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Robert Reich
Robert Reich is the nation's 22nd Secretary of Labor and a professor at the University of California at Berkeley. His film Inequality for All is now available on DVD, Blu-ray and Netflix. His homepage is

Entries by Robert Reich

Advice for Divided Democrats

(943) Comments | Posted May 27, 2016 | 7:47 AM

With the Democratic primaries grinding to a bitter end, I have suggestions for both Clinton and Sanders supporters that neither will like.

First, my advice to Clinton supporters: Don't try to drum Bernie Sanders out of the race before Hillary Clinton officially gets the nomination (if she in fact does...

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Into the World of Work

(7) Comments | Posted May 25, 2016 | 9:25 AM

What do you need to know -- about the new world of work, but also about yourself -- as you graduate and launch yourself into the world of work? We made a short film of my last class of the semester, where I speak to graduating seniors about these questions...

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Why Trump Might Win

(566) Comments | Posted May 22, 2016 | 10:09 PM

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll released Sunday finds Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in a statistical tie, with Trump leading Clinton 46 percent to 44 percent among registered voters. That's an 11 percent swing against Clinton since March.

A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll,...

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Why Trump Might Win

(17) Comments | Posted May 22, 2016 | 7:49 PM

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll released Sunday finds Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in a statistical tie, with Trump leading Clinton 46 percent to 44 percent among registered voters. That's an 11 percent swing against Clinton since March.

A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal...

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The Third Way: Share-the-Gains Capitalism

(204) Comments | Posted May 2, 2016 | 2:41 PM

Marissa Mayer tells us a lot about why Americans are so angry, and why anti-establishment fury has become the biggest single force in American politics today.

Mayer is CEO of Yahoo. Yahoo's stock lost about a third of its value last year, as the company went from making $7.5...

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Why Is the Racial Wealth Gap Widening? And What Should Be Done to Reverse it?

(244) Comments | Posted April 27, 2016 | 5:30 PM

Wealth inequality is even more of a problem than income inequality. That's because you have to have enough savings from income to begin to accumulate wealth -- buying a house or investing in stocks and bonds, or saving up to send a child to college.

But many Americans have almost no savings, so they have barely any wealth. Two-thirds live paycheck to paycheck.

Once you have wealth, it generates its own income as the value of that wealth increases over time, generating dividends and interest, and then even more when those assets are sold.

This is why wealth inequality is compounding faster than income inequality. The richest top 1% own 40% of the nation's wealth. The bottom 80% own just 7%.

Wealth is also transferred from generation to generation, not only in direct transfers, but also in access to the best schools and universities. Young people who get college degrees are overwhelmingly from wealthier families.

Which is why kids from low-income families, without such wealth, start out at a huge disadvantage. This is especially true for children of color from low-income families. Such families typically rent rather than own a house, and don't earn enough to have any savings.

Throughout much of America's history, the federal government has given families tax breaks in order to help them save and build assets -- such as paying no tax on income that's put away for retirement, and being able to deduct interest on home mortgages.

But these tax breaks mainly help those with high income and lots of wealth in the first place, who can afford to put away lots for retirement or get a large mortgage on a huge home. They don't much help those with low incomes and minimal savings.

Families of color are especially disadvantaged because they're less likely to have savings or inherit wealth, and face significant barriers to building wealth, such as discriminatory policies and practices that thwart home ownership.

These structural disadvantages have built up to the point where the median net worth of white families is now more than 10 times greater than that of African-American or Latino families.

So what can we do to help all Americans accumulate wealth?

First, reform the tax system so capital gains -- increases in the value of assets -- are taxed at the same rate as ordinary income.

Second, limit how much mortgage interest the wealthy can deduct from their incomes.

Then use the tax savings from these changes to help lower-income people gain a foothold in building their own wealth.

For example:

1. Provide every newborn child with a savings account consisting of at least $1,250 -- and more if a child is from a low-income family. This sum will compound over the years into a solid nest egg.

Research shows it could reduce the racial wealth gap by nearly 20% -- more if deposits are larger. At age 18, that young person could use the money for tuition or training, a business or a home. Studies show such accounts can change children's behavior and increase the likelihood they'll attend college.

2. Allow families receiving public benefits to save. Today a family receiving public assistance can be cut off for having saved just $1,000. Raise the limits on what a family can save to at least $12,000 -- roughly three months' income for a low-income family of four -- and thereby put that family on the road to self-sufficiency.

All these steps would allow families to invest in their own futures -- which is the surest way out of poverty. All of us benefit when everyone has the opportunity to accumulate...

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The Endgame of 2016′s Anti-Establishment Politics

(140) Comments | Posted April 25, 2016 | 7:57 AM

Will Bernie Sanders's supporters rally behind Hillary Clinton if she gets the nomination? Likewise, if Donald Trump is denied the Republican nomination, will his supporters back whoever gets the Republican nod?

If 2008 is any guide, the answer is unambiguously yes to both. About 90 percent of people who backed...

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The New Common Ground Between Populist Left and Right

(166) Comments | Posted April 20, 2016 | 1:40 PM

The old debate goes something like this:

'You don't believe women have reproductive rights."

"You don't value human life."

