AlterNet.org: Robert Reich http://www.alternet.org/authors/robert-reich-0 en Robert Reich Has a Big, Urgent Idea for Hillary—Will She Listen? http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/robert-reich-big-idea-hillary <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">She needs a big idea that gives her candidacy a purpose and rationale.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/2258627234_6d702e0cf8_z.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>If Donald Trump continues to implode, Hillary Clinton will win simply by being the presidential candidate who isn’t Trump.</p><p>But the prospect of a President Trump is so terrifying that Hillary shouldn’t take any chances. The latest match-up polls show her about <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fthehill.com%2Fblogs%2Fballot-box%2Fpresidential-races%2F283961-poll-clintons-lead-over-trump-slipping-since-orlando&amp;t=ZTgzMGZkZjYwNGY3MzNhYzY5MWUwZThjOWFlMzM0NjNlZjQ0NzY1MixlUUxPNkVibA%3D%3D">6 points</a> ahead – a comfortable but not sure-fire margin.</p><p>What else can she offer other than that she’s also experienced and would be the first woman to hold the job?</p><p>So far, she’s put forth a bunch of respectable policy ideas. But they’re small relative to the economic problems most Americans face and to Americans’ overwhelming sense the nation is off track.</p><p>She needs a big idea that gives her candidacy a purpose and rationale – and, if she’s elected president, a mandate to get something hugely important done.</p><p>What could that big idea be? I can think of several big economic proposals. The problem is they couldn’t get through Congress – even if, as now seems possible, Democrats retake the Senate.</p><p>Nor, for that matter, could Hillary’s smaller ideas get through.</p><p>Which suggests a really big idea – an idea that’s the prerequisite for every other one, an idea that directly addresses what’s disturbing so many Americans today – an idea that, if she truly commits herself to it, would even reassure voters about Hillary Clinton herself.</p><p>The big idea I’m talking about is democracy.</p><p>Everyone knows our democracy is drowning under big money. Confidence in politics has plummeted, and big money as the major culprit.</p><p>In 1964, just 29 percent of voters believed government was “run by a few big interests looking out for themselves,” according to the American National Election Studies survey. In the most recent survey, almost <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.electionstudies.org%2Fnesguide%2Ftoptable%2Ftab5a_2.htm&amp;t=MWIyYzljNGJlZDQxYzRjMWZmMTgxN2MwMTQ2M2FiMzdlNjY5M2EzYyxlUUxPNkVibA%3D%3D">80 percent</a> of Americans think so.</p><p>And because the free market depends on laws and rules, big money’s political influence has rigged the economic system in favor of those at the top.</p><p>Which has fueled this year’s anti-establishment rebellions – propelling Bernie Sanders’s “political revolution” that won him 22 states, and contributing to Donald (“<a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.thefiscaltimes.com%2F2016%2F05%2F07%2FDoes-Donald-Trump-Have-Money-Problem&amp;t=NWJiMTJlZjg5MWQyOGU2NmM2ODMxZDZjYmJjMjQ0ZmY5OGZjNmU4YyxlUUxPNkVibA%3D%3D">I don’t need anybody’s money</a>”) Trump’s authoritarian appeal.</p><p>A <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=https%3A%2F%2Fscholar.princeton.edu%2Fsites%2Fdefault%2Ffiles%2Fmgilens%2Ffiles%2Fgilens_and_page_2014_-testing_theories_of_american_politics.doc.pdf&amp;t=NTczN2NmOTNlOWFiNjFhMWUxYmYwYjBlODYxMTRjMjc4MDNlOTA2YixlUUxPNkVibA%3D%3D">study</a> published in the fall of 2014 by Princeton professor Martin Gilens and Professor Benjamin Page of Northwestern shows that big money has almost entirely disenfranchised Americans. Gilens and Page took a close look at 1,799 policy issues, determining the relative influence on them of economic elites, business groups, and average citizens.</p><p>Their conclusion: “The preferences of average Americans appear to have only a minuscule, <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=https%3A%2F%2Fscholar.princeton.edu%2Fsites%2Fdefault%2Ffiles%2Fmgilens%2Ffiles%2Fgilens_and_page_2014_-testing_theories_of_american_politics.doc.pdf&amp;t=NTczN2NmOTNlOWFiNjFhMWUxYmYwYjBlODYxMTRjMjc4MDNlOTA2YixlUUxPNkVibA%3D%3D">near-zero, statistically non-significant</a> impact upon public policy.” Instead, lawmakers respond to the policy demands of wealthy individuals and big business.</p><p>The super wealthy account for a growing share of both parties’ funds. In the presidential election year 1980, the richest 0.01 percent gave <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fpolarizedamerica.com%2Fpdf%2Fjep_BMPR.pdf&amp;t=YWRhODhmY2IxYzdjY2U5ZTdlZWY2NmIzOTI3MGEzMmY4NjgzYmZkYyxlUUxPNkVibA%3D%3D">10 percent</a> of total campaign contributions. In 2012, the richest 0.01 percent accounted for an astounding <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fpolarizedamerica.com%2Fpdf%2Fjep_BMPR.pdf&amp;t=YWRhODhmY2IxYzdjY2U5ZTdlZWY2NmIzOTI3MGEzMmY4NjgzYmZkYyxlUUxPNkVibA%3D%3D">40 percent.</a></p><p>Adding to the cynicism is the revolving door. In the 1970s only about <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.theatlantic.com%2Fnational%2Farchive%2F2012%2F07%2Fto-make-america-great-again-we-need-to-leave-the-country%2F259653%2F&amp;t=NDQ4ZTIyYTY3Njc1Y2IxYjcwMmNmY2Y3YTg5NTRkOTkxNWVkZmIxZixlUUxPNkVibA%3D%3D">3 percent</a>of retiring members of Congress went on to become lobbyists. In recent years <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.theatlantic.com%2Fnational%2Farchive%2F2012%2F07%2Fto-make-america-great-again-we-need-to-leave-the-country%2F259653%2F&amp;t=NDQ4ZTIyYTY3Njc1Y2IxYjcwMmNmY2Y3YTg5NTRkOTkxNWVkZmIxZixlUUxPNkVibA%3D%3D">half</a> of all retiring senators and <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.theatlantic.com%2Fnational%2Farchive%2F2012%2F07%2Fto-make-america-great-again-we-need-to-leave-the-country%2F259653%2F&amp;t=NDQ4ZTIyYTY3Njc1Y2IxYjcwMmNmY2Y3YTg5NTRkOTkxNWVkZmIxZixlUUxPNkVibA%3D%3D">42 percent</a> of retiring representatives have done so.</p><p>This isn’t because recent retirees have fewer qualms about making money off their government contacts. It’s because so much money has inundated Washington that the financial rewards of lobbying have become huge.  </p><p>Meanwhile, the revolving door between Wall Street, on the one side, and the White House and Treasury, on the other, is swiveling faster than ever.</p><p>Clinton should focus her campaign on reversing all of this. For a start, she should commit to nominating Supreme Court justices who will strike down “Citizen’s United,” the 2010 Supreme Court case that opened the big-money floodgates far wider.</p><p>She should also fight for public financing of general elections for president and for congress – with government matching small-donor contributions made to any candidate who agrees to abide by overall spending limits on large-donor contributions.</p><p>She should demand full disclosure of all sources of campaign funding, regardless of whether those funds are passed through non-profit organizations or through corporate entities or both.</p><p>And she should slow the revolving door – committing to a strict two-year interval between high-level government service and lobbying or corporate jobs, and a similarly interval between serving as a top executive or director of a major Wall Street bank and serving at a top level position in the executive branch.</p><p>Will Hillary Clinton make restoring democracy her big idea? When she announced her candidacy she said “the deck is stacked in favor of those at the top” and that she wants to be the “champion” of “everyday Americans.”  </p><p>The best way to ensure everyday Americans get a fair deal is to make our democracy work again.</p><p> </p> Mon, 20 Jun 2016 07:19:00 -0700 Robert Reich, RobertReich.org 1058612 at http://www.alternet.org Election 2016 Election 2016 reich hillary clinton money in politics Robert Reich: 8 Reasons Why Republicans Must Dump Trump http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/gop-must-dump-trump <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The GOP still has time to change its mind.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_386627950.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>The Republican Party still has time to change its mind. Right now it’s supporting for President of the United States a man</p><p>1. who <b>divides us by race and ethnicity and religion.</b></p><p>He says undocumented Americans “<a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.washingtonpost.com%2Fnews%2Ffact-checker%2Fwp%2F2015%2F07%2F08%2Fdonald-trumps-false-comments-connecting-mexican-immigrants-and-crime%2F&amp;t=ZjcxZmExNDg3NGU5NTQzZjczY2NkZTQ2ZDkxZDhhOGJjNjFjNmQzYSxtZGxKSkNsTA%3D%3D">bring drugs, crime, they’re rapists</a>.” That the Mexican government “<a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.politifact.com%2Ftruth-o-meter%2Fstatements%2F2015%2Faug%2F06%2Fdonald-trump%2Ftrump-mexican-government-they-send-bad-ones-over%2F&amp;t=OTczNzUwYzEzMzQ1NjhmNGRhNjAzZDMyZjY0ZjI0MmIwMTY3ODA4MCxtZGxKSkNsTA%3D%3D">sends bad ones over because they don’t want to pay for them</a>.” And who says he’ll round up and deport all 11 million undocumented workers in the United States.</p><p>This is a man who <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.npr.org%2Fsections%2Fthetwo-way%2F2016%2F02%2F28%2F468455028%2Ftrump-wont-condemn-kkk-says-he-knows-nothing-about-white-supremacists&amp;t=Y2MwOTZhNTc0MmQ4MzZkZDMzODI2OTc1M2NmZmM4NmZiMTZjMmI1YixtZGxKSkNsTA%3D%3D">equivocated</a> on repudiating an endorsement from David Duke, former head of the Ku Klux Klan. And when asked to repudiate the vicious anti-semitism of some of his followers said “<a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.theatlantic.com%2Fpolitics%2Farchive%2F2016%2F05%2Ftrump-needs-to-loudly-denounce-the-hate%2F481608%2F&amp;t=ZDljZGY0ZTJlNTRlMWI0OGVkMjBjODQwY2U2OWI5ZGFkOTIwODRlNCxtZGxKSkNsTA%3D%3D">I don’t have a message to the fans.</a>”</p><p>A man who claimed “<a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.washingtonpost.com%2Fnews%2Ffact-checker%2Fwp%2F2015%2F11%2F22%2Fdonald-trumps-outrageous-claim-that-thousands-of-new-jersey-muslims-celebrated-the-911-attacks%2F&amp;t=NjIyMjU4YmI4NDhjNzU3N2Q2MGM5MDkwYmE4NTUxMDg5YzgxNTdiYyxtZGxKSkNsTA%3D%3D">thousands and thousands” of Muslims in New Jersey</a>celebrated the Twin Towers collapsing, when there’s no evidence at all to support that statement. And whose response to terrorism is to prevent all Muslims from coming into the United States.</p><p>A man who, in response to the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, did not mourn the victims, but instead crowed “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don’t want congrats, I want toughness &amp; vigilance. We must be smart!” and repeated his call for his temporary Muslim ban – even though the shooter was an American citizen. “What has happened in Orlando is just the beginning. Our leadership is weak and ineffective. I called it and asked for the ban. Must be tough,” he said.</p><p>A man who says <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.politifact.com%2Ftruth-o-meter%2Fstatements%2F2015%2Fnov%2F23%2Fdonald-trump%2Ftrump-tweet-blacks-white-homicide-victims%2F&amp;t=NjRkZTNlM2M2NmI5ZTllNjNjY2JiZDA3ZTE0MGM4Njk0NWMzNmU3NCxtZGxKSkNsTA%3D%3D">black criminals are responsible for 81 percent of homicides against whites</a>, which turns out to be a <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.politifact.com%2Ftruth-o-meter%2Fstatements%2F2015%2Fnov%2F23%2Fdonald-trump%2Ftrump-tweet-blacks-white-homicide-victims%2F&amp;t=NjRkZTNlM2M2NmI5ZTllNjNjY2JiZDA3ZTE0MGM4Njk0NWMzNmU3NCxtZGxKSkNsTA%3D%3D">racist myth</a>.</p><p>2. whose <b>incendiary lies are inciting violence across this land, but he excuses them</b>.</p><p>When he learned that some of his supporters punched, kicked and spit on protesters of color at his rallies, he said “<a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.washingtonpost.com%2Fnews%2Fmorning-mix%2Fwp%2F2015%2F08%2F21%2Ftrump-says-fans-are-very-passionate-after-hearing-one-of-them-allegedly-assaulted-hispanic-man%2F&amp;t=NGVmYjY2NWU5Y2ZlZDk2OTZjMTllNmNlNjU1YzIzMjA0ZjQ1YTI5YSxtZGxKSkNsTA%3D%3D">people who are following me are very passionate.</a>”</p><p>When a handful of white supporters punched and attempted to choke a Black Lives Matter protester at another of his rallies, he said “<a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.washingtonpost.com%2Fnews%2Fpost-politics%2Fwp%2F2015%2F11%2F22%2Fblack-activist-punched-at-donald-trump-rally-in-birmingham%2F&amp;t=MmYzYjE4YjYxOGFhM2FhMjkzMTNlZGU2OWE0ZTZkNGY4Y2NhZDBmMixtZGxKSkNsTA%3D%3D">maybe he should have been roughed up</a>.”</p><p>3. who <b>bullies, humiliates, and threatens those who dare cross him.</b></p><p>He mocks their physical characteristics, makes up lies about them, degrades them, tries to intimidate them by unleashing hostile attacks on the Internet – announcing, for example, that a family who donated money to a political opponent “<a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.usatoday.com%2Fstory%2Fnews%2Fpolitics%2Fonpolitics%2F2016%2F02%2F22%2Ftrump-ricketts-family-better-careful%2F80761060%2F&amp;t=NWNhZjNiMGI2ODAwODBmODczNTE0YTFlNDRmNGZkYTRlZjAwMjY5MixtZGxKSkNsTA%3D%3D">better be careful, they have a lot to hide</a>.”</p><p>He calls a federal judge who’s considering a case against Trump University a “total disgrace” and a “hater,” and alleging he’s Mexican although he was born in the United States.</p><p>4. who <b>spreads baseless conspiracy theories.</b></p><p>He conjectured that President <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.thepoliticalinsider.com%2Fdonald-trump-asked-about-obamas-birth-certificate-his-response-is-brutal%2F&amp;t=YWY4NmQ5ODg3NDhjYTNjNmU2YzEyZTY0MGM4NmQ4N2ZhMmM0ZjUwNixtZGxKSkNsTA%3D%3D">Obama was not born in the United States</a>, and that the <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.independent.co.uk%2Fnews%2Fpeople%2Fdonald-trump-says-ebola-doctors-must-suffer-the-consequences-9646445.html&amp;t=MmM5MmFiYzgwMzU5Y2I3N2MxM2NiZjNiZDRiYmUzNTU2MjY1MmY4MCxtZGxKSkNsTA%3D%3D">government hid information about the Ebola virus</a> and a plague would start in America if flights from Ebola infected countries weren’t cancelled. He opined that <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.politifact.com%2Ftruth-o-meter%2Fstatements%2F2016%2Fmay%2F03%2Fdonald-trump%2Fdonald-trumps-ridiculous-claim-linking-ted-cruzs-f%2F&amp;t=OTA5MDViOWM1OWYyNmY0OWM3ZDEyYmJkZTliOWQ1ZDg1MjA0NmFkMyxtZGxKSkNsTA%3D%3D">Ted Cruz’s father was with Lee Harvey Oswald</a> during the Kennedy assasination in Dallas, and that <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.independent.co.uk%2Fnews%2Fworld%2Famericas%2Fdonald-trump-says-vaccinations-are-causing-an-autism-epidemic-10505087.html&amp;t=N2NjODM0ZjgyZGM3OGM1MTczOWQ0NDliMDg0MjIxNjhhNTcyNjg1ZixtZGxKSkNsTA%3D%3D">child health vaccinations cause autism</a>. </p><p>And he suggested that the <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.newyorker.com%2Fnews%2Famy-davidson%2Fdonald-trumps-scalia-conspiracy-pillow-fight&amp;t=ODBiZDljZTkzOWI4NmIyYzYwZDk3NTIxYmM2ZTM5ODM4M2Y2OWRkOCxtZGxKSkNsTA%3D%3D">death of Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia</a> might have been a part of <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.newyorker.com%2Fnews%2Famy-davidson%2Fdonald-trumps-scalia-conspiracy-pillow-fight&amp;t=ODBiZDljZTkzOWI4NmIyYzYwZDk3NTIxYmM2ZTM5ODM4M2Y2OWRkOCxtZGxKSkNsTA%3D%3D">a plot</a>.</p><p>Such baseless conspiracy theories can do great damage, when, for example, parents don’t vaccinate their children because they fear autism.</p><p> 5. whose <b>hateful and demeaning attitudes toward women and boastful claims of sexual dominance have been filling the airwaves for years</b>.</p><p>They’re best summed up in an interview where he said “<a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fnymag.com%2Fdaily%2Fintelligencer%2F2016%2F01%2Fdonald-trump-timeline.html&amp;t=ZTNiYTBkZjk5MGY0YjZlMDg5NTMxZjQ4ZDc0ZWIwNjY3ZGM0MTRjYyxtZGxKSkNsTA%3D%3D">women, you have to treat them like shit.</a>”</p><p> 6. who <b>believes <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2016%2F05%2F21%2Fscience%2Fdonald-trump-global-warming-energy-policy-kevin-cramer.html%3F_r%3D0&amp;t=YzlhMzliZGY5YTc0ZGFjZDBmNWI1M2EwNDgyNmM1YWI4MzM5YzQ5ZixtZGxKSkNsTA%3D%3D">climate change is not caused by humans</a></b>, contrary to all scientific proof.</p><p>And he calls for more fossil fuel drilling and fewer environmental regulations, vows to cancel the Paris agreement committing nearly every nation to curbing climate change, and to rescind Obama’s rules to curb planet-warming emissions from coal-fired power plants.</p><p>7. who<b>  <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.cnn.com%2F2016%2F03%2F06%2Fpolitics%2Fdonald-trump-torture%2F&amp;t=MzY4ZTg4ZTdhMDljZmUzOTYyN2E1MmY4MDE2NGY5ZTdkNTU1NDk2OSxtZGxKSkNsTA%3D%3D">proposes using torture against terrorists, and punishing their families</a>,</b> both in clear violation of international law.</p><p>And if all this weren’t enough,</p><p>8. who <b>wants to cut taxes on the rich, giving the wealthiest </b><b>one tenth of one percent an average tax cut of <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.politifact.com%2Fwisconsin%2Fstatements%2F2016%2Fmay%2F20%2Fjennifer-shilling%2Ftop-01-would-be-big-winner-under-donald-trumps-tax%2F&amp;t=NTkxYTQzZTE5MzFlYjY3NzQ2MjdhOTc2ZWRiZTU2NjQ3OTRmYTViNixtZGxKSkNsTA%3D%3D">more than $1.3 million each every year</a></b>- exploding the national debt and endangering the future of Social Security and Medicare.</p><p>This man is Donald Trump, and the Republican Party wants him to be President of the United States.</p><p>Why are there so few statesmen left in the Republican Party? Are there no principled Republicans whose loyalty to the nation is greater than their eagerness to win back the White House? No Republican leaders with the courage to stand up and say this is wrong – that this man doesn’t have the character or the temperament to be president, and his election would endanger America and everything we believe in and stand for?</p><p>If not, shame on them.</p><p>Republicans still have time to dump Trump. For the good of the country and the world, they must.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/r1tSgUtBfOc" width="560"></iframe></p> Mon, 13 Jun 2016 07:35:00 -0700 Robert Reich, RobertReich.org 1058217 at http://www.alternet.org Election 2016 Election 2016 trump robert reich Robert Reich: The Trump Bandwagon Is Taking Us Closer to Tyranny http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/trump-bandwagon-taking-us-closer-tyranny <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Playing the game well or honorably is irrelevant.