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 Buyback Boondoggle Is Beggaring America

AP Photo/Richard Drew, File Manufacturing giant 3M has said it will use $1 billion in tax savings for stock buybacks. T rump and Republicans branded their huge corporate tax cut as a way to make American corporations more profitable so they’d invest in more and better jobs. But they’re buying back their stock instead. Now that the new corporate tax cut is pumping up profits, buybacks are on track to hit a record $800 billion this year. For years, corporations have spent most of their profits on buying back their own shares of stock, instead of increasing the wages of their employees, whose hard work creates these profits. Stock buybacks should be illegal, as they were before 1982. Stock buybacks are artificial efforts to interfere in the so-called “free market” to prop up stock prices. Because they create an artificial demand, they force stock prices above their natural level. With fewer shares in circulation, each remaining share is worth more. Buybacks don’t create more or better...

America's Shkreli Problem

AP Photo/Susan Walsh
AP Photo/Susan Walsh Pharmaceutical chief Martin Shkreli speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington O n Friday, Martin Shkreli was sentenced to seven years in prison. What, if anything, does Shkreli’s downfall tell us about modern America? Shkreli’s early life exemplified the rags-to-riches American success story. He was born in Brooklyn, New York, in April 1983, to parents who immigrated from Albania and worked as janitors in New York apartment buildings. Shkreli attended New York’s Hunter College High School, a public school for intellectually gifted young people, and in 2005 received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Baruch College. But soon thereafter, Shkreli turned toward shady deals. He started his own hedge fund, betting that the stock prices of certain biotech companies would drop. Then he used financial chat rooms on the Internet to savage those companies, causing their prices to drop and his bets to pay off. In 2015, Shkreli founded and became CEO Turing...

Kushner's Unconscionable Conflicts

AP Photo/Alex Brandon
AP Photo/Alex Brandon President Donald Trump speaks with White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner as he departs the East Room of the White House B efore 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 over 70 percent of Americans said they did. Since then, the percent has steadily declined. By 2016, before Trump became president, only 16 percent of Americans agreed. 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 the rise of big money in politics. Most people no longer believe their voices count. That view is backed by solid research. Princeton professor Martin Gilens and Professor Benjamin Page of Northwestern University analyzed 1,799 policy issues that came before Congress, and found “the...

The Moral Movement Against Violence

AP Photo/David Goldman Representative John Lewis addresses a rally protesting the National Rifle Association's annual convention a few blocks away in Atlanta J oin the Ku Klux Klan and get 10 percent off on your next Fed Ex shipment! Okay, the National Rifle Association isn’t quite the Klan. But it’s getting closer. For years, big corporations had welcomed the opportunity to accumulate more customers by giving discounts to NRA members, even if they pack assault rifles. Yet in the aftermath of the shootings in Parkland, Florida, and the activism of high school students, corporations are bailing out of their deals with the NRA. As we’ve seen with the corporate firings of sleazebag movie moguls and predatory television personalities, nothing concentrates the minds of CEOs like a moral protest that’s gaining traction. As I said, the NRA isn’t the Klan, but since Trump became president it’s behaved like a subsidiary of the alt-right. At last week’s CPAC conference, NRA president Wayne...

The Meaning of America

Alex Edelman/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
Alex Edelman/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images Supporters hold campaign signs during a Make American Great Rally at Atlantic Aviation in Moon Township, Pennsylvania W hen 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 combination of all three—tribalism, libertarianism, and loyalty. But the core of our national identity has not been any of this. It has been found in the ideals we share—political equality, equal opportunity, freedom of speech and of the press, a dedication to open inquiry and truth, and to democracy and the rule of law. We are not a race. We are not a creed. We are a conviction –...