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: 21 min 29 sec ago

SLAPP LAWSUITS: THE BIGGEST THREAT TO THE RESISTANCE YOU NEVER...

Sat, 12/09/2017 - 19:18


SLAPP LAWSUITS: THE BIGGEST THREAT TO THE RESISTANCE YOU NEVER HEARD OF

Have you heard of SLAPP lawsuits? You soon will.

SLAPP stands for “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation.” It is a lawsuit brought by big corporations intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the overwhelming costs of a legal defense until they’re forced to abandon their criticism or opposition. And it may be the biggest threat to the resistance you’ve never heard of.  

Here’s an example: Resolute Forest Products, one of Canada’s largest logging and paper companies, has sued, in a U.S. court, environmental groups that have been campaigning to save Canada’s boreal forest. 

Resolute based its lawsuit on a U.S. conspiracy and racketeering law (RICO) intended to ensnare mobsters. Resolute alleged that the environmental groups have been illegally conspiring to extort the company’s customers and to defraud their own donors. 

The suit wasn’t designed to win in court. It was designed to distract and silence critics. This is punishment for speaking out. Thankfully, a federal court agrees and a judge just dismissed Resolute’s claims. But other corporate bullies are still trying to use this playbook.

Here’s another example: Remember the indigenous led movement at Standing Rock, when hundreds of nations and their allies came together and stood up against the destructive Dakota Access Pipeline? 

In August, Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind that pipeline, filed a similar RICO case against Greenpeace entities and two other defendants over Standing Rock. The suit accuses them of participating in a sprawling criminal conspiracy to disrupt business and defraud donors. The lawsuit even alleges they support eco-terrorism and engage in drug trafficking.

The lawsuit claims Greenpeace cost the company $300 million. Since RICO claims entitle plaintiffs to recover triple damages, the case potentially could cost Greenpeace $900 million. That would be the end of Greenpeace.

But, again, winning isn’t necessarily the goal of SLAPP suits. Just by filing the suits, Energy Transfer Partners and Resolute are trying to drain environmental groups of time, energy, and resources they need, so they can’t continue to fight to protect the environment.

Connect the dots, and consider the chilling effect SLAPP suits are having on any group seeking to protect public health, worker’s rights, and even our democracy. 

Who’s behind all of this? Both the lawsuits I just mentioned were filed by Michael Bowe. He is also a member of Donald Trump’s personal legal team. Bowe has publicly stated that he’s in conversations with other corporations considering filing their own SLAPP lawsuits.

If the goal is to silence public-interest groups, the rest of us must speak out. Wealthy corporations must know  they can’t SLAPP the public into silence.

Why Making American Corporations More Competitive Doesn’t Help Most Americans

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 14:46
Trump and congressional Republicans are engineering the largest corporate tax cut in history in...

The True Path to Prosperity

Fri, 12/01/2017 - 17:50
It’s often thought that Democrats care about fairness and not economic growth, while Republicans...

Fools or Knaves?

Sat, 11/25/2017 - 13:39
One of the most dangerous consequences of this awful period in American life is the denigration of...

The New Poll Tax Hundreds of thousands of Americans are being...

Mon, 11/20/2017 - 15:44


The New Poll Tax

Hundreds of thousands of Americans are being denied the right to vote because they are poor.

In nine states, Republican legislators have enacted laws that disenfranchise anyone with outstanding legal fees or court fines. For example, in Alabama more than 100,000 people who owe money – roughly 3 percent of the state’s voting-age population – have been struck from voting rolls. 

This is unconstitutional. In 1964, the 24th amendment abolished the poll tax, a Jim Crow tactic used to bar poor blacks from voting.

These new laws are a modern reincarnation of that unconstitutional system, disproportionately disenfranchising people of color.

Income and wealth should have no bearing on the right to vote. Many Americans are struggling to make ends meet. But they still have a constitutional right to make their voices heard.

Preventing people from voting because they owe legal fees or court fines muzzle low-income Americans at a time in our nation’s history when the rich have more political power than ever.

