Robert Reich - Vilas County News-Review
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  • AS A CHILD, I was always a head shorter than other boys, which meant I was bullied: mocked, threatened, sometimes assaulted.
    Childhood bullying has been going on forever. But America has become a culture of bullying: the wealthier over the “poorer,” CEOs over workers, those with privilege and
  • TEN YEARS AGO, after making piles of money gambling with other people’s money, Wall Street nearly imploded, and the outgoing George W. Bush and incoming Barack Obama administrations bailed out the bankers.
    America should have learned three big lessons from the crisis. We didn’t, to
  • SEPT. 15 WILL mark the 10th anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers and near meltdown of Wall Street, followed by the Great Recession.
    Since hitting bottom in 2009, the economy has 
  • I’VE LONG ADMIRED Elon Musk as a technological visionary. But I worry about his sense of responsibility to the public.
    Earlier this month, Musk announced on Twitter that he intended to turn Tesla, the electric carmaker he founded, into a private company. He said the funding was secured, a claim that sent Tesla stock skyrocketing, yet he
  • WHAT’S THE MOST worrisome foreign intrusion into the United States, unauthorized immigrants, Chinese imports or interference in our democracy?
    For Donald Trump, it’s immigrants and imports. He
  • TO: SENATORS JEFF Flake, John McCain, Bob Corker and Susan Collins
    From: Robert Reich
    Senators, I write you not as a Democrat reaching out to Republicans or as a former Cabinet member making a request of sitting senators.
    I write you as a patriotic American concerned about the peril now facing our democracy, asking you to exercise your power to defend it.
    A foreign power has attacked our democratic institutions and, according to American intelligence, continues to do so.
    Yet the president of the United States is
  • Donald Trump promised to be America’s dealmaker in chief.
    “We need a leader that wrote ‘The Art of the Deal,’ ” he said in the speech announcing his candidacy. “I’m a negotiator. I’ve done very well over the years, through negotiation,” he said during a Republican debate. “That’s what I do, is deals,” he said in May. “I know deals, I think, better than anybody knows deals.”
    But so far, Trump has made no deals at all and the ones he thinks he’s made have unraveled.
    He has no deal with North Korea. Following his June 12 summit with Kim Jong-un, Trump declared on Twitter that
  • THIS COMING FOURTH of July it’s worth pondering the true meaning of American patriotism, as opposed to the malignant, distorted view of it propounded by Donald J. Trump.
    For Trump, the central challenge of American patriotism is to secure our borders. “A nation without borders is not a nation at all,” he said.
    But excluding foreigners has never been a dominant part of American patriotism. For most of its existence America has been relatively open to people from the rest of the world, especially those fleeing tyranny and violence.
    America’s core struggle has been one of
  • I KEEP HEARING that if Donald Trump fires special counsel Robert Mueller, we’ll face a constitutional crisis, or if Mueller subpoenas Trump to testify and Trump defies the subpoena, it’s a constitutional crisis, or if Mueller comes up with substantial evidence that Trump is guilty of colluding with Russia or of obstructing justice, but the House doesn’t move to impeach him, we’ll have a constitutional crisis.
    I have news for you. We’re already in a constitutional crisis. For a year and a half, the president of the United States has been carrying out a systemic attack on the institutions of our democracy.
    A constitutional crisis does not occur suddenly like a coup that causes a system of government to collapse. It
  • DONALD TRUMP’S STRATEGY for keeping power is to build up his coalition of America’s white, working class and the nation’s ownership class.
    It’s a curious coalition, to say the least. But if Democrats don’t respond to it, it could protect Trump from impeachment and even re-elect him. It just might create a permanent Republican majority around an axis of white resentment and great wealth.
    Two decades ago, Democrats and Republicans competed over the middle class. They battled over soccer moms and suburban swing voters.
    Since then, the middle class has shrunk while the working class has grown and vast wealth has been accumulated by a comparative few who now own a large portion of America. Some of their wealth has
  • DONALD TRUMP PROMISED to rein in drug prices. It was his only sensible campaign promise.
