Tag: Robert Reich

Robert Reich Exposes One of the Right’s Favorite Cons

Trump and his appointees are on a binge of deregulation that masks another kind of trickle-down economics, in which the gains go to the top and the rest of us bear the risks and losses.

They say getting rid of regulations frees up businesses to be more profitable. Maybe. But regulations also protect you and me—from being harmed, fleeced, shafted, injured or sickened by corporate products and services.

So when the Trump administration gets rid of regulations, top executives and big investors may make more money, but the rest of us bear more risks and harm.

via Robert Reich Exposes One of the Right’s Favorite Cons

Day to Day Politics: Is capitalism stuffed? – » The Australian Independent Media Network

In Australia, a similar situation is developing. Wages growth is at an all-time low and the government seems intent on keeping them so. The problem though is that without wages growth consumers don’t have expendable income sufficient to meet consumer demand for goods and services. America has found that out. Conservatives don’t seem to comprehend that you may be able to obtain growth on the back of low wages but if the low wages prevent people from buying what you produce, you have defeated your purpose.

Of course inequality is not just confined to the United States. It is truly universal. The two countries with the highest populations have chosen to improve the quality of life of their citizens with greedy economic capitalism, which is the same system that has caused inequality in the advanced economies. The advances in China, particularly over the past forty years have been spectacular. And at the same time, it is breeding billionaires like confetti. And all on the back of a low wage work force. In 50 years or so, if they continue on the same path, they will face the same problems that the west faces now.

Robert Reich outlines a plan to resolve the issue which is sound in economic rationale.

In the absence of another economic system, capitalism is what we have. The problem with it is its inherent greed and misuse. It is a system that could be moulded and shaped for good. However, the conservative forces of the right of politics seem determined to enshrine the existing hungry evil greed of unregulated capitalism on us.

Revolutionised morally regulated capitalism could if legislated and controlled enable everyone an equitable opportunity for economic success. With equality of opportunity being the benchmark of all economic aspiration and legislation.

via Day to Day Politics: Is capitalism stuffed? – » The Australian Independent Media Network

The First 100 Days: Trump and the Degradation of the Presidency – Truthdig

The president’s failure to accomplish little of his agenda during his first months in office is striking. But we should not forget the vast harm he has done in this short time.

Source: The First 100 Days: Trump and the Degradation of the Presidency – Truthdig

Robert Reich: Like a Tyrant, Trump Is Deploying Seven Techniques to Control the Media | Democracy Now!

Today marks the 146th day since Donald Trump last held a news conference. As the Electoral College backs Trump, we speak to former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, now a professor at the University of California, Berkeley. “Democracy depends on a free and independent press, which is why all tyrants try to squelch it,” Reich recently wrote. “They use seven techniques that, worryingly, President-elect Donald Trump already employs.” We speak to Reich, who discusses how Trump uses seven techniques to control the media.

Source: Robert Reich: Like a Tyrant, Trump Is Deploying Seven Techniques to Control the Media | Democracy Now!

Robert Reich: Donald Trump Isn’t a Conservative, He is an Authoritarian | Democracy Now!

Commenting on the rise of Republican front-runner Donald Trump, Robert Reich, former labor secretary under President Clinton, notes, “I don’t think Donald Trump is a conservative. I think he’s an authoritarian. And there is a difference. I don’t think he cares about democracy. … In fact, I think that Donald Trump, from everything he’s said, may view democracy as an impediment to what he wants to do.” Reich adds, “It’s particularly dangerous when we don’t have strong mediating institutions, such as labor unions and other organizations … that can soften and subdue or in any way reduce the influence of an authoritarian when so many people in America now feel so atomized, so isolated.”

Source: Robert Reich: Donald Trump Isn’t a Conservative, He is an Authoritarian | Democracy Now!

Robert Reich blasted overtime opponents for warning of “unintended consequences” from stronger wages “without an ounce of empirical data to back it up.” They also likened the policy to a “minimum wage hike for the middle class,” and explained that it will either boost workers’ pay or give them additional leisure time while adding new jobs.

“Greece On Steroids”: Fox’s Cavuto Attacks New Overtime Rules That Will Help Millions Of Workers

Fox has a long history of attacking overtime protections, recently complaining that the then-rumored proposal amounted to “left-wing economic engineering” and was “probably going to hurt a lot of other people.”