These state laws are another form of voter suppression – like gerrymandering, voter ID requirements, and bars on anyone with felony convictions from voting.

We must not let them stand.

The Backlash Against the Bullies

Sat, 11/18/2017 - 18:08
Why are so many women now speaking out about the sexual abuses they’ve experienced for years? Is...

Patriotism, Taxes, and Trump

Sun, 11/12/2017 - 19:01
Selling the Trump-Republican tax plan should be awkward for an administration that has made...

A YEAR WITHOUT A PRESIDENTIt seems like forever, but it was just...

Mon, 11/06/2017 - 15:02


A YEAR WITHOUT A PRESIDENT

It seems like forever, but it was just one year ago that Donald Trump was elected president. So what have we learned about the presidency and who is running the country? 

1. The first big thing we’ve learned is that Trump is not really the president of the United States – because he’s not governing.

A president who’s governing doesn’t blast his Attorney General for doing his duty and recusing himself from an FBI investigation of the president.

A president who’s governing doesn’t leave the top echelons of departments and agencies empty for almost a year.

He doesn’t publicly tell his Secretary of State he’s wasting time trying to open relations with North Korea. Any president with the slightest interest in governing would already know and approve of what his Secretary of State was doing.

He doesn’t fire half his key White House staff in the first nine months, creating utter chaos.

A president who is governing works with his cabinet and staff to develop policy. He doesn’t just tweet new public policy out of the blue – for example, that transgender people can’t serve in the military. His Secretary of Defense is likely to have some thoughts on the matter – and if not consulted might decide to ignore the tweet.

He doesn’t just decide to withdraw from the Paris Accord without any reason or analysis.

A president who is governing works with Congress. He doesn’t just punt to Congress hard decisions – as he did with DACA, the Iran nuclear deal, insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, and details of his tax plan.

He doesn’t tell a crowd of supporters that he’s ended the Clean Power Plan – “Did you see what I did to that? Boom, gone” – when any such repeal requires a legal process, and must then withstand court challenges.

Instead of governing, Donald Trump has been insulting, throwing tantrums, and getting even:

Equating white supremacists with people who protest against them. Questioning the patriotism of NFL players who are peacefully protesting police violence and racism.

Making nasty remarks about journalists, about his predecessor as president, his political opponent in the last election, national heroes like Congressman John Lewis and Senator John McCain, even the mayor of San Juan Puerto Rico.

Or he’s busy lying and then covering up the lies. Claiming he would have won the popular vote if millions hadn’t voted fraudulently for his opponent – without a shred of evidence to support his claim, and then setting up a fraudulent commission to find the evidence.

Or firing the head of the FBI who wouldn’t promise to be more loyal to him than to the American public.

A president’s job is to govern. Trump doesn’t know how to govern, or apparently doesn’t care. So, logically, he’s not President.

2. The second thing we’ve learned is that Trump’s influence is waning.  

Since he lost the popular vote, his approval ratings have dropped even further. One year in, Trump is the least popular president in history with only 37 percent of Americans behind him.

Most Republicans still approve of him, but that may not be for long.

He couldn’t get his pick elected to a Senate primary in Alabama, a state bulging with Trump voters.

Republican senators refused to go along with his repeal of the Affordable Care Act. And they’re taking increased interest in Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

Business leaders deserted him over his remarks over Charlottesville. They vacated his business advisory councils.

NFL owners have turned on him over his remarks about players. Tom Brady, who once called Trump “a good friend,” now calls him “divisive” and “wrong.”

There’s no question he’s violated the Constitution. There are at least three grounds for impeachment – his violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution by raking in money from foreign governments, his obstruction of justice by firing the head of the FBI, and his failure to faithfully execute the law by not implementing the Affordable Care Act. And a fourth if he or his aides colluded with Russia in the 2016 election.

But both houses of Congress would have to vote for his removal, which won’t happen unless Democrats win control in 2018 or Republicans in Congress decide Trump is a political liability.