    But the plan he announced Friday does little but add another battering ram to his ongoing economic war against America’s allies.
    He calls it “American patients first” and takes aim at what he calls foreign freeloading. The plan will pressure foreign countries to relax their drug price controls.
    America’s trading partners “need to pay more because they’re using socialist price controls, market access controls, to get unfair pricing,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar who, perhaps not incidentally, was a former top executive at
  • WHY DID WORKING-class voters choose a selfish, thin-skinned, petulant, lying, narcissistic, boastful megalomaniac for president?
    With the 2018 midterms around the corner and prospective Democratic candidates already eyeing the 2020 presidential race, the answer is important because it will influence how Democrats campaign.
    One explanation focuses on economic hardship. The working class fell for Donald Trump’s economic populism.
    A competing explanation, which got a boost this week from a study published by the National Academy of Sciences, dismisses economic hardship and blames it on whites’ fear of losing status to
  • “IT’S NONSENSE THAT there’s a beautiful free market in the power industry,” said Energy Secretary Rick Perry recently, as he pushed for a government bailout of coal-fired power plants.
    Republicans, who for years have voted against subsidies for solar and wind power arguing that the free market should decide our energy future, are now eager to have the government subsidize coal.
    Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also is scrapping rules for disposing coal ash waste, giving coal producers another helping hand. As if this weren’t enough, a former coal lobbyist, Andrew Wheeler, has
  • Tuesday, April 10, 2018 9:07 AM
    WHAT’S WORRYING ISN’T that Donald Trump is now getting advice about public policy from fanatics such as John Bolton and Lawrence Kudlow. Trump has never cared about public policy.
    The real worry is that with special counsel Robert Mueller breathing down Trump’s neck and with several special elections suggesting a giant “blue wave” in November, Trump is getting ready to do whatever it takes to win, even if that requires fanatical policy.
    Trump’s presidency has been, first and foremost, about marketing Trump. It’s what Trump has done his entire adult life. He doesn’t know how to do anything else, nor is he
  • Tuesday, March 27, 2018 10:49 AM
    DONALD TRUMP IS moving into a new and more dangerous phase.
    Before, he was constrained by a few “adults” — Rex Tillerson, Gary Cohn, Herbert Raymond McMaster and John Kelly — whom he appointed because he thought they had some expertise he lacked.
    Now, Trump has either fired or is in the process of removing the adults. He’s replacing them with a “Star Wars” cantina of toadies and sycophants who will reflect back at him his own glorious view of himself and help sell it on TV.
    Narcissists are dangerous because 
  • Tuesday, March 13, 2018 10:32 AM
    BEFORE I TURN to Jared Kushner, let me ask “Do you believe the U.S. government does the right thing all or most of the time?”
    The Gallup organization started asking this question in 1963, when more than 70% of Americans said they did. Since then, the percentage has steadily declined. By 2016, before Donald Trump became president, only 16% of Americans said they did.
    Why the decline? Surely various disappointments and scandals played a part: Vietnam, Watergate, Iran-Contra, weapons of mass destruction, the Wall Street bailout.
    But the largest factor by far has been
  • Tuesday, February 27, 2018 10:58 AM
    WHEN DONALD TRUMP and his followers refer to America, what do they mean?
    Some see a country of white, English-speaking Christians.
    Others want a land inhabited by self-seeking individuals free to accumulate as much money and power as possible, who pay taxes only to protect their assets from criminals and foreign aggressors.
    Others think mainly about flags, national anthems, pledges of allegiance, military parades and secure borders.
    Trump encourages a
  • Tuesday, February 13, 2018 11:05 AM
    IF SPECIAL COUNSEL Robert Mueller finds that Donald Trump colluded with Russia to fix the 2016 election or even if Trump fires Mueller before he makes such a finding, Trump’s supporters will protect him from any political fallout.
    Trump’s base will stand by him not because they believe Trump is on their side, but because they define themselves as being on his side.
