Robert Reich

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ROBERT B. REICH is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fourteen books, including the best sellers “Aftershock”, “The Work of Nations,” and"Beyond Outrage,“ and, his most recent, "Saving Capitalism.” He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, INEQUALITY FOR ALL.
Updated: 1 hour 11 min ago

Is Trump Unraveling?

Thu, 10/12/2017 - 18:22
Last week, Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,...

WHY THE REPUBLICAN TAX PLAN IS MORE FAILED TRICKLE-DOWN...

Tue, 10/10/2017 - 16:35


WHY THE REPUBLICAN TAX PLAN IS MORE FAILED TRICKLE-DOWN ECONOMICS*

Trump and conservatives in Congress are planning a big tax cut for millionaires and billionaires. To justify it they’re using the oldest song in their playbook, claiming tax cuts on the rich will trickle down to working families in the form of stronger economic growth. 

Baloney. Trickle-down economics is a cruel joke. Just look at the evidence:

1. Clinton’s tax increase on the rich hardly stalled the economy. In 1993, Bill Clinton raised taxes on top earners from 31 percent to 39.6 percent. Conservatives predicted economic disaster. Instead, the economy created 23 million jobs and the economy grew for 8 straight years in what was then the longest expansion in history. The federal budget went into surplus. 

2. George W. Bush’s big tax cuts for the rich didn’t grow the economy. In 2001and 2003, George W. Bush lowered the top tax rate to 35 percent while also cutting top rates on capital gains and dividends. Conservative supply-siders predicted an economic boom. Instead, the economy barely grew at all, and then in 2008 it collapsed. Meanwhile, the federal deficit ballooned. 

3. Obama’s tax hike on the rich didn’t slow the economy. At the end of 2012, President Obama struck a deal to restore the 39.6 percent top tax rate and raise tax rates on capital gains and dividends. Once again, supply-side conservatives predicted doom. Instead, the economy grew steadily, and the expansion is still continuing.

4. The Reagan recovery of the early 1980s wasn’t driven by Reagan’s tax cut. Conservative supply-siders point to Ronald Reagan’s 1981 tax cuts. But the so-called Reagan recovery of the early 1980s was driven by low interest rates and big increase in government spending. 

5. Kansas cut taxes on the rich and is a basket case. California raised them and is thriving. In 2012, Kansas slashed taxes on top earners and business owners, while California raised taxes on top earners to the highest state rate in the nation. Since then, California has had among the strongest economic growth of any state, while Kansas has fallen behind most other states.

So don’t fall for supply-side, trickle-down nonsense. Lower taxes on the rich don’t generate growth and jobs. They only make the rich even richer, at a time of raging inequality, and they cause bigger budget deficits.

[*Our thanks to Alexandra Thornton and Seth Hanlon from the Center for American Progress]

Trump and Weinstein

Mon, 10/09/2017 - 08:25
Donald Trump weighed in on the scandal engulfing movie mogul and Democratic funder Harvey Weinstein,...

WHY WE NEED SANCTUARY STATESCalifornia lawmakers have just...

Sat, 10/07/2017 - 15:52


WHY WE NEED SANCTUARY STATES

California lawmakers have just passed “sanctuary state” legislation – the first state since Oregon, which 30 years ago passed a law preventing state agencies from targeting undocumented immigrants solely because of their illegal status. 

Other states should follow California’s and Oregon’s lead. 

Since January, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered immigration authorities to target “public safety” threats, federal arrests of undocumented immigrants have increased by over 37 percent. California is home to an estimated 2.3 million unauthorized immigrants. 

California’s law limits the authority of state and local law enforcers to communicate with federal immigration authorities, and prevents officers from questioning or holding people depending on their immigration status or immigration violations. But it still allows federal immigration authorities to enter county jails to question immigrants, and allow police and sheriffs to share information on people who have been convicted of serious crimes.

This is a fair balance. Sanctuary protections like these make sense because:

1. Under them, undocumented immigrants are more likely to come forth with information about crime when doing so won’t put them at risk of deportation. This improves public safety and builds trusts with law enforcement. 

2. By contrast, turning state and local police into immigration agents invites more crime because it diverts limited time and resources to rounding up undocumented immigrants.

3. Undocumented immigrants commit crimes at a lower rate than native-born citizens, so it makes even less sense for local and state police to spend their precious time and resources rounding them up.

4. A dragnet aimed at finding and deporting all of America’s 11 million unauthorized immigrants is cruel, costly, and contemptible. It turns this country into more of a police state, breaks up families, and hurts the economy. 

We must resist Jeff Sessions and his dragnet. Help make your state a sanctuary. 

Memo to Tillerson about the Moron

Fri, 10/06/2017 - 10:59
To: Rex TillersonFrom: Robert ReichSubject: The MoronI can understand why you feel Washington is a...

The Growing Irrelevance of President Trump

Sat, 09/30/2017 - 15:34
Announcement: Donald Trump is no longer the president of the United States Oh sure, he has the title...