3. The third big thing we’ve learned is where the governing of the country is actually occurring.

Much is being done by lobbyists for big business, who now swarm over the Trump administration like honey bees over a hedgerow of hollyhocks.

But the real leadership of America is coming from outside the Trump administration.

Leadership on the environment is now coming from California – whose rules every automaker and many other corporations have to meet in order to sell in a state that’s home to one out of eight Americans.

Leadership on civil rights is coming from the federal courts, which have struck down three different versions of Trump’s travel ban, told states their voter ID laws are unconstitutional, and pushed police departments to stop profiling and harassing minorities.

Leadership on the economy is coming from the Federal Reserve Board, whose decisions on interest rates are more important than ever now that the country lacks a fiscal policy guided by the White House.

Most of the rest of leadership in America is now coming from the grassroots – from people all over the country who are determined to reclaim our democracy and make the economy work for the many rather than the few.

They stopped Congress from repealing the Affordable Care Act.

They’re fighting Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s plan to spend taxpayer money on for-profit schools and colleges that cheat their students.

They’re fighting EPA director Scott Pruitt’s crusade against climate science.

And Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s attempts to tear down the wall between church and state.

They’re fighting against the biggest tax cut for the wealthy in American history – that will be paid for by draconian cuts in services and dangerous levels of federal debt.

They’re fighting against the bigotry, racism, and xenophobia that Trump has unleashed.

And they’re fighting for a Congress that, starting with next year’s midterm elections, will reverse everything Trump is doing to America.

But their most important effort – your effort, our effort – is not just resisting Trump. It’s laying the groundwork for a new politics in America, a new era of decency and social justice, a reassertion of the common good.

Millions are already mobilizing and organizing. It’s the one good thing that’s happened since Election Day last year – the silver lining on the dark Trump cloud.

If you’re not yet part of it, join up.

Trump’s Most Damning Legacy

Sat, 11/04/2017 - 12:41
In a radio interview on Thursday, Trump said “the saddest thing is, because I am the President of...

TRUMP’S TROJAN HORSE TAX CUTThe goal of Trump and the Republican...

Wed, 11/01/2017 - 09:21


TRUMP’S TROJAN HORSE TAX CUT

The goal of Trump and the Republican leaders is to pull off a giant redistribution of over $1 trillion from the middle-class, working-class, and poor to the rich, who are already richer than ever.

They’re selling this to the public with a false claim that the middle-class will benefit from their tax cut plan. It’s a gigantic Trojan horse. 

For most Americans, the proposed tax cuts are tiny and temporary. That’s right – temporary.  They will shrink in just a few years.  And some middle class Americans will actually get a tax increase.

Meanwhile, the top 1 percent will get a gigantic tax cut. The Tax Policy Center estimates that the current plan will save the bottom 80 percent between $50 and $450 in taxes per year, but that it saves each person in the top 1 percent an average of $129,000 a year. For people at the very top, like Trump himself, the tax cuts are humongous. And the corporations they own will also get a massive tax cut.

Republicans say economic “growth” will pay for the tax cuts, so there’s no need to cut social programs like Medicare and Medicaid.   

But Republicans have just passed a budget that would cut nearly $1.5 trillion from Medicare and Medicaid to pay for these tax cuts.  Pell Grants, housing assistance, and even cancer research are also on the chopping block.

Now, they say we shouldn’t take their budget resolution seriously. It was just a device to get the tax bill through the Senate with 51 votes. 

But once these tax cuts are passed, the budget deficit will explode. The Tax Policy Center predicts that it will cut federal revenue by $2.4 trillion over the next 10 years.

When that happens, the only way out of the crisis will be something dramatic  –  exactly the cuts in Medicare and Medicaid, and maybe even Social Security – that Republicans have wanted for years. 

By this time, any talk of raising taxes on the rich will be dismissed.

Using the promise of middle-class tax cuts as a Trojan horse for a tax windfall for the rich and deep spending cuts is a tactic dating back to the Reagan administration. 