    Trump has intentionally cleaved America into two warring camps: pro-Trump and anti-Trump. And he has convinced the pro-Trumps that his enemy is their enemy.
    Most Americans are
  • Tuesday, January 30, 2018 11:35 AM
    NOW THAT DONALD Trump has been president for almost a year, it’s time the media calls his behavior what it is rather than try to normalize it. Here are the six most misleading media euphemisms for conduct unbecoming a president.
    1. Calling Trump’s tweets presidential statements or press releases.
    Wrong, Trump’s tweets are mostly rants off the top of his head. Many of them are wild, inconsistent, rude, crude and bizarre.
    Normal presidential statements are products of careful thought. Advisers weigh in, consequences are considered and alternatives are deliberated. Which is why such statements are
  • Tuesday, January 16, 2018 10:58 AM
    ALMOST ONE YEAR in, it’s time for another update for Donald Trump voters on his election promises.
    1. He told you he’d cut your taxes and that the super-rich like him would pay more. You bought it. But his new tax law does the opposite. By 2027, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, the richest 1% will have gotten 83% of the tax cut. But more than half of all Americans will pay more in taxes. As Trump told his wealthy friends at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., just days after the tax bill became law “You all just got a lot richer.”
    2. He promised to close special interest loopholes that have been so good for Wall Street investors, but unfair to American workers, especially the notorious carried interest loophole for private-equity, hedge fund and
  • Tuesday, January 2, 2018 11:42 AM
    LAST WEEK, UTAH Sen. Orrin Hatch stood on the White House lawn, opining that Donald Trump’s presidency could be “the greatest presidency that we’ve seen, not only in generations, but maybe ever.”
    I beg to differ.
    America has had its share of crooks such as Warren Harding and Richard Nixon, bigots such as Andrew Jackson and James Buchanan, and incompetents such as Andrew Johnson and George W. Bush. But never before Trump have we had a president who
  • Tuesday, December 19, 2017 11:14 AM
    DONALD TRUMP AND congressional Republicans are engineering the largest corporate tax cut in history in order to restore our competitive edge, as Trump says.
    Our competitive edge? Who’s us?
    Most American corporations, especially big ones that would get most of the planned corporate tax cuts, have no particular allegiance to America. Their only allegiance is to their shareholders. So restoring their competitive edge has little or nothing to do with helping American workers.
    For years, they’ve
  • Tuesday, December 5, 2017 11:19 AM
    Why are so many women now speaking out about the sexual abuses they’ve experienced for years? Is there anything unique about the time we’re now living through that has encouraged them to end their silence?
    I can’t help but think that their decisions are part of something that’s happening throughout much of American society right now: a backlash against what has been the growing domination of America by powerful and wealthy men and a few women, who came to believe they can do whatever they want to do, to whomever they choose.
    “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the . . . ” said
  • Tuesday, November 21, 2017 11:08 AM
    SELLING THE DONALD Trump/Republican tax plan should be awkward for an administration that has made patriotism its central theme. That’s because patriotism isn’t mostly about saluting the flag and standing during the national anthem.
    It’s about taking a fair share of the burden of keeping America going.
    But the tax plan gives American corporations a $2 trillion tax break at a time when they’re enjoying record profits and stashing unprecedented amounts of cash in offshore tax shelters. And it gives America’s wealthiest citizens trillions more, when the richest 1% now hold a record 38.6% of the nation’s total wealth, up from
  • Tuesday, November 7, 2017 12:26 PM
    YOU KNOW THE plot: The bank robbers set off a bomb down the street from the bank and while everyone’s distracted, they get away with the loot.
    In the reality TV show we’re now suffering through, Donald Trump is the bomb.
    The robbers are the American oligarchs who bankroll the Republican Party and who are plotting the biggest heist in American history: a massive tax cut estimated to be worth up to $5.8 trillion.
    Around 80% of it will benefit the richest 1%, according to the Tax Policy Center.
