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Robert Reich


Robert Reich


Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor, is professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley and the author of "Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future." He blogs at robertreich.org.


WhatsApp deal shines vital light
By Robert Reich

IF YOU EVER wonder what’s fueling America’s staggering inequality, ponder Facebook’s acquisition of the mobile messaging company WhatsApp.

Facebook is buying WhatsApp for $19 billion. That’s the highest price paid for a startup in history. It’s $3 billion more than Facebook raised when it was first listed, and more than twice what Microsoft paid for Skype.

(To be precise, $12 billion of the $19 billion will be in the form of shares in Facebook, $4 billion will be in cash, and $3 billion in restricted stock to WhatsApp staff, which will vest in four years.)

Given that gargantuan amount,

Tuesday, March 04, 2014 11:24 AM
 
We forget those economic lessons
By Robert Reich

WHY HAS AMERICA forgotten the three most important economic lessons we learned in the 30 years following World War II?

Before I answer that question, let me remind you what those lessons were:

First, America’s real job creators are consumers, whose rising wages generate jobs and growth. If average people don’t have decent wages, there can be no real recovery and no sustained growth.

In those years, business boomed because American workers were getting

Tuesday, February 18, 2014 12:34 PM
 
Conservatives point to poverty
By Robert Reich

WITH POLLS SHOWING that a majority of Americans now believe inequality has grown over the past decade, and favor tax increases on the wealthy to expand help to those in need, conservatives want to change the subject.
Those with presidential ambitions say we should focus on poverty rather than on inequality.
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida points to the “lack of mobility” of the poor as the core problem. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin blames their isolation from mainstream America: “On every measure from education levels to marriage rates, poor families are drifting further away from the middle class.”
Conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks argues that the “interrelated social problems of the poor” have nothing to do with inequality.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014 1:04 PM | Updated ( Tuesday, February 04, 2014 2:47 PM )
 
The redistribution of wealth, profits
By Robert Reich

ONE OF THE worst epithets that can be leveled at a politician these days is to call him a “redistributionist.” Yet 2013 marked one of the biggest redistributions in recent American history — a redistribution upward, from average working people to the owners of America.

The stock market ended 2013 at an all-time high — giving stockholders their biggest annual gain in almost two decades. Most Americans didn’t share in those gains, however, because most people haven’t been able to save enough to invest in the stock market. More than two-thirds of Americans live from paycheck to paycheck.

Even if you include the value of IRAs,

Tuesday, January 21, 2014 11:46 AM
 
Health law deserves time
By Robert Reich

WHATEVER happened to American can-do optimism? Even before the Affordable Care Act covers its first beneficiary, the nattering nabobs of negativism are out in full force.

“Tens of millions more Americans will lose their coverage and find that new Obamacare plans have higher premiums, larger deductibles and fewer doctors,” predicts Republican operative Karl Rove. “Enrollment numbers will be smaller than projected and budget outlays will be higher.”

Rove is joined by a chorus of conservative Cassandras,

Tuesday, January 07, 2014 12:09 PM
 
What does charitable mean?
By Robert Reich

IT’S CHARITY TIME, and not just because the holiday season reminds us to be charitable. As the tax year draws to a close, the charitable tax deduction beckons.

America’s wealthy are its largest beneficiaries. According to the Congressional Budget Office, $33 billion of last year’s $39 billion in total charitable deductions went to the richest 20% of Americans, of whom the richest 1% reaped the lion’s share.

The generosity of the super-rich is sometimes proffered as evidence they’re contributing

Monday, December 23, 2013 11:56 AM
 
The true price of holiday deals
By Robert Reich

THE MOST important website last weekend and in weeks to come — on which the hopes and fears of countless Americans are focused (and the president’s poll ratings depend) — is not healthcare.gov. It’s amazon.com.

Even if and when healthcare.gov works perfectly, relatively few Americans will be affected by it. Only 5% of us are in the private health-insurance market to begin with. But almost half of Americans are now shopping for great holiday deals online, and many will be profoundly affected, not because they get great deals, but because their jobs and incomes are at stake.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013 12:34 PM
 
Walmart workers need higher wages
By Robert Reich

WALMART JUST reported shrinking sales for a third straight quarter. What’s going on? Explained William S. Simon, the CEO of Walmart, referring to the company’s customers, “Their income is going down while food costs are not. Gas and energy prices, while they’re abating, I think they’re still eating up a big piece of the customer’s budget.”

Walmart’s CEO gets it. Most of Walmart’s customers are still in the Great Recession, grappling with stagnant or declining pay. So, naturally, the company’s sales are dropping.

But what Walmart’s CEO doesn’t get is that a large portion of Walmart’s customers

Tuesday, November 26, 2013 11:48 AM
 
GOP supported similar health bill
By Robert Reich

HOUSE MAJORITY Leader Eric Cantor says Republicans will seek to delay a requirement of the 2010 Affordable Care Act that all Americans obtain health insurance or face a tax penalty.

“With so many unanswered questions and the problems arising around this rollout, it doesn’t make any sense to impose this 1 percent mandate tax on the American people,” Cantor said.

While Republicans plot new ways to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, it’s easy to forget that for years they’ve been arguing that any comprehensive health insurance system should be designed exactly like the one that officially began Oct. 1, glitches and all.

For as many years, Democrats tried to graft health care onto Social Security

Tuesday, November 12, 2013 11:00 AM
 
The triumph of the Right
By Robert Reich

CONSERVATIVE Republicans have lost their fight over the shutdown and debt ceiling, and they probably won’t get major spending cuts in upcoming negotiations over the budget.

But they’re winning the big one: How the nation understands our biggest domestic problem.

Conservative Republicans say the biggest problem is the size of government and the budget deficit.

In fact, our biggest problem is the decline of the middle class and the increasing ranks of the poor,

Tuesday, October 29, 2013 11:10 AM
 
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