 Six Reasons Why American Corporations Shouldn’t Get a Tax...

Fri, 09/29/2017 - 13:33


 Six Reasons Why American Corporations Shouldn’t Get a Tax Cut

Trump and Republicans are trying to sell you the idea that American corporations need a tax cut in order to be competitive. That’s rubbish. Here are 6 reasons why:

First, American corporations don’t need it in order to be competitive internationally. After tax credits and deductions, their effective tax rate is just about the same as paid by corporations in most of our major trading partners, according to the U.S. Treasury. 

Second, American corporations are making more money than ever. Their after-tax profits are a higher share of the total economy than ever. American corporations earn nearly half of all global profits, even though the U.S. economy is about a fifth the size of the world economy.

Third, the long-term competitiveness of American corporations depends far more on a well-educated and skilled workforce, modern infrastructure, and basic research than on tax rates. And the way we finance these necessary public investment is through … taxes.

Fourth, American corporations are now paying less in taxes than they have in 65 years. Corporate tax receipts are the lowest percentage of the economy since just after World War II. If corporate taxes are cut, you will have to pay even more in taxes in order to make up the difference.

Fifth, if their taxes were cut, corporations won’t use the extra money to make new investments in plant, equipment, research and development, or jobs. They’re already using their vast stockpiles of cash to buy back shares and thereby boost stock prices, and for extravagant bonuses and salaries to CEOs and other top executives. That’s what they would do with any additional cash. 

Sixth, the reason they’re not investing more is because consumers don’t have the purchasing power to buy more, and that’s because most people’s incomes have gone nowhere for decades. And why is that? Because corporations have been holding down wages by outsourcing abroad, substituting software for jobs, contracting work out to part-time workers, and fighting unions. 

A corporate tax cut is the wrong solution to the wrong problem. The real problem is stagnant wages of most Americans, coupled with declining public investments in schools, roads, public transportation, and basic research – all the things average working Americans need in order to become more productive and get higher wages. To finance these we need higher corporate taxes, not lower.

How to Make the Electoral College IrrelevantWe must make sure...

Tue, 09/26/2017 - 10:25


How to Make the Electoral College Irrelevant

We must make sure our democracy doesn’t ever again elect a candidate who loses the popular vote. That means making the Electoral College irrelevant.

Here’s how: As you probably know, the Constitution assigns each state a number of electors based on the state’s population. The total number of electors is 538, so any candidate who gets 270 of those Electoral College votes becomes president.

Article II of the Constitution says states can award their electors any way they want. So all that’s needed in order to make the Electoral College irrelevant is for states with a total of at least 270 electors to agree to award all their electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote.

If they do that, then automatically the winner of the popular vote gets the 270 electoral college votes he or she needs to become president.  

Already 10 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws to do this – awarding all their electoral votes to the candidate who wins the popular vote, as soon as the 270 elector goal is met. Together, these states total 165 electoral votes.

So all we need now is some additional states with 105 electors to pass the same law, agreeing to reward all their electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote – and it’s done. We’ll never again elect a president who loses the popular vote.

The effort is known as the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. If your state hasn’t yet joined on, make sure it does.

Why We Must Raise Taxes on Corporations and the Wealthy, Not Lower Them

Sat, 09/23/2017 - 13:54
When Barack Obama was president, congressional Republicans were deficit hawks. They opposed almost...

The Growing Danger of Dynastic Wealth

Sat, 09/16/2017 - 09:02
White House National Economic Council director Gary Cohn, former president of Goldman Sachs,...

Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know about the Trump-Republican Tax Plan

Thu, 09/14/2017 - 12:53
Have you noticed that there’s no Trump tax plan and no Republican tax plan? All they’ve come up with...

It’s Now Time for Medicare for All

Tue, 09/12/2017 - 15:14
Senator Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, and Jeff Merkley, are introducing a Medicare...

TRUMP’S OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICESteve Bannon recently called...

Mon, 09/11/2017 - 19:02


TRUMP’S OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE

Steve Bannon recently called Trump’s firing of James Comey the biggest political mistake in modern political history. But it was more than that. It was outright obstruction of justice – another impeachable offense to add to the impeachable offenses Trump has already committed (violation of the Constitution’s “emolument’s clause,” failure to faithfully execute the laws, and abuse of power).

Obstruction of justice was among the articles of impeachment drafted against both Presidents Nixon and Clinton. The parallel between Nixon and Trump is almost exact. White House tapes revealed Nixon giving instructions to pressure the acting FBI director into halting the Watergate investigation.

It’s worth recalling that two weeks after Trump told Comey privately “I need loyalty. I expect loyalty,” he had another private meeting with Comey in the Oval Office. After shooing out his advisers – all of whom had top security clearance – Trump said to Comey, according to Comey’s memo written shortly after the meeting,“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go.”