But the version they’re aiming for now is “YUGE.”

We must see the strategy for what it is.  And it must be stopped.

The Huge Tax Heist

Sun, 10/29/2017 - 08:45
You know the plot: The bank robbers set off a bomb down the street from the bank, and while...

AMERICA NOW HAS 6 POLITICAL PARTIESThe old Democratic...

Wed, 10/25/2017 - 09:53


AMERICA NOW HAS 6 POLITICAL PARTIES

The old Democratic and Republican parties are exploding. When you take a closer look, America actually has six political parties right now:

1. Establishment Republicans, consisting of large corporations, Wall Street, and major GOP funders. Their goal is to have their taxes cut. 

2. Anti-establishment Republicans, consisting of Tea Partiers, the Freedom Caucus, and libertarians. Their goal is to have a smaller government with shrinking deficits and debts. Many of them also want to get Big Money out of politics and end crony capitalism.  

3. Social conservative Republicans – evangelicals and rural Southern whites. They want America to return to what they call “Christian” values.

4. Establishment Democrats – corporate and Wall Street executives and upper middle-class professionals. They’d also like a tax cut, but they believe in equal rights. 

5. Anti-establishment Democrats – younger, grassroots movement types, and progressives who still call themselves Democrats. Their biggest issues are widening inequality, racism, sexism, and climate change. They also want to get Big Money out of politics and they reject crony capitalism.

6. The sixth party is Trump. This party consists of Donald J. Trump and his fanatical followers. Trump’s goal is to get more money for himself, get more power for himself, get more attention to himself, and get even.

Whoever can put together elements of a governing coalition among these six parties will win future elections. 

One possibility is a coalition of anti-establishment Democrats who want to get big money out of politics and who reject crony capitalism, and anti-establishement Republicans who want the same. 

The other possible coalition is establishment Democrats who want their taxes cut and establishment Republicans who want the same. 

How to End Crony Capitalism

Sun, 10/22/2017 - 14:57
The largest corporations and richest people in America – who donated billions of dollars to...

Why We Must All Fight for the Dream Act.By repealing DACA...

Thu, 10/19/2017 - 08:22


Why We Must All Fight for the Dream Act.

By repealing DACA – Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals – Trump has endangered both these young immigrants and the economic security of America.

In 2012, the Obama  administration created DACA as a temporary way to address the needs of young people who came to America as infants or toddlers, and know no other country.  

To apply and qualify for DACA, these young people had to risk entering the system by giving their identifying information. Once approved, they were granted two years of “deferred action” on deportation, with the promise that they could reapply every two years indefinitely.

This allowed “dreamers” to go to college, get a job, and pay taxes without fear of deportation. DACA was never perfect, but for 800,000 immigrant youth it meant freedom from fear and an opportunity to fully contribute to the country they were raised in. 

But now these young people are threatened with deportation. 

For no reason. These young people are not taking jobs away from native-born Americans.  Even the conservative Cato Institute has said that the economic cost of cancelling DACA would be $200 billion over ten years.  And that’s just direct costs. The Center for American Progress estimates that if we lost these young workers the U.S. gross domestic product would shrink by $433 billion over the next decade.

The moral case is even more compelling than the economic one.

These kids grew up in America. To enter the DACA program they already had to step forward and show that they were contributing  to their communities and then prove it again every two years to stay in the program. It is immoral to now put them in the crosshairs of deportation.

This is just the latest effort by Trump to play to his base and divide us, but we must not allow that. Americans of all races and creeds must push congress to pass the Dream Act, and allow these young people to become American citizens – without the Act being a bargaining chip for more border security or anything else. 

These DACA young people are our neighbors, our colleagues, and our classmates. They represent the the best of the dream that my parents and most of our ancestors had when they came to America:  To make a better life for themselves, and for their kids.  Trump’s attempt to divide us and fuel our differences along racial and ethnic lines is an attack on the America I believe in, and we must not let it stand.  

That’s why the DACA fight is my fight, and why I stand with the dreamers – and I hope you will too.