    Trump is
  • Tuesday, October 24, 2017 11:17 AM
    LAST WEEK, SEN. Bob Corker (R-Tennessee), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, charged in an interview with the New York Times that Donald Trump was treating his office like a reality show, with reckless threats toward other countries that could set the nation on the path to World War III.
    Corker said he was concerned about Trump “He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation.” Corker added that “The vast majority of our caucus understands what we’re dealing with here . . . the
  • Tuesday, October 10, 2017 12:21 PM
    ANNOUNCEMENT: DONALD TRUMP is no longer the president of the United States.
    Oh sure, he has the title and he has the bully pulpit, from which he’s bullying everyone from NBA players to people protesting white supremacists to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals children.
    But he’s not actively governing the United States. That work is happening elsewhere: in Congress, the courts, the Federal Reserve System, the states. Or it’s not happening at all.
    It’s not just that Trump
  • Tuesday, September 26, 2017 11:20 AM
    NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL Director Gary Cohn, former president of Goldman Sachs, said recently that only morons pay the estate tax.
    I’m reminded of Donald Trump’s comment that he didn’t pay federal income taxes because he was smart. And billionaire Leona Helmsley’s comment that only the little people pay taxes.
    What Cohn was getting at is how easy it is nowadays for the wealthy to pass their fortunes to their children tax-free. And therefore why no one should worry about getting rid of the estate tax, as Trump and Cohn plan to do.
    Actually, there’s good reason to
  • Tuesday, September 12, 2017 11:00 AM
    GOOGLE’S SEARCH ENGINE runs about two-thirds of all searches in the United States and 90% in Europe. “Platform monopolies” like this can squelch innovation. Google could favor its own services, such as Google Maps and Google Shopping, for example.
    This is one reason that the European Commission hit Google with a fine of 2.42 billion euros in June.
    Why hasn’t Google run into similar problems with antitrust authorities in the United States?
    It almost did in 2012. The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Bureau of Competition recommended that the FTC sue Google for conduct that “has resulted — and will result — in real harm to 
  • Tuesday, August 29, 2017 2:17 PM
    WE HAVE ENDURED Donald Trump for seven months. In that brief time, he has almost single-handedly destroyed the moral authority of the presidency of the United States at home and abroad, brought us to the brink of a nuclear war without consulting anyone, and sown division and hatred across the land.
    How can 
  • Tuesday, August 15, 2017 10:48 AM
    THE DEMISE OF the Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act is hardly the end of the story. Donald Trump will not let this loss stand.
    Since its inception in 2010, Republicans have made the Affordable Care Act (ACA) a symbol of Barack Obama-Hillary Clinton overreach, part of a supposed plot by liberal elites to expand government, burden the white working class, and transfer benefits to poor blacks and Latinos.
    Ever the political opportunist, Trump 
  • Tuesday, August 1, 2017 10:49 AM
    YOU HAD YOUR reasons for voting for Donald Trump. For some of you, he seemed the lesser of two evils, because you hated Hillary Clinton. Some of you just wanted to shake up the Washington establishment and end politics as usual.
    But many of you
  • Tuesday, July 18, 2017 11:08 AM
    MITCH MCCONNELL IS stymied. He can’t round up enough votes for a Senate Republican version of Trumpcare.
    Some Senate Republicans want to get rid of the Affordable Care Act entirely. Others don’t want to cause 22 million Americans to lose their coverage, as the Congressional Budget Office predicts will happen if the Senate version goes into effect.
    What should be the Democrats’ response? Over the coming weeks or months, Democrats must continue to 
  • Monday, July 3, 2017 11:09 AM
    THE SENATE’S BILL to repeal the Affordable Care Act is not a health-care bill. It’s a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans, paid for by a dramatic reduction in health-care funding for approximately 23 million poor, disabled and working middle-class Americans.
    America’s wealthiest taxpayers (earning more than $200,000 a year, $250,000 for couples) would get a tax cut totaling $346 billion over 10 years, representing what they save from no longer financing health care for lower-income Americans.
