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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.


GOP seeking great cyncism
By Robert Reich

AN OLD FRIEND who has been active in politics for more than 30 years tells me he’s giving up. “I can’t stomach what’s going on in Washington anymore,” he says. “The hell with all of them. I have better things to do with my life.”

My friend is falling into exactly the trap that the extreme right wants all of us to fall into — such disgust and cynicism that we all give up on politics. Then they’re free to take over everything.

Republicans blame the shutdown of Washington and possible default on the nation’s debt on the president’s unwillingness to negotiate over the Affordable Care Act. But that law has already been negotiated. It passed both houses of Congress and was signed into law by the president.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013 2:54 PM
 
Political use of ‘free market’
By Robert Reich

ONE OF THE most deceptive ideas continuously sounded by the right (and its fathomless think tanks and media outlets) is that the “free market” is natural and inevitable, existing outside and beyond government.

So whatever inequality or insecurity it generates is beyond our control. And whatever ways we might seek to reduce inequality or insecurity — to make the economy work for us — are unwarranted constraints on the market’s freedom and will inevitably go wrong.

By this view, if some people aren’t paid enough to live on, the market has determined they aren’t worth enough. If others rake in billions, they must be worth it. If millions of Americans remain unemployed or their paychecks are shrinking or they work two or three part-time jobs with no idea what they’ll

Tuesday, October 01, 2013 4:24 PM
 
Syria screens problems here
By Robert Reich

WHILE ALL EYES are on Syria and on America’s response, the real economy in which most Americans live is sputtering.

More than four years after the recession officially ended, 11.5 million Americans are unemployed, many of them for years. Nearly 4 million have given up looking for work altogether. If they were actively looking, today’s unemployment rate would be 9.5% instead of 7.3%.

The share of the population working or seeking a job is the lowest in 35 years.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013 3:23 PM
 
Jobs returning, but wages poor
By Robert Reich

THE GOOD NEWS: Jobs are returning. The bad news: Most of them pay lousy wages and provide low, if not nonexistent, benefits.

The trend toward lousy wages began before the Great Recession. According to a new report from the Economic Policy Institute, weak wage growth between 2000 and 2007, combined with wage losses for most workers since then, means that the bottom 60% of working Americans are earning less now than 13 years ago.

This is also part of the explanation for

Tuesday, September 03, 2013 2:58 PM
 
Why aren’t CEO’s making a ruckus?
By Robert Reich

JOB GROWTH IS sputtering. So why aren’t the captains of American industry and finance — the nation’s top CEOs, the titans of Wall Street, the corporate movers and shakers — demanding that more be done to revive the economy? They have the political clout to make it happen.

It can’t be they don’t know that job growth is sputtering. The data are indisputable. July’s job growth of 162,000 jobs was the weakest in four months. The average workweek was the shortest in six months. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has also lowered its estimates of

Tuesday, August 20, 2013 4:44 PM
 
Stop subsidizing those executives
By Robert Reich

ALMOST EVERYONE knows CEO pay is out of control. It surged 16% at big companies last year, according to the New York Times, and the typical CEO raked in $15.1 million.

Meanwhile, the median wage continued to drop, adjusted for inflation.

What’s less well-known is that you and I and other taxpayers are subsidizing this sky-high executive compensation. That’s because corporations deduct it from their income taxes, causing the rest of us to pay more in taxes to make up the difference.

This tax subsidy to corporate executives

Tuesday, August 06, 2013 4:24 PM
 
GOP is intent on student ‘tax’
By Robert Reich

A BASIC ECONOMIC principle is that government ought to tax what we want to discourage, and not tax what we want to encourage.

For example, if we want less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, we should tax carbon polluters. On the other hand, if we want more students from lower-income families to be able to afford college, we should not put a tax on student loans.

Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, congressional Republicans seem intent on doing exactly the opposite.

Earlier this year the Republican-led House

Tuesday, July 23, 2013 5:13 PM
 
No magic bullet for good jobs
By Robert Reich

JOBS ARE returning with depressing slowness, and most of the new jobs pay less than the jobs that were lost in the Great Recession.

Economic determinists assume that globalization and technological advancement necessarily condemn a large portion of the American workforce to underemployment and stagnant wages, while rewarding those with the best educations and connections with ever higher wages and wealth.

Many on the right of the political spectrum say we should accept this outcome because we mustn’t interfere with the free market. Some on the left say we should withdraw from global trade; a few want us to become neo-Luddites and stop using labor-saving technologies.

Both sides are wrong. Other nations

Tuesday, July 09, 2013 2:21 PM
 
The two centers of power today
By Robert Reich

THERE ARE TWO great centers of unaccountable power in the American political-economic system today — places where decisions that significantly affect large numbers of Americans are made in secret and are unchecked either by effective democratic oversight or by market competition.

One goes by the name of the intelligence community, and its epicenter is the National Security Agency (NSA) within the Defense Department. If we trusted that it reasonably balanced its snooping on Americans with our nation’s security needs, and that our elected representatives

Tuesday, June 25, 2013 4:19 PM
 
Signs still show a stormy economy
By Robert Reich

ECONOMIC forecasters exist to make astrologers look good. But the recent jubilance is enough to make even weather forecasters blush.

“The economy is going gangbusters! Just look at consumer spending!”

“Look at home prices! Look at the bull market!”

Please.

I can understand the jubilation in the narrow sense that

Tuesday, June 11, 2013 3:02 PM
 
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