Robert Reich blasted overtime opponents for warning of “unintended consequences” from stronger wages “without an ounce of empirical data to back it up.”

Overtime Pay Is the Minimum Wage for the Middle Class

by Robert Reich and Nick Hanauer

The Department of Labor just proposed raising the overtime threshold from $23,600 a year to $50,440, and from the fearful squawks coming from the business lobby you’d think the sky was falling. But all this trickle-down scare-talk about job-killing regulations and unintended economic consequences is just that — trickle-down scare talk — without an ounce of empirical data to back it up.

We call it: Chicken Little Economics.

In fact, far from the end of the world, middle-class Americans never did better than when the overtime threshold — the annual salary below which workers are automatically entitled to time-and-a-half overtime pay — was at its peak. A half-century ago, more than 60 percent of salaried workers qualified for overtime pay. But after 40 years in which the threshold has been allowed to steadily erode, only about 8 percent do. If you feel like you’re working longer hours for less money than your parents did, it’s probably because you are.

Today, if you’re salaried and earn more than $23,600 dollars a year, you don’t automatically qualify for overtime: that means every extra hour you work, you work for free. But at the Obama administration’s proposed new threshold, everyone earning a salary of $50,440 a year or less would be eligible to collect time-and-a-half pay for every hour worked over 40 hours a week. That would add nearly 5 million more workers to the numbers eligible, substantially increasing both middle-class incomes and employment. It’s not as high as the $69,000 threshold it would take to return to 1975 levels, but it’s a courageous step in the right direction. It’s like a minimum wage hike for the middle class.

Everybody knows Americans are overworked. A recent Gallup poll found that salaried Americans now report working an average of 47 hours a week — not the supposedly standard 40 — while 18 percent of Americans report working more than 60 hours a week. Indeed, overtime pay has become such a rarity that many Americans don’t even realize that the majority of salaried workers were once eligible. We just keep working longer and harder. And ironically, the longer and harder we work, the more we weaken the labor market, weakening our own bargaining power in the process. That helps explain why over the last 30 years, corporate profits have doubled from about 6% of GDP to about 12%, while wages have fallen by almost exactly the same amount. The erosion of overtime and other labor protections is one of the main factors leading to this worsening inequality. But a higher threshold would help reverse this trend.

Under the new salary threshold, employers would have a choice: They could either pay you time-and-half for your extra hours worked, or they could hire more workers at the standard rate to fill your previously unpaid hours. The former would put more money into your pockets. The latter would put more leisure time at your disposal while directly adding more jobs. And either would be great for workers and great for boosting economic growth.

Lower- and middle-income workers don’t stash their earnings in offshore accounts the way CEOs do — the more they’re paid the more they spend on goods and services. When workers have more money, businesses have more customers; and when businesses have more customers, they hire more workers. Whether through an increase in consumer demand or through a reduction in unpaid hours, a higher overtime threshold would increase total employment, tightening the labor market and driving up real wages for the first time since the late 1990s.

Of course, conservative pundits and politicians will attempt to preserve the status quo by warning that a return to more reasonable overtime standards would somehow cripple our economy, hurting the exact same workers we intend to help. But that’s what they always warn about every regulation — from the minimum wage, to Obamacare, to child labor laws. Yet it never turns out to be true. The sky never falls. And trickle-down economics looks more like Chicken Little Economics with every passing day.


Robert Reich served as the Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton. Nick Hanauer is a Seattle-based entrepreneur.

Ten Ideas to Save the Economy 1-7, 8-10 to come soon

ROBERT B. REICH, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies, was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written thirteen books, including the best sellers “Aftershock” and “The Work of Nations.” His latest, “Beyond Outrage,” is now out in paperback. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause. His new film, “Inequality for All,” is now available on Netflix, iTunes, DVD, and On Demand.

Robert Reich’s Documentary ” Inequality for All”

ROBERT B. REICH, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies, was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written thirteen books, including the best sellers “Aftershock” and “The Work of Nations.” His latest, “Beyond Outrage,” is now out in paperback. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause. His new film, “Inequality for All,” is now available on Netflix, iTunes, DVD, and On Demand.