Or this:

"You think everyone should own a gun."

"You think we're safer if only criminals have them."

Or this:

"You don't care about poor people."

"You think they're better off with handouts."

Or this:

"You want to cut taxes on the rich."

"You want to tax everyone to death."

But we're seeing the emergence of a new debate where the populist left and right are on the same side:

Both are against the rich to spend as much as they want corrupting our democracy.

Both are against crony capitalism.

Both are against corporate welfare.

Both are against another Wall Street bailout.

Both want to stop subsidizing Big Agriculture, Big Oil, and the pharmaceutical industry.

Both want to close the tax loophole for hedge fund partners.

Both want to ban inside trading on Wall Street.

Both want to stop CEOs from pumping up share prices with stock buy-backs ... and then cashing in their stock options.

Both want to stop tax deductions of CEO pay over $1 million.

Both want to get big money out of politics, reverse Citizens United, and restore our democracy.

If we join together, we can make these things happen.

ROBERT B. REICH's new book, "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few," is now out. His film "Inequality for All" is now available on DVD and blu-ray, and on Netflix. Watch the trailer below:

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Why Isn't Everyone in Favor of Taxing Financial Speculation?

(76) Comments | Posted April 19, 2016 | 10:34 AM

Why is there so little discussion about one of Bernie Sanders's most important proposals -- to tax financial speculation?

Buying and selling stocks and bonds in order to beat others who are buying and selling stocks and bonds is a giant zero-sum game that wastes countless resources, uses up...

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Bernie and the Big Banks

(261) Comments | Posted April 10, 2016 | 9:47 PM

The recent kerfluffle about Bernie Sanders purportedly not knowing how to bust up the big banks says far more about the threat Sanders poses to the Democratic establishment and its Wall Street wing than it does about the candidate himself.

Of course Sanders knows how to bust up the big...

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Stop Voter Suppression

(398) Comments | Posted April 6, 2016 | 8:37 AM

A crowning achievement of the historic March on Washington, where Dr. Martin Luther King gave his "I have a dream" speech, was pushing through the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965. Recognizing the history of racist attempts to prevent Black people from voting, that federal law forced a number of...

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Why The Major Media Marginalize Bernie

(359) Comments | Posted March 31, 2016 | 10:44 AM

"Bernie did well last weekend but he can't possibly win the nomination," a friend told me for what seemed like the thousandth time, attaching an article from the Washington Post that shows how far behind Bernie remains in delegates.

Wait a minute. Last Tuesday, Sanders won 78 percent...

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GOP Tax Plans Would Be the Largest Redistributions to the Rich in American History

(159) Comments | Posted March 22, 2016 | 4:35 PM

The tax cuts for the rich proposed by the two leading Republican candidates for the presidency -- Donald Trump and Ted Cruz -- are larger, as a proportion of the government budget and the total economy, than any tax cuts ever before proposed in history.

Trump and Cruz pretend to...

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How the Peoples Party Prevailed in 2020

(80) Comments | Posted March 21, 2016 | 3:53 PM

Third parties have rarely taken over from the dominant two in American history. So how did the People's Party win the U.S. presidency and a majority of both houses of Congress in 2020?

It started four years before, with the election of 2016.

As you remember, Donald Trump didn't have...

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Tell Your Senators to Do Their Job

(222) Comments | Posted March 16, 2016 | 4:05 PM

The Constitution of the United States is clear: Article II Section 2 says the President "shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ... judges to the Supreme Court."

It doesn't say the President can't appoint in the final year of his term...

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The New Truth About Free Trade

(99) Comments | Posted March 15, 2016 | 4:33 PM

I used to believe in trade agreements. That was before the wages of most Americans stagnated and a relative few at the top captured just about all the economic gains.

The old-style trade agreements of the 1960s and 1970s increased worldwide demand for products made by American workers, and thereby...

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The American Fascist

(82) Comments | Posted March 9, 2016 | 3:52 PM

I've been reluctant to use the "f" word to describe Donald Trump because it's especially harsh, and it's too often used carelessly.

But Trump has finally reached a point where parallels between his presidential campaign and the fascists of the first half of the 20th century -- lurid figures...

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Why the Critics of Bernienomics Are Wrong

(409) Comments | Posted March 3, 2016 | 1:25 PM

Not a day goes by, it seems, without the mainstream media bashing Bernie Sanders's economic plan -- quoting certain economists as saying his numbers don't add up. (The New York Times did it again just recently.) They're wrong. You need to know the truth, and spread it.

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An Open Letter to the Republican Establishment

(270) Comments | Posted February 28, 2016 | 8:30 PM

You are the captains of American industry, the titans of Wall Street, and the billionaires who for decades have been the backbone of the Republican Party.

You've invested your millions in the GOP in order to get lower taxes, wider tax loopholes, bigger subsidies, more generous bailouts, less regulation, lengthier...

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The End of the Establishment?

(241) Comments | Posted February 22, 2016 | 4:28 PM

Step back from the campaign fray for just a moment and consider the enormity of what's already occurred.

A 74-year-old Jew from Vermont who describes himself as a democratic socialist, who wasn't even a Democrat until recently, has come within a whisker of beating Hillary Clinton in the Iowa...

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