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/6462878393_4e91cde1e7_z.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>When I was a boy and lost just about every sporting event I tried, my father told me, “What counts isn’t whether you win or lose but how you play the game.”</p><p>Most parents told their kids this. It was part of the American creed. But I doubt Fred <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.mcall.com%2Ftopic%2Fpolitics-government%2Fdonald-trump-PEBSL000163-topic.html&amp;t=YTY1NTZkYjI2ZGMyNTAwYjY5OWU2MTFkNTZkYmVmZDNmZWU5M2U3MSxXeXFGb05yMA%3D%3D">Trump</a> passed on the same advice to little Donald, who seems to have learned the opposite: It’s not how you play the game but whether you win or lose.</p><p>If there’s one idea that summarizes Donald Trump — his character, temperament, career, business strategy, politics and worldview — it’s winning at any cost. That’s the art of the deal. </p><p>Playing the game well or honorably is irrelevant.</p><p>Now that he is the presumed Republican nominee for the highest office in the land, this view is outright dangerous.</p><p>Government is about process. Democracy is about law. The Constitution establishes the rules of the game. A tacit social contract binds us all together.</p><p>So when, as the presumed Republican presidential nominee, Trump says a federal judge who’s considering a case against him is a “disgrace” and a “hater” who shouldn’t be hearing the case because the judge’s parents were Mexican, he’s doing more than insulting a member of the judiciary. He’s attacking our legal system.</p><p>When Trump threatens his critics, saying he’ll “loosen” federal libel laws to sue news organizations and unleash federal regulators on those who oppose him, he’s not just bullying. He’s endangering our democracy.</p><p>And when Trump foments bigotry, demanding that people of a certain faith not be allowed into the United States, or claiming without any evidence that “thousands and thousands” of Muslim Americans in New Jersey celebrated the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11, he’s not just telling lies. He’s threatening the social contract that binds us together.</p><p>If governing is not undertaken correctly and respectfully, the entire system we rely on is weakened.</p><p>Trump is the extreme, but his candidacy is the logical culmination of years of win-at-any-cost politics. If any public official is responsible for starting us down this bleak road, it’s Newt Gingrich – <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=https%3A%2F%2Fnewrepublic.com%2Fminutes%2F134099%2Fnewt-gingrich-want-donald-trumps-vp-not&amp;t=YjAyYTQzZTc3ODg1ZTY3ODc5YTdhMzJhZWY0MDkzZmY3NTVmY2NhMSxXeXFGb05yMA%3D%3D">reputedly</a> on the short-list for becoming Trump’s vice president.</p><p>Yes, Gingrich scolded Trump for his recent comment about the federal judge. But Gingrich’s approach to politics has been almost as divisive and destructive.</p><p>After Gingrich became speaker of the House in 1995, Washington was transformed from a place where legislators sought common ground into a war zone. Compromise was replaced by brinkmanship, bargaining by obstruction.</p><p><a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.washingtonpost.com%2Fopinions%2Flets-just-say-it-the-republicans-are-the-problem%2F2012%2F04%2F27%2FgIQAxCVUlT_story.html&amp;t=M2UzOTU5ZDM5ZDEyNjcxYjhiMjA4MTNkZjJhZThiYTQ3NjllMzkyZCxXeXFGb05yMA%3D%3D">According to</a> political scientists Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann, “the forces Gingrich unleashed destroyed whatever comity existed across party lines, activated an extreme and virulently anti-Washington base — most recently represented by <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.mcall.com%2Ftopic%2Fpolitics-government%2Ftea-party-movement-ORCIG000068-topic.html&amp;t=NDQyNGJlMjU0YTk4ZWIyNWNiY2E5OTg0NmJjYWI2ZDA4MWI0ZDJiYixXeXFGb05yMA%3D%3D">tea party</a> activists — and helped drive moderate Republicans out of Congress.”</p><p>Under Gingrich’s lead, House Republicans closed down the government when they didn’t get their way on the budget. Then they voted to impeach Bill Clinton. Gingrich left the House under a cloud, but his legacy lived on.</p><p>House Republicans shut down government again in 2011 in a dispute over raising the federal <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.mcall.com%2Ftopic%2Fbusiness%2Fmacroeconomics%2Fu.s.-debt-ceiling-EVGAP00060-topic.html&amp;t=NDVjNWM4NTA1MTVkYjMwZmEwYjc0ZDU2ODg5NjkxMDg0NTQ2ZDkxYyxXeXFGb05yMA%3D%3D">debt ceiling</a> — which could have triggered a government default and risked the creditworthiness of the U.S.</p><p>Gingrich has continued down his destructive path. In the presidential campaign of 2012, he even asserted that public officials aren’t bound to follow the decisions of federal courts. Trump’s attack on a particular federal judge is almost tame compared to Gingrich’s sweeping attack on the entire court system.</p><p>Winning by weakening our system of government is heinous. So why are Republican voters prepared to make Trump president?</p><p>Maybe it’s because so many of them have been losing economic ground for so long they want a winner on their side, even if that winner sacrifices democracy.</p><p>They are deluded. The only real hope for positive change is to make democracy stronger. The Trump bandwagon is taking us down the road to tyranny.</p> Fri, 10 Jun 2016 08:48:00 -0700 Robert Reich, RobertReich.org 1058111 at http://www.alternet.org Election 2016 Election 2016 donald trump robert reich ELECTIONS 2016 bigotry newt gingrich Robert Reich: Dear Bernie, a Note of Thanks http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/robert-reich-note-thanks-bernie-sanders <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">&quot;Let me tell you this: You’ve already succeeded.&quot;</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_382837729.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Dear Bernie,</p><p>I don’t know what you’re going to do from here on, and I’m not going to advise you. You've earned the right to figure out the next steps for your campaign and the movement you have launched.</p><p>But let me tell you this: You’ve already succeeded.</p><p>At the start they labeled you a “fringe” candidate—a 74-year-old, political Independent, Jewish, self-described democratic socialist, who stood zero chance against the Democratic political establishment, the mainstream media, and the moneyed interests.</p><p>Then you won 22 states.</p><p>And in almost every state—even in those you lost—you won vast majorities of voters under 30, including a majority of young women and Latinos. And most voters under 45.</p><p>You have helped shape the next generation.</p><p>You’ve done it without super PACs or big money from corporations, Wall Street, and billionaires. You did it with small contributions from millions of us. You've shown it can be done without selling your soul or compromising your conviction.</p><p>You’ve also inspired millions of us to get involved in politics—and to fight the most important and basic of all fights on which all else depends: to reclaim our economy and democracy from the moneyed interests.</p><p>Your message—about the necessity of single-payer health care, free tuition at public universities, a $15 minimum wage, busting up the biggest Wall Street banks, taxing the financial speculation, expanding Social Security, imposing a tax on carbon, and getting big money out of politics—will shape the progressive agenda from here on.</p><p>Your courage in taking on the political establishment has emboldened millions of us to stand up and demand our voices be heard.</p><p>Regardless of what you decide to do now, you have ignited a movement that will fight onward. We will fight to put more progressives into the House and Senate. We will fight at the state level. We will organize for the 2020 presidential election.</p><p>We will not succumb to cynicism. We are in it for the long haul. We will never give up.</p><p>Thank you, Bernie.</p><p>Bob</p> Wed, 08 Jun 2016 11:47:00 -0700 Robert Reich, AlterNet 1057992 at http://www.alternet.org Election 2016 Education Election 2016 Environment reich Robert Reich to Bernie Fans: It’s Not Over Until It’s Over http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/its-not-over-until-its-over <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Regardless of the electoral math, Bernie’s candidacy has never been mainly about Bernie.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/25196177604_2a50f37303_z.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>This morning I heard from an old friend here in California who said “I’m for Bernie, but he doesn’t really have a chance anymore. So isn’t my vote for him in the California primary just prolonging the agony, and indirectly helping Trump?”</p><p>I told him:</p><p>1.  True, the electoral numbers are daunting, and Bernie faces an uphill task, but a win Tuesday will help enormously. One out of 8 Americans lives in California.</p><p>2.  Regardless of the electoral math, Bernie’s candidacy has never been mainly about Bernie. It’s been about a movement to reclaim our democracy and economy from the moneyed interests. And a win for Bernie in the California primary (and in other Tuesday primaries in Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota South Dakota, and New Mexico) will send an even clearer signal to Washington, the Democratic Party, and the establishment as a whole, that a large and growing share of Americans is determined to wrest back control.</p><p>3. The goals Bernie has enunciated in his campaign are essential to our future: getting big money out of politics and reversing widening inequality; moving toward a single-payer healthcare system and free tuition at public universities (both financed by higher taxes on the richest Americans and on Wall Street); a $15 minimum wage; decriminalization of marijuana and an end to mass incarceration; a new voting rights act; immigration reform; and a carbon tax. All will require continued mobilization at all levels of government. A win Tuesday will help continue and build on that mobilization.</p><p>4.  Bernie’s successes don’t help Trump. To the contrary, they are bringing into politics millions of young voters whose values are opposite to those of Trump’s. Bernie has received majorities from voters under age 45 (as well as from independents). He’s won even larger majorities of young people under 30 – including young women and Latinos. Many have been inspired and motivated by Bernie to become political activists – the last thing Trump and the Republicans want.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/57AwvRvrUtw" width="560"></iframe></p> Sun, 05 Jun 2016 07:50:00 -0700 Robert Reich, RobertReich.org 1057793 at http://www.alternet.org Election 2016 Election 2016 sanders clinton Robert Reich: It's Time for Clinton and Sanders Supporters to Swallow Some Tough Medicine http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/robert-reich-advice-divided-democrats <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">This advice may be hard for some Democrats to take, but to prevent a divided party and for the good of the nation, they must.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/maxresdefault_12.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>With the Democratic primaries grinding to a bitter end, I have suggestions for both Clinton and Sanders supporters that neither will like. </p><p>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 get it).  </p><p>Some of you say Bernie should bow out because he has no chance of getting the nomination, and his continuing candidacy is harming Hillary Clinton’s chances.</p><p>It’s true that Bernie’s chances are slim, but it’s inaccurate to say he has no chance. If you consider only pledged delegates, who have been selected in caucuses and primaries, he’s not all that far behind Hillary Clinton. And the upcoming primary in California – the nation’s most populous state—could possibly alter Sanders’s and Clinton’s relative tallies.</p><p>My calculation doesn’t include so-called “superdelegates”—Democratic office holders and other insiders who haven’t been selected through primaries and caucuses. But in this year of anti-establishment fury, it would be unwise for Hillary Clinton to rely on superdelegates to get her over the finish line. </p><p>Sanders should stay in the race also because he has attracted a large number of young people and independents. Their passion, excitement, and enthusiasm are critically important to Hillary Clinton’s success, if she’s the nominee, as well the success of other Democrats this year, and, more fundamentally, to the future of American politics. </p><p>Finally and not the least, Sanders has been telling a basic truth about the American political economic system—that growing inequality of income and wealth has led inexorably to the increasing political power of those at the top, including big corporations and Wall Street banks. And that political power has stacked the deck in their favor, leading to still wider inequality. </p><p>Nothing important can be accomplished—reversing climate change, creating true equal opportunity, overcoming racism, rebuilding the middle class, having a sane and sensible foreign policy—until we reclaim our democracy from the moneyed interests. The longer Bernie Sanders is on stage to deliver this message, the better.</p><p>Next, my advice for Sanders supporters: Be prepared to work hard for Hillary Clinton if she gets the nomination. </p><p>Some of you say that refusing to fight for or even vote for Hillary will show the Democratic political establishment why it must change its ways. </p><p>But the “Democratic political establishment” is nothing but a bunch of people, many of them big donors and fundraisers occupying comfortable and privileged positions, who won’t even be aware that you’ve decided to sit it out – unless Hillary loses to Donald Trump. </p><p>Which brings me to those of you who say there’s no real difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. </p><p>That’s just plain wrong. Trump has revealed himself to be a narcissistic, xenophobic, hatemonger who, if elected, would legitimize bigotry, appoint Supreme Court justices with terrible values, and have direct access to the button that could set off a nuclear war. </p><p>Hillary may not possess Bernie Sanders’s indignation about the rigging of our economy and democracy, or be willing to go as far in remedying it, but she’s shown herself a capable and responsible leader.  </p><p>Some of you agree a Trump presidency would be a disaster but claim it would galvanize a forceful progressive movement in response. </p><p>That’s unlikely. Rarely if ever in history has a sharp swing to the right moved the political pendulum further back in the opposite direction. Instead, it tends to move the “center” rightward, as did Ronald Reagan’s presidency. </p><p>Besides, Trump could do huge and unalterable damage to America and the world in the meantime. </p><p>Finally, some of you say even if Hillary is better than Trump, you’re tired of choosing the “lesser of two evils,” and you’re going to vote your conscience by either writing Bernie’s name in, or voting for the Green Party candidate, or not voting at all. </p><p>I can’t criticize anyone for voting their conscience, of course. But your conscience should know that a decision not to vote for Hillary, should she become the Democratic nominee, is a de facto decision to help Donald Trump. </p><p>Both of my morsels of advice may be hard to swallow. Many Hillary supporters don’t want Bernie to keep campaigning, and many Bernie supporters don’t want to root for Hillary if she gets the nomination. </p><p>But swallow it you must—not just for the good of the Democratic Party, but for the good of the nation.</p><p> </p> Fri, 27 May 2016 06:51:00 -0700 Robert Reich, Robert Reich&#039;s Blog 1057277 at http://www.alternet.org Election 2016 Election 2016 hillary clinton bernie sanders 2016 elections robert reich donald trump Robert Reich: Why It Would Be Politically Stupid to Dismiss Trump's Chances Against Hillary http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/robert-reich-why-it-would-be-politically-stupid-dismiss-trumps-chances-against-hillary <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Here&#039;s how we got to the point where Trump and Clinton are in a statistical tie in some polls.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/robert_reich_copy_0.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p><a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.washingtonpost.com%2Fpolitics%2Fpoll-election-2016-shapes-up-as-a-contest-of-negatives%2F2016%2F05%2F21%2F8d4ccfd6-1ed3-11e6-b6e0-c53b7ef63b45_story.html%3Fwpisrc%3Dal_alert-COMBO-national%252Bpolitics%252Blocalpolitics&amp;t=YjA4NTM3YjA1ZDVmOTRkYjU3OWFkYjc3ZGNmNWUzNDk3MzNkY2VlOCxnS1Y3a3lWbw%3D%3D">A new Washington Post/ABC News poll</a> 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.</p><p>A <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nbcnews.com%2Fmeet-the-press%2Fclinton-s-lead-over-trump-shrinks-3-points-new-nbc-n577726&amp;t=NGJlMTc4NzY2NWNhNjU1Y2QxMjE3YTk5OTU3MjAzMGY4ZTQ3ZWQzYSxnS1Y3a3lWbw%3D%3D">new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll</a>, also released Sunday, shows Clinton at 46 percent to Trump’s 43 percent. Previously she led 50 percent to 39 percent.</p><p>Polls this far before an election don’t tell us much. But in this case they do raise a serious question.</p><p>Since he clinched the Republican nomination two weeks ago, Trump has been the object of even more unfavorable press than he was before – about his treatment of women, his propensity to lie, his bizarre policy proposals.</p><p>Before this came months of news coverage of his bigotry, megalomania, narcissism, xenophobia, refusals to condemn violence at his rallies, refusals to distance himself from white supremacists, and more lies.</p><p>So how can Trump be pulling even with Hillary Clinton?</p><p>Throughout the Republican primaries, pundits and pollsters repeatedly told us he’d peaked, that his most recent outrageous statement was his downfall, that he was viewed as so unlikeable he didn’t stand a chance of getting the nomination.</p><p>But in my travels around the country I’ve found many who support him precisely because of the qualities he’s being criticized for having.</p><p>A Latina-American from Laredo, Texas, tells me she and most of her friends are for Trump because he wants to keep Mexicans out. She thinks too many Mexicans have come here illegally, making it harder for those here legally.