    That’s not all. The bill would save an additional 
  • Tuesday, June 20, 2017 11:04 AM
    AT A ROUND-TABLE discussion with state transportation officials last Friday, Donald Trump said America’s aging roads, bridges, railways and water systems were being scoffed at and laughed at. He vowed that they will once again be the envy of the world.
    This seems to be a core theme for Trump: America’s greatness depends on others envying us rather than scoffing and laughing at us.
    He said much the same thing when he
  • Tuesday, June 6, 2017 11:50 AM
    ON THE EVE of his recent election to the House of Representatives, Montana Republican Greg Gianforte beat up Ben Jacobs, a reporter for the British newspaper “The Guardian.”
    What prompted the violence? Jacobs had asked Gianforte for his reaction to the Congressional Budget Office report showing that the House Republican substitute for the Affordable Care Act would result in 23 million Americans losing their health insurance.
    Then, according to a Fox News team who witnessed the brutal attack “Gianforte grabbed 
  • Tuesday, May 23, 2017 11:28 AM
    THE QUESTION IS no longer whether there are grounds to impeach Donald Trump. The question is when enough Republicans will put their loyalty to America ahead of their loyalty to their party.
    Trump’s statements last week about his firing of former FBI Director James Comey provide 
  • Tuesday, May 9, 2017 11:44 AM
    MORE THAN 100 days into his presidency, it seems fair to ask: What is Donald Trump’s governing philosophy?
    He isn’t really a Republican (he didn’t join the Republican Party until 2012). He’s hardly a free-market conservative (he’s eager to block trade and immigration). No one would mistake him for a
  • Tuesday, April 25, 2017 11:16 AM
    WHAT’S THE DONALD “Trump Doctrine” of foreign policy? At first glance, foreign policy under Trump seems inconsistent, arbitrary and devoid of principle.
    A few weeks ago, even before the airstrike on Syria, White House Communications Director Mike Dubke told Trump’s assembled aides that international affairs presented a messaging challenge because the Trump administration lacks a coherent foreign policy. “There is no Trump doctrine,” reportedly declared 
  • Tuesday, April 11, 2017 11:29 AM
    DONALD TRUMP’S TECHNIQUE for dealing with bad news is to create enough confusion and partisanship to envelope it in dense fog.
    Consider the most explosive news to come along in recent history: that the FBI has commenced an investigation of Trump aides to find out if they colluded with Russian agents to throw the election to Trump.
    Nothing remotely as serious has ever occurred in 
  • Tuesday, March 28, 2017 11:14 AM
    THE THEME THAT unites Donald Trump’s major initiatives so far is their unnecessary cruelty.
    His new budget, for example, comes down especially hard on the poor, imposing unprecedented cuts in low-income housing, job training, food assistance, legal services, help to distressed rural communities, nutrition for 
  • Tuesday, March 14, 2017 11:02 AM
    LAST SATURDAY MORNING, Donald Trump alleged in a series of tweets that former President Barack Obama orchestrated a Nixon-Watergate plot to tap Trump’s phones at his Trump Tower headquarters last fall in the run-up to the election. Trump concluded that the former president is a “Bad (or sick) guy!”
    Sunday morning, Trump’s White House called 
  • Tuesday, February 28, 2017 11:29 AM
    WITH CONGRESSIONAL REPUBLICANS in the majority in Congress and unwilling to cross Donald Trump, the job of containing Trump’s incipient tyranny falls to the three remaining centers of independent power: the nation’s courts, its press and a few state governments.
    Which is why Trump is escalating attacks on all three, seeking to 
  • Tuesday, February 14, 2017 10:46 AM
    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP has reorganized the National Security Council (NSC) — elevating his chief political strategist, Stephen Bannon, and demoting the director of national intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
    Bannon will join the NSC’s principals committee, the top interagency group advising the
  • Wednesday, February 1, 2017 8:11 AM
    TYRANTS DON’T ALLOW open questioning and they hate the free press. They want total control.
    That’s why, according to three senior officials on the transition team, the incoming Donald Trump administration is considering evicting the White House press corps from the press room inside the White House and moving them


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