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

Why Bush is Winning

T he puzzling question is why George W.'s three big plans are moving forward. The immense tax cut whose benefits will go mostly to the rich, the hugely expensive missile-defense shield of dubious technical possibility, and the aggressive expansion of oil, gas, coal, and nuclear-energy availability coupled with a rollback of environmental regulations--all of these are said to be necessary to the nation's continued prosperity and peace. Each move is ostensibly in response to a current or pending crisis: a major economic downturn; an escalating probability of attack from China, North Korea, or a "rogue" state; an energy crisis. But in fact, these so-called crises have been manufactured by the White House. The economy has slowed, but it's hardly in free fall. The fundamentals (growth, productivity, unemployment) continue to be in relatively good shape. And the Fed is responding to a countercyclical slowdown with interest-rate cuts. There's no new foreign peril. China is every day growing...

The Nationalism We Need

There are two faces of American nationalism-one negative, one positive. The negative face wants to block trade, deter immigrants, and eschew global responsibilities. The positive one wants to reduce poverty among the nation's children, ensure that everyone within America has decent health care, and otherwise improve the lives of all our people. Both give priority to "us" inside the borders over "them" out there. Both believe that America should come first. Both depend for their force on a nation's sense of common purpose. But negative nationalism uses that commonality to exclude those who don't share it. Positive nationalism uses it to expand opportunities for those who do. Negative nationalism assumes that the world is a zero-sum game where our gains come at another nation's expense, and theirs come at ours. Positive nationalism assumes that when our people are better off, they're more willing and better able to add to the world's well-being. These are America's two real polit ical...

The Case (once again) for Universal Health Insurance

F orget a tax cut, other than an immediate one-year stimulus that puts money into the hands of people earning less than $50,000 a year. Forget paying down the debt. Use the federal surplus for universal health insurance. Working families won't get much out of any tax cut, and debt elimination is foolish. But working families keenly need affordable health care, now more than ever. The dirtiest little secret about the Roaring Nineties is that average working families gained almost no income, while their health care costs soared. From 1986 through 1997 (the latest year for which detailed IRS data are available), the average income of the richest 1 percent of Americans rose 89 percent, to $517,713. During these same years, the average income of the bottom 90 percent of Americans rose 1.6 percent, to $23,815. (These figures, not incidentally, are after all federal income taxes were paid.) Meanwhile, health care costs rose faster than inflation, hitting middle-income families especially...

Rejoinder: Who Do We Think They Are?

Ever since I argued in the Harvard Business Review last year that we should pay less attention to corporate nationality and more attention to whether our nation's work force was gaining the skills and competences it needed to compete, I've had the curious sense of being shoved -- quite against my will -- to the conservative side of the older debate over American industrial policy My first inkling of this transmigration came when The Wall Street Journal praised me and my argument in its editorial pages. If this were not cause enough for alarm, I found myself the recipient of expressions of shock and outrage from several fellow industrial-policy travelers who accused me of abandoning the worthy cause. And now, to deepen my gloom, comes Laura Tyson. Anyone wishing to probe my detailed views on all this has only to buy my upcoming book on the subject, The Work of Nations . (Under the circumstances, the editors of this journal surely have no objection to a little blatant book promotion.)...

Blackboard Jingle

It seems as if every conference I attend on the subject of American competitiveness (and there are many -- the competitiveness industry is surely one of America's most competitive) begins or ends with a speech by a prominent chief executive of a large American corporation about business's stake in improving the quality of the American work force. The corporate public- relations staffs who write these things must compare notes, because the speeches are virtually identical: At the start, an upbeat assessment of the current state of American industry coupled with grim warnings about foreign competitors who are gaining ground. This is followed by an assertion about the importance of the American work force to American competitiveness in the future, why skilled and educated workers are crucial, why companies have more and more need for brainpower instead of brawn, and so forth. At this point the CEO offers worrisome data about trends in the American work force. I've heard them so often I'...

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