</p><p>A union member from Pittsburgh says he’s for Trump because he’ll be tough on American companies shipping jobs abroad, tough with the Chinese, tough with Muslims.</p><p>A small businessman in Cincinnati tells me he’s for Trump because “Trump’s not a politician. He’ll give them hell in Washington.”</p><p>Political analysts have underestimated Trump from the jump because they’ve been looking through the rear-view mirror of politics as it used to be.</p><p>Trump’s rise suggests a new kind of politics. You might call it anti-politics.</p><p>The old politics pitted right against left, with presidential aspirants moving toward the center once they clinched the nomination.</p><p>Anti-politics pits Washington insiders, corporate executives, bankers, and media moguls against a growing number of people who think the game is rigged against them. There’s no center, only hostility and suspicion.</p><p>Americans who feel like they’re being screwed are attracted to an authoritarian bully – a strongman who will kick ass. The former reality TV star who repeatedly told contestants they were “fired!” appears tough and confrontational enough to take on powerful vested interests.</p><p>That most Americans don’t particularly like Trump is irrelevant. As one Midwesterner told me a few weeks ago, “He may be a jerk, but he’s our jerk.”</p><p>By the same token, in this era of anti-politics, any candidate who appears to be the political establishment is at a strong disadvantage. This may be Hillary Clinton’s biggest handicap.</p><p>The old politics featured carefully crafted speeches and policy proposals calculated to appeal to particular constituencies. In this sense, Mrs. Clinton’s proposals and speeches are almost flawless.  </p><p>But in the new era of anti-politics Americans are skeptical of well-crafted speeches and detailed policy proposals. They prefer authenticity. They want their candidates unscripted and unfiltered.</p><p>A mid-level executive in Salt Lake City told me he didn’t agree with Trump on everything but supported him because “the guy is the real thing. He says what he believes, and you know where he stands.”</p><p>In the old politics, political parties, labor unions and business groups, and the press mediated between individual candidates and the public –explaining a candidate’s positions, endorsing candidates, organizing and mobilizing voters.</p><p>In this era of anti-politics, it’s possible for anyone with enough ego, money, and audacity – in other words, Donald Trump – to do it all himself: declaring himself a candidate; communicating with and mobilizing voters directly through Twitter and other social media; and getting free advertising in mainstream media by being outrageous, politically incorrect, and snide. Official endorsements are irrelevant.</p><p>Donald Trump has perfected the art of anti-politics at a time when the public detests politics. Which is why so many experts in how politics used to be played have continuously underestimated his chances.</p><p>And why Trump’s demagoguery – channeling the prejudices and fears of Americans who have been losing ground – makes him the most dangerous nominee of a major political party in American history.</p><p> </p> Mon, 23 May 2016 05:52:00 -0700 Robert Reich, Robert Reich&#039;s Blog 1056983 at http://www.alternet.org Election 2016 Election 2016 robert reich donald trump Robert Reich: This Is the Kind of CEO America Needs More Of http://www.alternet.org/economy/robert-reich-kind-ceo-america-needs-more <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">What a yogurt company can teach us about making capitalism fairer. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/14329301152_ef3211f1f7_z.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>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.</p><p>Mayer is CEO of Yahoo. Yahoo’s stock lost about a <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.usatoday.com%2Fstory%2Fmoney%2Fmarkets%2F2016%2F04%2F29%2Fyahoos-marissa-mayer-gets-55m-leave%2F83722362%2F&amp;t=MWNjZmNiYTVlYmFkNzI1YTljMjMwYzE1M2NlMDQ2Y2EyNTQ0MTQ3MyxqVUtVc1pNUA%3D%3D">third</a> of its value last year, as the company went from making $7.5 billion in 2014 to losing $4.4 billion in 2015. Yet Mayer raked in <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.usatoday.com%2Fstory%2Fmoney%2Fmarkets%2F2016%2F04%2F29%2Fyahoos-marissa-mayer-gets-55m-leave%2F83722362%2F&amp;t=MWNjZmNiYTVlYmFkNzI1YTljMjMwYzE1M2NlMDQ2Y2EyNTQ0MTQ3MyxqVUtVc1pNUA%3D%3D">$36 million</a> in compensation.</p><p>Even if Yahoo’s board fires her, her contract stipulates she gets <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2016%2F04%2F30%2Fbusiness%2Fbig-severance-for-marissa-mayer-if-ousted-from-yahoo-after-a-sale.html%3F_r%3D0&amp;t=ZDQ2MGE5ZWJlOWZmMmI4ZTIwN2E1ZTY5Yzk4NzY1YTg4NjNjM2M3ZCxqVUtVc1pNUA%3D%3D">$54.9 million in severance.</a> The severance package was disclosed in a <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2016%2F04%2F30%2Fbusiness%2Fbig-severance-for-marissa-mayer-if-ousted-from-yahoo-after-a-sale.html%3F_r%3D0&amp;t=ZDQ2MGE5ZWJlOWZmMmI4ZTIwN2E1ZTY5Yzk4NzY1YTg4NjNjM2M3ZCxqVUtVc1pNUA%3D%3D">regulatory filing</a> last Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.</p><p>In other words, Mayer can’t lose. </p><p>It’s another example of no-lose socialism for the rich—winning big regardless of what you do.</p><p>Why do Yahoo’s shareholders put up with it? Mostly because they don’t know about it.</p><p>Most of their shares are held by big pension funds, mutual funds, and insurance funds whose managers <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwashpost.bloomberg.com%2FStory%3FdocId%3D1376-O2NOT66KLVRD01-0SGJ0S2CGT9Q7JPLEHBFTN5TGC&amp;t=ZWQ3YTVhMDk2MTU2ZjZhZWVjYTFmMDcyZDgxODk5MjQyOWExNDUwMyxqVUtVc1pNUA%3D%3D">don’t want to rock the boat</a> because they skim the cream regardless of what happens to Yahoo.</p><p>In other words, more no-lose socialism for the rich.</p><p>I don’t want to pick on Ms. Mayer or the managers of the funds that invest in Yahoo. They’re typical of the no-lose system in which America’s corporate and financial elite now operate.  </p><p>But the rest of America works in a different system.</p><p>Theirs is cutthroat hyper-capitalism—in which wages are shrinking, median household income continues to drop, workers are fired without warning, two-thirds are living paycheck to paycheck, and employees are being classified as “independent contractors” without any labor protections at all.</p><p>Why is there no-lose socialism for the rich and cutthroat hyper-capitalism for everyone else?</p><p>Because the rules of the game—including labor laws, pension laws, corporate laws, and tax laws—have been crafted by those at the top, and the lawyers and lobbyists who work for them.</p><p>Does that mean we have to await Bernie Sanders’ “political revolution” (or, perish the thought, Donald Trump’s authoritarian populism) before any of this is likely to change?</p><p>Before we go to the barricades, you should know about another CEO named Hamdi Ulukaya, who’s developing a third model—neither no-lose socialism for the rich nor hyper-capitalism for everyone else.</p><p>Ulukaya is the Turkish-born founder and CEO of Chobani, the upstart Greek yogurt maker recently valued at as much as $5 billion.</p><p>Last Tuesday Ulukaya <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.latimes.com%2Fbusiness%2Fla-fi-on-leadership-chobani-20160430-story.html&amp;t=OThiNTdjZjkxMjdmYTkwZmQ1NzNlZjUzY2UxM2I4ZjNlYzMwMTE2OCxqVUtVc1pNUA%3D%3D">announced</a> he’s giving all his 2,000 full-time workers shares of stock worth up to 10 percent of the privately held company’s value when it’s sold or goes public, based on each employee’s tenure and role at the company.</p><p>If the company ends up being valued at $3 billion, for example, the average employee payout could be $150,000. Some long-tenured employees will get more than $1 million.</p><p>Ulukaya’s announcement raised eyebrows all over corporate America. Many are viewing it an act of charity (Forbes Magazine <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.forbes.com%2Fsites%2Fmaryjosephs%2F2016%2F04%2F29%2Fwhat-does-chobanis-founder-get-for-giving-10-of-his-company-to-workers%2F%23496df5d031de&amp;t=ZWFiM2ZmOTRiN2M2NzQ4YjM4NTkxZjQ1ZmU2YjI4OTgwMjhlYzQ2OCxqVUtVc1pNUA%3D%3D">calls</a> it one of “the most selfless corporate acts of the year”).</p><p>In reality, Mr. Ulukaya’s decision is just good business. Employees who are partners become even more dedicated to increasing a company’s value.</p><p>Which is why research shows that employee-owned companies—even those with workers holding only a minority stake—tend to <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Frepository.upenn.edu%2Fcgi%2Fviewcontent.cgi%3Farticle%3D1001%26context%3Dod_working_papers&amp;t=NjAwODJjZDQ5YTFmOTM2MjVlMjZiNGJkOWM5NzM2OWFiNjA3YTYzOCxqVUtVc1pNUA%3D%3D">out-perform</a> the competition.</p><p>Mr. Ulukaya just increased the odds that Chobani will be valued at more than $5 billion when it’s sold or its shares of stock are available to the public. Which will make him, as well as his employees, far wealthier.</p><p>As Ulukaya wrote to his workers, the award isn’t a gift but “a mutual promise to work together with a shared purpose and responsibility.”</p><p>A handful of other companies are inching their way in a similar direction.</p><p>Apple decided last October it would award shares not just to executives or engineers but to <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.washingtonpost.com%2Fnews%2Fon-leadership%2Fwp%2F2015%2F10%2F15%2Fapple-opens-up-stock-awards-to-all-employees-even-hourly-retail-workers%2F&amp;t=ZWJlYTU1MmMyYzk0MTIzYjUzM2EzNDMxODcyNDc0ODZmMDRhNjhmNSxqVUtVc1pNUA%3D%3D">hourly paid workers as well</a>. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is giving a third of his Twitter stock (about 1 percent of the company) ”<a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wsj.com%2Farticles%2Ftwitter-ceo-to-give-one-third-of-stock-to-employee-equity-pool-1445562079&amp;t=YTBlZGNmODFiMDg3Y2M0MzE0ZTViYzY4Njk1Mjc0MTY1ZTZhMWQzZCxqVUtVc1pNUA%3D%3D">to our employee equity pool to reinvest directly in our people.”</a></p><p>Employee stock ownership plans, which have been around for years, are lately seeing a bit of a comeback.</p><p>But the vast majority of American companies are still locked in the old hyper-capitalist model that views workers as costs to be cut rather than as partners to share in success.</p><p>That’s largely because Wall Street still looks unfavorably on such collaboration (remember, Chobani is still privately held).</p><p>The Street remains obsessed with short-term stock performance, and its analysts don’t believe hourly workers have much to contribute to the bottom line.</p><p>But they’re prepared to lavish unprecedented rewards on CEOs who don’t deserve squat.</p><p>Let them compare Yahoo with Chobani in a few years, and see which model works best.</p><p>If I were a betting man, I’d put my money on Greek yogurt. </p><p>And I’d bet on a model of capitalism that’s neither no-lose socialism for the rich nor cruel hyper-capitalism for the rest, but share-the-gains capitalism for everyone. </p> Tue, 03 May 2016 09:41:00 -0700 Robert Reich, RobertReich.org 1055789 at http://www.alternet.org Economy Economy Labor chobani yahoo Marissa Mayer Hamdi Ulukaya economy labor ceos Robert Reich: The Racial Wealth Gap in America Is Worse Than You Might Think http://www.alternet.org/economy/robert-reich-racial-wealth-gap-america-worse-you-might-think <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Many Americans have almost no savings, so they have barely any wealth. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/robert_reich_copy.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><div><p>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.</p></div><div><p>But many Americans have almost no savings, so they have barely any wealth. Two-thirds live paycheck to paycheck.</p></div><div><p>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.</p></div><div><p>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%.</p></div><div><p>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.</p></div><div><p>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.</p></div><div><p>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.</p></div><div><p>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.</p></div><div><p>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.</p></div><div><p>These structural disadvantages have built up to the point where <i>the median net worth of white families is now more than 10 times greater than that of African-American or Latino families. </i></p></div><div><p>So what can we do to help all Americans accumulate wealth?</p></div><div><p><b>First</b>, reform the tax system so capital gains — increases in the value of assets — are taxed at the same rate as ordinary income.</p></div><div><p><b>Second</b>, limit how much mortgage interest the wealthy can deduct from their incomes.</p></div><div><p>Then use the tax savings from these changes to help lower-income people gain a foothold in building their own wealth.</p></div><div><p>For example:</p></div><div><p>1. <b>Provide every newborn child with a savings account</b>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.</p></div><div><p>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.</p></div><div><p>2. <b>Allow families receiving public benefits to save</b>. 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.</p></div><div><p>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 wealth.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/OD-_apYzFMQ" width="560"></iframe></p></div><p> </p> Mon, 02 May 2016 07:30:00 -0700 Robert Reich, RobertReich.org 1055672 at http://www.alternet.org Economy Economy america race wealth economy Robert Reich: Don't Bank on All of Bernie's Supporters Making an Easy Switch to Hillary http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/robert-reich-dont-bank-all-bernies-supporters-make-easy-switch-hillary <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The anti-establishment fury in the election of 2016 may prove greater than supposed.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2016-04-25_at_9.48.23_am.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>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?</p><p>If 2008 is any guide, the answer is unambiguously yes to both. About 90 percent of people who backed Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries that year ended up supporting Barack Obama in the general election. About the same percent of Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney backers came around to supporting John McCain.</p><p>But 2008 may not be a good guide to the 2016 election, whose most conspicuous feature is furious antipathy to the political establishment.</p><p>Outsiders and mavericks are often attractive to an American electorate chronically suspicious of political insiders, but the anti-establishment sentiments unleashed this election year of a different magnitude. The Trump and Sanders candidacies are both dramatic repudiations of politics as usual.</p><p>If Hillary Clinton is perceived to have won the Democratic primary because of insider “superdelegates” and contests closed to independents, it may confirm for hardcore Bernie supporters the systemic political corruption Sanders has been railing against.</p><p>Similarly, if the Republican Party ends up nominating someone other than Trump who hasn’t attracted nearly the votes than he has, it may be viewed as proof of Trump’s argument that the Republican Party is corrupt.  </p><p>Many Sanders supporters will gravitate to Hillary Clinton nonetheless out of repulsion toward the Republican candidate, especially if it’s Donald Trump. Likewise, if Trump loses his bid for the nomination, many of his supporters will vote Republican in any event, particularly if the Democratic nominee is Hillary Clinton.</p><p>But, unlike previous elections, a good number may simply decide to sit out the election because of their even greater repulsion toward politics as usual – and the conviction it’s rigged by the establishment for its own benefit.</p><p>That conviction wasn’t present in the 2008 election. It emerged later, starting in the 2008 financial crisis, when the government bailed out the biggest Wall Street banks while letting underwater homeowners drown. </p><p>Both the Tea Party movement and Occupy were angry responses – Tea Partiers apoplectic about government’s role, Occupiers furious with Wall Street – two sides of the same coin.  </p><p>Then came the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in “Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission,” releasing a torrent of big money into American politics. By the 2012 election cycle,<a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=%255Bhttps%3A%2F%2Fwww.aeaweb.org%2Farticles%3Fid%3D10.1257%2Fjep.27.3.103&amp;t=NjA2NzA1OTEzZDY5MmUzNjAzMWUwNzI0NWFiYWQ2MzIyZjQ1YWEwYyxXYzY5dkM2UQ%3D%3D">forty percent </a>of all campaign contributions came from the richest 0.01 percent of American households.</p><p>That was followed by a lopsided economic recovery, most of whose gains have gone to the top. Median family income is still below 2008, adjusted for inflation. And although the official rate of unemployment has fallen dramatically, a smaller percentage of working-age people now have jobs than before the recession.  </p><p>As a result of all this, many Americans have connected the dots in ways they didn’t in 2008.</p><p>They see “crony capitalism” (now a term of opprobrium on both left and the right) in special tax loopholes for the rich, government subsidies and loan guarantees for favored corporations, bankruptcy relief for the wealthy but not for distressed homeowners or student debtors, leniency toward corporations amassing market power but not for workers seeking to increase their bargaining power through unions, and trade deals protecting the intellectual property and assets of American corporations abroad but not the jobs or incomes of American workers.  </p><p>Last fall, when on book tour in the nation’s heartland, I kept finding people trying to make up their minds in the upcoming election between Sanders and Trump.</p><p>They saw one or the other as their champion: Sanders the “political revolutionary” who’d reclaim power from the privileged few; Trump, the authoritarian strongman who’d wrest power back from an establishment that’s usurped it.</p><p>The people I encountered told me the moneyed interests couldn’t buy off Sanders because he wouldn’t take their money, and they couldn’t buy off Trump because he didn’t need their money.