible collusion with Russia in the 2016 election. Trump replaced Sessions with an inexperienced loyalist hack, Matthew G. Whitaker, whose only distinction to date has been loud and public condemnation of that investigation. As a conservative legal commentator on CNN, Whitaker even suggested that a clever attorney general could secretly starve the investigation of funds. There’s no question why Trump appointed Whitaker. When asked by The Daily Caller , Trump made it...

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