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

The Big Economic Switcheroo

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File The sun rises over the U.S. Capitol. T he biggest untold story about how we pay for government involves a big switcheroo by America’s wealthy. Decades ago, wealthy Americans financed the federal government mainly by paying taxes. Their tax rate was far higher than what it is today. Now, wealthy Americans finance the federal government mainly by lending it money, and collecting interest payments on those loans, profiting when the rest of us pay them back. Follow the money: As the debt continues to grow, interest payments are becoming huge. Taxpayers could soon be paying more in interest on the federal debt than we spend on the military or on Medicaid. Interest on the debt is expected to hit $390 billion next year, nearly 50 percent more than in 2017, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Who’s receiving these interest payments? Mostly Americans, not foreigners. And most of these Americans are wealthy investors who park their savings in...

What to Expect of House Democrats

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster Newly elected House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California takes the gavel from Representative Kevin McCarthy as the 116th Congress begins. D emocrats are now in control of the House of Representatives, under Speaker Nancy Pelosi. I know and have worked with many of them. They are people of integrity who will strive to do what’ right for America. Pelosi is tough and courageous. Were it not for her insistence, Obama would not have pushed for the Affordable Care Act. But they are not miracle workers. Republicans still control the Senate. They will make life harder for Trump, to be sure. They will investigate. They have the power of subpoena. The House Ways and Means Committee is specifically authorized to subpoena Trump’s tax returns. They might even move to impeach Trump, if Mueller reports what I expect him to. But they will do little to change the growing imbalance of wealth and power in this country unless they are pushed to do so. Do not ever underestimate the...

Why Trump's Private Transactions Are Terrifying

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin President Donald Trump's hands are folded as he speaks in the Oval Office of the White House T rump has described the payments his bag man, Michael Cohen, made to two women during the 2016 campaign so they wouldn’t discuss their alleged affairs with him, as “a simple private transaction.” Last Saturday, when ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked Cohen if Trump knew the payments were wrong and were made to help his election, Cohen replied “Of course. … He was very concerned about how this would affect the election.” Even if Trump intended that the payments aid his presidential bid, it doesn’t necessarily follow that he knew they were wrong. Trump might have reasoned that a deal is a deal: The women got hundreds of thousands of dollars in return for agreeing not to talk about his affairs with them. So where’s the harm? After two years of Trump we may have overlooked the essence of his insanity: His brain sees only private interests transacting. It doesn’t...

Trump Takes on General Motors (And Guess Who Wins?)

Kristoffer Tripplaar/ Sipa via AP Images The headquarters of the General Motors Company at the Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit D onald Trump’s “America first” economic nationalism is finally crashing into the reality of America’s shareholder-first global capitalism. Last week, General Motors announced it would cut about 14,000 jobs, most of them in the politically vital swing states of Michigan and Ohio. This doesn’t quite square with the giant $1.5 trillion tax cut Trump and the Republicans in Congress enacted last December, whose official rationale was to help big corporations make more investments in America and thereby create more jobs. Trump told Ohio residents “don’t sell your homes,” because lost automaking jobs “are all coming back.” GM got a nice windfall from the tax cut. The company has already saved more than $150 million this year. But some of those Ohio residents probably should have sold their homes. Trump is (or is trying to appear) furious, tweeting up a storm...

What's a Subpoena, and Why Should Trump Fear It?

A primer on one of the Democrats' most powerful tools to rein in the president

AP Photo/Evan Vucci President Donald Trump speaks in the Oval Office of the White House. Y ou’re probably hearing a lot about subpoenas. Or you will very soon, once Democrats take control of the House. A subpoena is a legal command from a court or from one or both houses of Congress to do something— like testify or present information . The term “subpoena” literally means “under penalty.” Someone who receives a subpoena but doesn’t comply with it may be subject to civil or criminal penalties . Here’s how it works. Step One : Let’s say the Intelligence Committee of the House of Representatives issues a subpoena to the president for information about alleged conversations with Russian officials seeking their help in the 2016 election. Or say the House Ways and Means Committee subpoenas the president’s tax returns–which, in fact, a law enacted in 1924 after the Teapot Dome scandal of the Harding administration specifically authorizes that committee to do . Step Two : If the person named...

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