</p><p>Now, six months later, the political establishment has fought back, and Sanders’s prospects for taking the Democratic nomination are dimming. Trump may well win the Republican mantle but not without a brawl.</p><p>As I said, I expect most Sanders backers will still support Hillary Clinton if she’s the nominee. And even if Trump doesn’t get the Republican nod, most of his backers will go with whoever the Republican candidate turns out to be.</p><p>But anyone who assumes a wholesale transfer of loyalty from Sanders’s supporters to Clinton, or from Trump’s to another Republican standard-bearer, may be in for a surprise.</p><p>The anti-establishment fury in the election of 2016 may prove greater than supposed.</p> Mon, 25 Apr 2016 06:41:00 -0700 Robert Reich, Robert Reich&#039;s Blog 1055214 at http://www.alternet.org Election 2016 Election 2016 establishment Robert Reich: Why Is One of Sanders' Most Important Proposals Being Ignored? http://www.alternet.org/economy/robert-reich-why-one-sanders-most-important-proposals-being-ignored <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Bernie&#039;s idea to tax financial speculation is right on the money, and not even radical. What gives?</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/robert_reich_8.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Why is there so little discussion about one of Bernie Sanders’s most important proposals – to tax financial speculation?</p><p>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 the talents of some of the nation’s best and brightest, and subjects financial market to unnecessary risk.</p><p>High-speed traders who employ advanced technologies in order to get information a millisecond before other traders get it don’t make financial markets more efficient. They make them more vulnerable to debacles like the “Flash Crash” of May 2010.</p><p>Wall Street Insiders who trade on confidential information unavailable to small investors don’t improve the productivity of financial markets. They just rig the game for themselves.  </p><p>Bankers who trade in ever more complex derivatives – making bets on bets – don’t add real value. They only make the system more vulnerable to big losses, as occurred in the financial crisis of 2008.    </p><p>All of which makes Bernie Sanders’s proposal for a speculation tax right on the mark.</p><p>He wants to tax stock trades at a rate of 0.5 percent (a trade of $1,000 would cost of $5), and bond trades at 0.1 percent.</p><p>The tax would reduce incentives for high-speed trading, insider deal-making, and short-term financial betting. (Hillary Clinton also favors a financial transactions tax but only on high-speed trading.)</p><p>Another big plus: Given the gargantuan size of the financial market and the huge volume of trading occurring within it every day, this tiny tax would generate lots of revenue.  </p><p>Even a 0.01 percent transaction tax (a basis point is one-hundredth of a percentage point, or 0.01 percent) would raise $185 billion over 10 years, according to the nonpartisan <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.taxpolicycenter.org%2FUploadedPDF%2F2000287-Financial-Transaction-Taxes-in-Theory-and-Practice.pdf&amp;t=Nzc4NGI2YzRlY2JkYWU5ZGEwZjQ5ZmIzZWZhYzhlMWVjNjVmNjVhOSxpbzM2VEVhZw%3D%3D">Tax Policy Center.</a></p><p>Sanders’s 0.5 percent tax could thereby finance public investments that enlarge the economic pie rather than merely rearrange its slices – like tuition-free public education.</p><p>After all, Americans pay sales taxes on all sorts of goods and services yet Wall Street traders pay no sales taxes on the stocks and bonds they buy.</p><p>Which helps explain why the financial industry generates about <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.gpo.gov%2Ffdsys%2Fpkg%2FERP-2012%2Fpdf%2FERP-2012-table91.pdf&amp;t=YWNmOWFkMTIwN2ZmNTQyNjIyMDNiNWRkZjQ0YjcwYTk4NjRlNTZmNyxpbzM2VEVhZw%3D%3D">30 percent of America’s corporate profits</a> but pays only about <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.imf.org%2Fexternal%2Fnp%2Fseminars%2Feng%2F2010%2Fparis%2Fpdf%2F090110.pdf&amp;t=YWRmZTMxMmY3OWY2YTQzOGJlOTc0MzRlNzZjZDZhM2Q4OGMxNTgzMyxpbzM2VEVhZw%3D%3D">18 percent of corporate taxes</a>.</p><p>Naysayers led by the financial industry’s lobbyists (the Financial Services Roundtable and Financial Markets Association) warn that even a small tax on financial transactions would drive trading overseas, since financial trades can easily be done anywhere.</p><p>Baloney. The U.K. has had a tax on stock trades for decades yet remains one of the world’s financial powerhouses. Incidentally, that tax raises about 3 billion pounds yearly (the equivalent of $30 billion in an economy the size of the U.S.), which is pure gravy for Britain’s budget.</p><p>At least 28 other countries also have such a tax, and the European Union is well on the way to implementing one.</p><p>Industry lobbyists also claim the costs of the tax will burden small investors such as retirees, business owners, and average savers.</p><p>Wrong again. The tax wouldn’t be a burden if it reduces the volume and frequency of trading – which is the whole point.</p><p>In fact, the tax is highly progressive. The Tax Policy Center<a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Ftaxfoundation.org%2Farticle%2Fdetails-and-analysis-senator-bernie-sanders-s-tax-plan&amp;t=Y2Y2NTBhMzI3OTFhZWE3MGQ5YWM5YWE3MmNiZmQ5NWQyNWNhMzhjNyxpbzM2VEVhZw%3D%3D">estimates</a> that 75 percent of it would be paid by the richest fifth of taxpayers, and 40 percent by the top 1 percent.</p><p>It’s hardly a radical idea.</p><p>Between 1914 and 1966, the United States itself taxed financial transactions. During the Great Depression, John Maynard Keynes urged wider use of such a tax to reduce excessive speculation by financial traders. After the Wall Street crash of October 1987, even the first President George Bush endorsed the idea.</p><p>Americans are fed up with Wall Street’s financial games. Excessive speculation contributed to the near meltdown of 2008 – which cost millions of people their jobs, savings, and homes.  </p><p>So why is it only Bernie Sanders who’s calling for a financial transactions tax? Why aren’t politicians of all stripes supporting it? And why isn’t it a major issue in the 2016 election?</p><p>Because a financial transactions tax directly threatens a major source of Wall Street’s revenue. And, if you hadn’t noticed, the Street uses a portion of its vast revenues to gain political clout.</p><p>So even though it’s an excellent idea championed by a major candidate, a financial transactions tax isn’t being discussed this election year because Wall Street won’t abide it.</p><p>Which maybe one of the best reasons for enacting it.</p><p> </p> Tue, 19 Apr 2016 07:05:00 -0700 Robert Reich, RobertReich.org 1054848 at http://www.alternet.org Economy Economy Election 2016 robert reich bernie sanders taxing financial speculation inequality economy wall street Robert Reich: Sanders Knows How to Break Up the Big Banks—That's Why He Scares the Establishment http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/robert-reich-sanders-knows-how-break-big-banks-thats-why-he-scares-establishment <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Of course Sanders knows how to bust up the big banks.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2016-04-11_at_10.05.36_am.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>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.</p><p>Of course Sanders knows how to bust up the big banks. He’s already introduced legislation to do just that. And even without new legislation a president has the power under the Dodd-Frank reform act to initiate such a breakup.</p><p>But Sanders threatens the Democratic establishment and Wall Street, not least because he’s intent on doing exactly what he says he’ll do: breaking up the biggest banks.</p><p>The biggest are far larger today than they were in 2008 when they were deemed “too big to fail.” Then, the five largest held around 30 percent of all U.S. banking assets. Today they have 44 percent.</p><p>According to a recent <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.fdic.gov%2Fabout%2Flearn%2Fboard%2Fhoenig%2Findex.html&amp;t=MTg2ZTQ2MWE2ZDVjMDBhYjA5ZWFiMzUxZWFiMDQ4YTU4YjM5ZGI4YixFY0RyWDVnTw%3D%3D">analysis by Thomas Hoenig</a>, vice chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the assets of just four giant banks – JPMorgan Chase, Citibank, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo – amount to 97 percent of our the nation’s entire gross domestic product in 2012.</p><p>Which means they’re now way too big to fail. The danger to the economy isn’t just their indebtedness. It’s their dominance over the entire financial and economic system.</p><p>Bernie Sanders isn’t the only one urging the big banks be broken up. Neel Kashkari, the new president of the Federal Reserve bank of Minneapolis – a Republican who used to be at Goldman Sachs – is also <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.twincities.com%2F2016%2F04%2F09%2Freal-world-economics-breaking-up-the-big-banks-is-on-the-table%2F&amp;t=YTQ5NjQ0NWYxYTA5ODQ2YTQ2NjcwZjNkMGZiODYwZjM1NDM5ZjRmYSxFY0RyWDVnTw%3D%3D">pushing</a> to break them up, as has the former head of the Dallas Federal Reserve, among others.</p><p>Recall that just eight years ago the biggest banks were up to their ears in fraudulent practices – lending money to mortgage originators to make risky home loans laced with false claims, buying back those loans and repackaging them for investors without revealing their risks, and then participating in a wave of fraudulent foreclosures.  </p><p>Dodd-Frank addressed these sorts of abuses in broad strokes but left the most important decisions to regulatory agencies.</p><p>Since then, platoons of Wall Street lobbyists, lawyers and litigators have been watering down and delaying those regulations.</p><p>For example, Dodd-Frank instructed the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to reduce certain risks, but the Street has sabotaged the process.</p><p>In its first major rule under Dodd-Frank, the CFTC considered 1,500 comments, largely generated by and from the Street. After several years the commission issued a proposed rule, including some of the loopholes and exceptions the Street sought.</p><p>Wall Street still wasn’t satisfied. So the CFTC agreed to delay enforcement of the rule, allowing the Street more time to voice its objections. Even this wasn’t enough for the big banks, whose lawyers then filed a lawsuit in the federal courts, <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.wilmerhale.com%2FuploadedFiles%2FShared_Content%2FEditorial%2FPublications%2FDocuments%2FBanking-Financial-Services-Swaps-Provisions-of-Dodd-Frank-Act-Cost-Benefit-Analysis-and-Judicial-Review.pdf&amp;t=ZTBhZTM3NmZlMDcwNjU1ZTQwOGNlOTZjYmRlODdmYmEyOTc5NzgwNCxFY0RyWDVnTw%3D%3D">arguing</a> that the commission’s cost-benefit analysis wasn’t adequate.</p><p>As of now, <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.davispolk.com%2FDodd-Frank-Rulemaking-Progress-Report%2F&amp;t=NDQ3Y2RlMGI4YjUyMTYzZDg2ZWFlZjI4NDIyZjAwY2M4MDFjYWEyZCxFY0RyWDVnTw%3D%3D">only 155 of the 398 regulations</a> required by Dodd-Frank have been finalized. And those final versions are shot through with loopholes big enough for Wall Street’s top brass to drive their Ferrari’s through.</p><p>The biggest banks still haven’t even come up with acceptable “living wills,” required under Dodd-Frank to show how they’d maintain important functions while going through bankruptcy.</p><p>Meanwhile they continue to gamble with depositor’s money. Many of their operations are global, making it even harder for U.S. regulators to rein them in—as evidenced by JPMorgan Chase’s $6.2 billion loss in its “London Whale” operation in 2012. Citigroup alone has over 2,000 foreign subsidiaries.</p><p>The bottom line: Regulation won’t end the Street’s abuses. The Street has too much firepower. And because it continues to be a major source of campaign funding, no set of regulations will be tough enough.  </p><p>So the biggest banks must be busted up.</p><p>When I debated former Rep. Barney Frank about this on television recently, he kept asking, rhetorically, what limit I’d put on their size.</p><p>A good rule of thumb might be to cap the assets of any bank at about 2 percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product – or roughly $330 billion. (To put this in perspective, by the end of 2015, Goldman Sachs’s assets exceeded $860 billion.)</p><p>That cap wouldn’t harm America’s financial competitiveness and it wouldn’t cause bank employees to lose their jobs (at worst, they’ll just become employees of a smaller bank).</p><p>But it would ensure the safety of the American economy. Extra bonus: It would also reduce the power of Wall Street over our democracy.</p><p><a href="http://www.addthis.com/bookmark.php?v=250"> </a></p> Mon, 11 Apr 2016 07:03:00 -0700 Robert Reich, RobertReich.org 1054333 at http://www.alternet.org Election 2016 Election 2016 sanders banks money cash america taxpayer Robert Reich: The Republicans Are Determined to Suppress the Vote http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/robert-reich-republicans-are-determined-suppress-vote <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">&quot;We need to move to the next stage of voting rights!&quot;</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/reich_king.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>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 southern states and districts to adhere to federal guidelines allowing citizens access to the polls.</p><p>But in 2013 the Supreme Court effectively gutted many of these protections. As a result, states are finding new ways to stop more and more people—especially African-Americans and other likely Democratic voters—from reaching the polls.</p><p>Several states are requiring government-issued photo IDs—like drivers licenses—to vote even though there’s no evidence of the voter fraud this is supposed to prevent. But there’s plenty of evidence that these ID measures depress voting, especially among communities of color, young voters, and lower-income Americans.</p><p>Alabama, after requiring photo IDs, has practically closed driver’s license offices in counties with large percentages of black voters. Wisconsin requires a government-issued photo ID but hasn’t provided any funding to explain to prospective voters how to secure those IDs.</p><p>Other states are reducing opportunities for early voting.</p><p>And several state legislatures—not just in the South—are gerrymandering districts to reduce the political power of people of color and Democrats, and thereby guarantee Republican control in Congress.</p><p>We need to move to the next stage of voting rights—a new Voting Rights Act—that renews the law that was effectively repealed by the conservative activists on the Supreme Court.</p><p>That new Voting Rights Act should also set minimum national standards—providing automatic voter registration when people get driver’s licenses, allowing at least 2 weeks of early voting, and taking districting away from the politicians and putting it under independent commissions. </p><p>Voting isn’t a privilege. It’s a right. And that right is too important to be left to partisan politics.  We must not allow anyone’s votes to be taken away.</p><p>Watch Reich:</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/S3r4mnnlYQQ" width="560"></iframe></p> Tue, 05 Apr 2016 06:44:00 -0700 Robert Reich, Robert Reich&#039;s Blog 1053959 at http://www.alternet.org Civil Liberties Civil Liberties Election 2016 robert reich voter suppression voting rights act Robert Reich Exposes the Real Reason Why Corporate Media Marginalizes Bernie http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/robert-reich-exposes-real-reason-why-corporate-media-marginalizes-bernie <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Sanders is gaining momentum in western states, plus there are 22 primaries up for grabs but the news continues to ignore it. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2015-08-28_at_10.26.19_am.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>“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<a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.washingtonpost.com%2Fblogs%2Fplum-line%2Fwp%2F2016%2F03%2F28%2Fsanderss-plan-to-win-nomination-by-flipping-super-delegates-is-a-long-shot%2F&amp;t=ZTE3ZjA0MTBjMTJjMmFlMGFiNGU3ZDcwZTg2YTE1YzliYTkxZTM0NCxlUjVIVlJMTA%3D%3D"> shows</a> how far behind Bernie remains in delegates.</p><p>Wait a minute. Last Tuesday, Sanders won 78 percent of the vote in Idaho and 79 percent in Utah. This past Saturday, he took 82 percent of the vote in Alaska, 73 percent in Washington, and 70 percent in Hawaii.</p><p>In fact, since March 15, Bernie has won six out of the seven Democratic primary contests with an average margin of victory of 40 points. Those victories have given him roughly a one hundred additional pledged delegates.  </p><p>As of now, Hillary Clinton has 54.9 percent of the pledged delegates to Bernie Sanders’s 45.1 percent.That’s still a sizable gap – but it doesn’t make Bernie an impossibility. </p><p>Moreover, there are 22 states to go with nearly 45 percent of pledged delegates still up for grabs – and Bernie has positive momentum in almost all of them.</p><p>Hillary Clinton’s lead in superdelegates will vanish if Bernie gains a majority of pledged delegates.</p><p>Bernie is outpacing Hillary Clinton in fundraising. In February, he raised $42 million (from 1.4 million contributions, averaging $30 each), compared to her $30 million. In January he raised $20 million to her $15 million.</p><p>By any measure, the enthusiasm for Bernie is huge and keeps growing. He’s packing stadiums, young people are flocking to volunteer, support is rising among the middle-aged and boomers.</p><p>In Idaho and Alaska he exceeded the record primary turnout in 2008, bringing thousands of new voters. He did the same thing in Colorado, Kansas, Maine, and Michigan as well.</p><p>Yet if you read the Washington Post or the New York Times, or watch CNN or even MSNBC, or listen to the major pollsters and pundits, you’d come to the same conclusion as my friend. Every success by Bernie is met with a story or column or talking head whose message is “but he can’t possibly win.”</p><p>Some Sanders supporters speak in dark tones about a media conspiracy against Bernie. That’s baloney. The mainstream media are incapable of conspiring with anyone or anything. They wouldn’t dare try. Their reputations are on the line. If the public stops trusting them, their brands are worth nothing.