Then on May 9, Trump fired Comey. In a subsequent interview with NBC Trump said he planned to fire Comey “regardless of [the] recommendation” of the Attorney and Deputy Attorney General, partly because of “this Russia thing.” Trump also revealed in the interview that he had had several conversations with Comey about the Russia investigation, and had asked Comey if he was under investigation.

The federal crime of obstruction of justice applies to “[w]hoever corruptly, or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication influences, obstructs, or impedes or endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede the due and proper administration of the law” in a proceeding or investigation by a government department or agency or Congress.

As in Nixon’s case, a decision to support an “inquiry of impeachment” resolution in the House—to start an impeachment investigation—doesn’t depend on sufficient evidence to convict a person of obstruction of justice, but simply probable cause to believe a president may have obstructed justice.

There’s already more than enough evidence of probable cause to begin that impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump.

Trump’s Policy Catastrophe

Fri, 09/08/2017 - 14:29
It’s easy to get caught up in the deeply flawed character of Donald Trump. We also need to recognize...

WHY WE SHOULD ABOLISH THE DEBT CEILING Congressional Democrats...

Thu, 09/07/2017 - 10:00


WHY WE SHOULD ABOLISH THE DEBT CEILING 

Congressional Democrats have pulled a fast one on Republicans by striking a deal with Trump to raise the federal debt ceiling only until the end of the year. This will give them bargaining leverage in December to strike a bigger bargain with Republicans: Democrats will agree to raise the debt ceiling then in return for Republican cooperation on legalizing Dreamers (unauthorized immigrants brought into the U.S. as children), making small but necessary fixes in the Affordable Care act, and other things Democrats seek.  

Raising the debt ceiling is always a political football, used by whichever party is in the minority to extract concessions from the majority party or from the majority party’s president.

The debt ceiling is how much the government is allowed to borrow. It shouldn’t be a political football. It should be abolished. It serves absolutely no purpose.

When the debt ceiling was first adopted in 1917, it might have been a useful way to prevent a president from spending however much he wanted. But since 1974, Congress has had a formal budget process to control spending and the taxes needed to finance it.

There’s no reason for Congress to authorize borrowing for spending that Congress has already approved, especially when a failure to lift the debt ceiling would be so horrific.

Having a debt ceiling doesn’t discipline government, anyway. The national debt is obligations government has already made to those who lent it money. Discipline has to do with setting spending limits and legislating tax increases, not penalizing the lenders.

Which is why most modern democracies don’t have debt ceilings. Britain, France, Germany, Canada, Australia – they do just fine without explicit borrowing limits.

Even more basically, the nation’s debt is a meaningless figure without reference to the size of the overall economy and the pace of economic growth.

After World War II, America’s debt was larger than our entire Gross Domestic Product, but we grew so much so fast in the 1950s and 1960s that the debt kept shrinking in proportion. 

Today’s debt is about 77 percent of our total national product. The reason it’s a problem is it’s growing faster than the economy is growing, so it’s on the way to becoming larger and larger in proportion.

This is what we ought to be focusing on. Fighting over whether or not to raise the debt ceiling is a meaningless and dangerous distraction. So abolish it.

Google, Trump, and the Arrogance of Power

Tue, 09/05/2017 - 07:54
Google’s search engine runs two-thirds of all searches in the United States and 90 percent in...

Why CEOs are Turning on Trump

Mon, 09/04/2017 - 14:07
Trump isn’t just alienating Republican senators. He’s also pissing off the executives of America’s...

When Big Money Buys Off Criticism of Big Money

Thu, 08/31/2017 - 17:52
Since its founding in 1999, the New America Foundation – an important voice in policy debates on the...

What Do Democrats Stand For?The Democratic Party can lead the...

Mon, 08/28/2017 - 16:46


What Do Democrats Stand For?

The Democratic Party can lead the country in a new direction, but will it?

Millions of Americans who are politically engaged for the first time in their lives are crying out for a bold alternative to bigoted and destructive policies.

But Democrats can’t just be anti-Trump or move to the middle.

To be successful Democrats must address the forces that created Trump: The toxic combination of widening inequality and racism.

The richest one percent now own more than the bottom 90 percent. Corporations and the rich are running our politics.

The resulting economic stresses have made many people vulnerable to Trump’s politics of hate and bigotry.

If Democrats stand for one thing, it must be overcoming this unprecedented economic imbalance and creating a multi-racial, multi-ethnic coalition of the bottom 90 percent, to take back our economy and politics.

This requires, at the least:

1. Public investments in world-class schools and infrastructure for all.

2. Free public universities and first-class technical training for all;

3. Single-payer Medicare-for-All;

4. Higher taxes on the wealthy to pay for this;

5. Using antitrust to break up powerful monopolies on Wall Street, Big Tech, Big Pharma, and Big Agriculture.

6. Getting big money out of our politics.

Together, these steps form an agenda to reclaim our economy and democracy for all. Will Democrats lead the way?

Trump’s Labor Day

Sun, 08/27/2017 - 13:20
This will be the first Labor Day of the presidency of Donald J. Trump, who came to office riding a...