Robert Reich: Hillary’s values aren’t the problem The former secretary of labor examines how she can win the election — and win over the American people

Robert Reich: Hillary's values aren't the problem

Robert Reich
This originally appeared on Robert Reich’s blog.

It’s a paradox.

Almost all the economic gains are still going to the top, leaving America’s vast middle class with stagnant wages and little or no job security. Two-thirds of Americans are working paycheck to paycheck.

Meanwhile, big money is taking over our democracy.

If there were ever a time for a bold Democratic voice on behalf of hardworking Americans, it is now.

Yet I don’t recall a time when the Democratic Party’s most prominent office holders sounded as meek. With the exception of Elizabeth Warren, they’re pussycats. If Paul Wellstone, Teddy Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, or Ann Richards were still with us, they’d be hollering.

The fire now is on the right, stoked by the Koch brothers, Rupert Murdoch, and a pocketful of hedge-fund billionaires.

Today’s Republican firebrands, beginning with Ted Cruz, blame the poor, blacks, Latinos, and immigrants for what’s been happening. They avoid any mention of wealth and power.

Which brings me to Hillary Rodham Clinton.

In declaring her candidacy for President she said “The deck is stacked in favor of those at the top. Everyday Americans need a champion and I want to be that champion.”

Exactly the right words, but will she deliver?

Some wonder about the strength of her values and ideals. I don’t. I’ve known her since she was 19 years old, and have no doubt where her heart is. For her entire career she’s been deeply committed to equal opportunity and upward mobility.

Some worry she’s been too compromised by big money – that the circle of wealthy donors she and her husband have cultivated over the years has dulled her sensitivity to the struggling middle class and poor.

But it’s wrong to assume great wealth, or even a social circle of the wealthy, is incompatible with a deep commitment to reform – as Teddy Roosevelt and his fifth-cousin Franklin clearly demonstrated.

The more relevant concern is her willingness to fight.

After a devastating first midterm election, her husband famously “triangulated” between Democrats and Republicans, seeking to find a middle position above the fray.

But if Hillary Clinton is to get the mandate she needs for America to get back on track, she will have to be clear with the American people about what is happening and why – and what must be done.

For example, she will need to admit that Wall Street is still running the economy, and still out of control.

So we must resurrect the Glass-Steagall Act and bust up the biggest banks, so millions of Americans don’t ever again lose their homes, jobs, and savings because of Wall Street’s excesses.

Also: Increase taxes on the rich in order to finance the investments in schools and infrastructure the nation desperately needs.

Strengthen unions so working Americans have the bargaining power to get a fair share of the gains from economic growth.

Limit the deductibility of executive pay, and raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Oppose trade agreements like the Trans Pacific Partnership designed to protect corporate property but not American jobs.

And nominate Supreme Court justices who will reverse “Citizens United.”

I’m not suggesting a long list. Democratic candidates too often offer mind-numbing policy proposals without explaining why they’re important.

She should use such policies to illustrate the problem, and make a vivid moral case for why such policies are necessary.

In recent decades Republicans have made a moral case for less government and lower taxes on the rich, based on their idea of “freedom.”

They talk endlessly about freedom but they never talk about power. But it’s power that’s askew in America –concentrated power that’s constraining the freedom of the vast majority.

Hillary Clinton should make the moral case about power: for taking it out of the hands of those with great wealth and putting it back into the hands of average working people.

In these times, such a voice and message make sense politically. The 2016 election will be decided by turnout, and turnout will depend on enthusiasm.

If she talks about what’s really going on and what must be done about it, she can arouse the Democratic base as well as millions of Independents and even Republicans who have concluded, with reason, that the game is rigged against them.

The question is not her values and ideals. It’s her willingness to be bold and to fight, at a time when average working people need a president who will fight for them more than they’ve needed such a president in living memory.

This is a defining moment for Democrats, and for America. It is also a defining moment for Hillary Clinton.

Robert Reich, one of the nation’s leading experts on work and the economy, is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. Time Magazine has named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written 13 books, including his latest best-seller, “Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future;” “The Work of Nations,” which has been translated into 22 languages; and his newest, an e-book, “Beyond Outrage.” His syndicated columns, television appearances, and public radio commentaries reach millions of people each week. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, and Chairman of the citizen’s group Common Cause. His new movie “Inequality for All” is in Theaters. His widely-read blog can be found at www.robertreich.org.