</p><p>The real reason the major media can’t see what’s happening is because the national media exist inside the bubble of establishment politics, centered in Washington, and the bubble of establishment power, centered in New York.</p><p>As such, the major national media are interested mainly in personalities and in the money behind the personalities. Political reporting is dominated by stories about the quirks and foibles of the candidates, and about the people and resources behind them.  </p><p>Within this frame of reference, it seems nonsensical that a 74-year-old Jew from Vermont, originally from Brooklyn, who calls himself a Democratic socialist, who’s not a Democratic insider and wasn’t even a member of the Democratic Party until recently, who has never been a fixture in the Washington or Manhattan circles of power and influence, and who has no major backers among the political or corporate or Wall Street elites of America, could possibly win the nomination.</p><p>But precisely because the major media are habituated to paying attention to personalities, they haven’t been attending to Bernie’s message–or to its resonance among Democratic and independent voters (as well as many Republicans). The major media don’t know how to report on movements. </p><p>In addition, because the major media depend on the wealthy and powerful for revenues, because their reporters and columnists rely on the establishment for news and access, because their top media personalities socialize with the rich and powerful and are themselves rich and powerful, and because their publishers and senior executives are themselves part of the establishment, the major media have come to see much of America through the eyes of the establishment.  </p><p>So it’s understandable, even if unjustifiable, that the major media haven’t noticed how determined Americans are to reverse the increasing concentration of wealth and political power that have been eroding our economy and democracy. And it’s understandable, even if unjustifiable, that they continue to marginalize Bernie Sanders.</p> Thu, 31 Mar 2016 07:46:00 -0700 Robert Reich, RobertReich.org 1053654 at http://www.alternet.org Election 2016 Election 2016 bernie sanders democratic primary democratic nomination hillary clinton delegate math election 2016 Robert Reich Sees the Future: Why America's Two-Party System May Collapse http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/robert-reich-sees-futurewhy-americas-two-party-system-may-collapse <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Third party victory is only one term away. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/5396386847_c08dd1e61a_z.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>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?</p><p>It started four years before, with the election of 2016.</p><p>As you remember, Donald Trump didn’t have enough delegates to become the Republican candidate, so the GOP convention that summer was “brokered”—which meant the Party establishment took control, and nominated the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan.</p><p>Trump tried to incite riots but his “I deserve to be president because I’m the best person in the world!” speech incited universal scorn instead, and he slunk off the national stage (his last words, shouted as he got into his stretch limousine, were “Fu*ck you, America!”)</p><p>On the Democratic side, despite a large surge of votes for Bernie Sanders in the final months of the primaries, Hillary Clinton’s stable of wealthy donors and super delegates put her over the top.</p><p>Both Republican and Democratic political establishments breathed palpable sighs of relief, and congratulated themselves on remaining in control of the nation’s politics.</p><p>They attributed Trump’s rise to his fanning of bigotry and xenophobia, and Sanders’ popularity to his fueling of left-wing extremism.</p><p>They conveniently ignored the deeper anger in both camps about the arbitrariness and unfairness of the economy, and about a political system rigged in favor of the rich and privileged.</p><p>And they shut their eyes to the anti-establishment fury that had welled up among independents, young people, poor and middle-class Democrats, and white working-class Republicans.</p><p>So they went back to doing what they had been doing before. Establishment Republicans reverted to their old blather about the virtues of the “free market,” and establishment Democrats returned to their perennial call for “incremental reform.”</p><p>And Wall Street, big corporations, and a handful of billionaires resumed pulling the strings of both parties to make sure regulatory agencies didn’t have enough staff to enforce rules and to pass the Trans Pacific Partnership.</p><p>They also arranged to reduce taxes on big corporations and simultaneously increase federal subsidies to them, expand tax loopholes for the wealthy, and cut Social Security and Medicare to pay for it all. (“Sadly, we have no choice,” said the new president, who had staffed the White House and Treasury with Wall Streeters and corporate lobbyists, and filled boards and commissions with corporate executives.)</p><p>Meanwhile, most Americans continued to lose ground.</p><p>Even before the recession of 2018, most families were earning less than they’d earned in 2000, adjusted for inflation. Businesses continued to shift most employees off their payrolls and into “on demand” contracts so workers had no idea what they’d be earning from week to week. And the ranks of the working poor continued to swell.</p><p>At the same time, CEO pay packages grew even larger, Wall Street bonus pools got fatter, and a record number of billionaires were becoming multibillionaires.</p><p>Then, of course, came the recession, along with bank losses requiring another round of bailouts. The Treasury Secretary, a former managing director of Morgan Stanley, expressed shock and outrage, explaining the nation had no choice and vowing to “get tough” on the banks once the crisis was over.</p><p>Politics abhors a vacuum. In 2019, the People’s Party filled it.</p><p>Its platform called for getting big money out of politics, ending “crony capitalism,” abolishing corporate welfare, stopping the revolving door between government and the private sector, and busting up the big Wall Street banks and corporate monopolies.</p><p>The People’s Party also pledged to revoke the Trans Pacific Partnership, hike taxes on the rich to pay for a wage subsidy (a vastly expanded Earned Income Tax Credit) for everyone earning below the median, and raise taxes on corporations that outsource jobs abroad or pay their executives more than 100 times the pay of typical Americans.</p><p>Americans rallied to the cause. Millions who called themselves conservatives and Tea Partiers joined with millions who called themselves liberals and progressives against a political establishment that had shown itself incapable of hearing what they had been demanding for years.</p><p>The rest, as they say, is history.</p> Tue, 22 Mar 2016 09:42:00 -0700 Robert Reich, RobertReich.org 1053052 at http://www.alternet.org Election 2016 Economy Election 2016 Labor Media The Right Wing third parties election 2016 bernie sanders peoples party 2020 election Robert Reich: Why Both Trump's and Cruz's Tax Plans Would Be Huge Windfalls for the Rich http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/robert-reich-why-both-trumps-and-cruzs-tax-plans-would-be-huge-windfalls-rich <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">5 things you need to know about these reverse Robin Hood proposals.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_372526966.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>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.</p><p>Trump and Cruz pretend to be opposed to the Republican establishment, but when it comes to taxes they’re seeking exactly what that Republican establishment wants. </p><p>Here are 5 things you need to know about their tax plans:</p><p>1.<strong> Trump’s proposed cut would reduce the top tax rate from 39.6 percent to 25 percent</strong> – creating a giant windfall for the wealthy (at a time when the wealthy have a larger portion of the nation’s wealth than any time since 1918). According to the Center for Tax Policy, the richest one tenth of one percent of taxpayers (those with incomes over $3.7 million) would get an average tax cut of more than $1.3 million each every year. Middle-income households would get an average tax cut of $2,700.  </p><p>2.<strong> The Cruz plan would abandon our century-old progressive income tax</strong> (whose rates increase as taxpayers’ incomes increase)  and instead tax the amount people spend in a year and exclude income from investments. This sort of system would burden lower-income workers who spend almost everything they earn and have few if any investments.</p><p>3. <strong>Cruz also proposes a 10 percent flat tax.</strong> A flat tax lowers tax rates on the rich and increases taxes for lower-income workers.</p><p>4. <strong>The Republican plans also repeal estate and gift taxes</strong>– now paid almost entirely by the very wealthy who make big gifts to their heirs and leave them big estates.</p><p>5. <strong>These plans would cut federal revenues by as much as $12 trillion over the decade</strong> – but neither Trump nor Cruz has said what they’ll do to fill this hole. They both want to increase the military. Which leaves them only two choices: Either explode the national debt, or cut Social Security, Medicare, and assistance to the poor. <br /><br />Bottom line: If either of these men is elected president, we could see the largest redistribution in American history from the poor and middle-class of America to the rich. This is class warfare with a vengeance. </p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/5KiXBqCS_wg" width="560"></iframe></p> Tue, 22 Mar 2016 09:24:00 -0700 Robert Reich, RobertReich.org 1053049 at http://www.alternet.org Election 2016 Economy Election 2016 The Right Wing election 2016 ted cruz donald trump tax plans robert reich Robert Reich on the Big Lie About Free Trade http://www.alternet.org/economy/robert-reich-big-lie-about-free-trade <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Trade deals benefit corporations, not consumers.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/5202461341_bea623f9d4_z.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>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.</p><p>The old-style trade agreements of the 1960s and 1970s increased worldwide demand for products made by American workers, and thereby helped push up American wages.</p><p>The new-style agreements increase worldwide demand for products made by American corporations all over the world, enhancing corporate and financial profits but keeping American wages down.</p><p>The fact is, recent trade deals are less about trade and more about global investment.</p><p>Big American corporations no longer make many products in the United States for export abroad. Most of what they sell abroad they make abroad.</p><p>The biggest things they “export” are ideas, designs, franchises, brands, engineering solutions, instructions, and software, coming from a relatively small group of managers, designers, and researchers in the U.S.</p><p>The Apple iPhone is assembled in China from components made in Japan, Singapore, and a half-dozen other locales. The only things coming from the U.S. are designs and instructions from a handful of engineers and managers in California.</p><p>Apple even stows most of its profits outside the U.S. so it doesn’t have to pay American taxes on them.</p><p>Recent “trade” deals have been wins for big corporations and Wall Street, along with their executives and major shareholders, because they get better direct access to foreign markets and billions of consumers.</p><p>They also get better protection for their intellectual property – patents, trademarks, and copyrights – and for their overseas factories, equipment, and financial assets.</p><p>That’s why big corporations and Wall Street are so enthusiastic about the Trans Pacific Partnership – the giant deal among countries responsible for 40 percent of the global economy.</p><p>That deal would give giant corporations even more patent protection overseas. And it would allow them to challenge any nation’s health, safety, and environmental laws that stand in the way of their profits – including our own.</p><p>But recent trade deals haven’t been wins for most Americans.</p><p>By making it easier for American corporations to make things abroad, the deals have reduced the bargaining power of American workers to get better wages here.</p><p>The Trans Pacific Trade Partnership’s investor protections will make it safer for firms to relocate abroad – the Cato Institute describes such protections as “lowering the risk premium” on offshoring – thereby further reducing corporate incentives to make and do things in the United States, using and upgrading the skills of Americans.</p><p>Proponents say giant deals like the TPP are good for the growth of the United States economy. But that argument begs the question of whose growth they’re talking about.</p><p>Almost all the growth goes to the richest 1 percent. The rest of us can buy some products cheaper than before, but most of those gains would are offset by wage losses.</p><p>In theory, the winners could fully compensate the losers and still come out ahead. But the winners don’t compensate the losers.</p><p>For example, it’s ironic that the Administration is teaming up with congressional Republicans to enact the TPP, when congressional Republicans have done just about everything they can to keep down the wages of most Americans.</p><p>They’ve refused to raise the minimum wage (whose inflation-adjusted value is now almost 25 percent lower than it was in 1968), expand unemployment benefits, invest in job training, enlarge the Earned Income Tax Credit, improve the nation’s infrastructure, or expand access to public higher education.</p><p>They’ve embraced budget austerity that has slowed job and wage growth. And they’ve continued to push “trickle-down” economics – keeping tax rates low for America’s richest, protecting their tax loopholes, and fighting off any attempt to raise taxes on wealthy inheritances to their level before 2000.</p><p>I’ve seen first-hand how effective Wall Street and big corporations are at wielding influence – using lobbyists, campaign donations, and subtle promises of future jobs to get the global deals they want.</p><p>Global deals like the Trans Pacific Partnership will boost the profits of Wall Street and big corporations, and make the richest 1 percent even richer. But they’ll contribute the to steady shrinkage of the American middle class.</p> Thu, 17 Mar 2016 09:04:00 -0700 Robert Reich, RobertReich.org 1052739 at http://www.alternet.org Economy Economy trans-pacific partnership trade international trade free trade economy Robert Reich: Donald Trump, 21st-Century American Fascist http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/robert-reich-donald-trump-21st-century-american-fascist <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Asking followers to raise their right hands at rallies is only the beginning. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/20547599028_e1992a1f40_z.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>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.</p><p>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 such as Benito Mussolini, Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Oswald Mosley, and Francisco Franco – are too evident to overlook.</p><p>It’s not just that Trump recently quoted Mussolini (he now calls that tweet inadvertent) or that he’s begun inviting followers at his rallies to raise their right hands in a manner chillingly similar to the Nazi “Heil” solute (he dismisses such comparison as “ridiculous.”)</p><p>The parallels go deeper.</p><p>As did the early twentieth-century fascists, Trump is focusing his campaign on the angers of white working people who have been losing economic ground for years, and who are easy prey for demagogues seeking to build their own power by scapegoating others.</p><p>Trump’s electoral gains have been largest in counties with lower than average incomes, and among those who report their personal finances have worsened. As the Washington Post’s Jeff Guo has <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.washingtonpost.com%2Fnews%2Fwonk%2Fwp%2F2016%2F03%2F04%2Fdeath-predicts-whether-people-vote-for-donald-trump%2F%3Fwpmm%3D1%26wpisrc%3Dnl_wonk&amp;t=ZGExYWZlYjkzMTI2YWMwNDc0M2Q0OTJiNTgxMWJjYTNiODdmZjkzOSxqOGZFbW1BRg%3D%3D">pointed out</a>, Trump performs best in places where middle-aged whites are dying the fastest.  </p><p>The economic stresses almost a century ago that culminated in the Great Depression were far worse than most of Trump’s followers have experienced, but they’ve suffered something that in some respects is more painful – failed expectations.</p><p>Many grew up during the 1950s and 1960s, during a postwar prosperity that lifted all boats. That prosperity gave their parents a better life. Trump’s followers naturally expected that they and their children would also experience economic gains. They have not.</p><p>Add fears and uncertainties about terrorists who may be living among us, or may want to sneak through our borders, and this vulnerability and powerlessness is magnified.</p><p>Trump’s incendiary verbal attacks on Mexican immigrants and Muslims – even his reluctance to distance himself from David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan – follow the older fascist script.  </p><p>That older generation of fascists didn’t bother with policy prescriptions or logical argument, either. They presented themselves as strongmen whose personal power would remedy all ills.</p><p>They created around themselves cults of personality in which they took on the trappings of strength, confidence, and invulnerability – all of which served as substitutes for rational argument or thought.  </p><p>Trump’s entire campaign similarly revolves around his assumed strength and confidence. He tells his followers not to worry; he’ll take care of them. “If you get laid off …, I still want your vote,” he told workers in Michigan last week. “I’ll get you a new job; don’t worry about it.”</p><p>The old fascists intimidated and threatened opponents. Trump is not above a similar strategy. To take one example, he recently tweeted that Chicago’s Ricketts family, now spending money to defeat him, “better be careful, they have a lot to hide.”</p><p>The old fascists incited violence. Trump has not done so explicitly but Trump supporters have attacked Muslims, the homeless, and African-Americans – and Trump has all but excused their behavior.</p><p>Weeks after Trump began his campaign by falsely <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.washingtonpost.com%2Fnews%2Ffact-checker%2Fwp%2F2015%2F07%2F08%2Fdonald-trumps-false-comments-connecting-mexican-immigrants-and-crime%2F&amp;t=ZmY2OWQ2ODRhOTIxMzNmNmE2ZTQ3NWYwYzI4ZjUxMTUwMDEwNDYyZCxCYlQ4eGw2eQ%3D%3D">alleging</a> that Mexican immigrants are “bringing crime. They’re rapists,” two brothers in Boston beat with a metal poll and urinated on a 58-year-old homeless Mexican national. They subsequently <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.washingtonpost.com%2Fnews%2Ffact-checker%2Fwp%2F2015%2F07%2F08%2Fdonald-trumps-false-comments-connecting-mexican-immigrants-and-crime%2F&amp;t=ZmY2OWQ2ODRhOTIxMzNmNmE2ZTQ3NWYwYzI4ZjUxMTUwMDEwNDYyZCxCYlQ4eGw2eQ%3D%3D">told</a> the police “Donald Trump was right, all these illegals need to be deported.”</p><p>Instead of condemning that brutality, Trump excused it by <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.washingtonpost.com%2Fnews%2Ffact-checker%2Fwp%2F2015%2F07%2F08%2Fdonald-trumps-false-comments-connecting-mexican-immigrants-and-crime%2F&amp;t=ZmY2OWQ2ODRhOTIxMzNmNmE2ZTQ3NWYwYzI4ZjUxMTUwMDEwNDYyZCxCYlQ4eGw2eQ%3D%3D">saying</a> “people who are following me are very passionate. They love this country and they want this country to be great again.”</p><p>After a handful of white supporters punched and attempted to choke a Black Lives Matter protester at one of his campaign rallies, Trump <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.vox.com%2F2015%2F11%2F22%2F9778330%2Ftrump-protester-rally-violent&amp;t=ZmI3Yjg3NTEzNTg2OGIyMTg0YmVjMWFjMTg3N2Y1OTA2ZDczNDNlNyxCYlQ4eGw2eQ%3D%3D">said</a>, “maybe he should have been roughed up.”</p><p>There are further parallels. Fascists glorified national power and greatness, fanning xenophobia and war. Trump’s entire foreign policy consists of asserting American power against other nations. Mexico “will” finance a wall. China “will” stop manipulating its currency.  </p><p>In pursuit of their nationalistic aims, the fascists disregarded international law. Trump is the same. He recently proposed using torture against terrorists, and punishing their families, both in clear violation of international law. </p><p>Finally, the fascists created their mass followings directly, without political parties or other intermediaries standing between them and their legions of supporters.  </p><p>Trump’s tweets and rallies similarly circumvent all filters. The Republican Party is irrelevant to his campaign, and he considers the media an enemy. (Reporters covering his rallies are kept behind a steel barrier.)</p><p>Viewing Donald Trump in light of the fascists of the first half of the twentieth century – who used economic stresses to scapegoat others, created cults of personality, intimidated opponents, incited violence, glorified their nations and disregarded international law, and connected directly with the masses – helps explain what Trump is doing and how he is succeeding.</p><p>It also suggests why Donald Trump presents such a profound danger to the future of America and the world.  </p> Wed, 09 Mar 2016 08:13:00 -0800 Robert Reich, RobertReich.org 1052202 at http://www.alternet.org Election 2016 Election 2016 The Right Wing donald trump election 2016 immigration fascism republican party Robert Reich: Why the Critics of Bernienomics Are Just Blowing Smoke http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/robert-reich-why-critics-bernienomics-are-just-blowing-smoke <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">How Sanders&#039;s plan for a single payer healthcare system (among other policies), will benefit our economy. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_342387872.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Not a day goes by, it seems, without the mainstream media bashing Berney Sanders’s economic plan – quoting certain economists as saying his numbers don’t add up. (The New York Times did it again just yesterday.) They’re wrong. You need to know the truth, and spread it. </p><p><strong>1. “Well, do the numbers add up?”</strong></p><p>Yes, if you assume a 3.8 percent rate of unemployment and a 5.3 percent rate of growth.</p><p><strong>2. “But aren’t these assumptions unrealistic?”</strong></p><p>They’re not out of the range of what’s possible. After all, we achieved close to 3.8 percent unemployment in the late 1990s, and we had a rate of 5.3 percent growth in the early 1980s.</p><p><strong>3. “What is it about Bernie’s economic plan that will generate this kind of economic performance?”</strong></p><p>His proposal for a single-payer healthcare system.</p><p>4. “But yesterday’s New York Times reported that two of your colleagues at Berkeley found an error in the calculations underlying these estimates. They claim Professor <strong>Gerald Friedman mistakenly assumes that a one-time boost in growth will continue onward. They say he confuses levels of output with rates of change.”</strong></p><p>My esteemed colleagues see only a temporary effect from moving to a single-payer plan. But that view isn’t shared by economists who find that a major policy change like this can permanently improve economic performance. After all, World War II got America out of the Great Depression – permanently.</p><p><strong>5. “So you think Bernie’s plan will generate a permanent improvement in the nation’s economic performance?”</strong></p><p>Yes. Given that healthcare expenditures constitute almost 18 percent of the U.S. economy – and that ours is the most expensive healthcare system in the world, based on private for-profit insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies that spend fortunes on advertising, marketing, administrative costs, high executive salaries, and payouts to shareholders – it’s not far-fetched to assume that adoption of a single-payer plan will permanently improve U.S. economic performance.</p><p> </p> Thu, 03 Mar 2016 08:17:00 -0800 Robert Reich, RobertReich.org 1051837 at http://www.alternet.org Election 2016 Economy Election 2016 bernie sanders bernie sanders economic plan economy labor election 2016 Robert Reich: Dear GOP Establishment, Brace for a Painful Reckoning With the Reality You Created http://www.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/robert-reich-dear-gop-establishment-brace-reckoning-reality-you-created <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Republican politicians in particular have descended into the muck of bigotry, hatefulness and lies.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_114868477-edited.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>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.</p><p>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 patents and copyrights and stronger market power allowing you to raise prices, weaker unions and bigger trade deals allowing you outsource abroad to reduce wages, easier bankruptcy for you but harder bankruptcy for homeowners and student debtors, and judges who will let you to engage in insider trading and who won’t prosecute you for white-collar crimes.  </p><p>All of which have made you enormously wealthy. Congratulations.</p><p>But I have some disturbing news for you. You’re paying a big price — and about to pay far more. </p><p>First, as you may have noticed, most of your companies aren’t growing nearly as fast as they did before the Great Recession. Your sales are sputtering, and your stock prices are fragile.  </p><p>That’s because you forgot that your workers are also consumers. As you’ve pushed wages downward, you’ve also squeezed your customers so tight they can hardly afford to buy what you have to sell.</p><p>Consumer spending comprises 70 percent of the American economy. But the typical family is earning less today than it did in 2000, in terms of real purchasing power.</p><p>Most of the economic gains have gone to you and others like you who spend only a small fraction of what they rake in. That spells trouble for the economy — and for you.</p><p>You’ve tried to lift your share prices artificially by borrowing money at low interest rates and using it to buy back your shares of stock. But this party trick works only so long. Besides, interest rates are starting to rise.</p><p>Second, you’ve instructed your Republican lackeys to reduce your and your corporation’s taxes so much over the last three decades — while expanding subsidies and bailouts going your way — that the government is running out of money.</p><p>That means many of the things you and your businesses rely on government to do — build and maintain highways, bridges, tunnels, and other physical infrastructure; produce high-quality basic research; and provide a continuous supply of well-educated young people — are no longer being done as well as they should. If present trends continue, all will worsen in years to come.</p><p>Finally, by squeezing wages and rigging the economic game in your favor, you have invited an unprecedented political backlash — against trade, immigration, globalization, and even against the establishment itself.</p><p>The pent-up angers and frustrations of millions of Americans who are working harder than ever yet getting nowhere, and who feel more economically insecure than ever, have finally erupted. American politics has become a cesspool of vitriol.</p><p>Republican politicians in particular have descended into the muck of bigotry, hatefulness, and lies. They’re splitting America by race, ethnicity, and religion. The moral authority America once had in the world as a beacon of democracy and common sense is in jeopardy. And that’s not good for you, or your businesses.</p><p>Nor is the uncertainty all this is generating. A politics based on resentment can lurch in any direction at almost any time. Yet you and your companies rely on political stability and predictability.</p><p>You follow me? You’ve hoisted yourself on your own petard. All that money you invested in Republican Party in order to reap short-term gains is now reaping a whirlwind.</p><p>You would have done far better with a smaller share of an economy growing more rapidly because it possessed a strong and growing middle class.</p><p>You’d have done far better with a political system less poisoned by your money — and therefore less volatile and polarized, more capable of responding to the needs of average people, less palpably rigged in your favor.</p><p>But you were selfish and greedy, and you thought only about your short-term gains.</p><p>You forgot the values of a former generation of Republican establishment that witnessed the devastations of the Great Depression and World War II, and who helped build the great post-war American middle class.</p><p>That generation did not act mainly out of generosity or social responsibility. They understood, correctly, that broad-based prosperity would be good for them and their businesses over the long term.</p><p>So what are you going to do now? Will you help clean up this mess — by taking your money out of politics, restoring our democracy, de-rigging the system, and helping overcome widening inequality of income, wealth, and political power?</p><p>Or are you still not convinced?</p><p> </p> Mon, 29 Feb 2016 08:16:00 -0800 Robert Reich, RobertReich.org 1051620 at http://www.alternet.org The Right Wing The Right Wing reich economy money gop republican Robert Reich: Are We Witnessing the Death of America's Political Establishment? http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/robert-reich-are-we-witnessing-death-americas-political-establishment <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The 2016 election is a sign of political rebellion to come. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2016-02-10_at_11.55.00_am.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Step back from the campaign fray for just a moment and consider the enormity of what’s already occurred.</p><p>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 caucus, routed her in the New Hampshire primary, and garnered over 47 percent of the caucus-goers in Nevada, of all places.</p><p>And a 69-year-old billionaire who has never held elective office or had anything to do with the Republican Party has taken a commanding lead in the Republican primaries.</p><p>Something very big has happened, and it’s not due to Bernie Sanders’ magnetism or Donald Trump’s likeability.</p><p>It’s a rebellion against the establishment.</p><p>The question is why the establishment has been so slow to see this. A year ago – which now seems like an eternity – it proclaimed Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush shoe-ins.</p><p>Both had all the advantages – deep bases of funders, well-established networks of political insiders, experienced political advisors, all the name recognition you could want.   </p><p>But even now that Bush is out and Hillary is still leading but vulnerable, the establishment still doesn’t see what’s occurred. They explain everything by pointing to weaknesses: Bush, they now say, “<a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.breitbart.com%2Fbig-government%2F2015%2F08%2F21%2Fjeb-bush-has-everything-except-voter-support%2F&amp;t=ZTJmMTQ0ZGQ4OGY1Nzc4MTQwNjM1Y2M5YWZlZGRhNzRjZGUwY2ZlNixJcnN3ak1DQQ%3D%3D">never connected</a>” and Hillary <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nbcnews.com%2Fpolitics%2F2016-election%2Fsix-things-we-learned-clinton-s-nevada-victory-n522851&amp;t=OTlmZmQyNmEwMWQ3ZjY2ZmY4NDMwYTQ4Y2VjNTJhYjA2YzIzNWVlYixJcnN3ak1DQQ%3D%3D">“has a trust problem</a>.”</p><p>A respected political insider recently told me most Americans are largely content. “The economy is in good shape,” he said. “Most Americans are better off than they’ve been in years. The problem has been the major candidates themselves.”  </p><p>I beg to differ.</p><p>Economic indicators may be up but they don’t reflect the economic insecurity most Americans still feel, nor the seeming arbitrariness and unfairness they experience.  </p><p>Nor do the major indicators show the linkages Americans see between wealth and power, crony capitalism, declining real wages, soaring CEO pay, and a billionaire class that’s turning our democracy into an oligarchy.</p><p>Median family income <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.advisorperspectives.com%2Fdshort%2Fupdates%2FMedian-Household-Income-Update&amp;t=NTBmYTkzYTgxMzRlMTQwZjhmOGUyOWM0ZjBhNzAwZmNiMmY2MzkzMSxJcnN3ak1DQQ%3D%3D">lower</a> now than it was sixteen years ago, adjusted for inflation.</p><p><a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2015%2F01%2F28%2Fupshot%2Fgains-from-economic-recovery-still-limited-to-top-one-percent.html%3F_r%3D0&amp;t=MmZkNWQ4YzU2NWMxZDhiM2YyMjQyYThiMjdjNDdmMjg2MThiZjJjNyxJcnN3ak1DQQ%3D%3D">Most </a>economic gains, meanwhile, have gone to top.</p><p>These gains have translated into political power to rig the system with bank bailouts, corporate subsidies, special tax loopholes, trade deals, and increasing market power – all of which have further pushed down wages pulled up profits.</p><p>Those at the very top of the top have rigged the system even more thoroughly. Since 1995, the average income tax rate for the 400 top-earning Americans has <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.whitehouse.gov%2Fsites%2Fdefault%2Ffiles%2FBuffett_Rule_Report_Final.pdf&amp;t=ZjMyNTBmNmE1ZjA0YTBiMjBiMTgwZTA5ZGJlNGRkNzVlYzNhN2VhMCxJcnN3ak1DQQ%3D%3D">plummeted </a>from 30 percent to 17 percent. </p><p>Wealth, power, and crony capitalism fit together. So far in the 2016 election, the richest 400 Americans have accounted for over a <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.forbes.com%2Fsites%2Fchloesorvino%2F2015%2F09%2F30%2Fthe-biggest-most-influential-political-donors-on-the-2015-forbes-400%2F%236afeae591898&amp;t=YmE5MTdjMzNiZGNkODUzYWJmNTdjYWQzZWYzZmI3MDc4ODRhM2E1OCxJcnN3ak1DQQ%3D%3D">third </a>of all campaign contributions.</p><p>Americans know a takeover has occurred and they blame the establishment for it.</p><p>There’s no official definition of the “establishment” but it presumably includes all of the people and institutions that have wielded significant power over the American political economy, and are therefore deemed complicit.</p><p>At its core are the major corporations, their top executives, and Washington lobbyists and trade associations; the biggest Wall Street banks, their top officers, traders, hedge-fund and private-equity managers, and their lackeys in Washington; the billionaires who invest directly in politics; and the political leaders of both parties, their political operatives, and fundraisers.</p><p>Arrayed around this core are the deniers and apologists – those who attribute what’s happened to “neutral market forces,” or say the system can’t be changed, or who urge that any reform be small and incremental.</p><p>Some Americans are rebelling against all this by supporting an authoritarian demagogue who wants to fortify America against foreigners as well as foreign-made goods. Others are rebelling by joining a so-called “political revolution.”</p><p>The establishment is having conniptions. They call Trump whacky and Sanders irresponsible. They charge that Trump’s isolationism and Bernie’s ambitious government programs will stymie economic growth.</p><p>The establishment doesn’t get that most Americans couldn’t care less about economic growth because for years they’ve got few of its benefits, while suffering most of its burdens in the forms of lost jobs and lower wages.</p><p>Most people are more concerned about economic security and a fair chance to make it.</p><p>The establishment doesn’t see what’s happening because it has cut itself off from the lives of most Americans. It also doesn’t wish to understand, because that would mean acknowledging its role in bringing all this on.</p><p>Yet regardless of the political fates of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, the rebellion against the establishment will continue.  </p><p>Eventually, those with significant economic and political power in America will have to either commit to fundamental reform, or relinquish their power.</p><p> </p> Tue, 23 Feb 2016 08:44:00 -0800 Robert Reich, RobertReich.org 1051229 at http://www.alternet.org News & Politics Election 2016 News & Politics robert reich bernie sanders election 2016 socialism Robert Reich: 4 Reasons Ted Cruz is Even More Dangerous than Donald Trump http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/robert-reich-4-reasons-ted-cruz-even-more-dangerous-donald-trump <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Both men would be disasters for America, but Ted Cruz would be the larger disaster.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_360992708.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p><strong>1. Cruz is more fanatical.</strong> Sure, Trump is a bully and bigot, but he doesn’t hew to any sharp ideological line. Cruz is a fierce ideologue: He denies the existence of man-made climate change, rejects same-sex marriage, wants to abolish the Internal Revenue Service, believes the 2nd amendment guarantees everyone a right to guns. He doesn’t believe in a constitutional divide between church and state, favors the death penalty, rejects immigration reform, demands the repeal of Obamacare, and takes a strict “originalist” view of the meaning of the Constitution.</p><div><p><strong>2. Cruz is a true believer.</strong> Trump has no firm principles except making money, getting attention, and gaining power. But Cruz has spent much of his life embracing radical right economic and political views. </p><p><strong>3. Cruz is more disciplined and strategic.</strong> Trump is all over the place, often winging it, saying whatever pops into his mind. Cruz hews to a clear script and a carefully crafted strategy. He plays the long game (as he’s shown in Iowa).</p><p><strong>4. Cruz is a loner who’s willing to destroy government institutions to get his way.</strong> Trump has spent his career using the federal government and making friends with big shots. Not Cruz. He has repeatedly led Republicans toward fiscal cliffs. In the Fall of 2013, his opposition to Obamacare led in a significant way to the shutdown of the federal government.</p><p>Both men would be disasters for America, but Ted Cruz would be the larger disaster.</p></div><p> </p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/6W5e7AwqksU" width="560"></iframe></p> Sun, 21 Feb 2016 17:14:00 -0800 Robert Reich, RobertReich.org 1051107 at http://www.alternet.org Election 2016 Election 2016 gop election Robert Reich: The Republican Party Has Cracked and Split into 6 Warring Tribes http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/robert-reich-republican-party-has-cracked-and-split-6-warring-tribes <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">How factions are remaking the GOP and giving more power to the far right. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/rubioryanboyarsky_590.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>I’m writing to you today to announce the death of the Republican Party. It is no longer a living, vital, animate organization. </p><p>It died in 2016. RIP.</p><p>It has been replaced by warring tribes:</p><p>Evangelicals opposed to abortion, gay marriage, and science.</p><p>Libertarians opposed to any government constraint on private behavior.</p><p>Market fundamentalists convinced the “free market” can do no wrong.</p><p>Corporate and Wall Street titans seeking bailouts, subsidies, special tax loopholes, and other forms of crony capitalism. </p><p>Billionaires craving even more of the nation’s wealth than they already own.</p><p>And white working-class Trumpoids who love Donald. and are becoming convinced the greatest threats to their wellbeing are Muslims, blacks, and Mexicans.</p><p>Each of these tribes has its own separate political organization, its own distinct sources of campaign funding, its own unique ideology – and its own candidate. </p><p>What’s left is a lifeless shell called the Republican Party. But the Grand Old Party inside the shell is no more.</p><p>I, for one, regret its passing. Our nation needs political parties to connect up different groups of Americans, sift through prospective candidates, deliberate over priorities, identify common principles, and forge a platform.</p><p>The Republican Party used to do these things. Sometimes it did them easily, as when it came together behind William McKinley and Teddy Roosevelt in 1900, Calvin Coolidge in 1924, and Ronald Reagan in 1980. </p><p>Sometimes it did them with difficulty, as when it strained to choose Abraham Lincoln in 1860, Barry Goldwater in 1964, and Mitt Romney in 2012. </p><p>But there was always enough of a Republican Party to do these important tasks – to span the divides, give force and expression to a set of core beliefs, and come up with a candidate around whom Party regulars could enthusiastically rally.  </p><p>No longer. And that’s a huge problem for the rest of us.</p><p>Without a Republican Party, nothing stands between us and a veritable Star Wars barroom of self-proclaimed wanna-be’s. </p><p>Without a Party, anyone runs who’s able to raise (or already possesses) the requisite money – even if he happens to be a pathological narcissist who has never before held public office, even if he’s a knave detested by all his Republican colleagues.  </p><p>Without a Republican Party, it’s just us and them. And one of them could even become the next President of the United States. </p> Tue, 16 Feb 2016 08:20:00 -0800 Robert Reich, Robert Reich&#039;s Blog 1050762 at http://www.alternet.org News & Politics News & Politics gop republicans religious right far right tea party gop moderates Robert Reich: The Big Fat Message Coming Out of New Hampshire http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/robert-reich-big-fat-message-coming-out-new-hampshire <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">New Hampshire results challenge the dominance of centrists. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_292784234.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>You will hear pundits analyze the New Hampshire primaries and conclude that the political “extremes” are now gaining in American politics – that the Democrats have moved to the left and the Republicans have moved to the right, and the “center” will not hold.</p><p>Baloney. The truth is that the putative “center” – where the Democratic Leadership Council and Bill Clinton’s “triangulation” of the 1990s found refuge, where George W. Bush and his corporate buddies and neoconservative advisers held sway, and where Barack Obama’s Treasury Department granted Wall Street banks huge bailouts but didn’t rescue desperate homeowners – did a job on the rest of America, and is now facing a reckoning.</p><p>The “extremes” are not gaining ground. The anti-establishment ground forces of the American people are gaining. Some are so fed up they’re following an authoritarian bigot. Others, more wisely, are signing up for a “political revolution” to take back America from the moneyed interests.</p><p>That’s the real choice ahead. </p><p>This was originally published on Robert Reich's <a href="http://robertreich.org/">blog</a>.</p> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 07:53:00 -0800 Robert Reich, AlterNet 1050430 at http://www.alternet.org News & Politics Election 2016 News & Politics robert reich bernie sanders election 2016 inequality 2016 New Hampshire primary Robert Reich: A Huge Slice of the Democratic Establishment Wants to Play It Safe at a Time When Millions Are Desperate http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/robert-reich-huge-slice-democratic-establishment-wants-play-it-safe-time-when-millions <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">&quot;Some establishment Democrats ... have grown comfortable with the way things are. They’d rather not rock the boat they’re safely in.&quot;</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2016-02-08_at_10.22.41_am.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Instead of “Yes we can,” many Democrats have adopted a new slogan this election year: “We shouldn’t even try.”</p><p>We shouldn’t try for single-payer system, they say. We’ll be lucky if we prevent Republicans from repealing Obamacare.</p><p>We shouldn’t try for a $15 an hour minimum wage. The best we can do is $12 an hour.</p><p>We shouldn’t try to restore the Glass-Steagall Act that used to separate investment and commercial banking, or bust up the biggest banks. We’ll be lucky to stop Republicans from repealing Dodd-Frank.</p><p>We shouldn’t try for free public higher education. As it is, Republicans are out to cut all federal education spending.</p><p>We shouldn’t try to tax carbon or speculative trades on Wall Street, or raise taxes on the wealthy. We’ll be fortunate to just maintain the taxes already in place.</p><p>Most of all, we shouldn’t even try to get big money out of politics. We’ll be lucky to round up enough wealthy people to back Democratic candidates.  </p><p>“We-shouldn’t-even-try” Democrats think it’s foolish to aim for fundamental change – pie-in-the-sky, impractical, silly, naïve, quixotic. Not in the cards. No way we can.</p><p>I understand their defeatism. After eight years of Republican intransigence and six years of congressional gridlock, many Democrats are desperate just to hold on to what we have.</p><p>And ever since the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” decision opened the political floodgates to big corporations, Wall Street, and right-wing billionaires, many Democrats have concluded that bold ideas are unachievable.</p><p>In addition, some establishment Democrats – Washington lobbyists, editorial writers, inside-the-beltway operatives, party leaders, and big contributors – have grown comfortable with the way things are. They’d rather not rock the boat they’re safely in.</p><p>I get it, but here’s the problem. There’s no way to reform the system without rocking the boat. There’s no way to get to where America should be without aiming high.</p><p>Progressive change has never happened without bold ideas championed by bold idealists.</p><p>Some thought it was quixotic to try for civil rights and voting rights. Some viewed it as naïve to think we could end the Vietnam War. Some said it was unrealistic to push for the Environmental Protection Act.</p><p>But time and again we’ve learned that important public goals can be achieved – if the public is mobilized behind them. And time and again such mobilization has depended on the energies and enthusiasm of young people combined with the determination and tenacity of the rest. </p><p>If we don’t aim high we have no chance of hitting the target, and no hope of mobilizing that enthusiasm and determination. </p><p>The situation we’re in now demands such mobilization. Wealth and income are more concentrated at the top than in over a century. And that wealth has translated into political power.</p><p>The result is an economy rigged in favor of those at the top – which further compounds wealth and power at the top, in a vicious cycle that will only get worse unless reversed.</p><p>Americans pay more for pharmaceuticals than the citizens of any other advanced nation, for example. We also pay more for Internet service. And far more for health care.</p><p>We pay high prices for airline tickets even though fuel costs have tumbled. And high prices for food even though crop prices have declined.</p><p>That’s because giant companies have accumulated vast market power. Yet the nation’s antitrust laws are barely enforced.  </p><p>Meanwhile, the biggest Wall Street banks have more of the nation’s banking assets than they did in 2008, when they were judged too big to fail.</p><p>Hedge-fund partners get tax loopholes, oil companies get tax subsidies, and big agriculture gets paid off.</p><p>Bankruptcy laws protect the fortunes of billionaires like Donald Trump but not the homes of underwater homeowners or the savings of graduates burdened with student loans.</p><p>A low minimum wage enhances the profits of big-box retailers like Walmart, but requires the rest of us provide its employees and their families with food stamps and Medicaid in order to avoid poverty – an indirect subsidy of Walmart. </p><p>Trade treaties protect the assets and intellectual property of big corporations but not the jobs and wages of ordinary workers.</p><p>At the same time, countervailing power is disappearing. Labor union membership has plummeted from a third of all private-sector workers in the 1950s to fewer than 7 percent today. Small banks have been absorbed into global financial behemoths. Small retailers don’t stand a chance against Walmart and Amazon.</p><p>And the pay of top corporate executives continues to skyrocket, even as most peoples’ real wages drop and their job security vanishes.</p><p>This system is not sustainable.</p><p>We must get big money out of our democracy, end crony capitalism, and make our economy and democracy work for the many, not just the few.</p><p>But change on this scale requires political mobilization.</p><p>It won’t be easy. It has never been easy. As before, it will require the energies and commitments of large numbers of Americans.</p><p>Which is why you shouldn’t listen to the “we-must-not-try” brigade. They’ve lost faith in the rest of us.</p><p>We must try.  We have no choice.</p><p> </p> Mon, 08 Feb 2016 07:01:00 -0800 Robert Reich, Robert Reich&#039;s Blog 1050313 at http://www.alternet.org Election 2016 Election 2016 reich Robert Reich: The Real Reason Hillary Won't Effect Change, but Bernie Could http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/robert-reich-real-reason-hillary-wont-effect-change-bernie-could <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">History shows us you need a movement, not a dealmaker-in-chief.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/reich_sanders_0.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>In 2008, when then-Senator Barack Obama promised progressive change if elected president, his primary opponent, then-senator Hillary Clinton, derided him.</p><p>“The skies will open, the light will come down, celestial choirs will be singing and everyone will know we should do the right thing and the world will be perfect,” she <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fpoliticalticker.blogs.cnn.com%2F2008%2F02%2F25%2Fclinton-gets-sarcastic-mocks-obama%2F&amp;t=Y2FiZDA2OWFhNTRkMTNlMDc3Y2Q0ZTVjMzFhNjFlY2JiM2RhODg3MixZb1NiWThGWA%3D%3D">said</a>, sarcastically, adding “I have no illusions about how hard this is going to be.</p><p>Fast-forward eight years. "I wish that we could elect a Democratic president who could wave a magic wand and say, ‘We shall do this, and we shall do that,’” Clinton <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2Fpolitics%2Ffirst-draft%2F2016%2F01%2F12%2Fhillary-clinton-bernie-sanders-magic-wand%2F%3F_r%3D0&amp;t=ZTU3YzQ0YjE5YWRmNDIzNDBiYWVkMjE2NTY5NjU4YjQ1ZWE5ZjQ5NyxZb1NiWThGWA%3D%3D">said recently</a> in response to Bernie Sanders’ proposals.  "That ain’t the real world we’re living in.“</p><p>So what’s possible in “the real world we’re living in?”</p><p>There are two dominant views about how presidents accomplish fundamental change.</p><p>The first might be called the “deal-maker-in-chief,” by which presidents threaten or buy off powerful opponents.</p><p>Barack Obama got the Affordable Care Act this way – gaining the support of the pharmaceutical industry, for example, by promising them far more business and guaranteeing that Medicare wouldn’t use its vast bargaining power to negotiate lower drug prices.</p><p>But such deals can be expensive to the public (the tab for the pharmaceutical exemption is about <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fcarleton.ca%2Fsppa%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2FMirror-Mirror-Medicare-Part-D-Released.pdf&amp;t=MWEwMjhmYzk2ZmZmMTE2ZmI4YTllYzY0ZTI3YTNmYmZlNDMxNmRmMSxZb1NiWThGWA%3D%3D">$16 billion </a>a year), and they don’t really change the allocation of power. They just allow powerful interests to cash in.</p><p>The costs of such deals in “the world we’re living in” are likely to be even higher now. Powerful interests are more powerful than ever thanks to the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision opening the floodgates to big money.</p><p>Which takes us to the second view about how presidents accomplish big things that powerful interests don’t want: by mobilizing the public to demand them and penalize politicians who don’t heed those demands.</p><p>Teddy Roosevelt got a progressive income tax, limits on corporate campaign contributions, regulation of foods and drugs, and the dissolution of giant trusts – not because he was a great dealmaker but because he added fuel to growing public demands for such changes.</p><p>It was at a point in American history similar to our own. Giant corporations and a handful of wealthy people dominated American democracy. The lackeys of the “robber barons” literally placed sacks of cash on the desks of pliant legislators.</p><p>The American public was angry and frustrated. Roosevelt channeled that anger and frustration into support of initiatives that altered the structure of power in America. He used the office of the president – his “bully pulpit,” as he called it – to galvanize political action.  </p><p>Could Hillary Clinton do the same? Could Bernie Sanders?</p><p>Clinton fashions her prospective presidency as a continuation of Obama’s. Surely Obama understood the importance of mobilizing the public against the moneyed interests. After all, he had once been a community organizer.</p><p>After the 2008 election he even turned his election campaign into a new organization called “Organizing for America” (now dubbed “Organizing for Action”), explicitly designed to harness his grassroots support.</p><p>So why did Obama end up relying more on deal-making than public mobilization? Because he thought he needed big money for his 2012 campaign.</p><p>Despite OFA’s public claims (in mailings, it promised to secure the “future of the progressive movement”), it morphed into a top-down campaign organization to raise big money.</p><p>In the interim, Citizens United had freed “independent” groups like OFA to raise almost unlimited funds, but retained limits on the size of contributions to formal political parties.</p><p>That’s the heart of problem. No candidate or president can mobilize the public against the dominance of the moneyed interests while being dependent on their money. And no candidate or president can hope to break the connection between wealth and power without mobilizing the public.</p><p>(A personal note: A few years ago OFA wanted to screen around America the movie Jake Kornbluth and I did about widening inequality, called “Inequality for All” – but only on condition we delete two minutes identifying big Democratic donors.  We refused. They wouldn’t show it.)</p><p>In short, “the real world we’re living in” right now won’t allow fundamental change of the sort we need. It takes a movement.</p><p>Such a movement is at the heart of the Sanders campaign. The passion that’s fueling it isn’t really about Bernie Sanders. Had Elizabeth Warren run, the same passion would be there for her.</p><p>It’s about standing up to the moneyed interests and restoring our democracy.</p><p> </p> Tue, 02 Feb 2016 06:26:00 -0800 Robert Reich, Robert Reich&#039;s Blog 1050005 at http://www.alternet.org News & Politics Economy Election 2016 News & Politics robert reich bernie sanders hillary clinton Robert Reich: Why the 2016 Election Is a Political Volcano in Full Eruption http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/robert-reich-why-2016-election-political-volcano-full-eruption <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">This election is about ending the choke hold of big money on our political system. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_328825133.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Not a day passes that I don’t get a call from the media asking me to compare Bernie Sanders’s and Hillary Clinton’s tax plans, or bank plans, or health-care plans.</p><p>I don’t mind. I’ve been teaching public policy for much of the last thirty-five years. I’m a policy wonk.</p><p>But detailed policy proposals are as relevant to the election of 2016 as is that gaseous planet beyond Pluto. They don’t have a chance of making it, as things are now.</p><p>The other day Bill Clinton attacked Bernie Sanders’s proposal for a single-payer health plan as unfeasible and a “<a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bostonherald.com%2Fnews%2Fus_politics%2F2016%2F01%2Fbill_takes_aim_at_practicality_of_bernie_s_health_care_plan&amp;t=ZWU4MzE5OWQ4OWFiYjFiNGRhNDljZjA3Y2Y3NDg2NDA4ODZmY2IwNixwRHJXUHRHSw%3D%3D">recipe for gridlock</a>.”</p><p>Yet these days, nothing of any significance is feasible and every bold idea is a recipe for gridlock.</p><p>This election is about changing the parameters of what’s feasible and ending the choke hold of big money on our political system.</p><p>I’ve known Hillary Clinton since she was 19 years old, and have nothing but respect for her. In my view, she’s the most qualified candidate for president of the political system we now have.</p><p>But Bernie Sanders is the most qualified candidate to create the political system we should have, because he’s leading a political movement for change.</p><p>The upcoming election isn’t about detailed policy proposals. It’s about power – whether those who have it will keep it, or whether average Americans will get some as well.</p><p>A <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=https%3A%2F%2Fscholar.princeton.edu%2Fsites%2Fdefault%2Ffiles%2Fmgilens%2Ffiles%2Fgilens_and_page_2014_-testing_theories_of_american_politics.doc.pdf&amp;t=OTYwNzYxOGFiZDNmMzA5YTVhNTQ4ZjNhMTdhMTQzMjQ5NDQwMzViMixwRHJXUHRHSw%3D%3D">study</a> published in the fall of 2014 by Princeton professor Martin Gilens and Northwestern’s Benjamin Page reveals the scale of the challenge.</p><p>Gilens and Page analyzed 1,799 policy issues in detail, determining the relative influence on them of economic elites, business groups, mass-based interest groups, and average citizens.</p><p>Their <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=https%3A%2F%2Fscholar.princeton.edu%2Fsites%2Fdefault%2Ffiles%2Fmgilens%2Ffiles%2Fgilens_and_page_2014_-testing_theories_of_american_politics.doc.pdf&amp;t=OTYwNzYxOGFiZDNmMzA5YTVhNTQ4ZjNhMTdhMTQzMjQ5NDQwMzViMixwRHJXUHRHSw%3D%3D">conclusion</a>: “The preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically nonsignificant impact upon public policy.”</p><p>Instead, lawmakers respond to the moneyed interests – those with the most lobbying prowess and deepest pockets to bankroll campaigns.</p><p>It’s sobering that Gilens and Page’s data come from the period 1981 to 2002, before the Supreme Court opened the floodgates to big money in its “<em>Citizens United</em>” and <em>“McCutcheon</em>” decisions. Their study also predated the advent of super PACs and “dark money,” and even the Wall Street bailout.</p><p>If average Americans had a “near-zero” impact on public policy then, their impact is now zero.</p><p>Which explains a paradox I found a few months ago when I was on book tour in the nation’s heartland: I kept bumping into people who told me they were trying to make up their minds in the upcoming election between Sanders and Trump.</p><p>At first I was dumbfounded. The two are at opposite ends of the political divide.  <br />But as I talked with these people, I kept hearing the same refrains. They wanted to end “crony capitalism.” They detested “corporate welfare,” such as the Wall Street bailout.</p><p>They wanted to prevent the big banks from extorting us ever again. Close tax loopholes for hedge-fund partners. Stop the drug companies and health insurers from ripping off American consumers. End trade treaties that sell out American workers. Get big money out of politics.</p><p>Somewhere in all this I came to see the volcanic core of what’s fueling this election.</p><p>If you’re one of the tens of millions of Americans who are working harder than ever but getting nowhere, and who understand that the political-economic system is rigged against you and in favor of the rich and powerful, what are you going to do?</p><p>Either you’re going to be attracted to an authoritarian son-of-a-bitch who promises to make America great again by keeping out people different from you and creating “great” jobs in America, who sounds like he won’t let anything or anybody stand in his way, and who’s so rich he can’t be bought off.</p><p>Or you’ll go for a political activist who tells it like it is, who has lived by his convictions for fifty years, who won’t take a dime of money from big corporations or Wall Street or the very rich, and who is leading a grass-roots “political revolution” to regain control over our democracy and economy.</p><p>In other words, either a dictator who promises to bring power back to the people, or a movement leader who asks us to join together to bring power back to the people.</p><p>You don’t care about the details of proposed policies and programs.</p><p>You just want a system that works for you.</p><p> </p> Tue, 26 Jan 2016 08:48:00 -0800 Robert Reich, Robert Reich&#039;s Blog 1049591 at http://www.alternet.org News & Politics Election 2016 News & Politics robert reich election 2016 5 Reasons Ted Cruz Is Even More Dangerous Than Donald Trump http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/5-reasons-ted-cruz-even-more-dangerous-donald-trump <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Both men would be disasters for America, but Cruz would be the bigger disaster.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2016-01-23_at_4.57.50_pm.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Five reasons Ted Cruz is even more dangerous than Donald Trump:</p><p>1. He’s more fanatical. Trump is a bully and bigot but doesn’t hew to any sharp ideological line. Cruz is a fierce ideologue: He denies the existence of man-made climate change, rejects same-sex marriage, wants to abolish the Internal Revenue Service, believes the 2nd amendment guarantees everyone a right to guns, doesn’t believe in a constitutional divide between church and state, favors the death penalty, opposes international agreements, embraces a confrontational foreign policy, rejects immigration reform, demands the repeal of “every blessed word of Obamacare,” and takes a strict “originalist” view of the meaning of the Constitution. </p><p>2. Cruz is a true believer. Trump has no firm principles except making money, getting attention, and gaining power. But Cruz really does detest the federal government, and has spent much of his life embracing radical right economic and political views. When Cruz said “we are facing what I consider to be the epic battle of our generation,” he wasn’t referring to jihadist terrorism but to Obamacare. </p><p>3. He’s Smarter. Trump is no slouch but he hasn’t given any indication of a sharp mind. Cruz is razor-sharp: It’s not just his degrees from Princeton and Harvard Law, along with an impressive record at Harvard, or even his winning arguments before the Supreme Court. For his entire adult life he's been a fierce debater with a intensely-logical debater’s mind. </p><p>4. He’s more disciplined and strategic. Trump is all over the place, often winging it, saying whatever pops into his mind. Cruz hews to a clear script and a carefully crafted strategy. He plays the long game (as he’s shown in Iowa). Cruz’s legal career entailed a sustained use of the courts to achieve conservative ends, and he plots his moves carefully. </p><p>5. Cruz is a loner who’s willing to destroy institutions. Trump has spent his career using the federal government and making friends with big shots. Not Cruz. Most of his Republican colleagues in the Senate detest him. And Cruz is eager to destroy: He has repeatedly crossed to the other side of the Capitol and led House Republicans toward fiscal cliffs. In the Fall of 2013, Cruz’s strident opposition to Obamacare – including a 21-hour talking marathon -- led in a significant way to the shutdown of the federal government.</p><p>Both men would be disasters for America, but Cruz would be the bigger disaster. </p><p>What do you think?</p> Sun, 24 Jan 2016 13:54:00 -0800 Robert Reich, RobertReich.org 1049461 at http://www.alternet.org Election 2016 Election 2016 cruz reich Robert Reich: Why the White Working Class Abandoned the Democratic Party http://www.alternet.org/economy/robert-reich-why-white-working-class-abandoned-democratic-party <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">A key turning point in American politics.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2016-01-20_at_3.36.03_pm.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Why did the white working class abandon the Democrats?</p><p>The conventional answer is Republicans skillfully played the race card.</p><p>In the wake of the Civil Rights Act, segregationists like Alabama Governor George C. Wallace led southern whites out of the Democratic Party.</p><p>Later, Republicans charged Democrats with coddling black “welfare queens,“ being soft on black crime (“Willie Horton”), and trying to give jobs to less-qualified blacks over more-qualified whites (the battle over affirmative action).</p><p>The bigotry now spewing forth from Donald Trump and several of his Republican rivals is an extension of this old race card, now applied to Mexicans and Muslims – with much the same effect on the white working class voters, who don’t trust Democrats to be as “tough.”  </p><p>All true, but this isn't the whole story. Democrats also abandoned the white working class.</p><p>Democrats have occupied the White House for sixteen of the last twenty-four years, and in that time scored some important victories for working families – the Affordable Care Act, an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Family and Medical Leave Act, for example.</p><p>But they’ve done nothing to change the vicious cycle of wealth and power that has rigged the economy for the benefit of those at the top, and undermined the working class. In some respects, Democrats have been complicit in it. </p><p>Both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama ardently pushed for free trade agreements, for example, without providing the millions of blue-collar workers who thereby lost their jobs any means of getting new ones that paid at least as well.</p><p>They also stood by as corporations hammered trade unions, the backbone of the white working class. Clinton and Obama failed to reform labor laws to impose meaningful penalties on companies that violated them, or enable workers to form unions with a simple up-or-down votes.</p><p>I was there. In 1992, Bill Clinton promised such reform but once elected didn’t want to spend political capital on it. In 2008, Barack Obama made the same promise (remember the Employee Free Choice Act?) but never acted on it.</p><p>Partly as a result, union membership sank from <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bls.gov%2Fnews.release%2Funion2.nr0.htm&amp;t=MzkwZTMyZjNkNGViZDAyNWZhNDk0YWIwZTZlMTQxOWQ3MDBkMzIxZixFdTBacFMxcA%3D%3D">22 percent</a> of all workers when Bill Clinton was elected president to fewer than <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bls.gov%2Fnews.release%2Funion2.nr0.htm&amp;t=MzkwZTMyZjNkNGViZDAyNWZhNDk0YWIwZTZlMTQxOWQ3MDBkMzIxZixFdTBacFMxcA%3D%3D">12 percent</a> today, and the working class lost bargaining leverage to get a share of the economy’s gains.</p><p>In addition, the Obama administration protected Wall Street from the consequences of the Street’s gambling addiction through a giant taxpayer-funded bailout, but let millions of underwater homeowners drown.</p><p>Both Clinton and Obama also allowed antitrust enforcement to ossify – with the result that large corporations have grown far<a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.whitehouse.gov%2F...%2F20151016_firm_level_persp...&amp;t=Njc1MTBlNWFhNGQzNjZhZjYwOTRhNzllNzhlZTE3YzMyYmZhMjkwMixFdTBacFMxcA%3D%3D">larger</a>, and major industries more concentrated.</p><p>Finally, they turned their backs on <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.washingtonpost.com%2Fpolitics%2Fobamas-campaign-finance-reform-plans-have-faded%2F2013%2F04%2F29%2F8342977e-ae7d-11e2-a986-eec837b1888b_story.html&amp;t=MzBmODkyZTQ4NGI4ZWIzOWUzZjU0Y2NkM2QxYmJhN2Q1NWVkNGIwNixFdTBacFMxcA%3D%3D">campaign finance reform</a>. In 2008, Obama was the first presidential nominee since Richard Nixon to reject public financing in his primary and general-election campaigns. And he never followed up on his reelection campaign promise to pursue a constitutional amendment overturning “Citizens United v. FEC,” the 2010 Supreme Court opinion opening the floodgates to big money in politics. </p><p>What happens when you combine freer trade, shrinking unions, Wall Street bailouts, growing corporate market power, and the abandonment of campaign finance reform?</p><p>You shift political and economic power to the wealthy, and you shaft the working class.  </p><p>Why haven’t Democrats sought to reverse this power shift? True, they faced increasingly hostile Republican congresses. But they controlled both houses of Congress in the first two years of both Clinton’s and Obama’s administrations.</p><p>In part, it’s because Democrats bought the snake oil of the “suburban swing voter” – so-called “soccer moms” in the 1990s and affluent politically-independent professionals in the 2000s – who supposedly determine electoral outcomes.</p><p>Meanwhile, as early as the 1980s they began drinking from the same campaign funding trough as the Republicans – big corporations, Wall Street, and the very wealthy.</p><p>“Business has to deal with us whether they like it or not, because we’re the majority,” <a href="http://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.theatlantic.com%2Fpast%2Fpolitics%2Fpolibig%2Feastbusi.htm&amp;t=OWUzZTc0YTIwOGQ2ZDAzNThmYmExOTg2NjdmYTA0NTljNDk4MTA5MyxFdTBacFMxcA%3D%3D">crowed</a> Democratic representative Tony Coelho, head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in the 1980s when Democrats assumed they’d continue to run the House for years. </p><p>Coelho’s Democrats soon achieved a rough parity with Republicans in contributions from corporate and Wall Street campaign coffers, but the deal proved a Faustian bargain as Democrats become financially dependent on big corporations and the Street.</p><p>Nothing in politics is ever final. Democrats could still win back the white working class – putting together a huge coalition of the working class and poor, of whites, blacks, and Latinos, of everyone who has been shafted by the shift in wealth and power to the top.</p><p>This would give Democrats the political clout to restructure the economy – rather than merely enact palliatives that papered over the increasing concentration of wealth and power in America.  </p><p>But to do this Democrats would have to stop obsessing over upper-income suburban swing voters, and end their financial dependence on big corporations, Wall Street, and the wealthy.</p><p>Will they? That’s one of the biggest political unknowns in 2016 and beyond. </p> Thu, 21 Jan 2016 00:00:00 -0800 Robert Reich, Robert Reich&#039;s Blog 1049262 at http://www.alternet.org Economy Economy white working class Robert Reich: Six Responses to Bernie Skeptics http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/robert-reich-six-responses-bernie-skeptics <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The backlash is based on lies.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_292784234.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p><strong>1. “He’d never beat Trump or Cruz in a general election.”</strong></p><p>Wrong. According to the latest polls, Bernie is the strongest Democratic candidate in the general election, defeating both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz in hypothetical matchups. (The latest <a href="http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2016/president/2016_presidential_race.html">Real Clear Politics averages</a> of all polls shows Bernie beating Trump by a larger margin than Hillary beats Trump, and Bernie beating Cruz while Hillary loses to Cruz.)</p><p><strong>2. “He couldn’t get any of his ideas implemented because Congress would reject them.”</strong></p><p>If both house of Congress remain in Republican hands, no Democrat will be able to get much legislation through Congress, and will have to rely instead on executive orders and regulations. But there’s a higher likelihood of kicking Republicans out if Bernie’s “political revolution” continues to surge around America, bringing with it millions of young people and other voters, and keeping them politically engaged.</p><p><strong>3. “America would never elect a socialist.”</strong></p><p>P-l-e-a-s-e. America’s most successful and beloved government programs are social insurance – Social Security and Medicare. A highway is a shared social expenditure, as is the military and public parks and schools. The problem is we now have excessive socialism for the rich (bailouts of Wall Street, subsidies for Big Ag and Big Pharma, monopolization by cable companies and giant health insurers, giant tax-deductible CEO pay packages) – all of which Bernie wants to end or prevent.</p><p><strong>4. “His single-payer healthcare proposal would cost so much it would require raising taxes on the middle class.”</strong></p><p>This is a duplicitous argument. <a href="http://www.pnhp.org/facts/single-payer-system-cost">Studies</a> show that a single-payer system would be far cheaper than our current system, which relies on private for-profit health insurers, because a single-payer system wouldn’t spend huge sums on advertising, marketing, executive pay, and billing. So even if the Sanders single-payer plan did require some higher taxes, Americans would come out way ahead because they’d save far more than that on health insurance.</p><p><strong>5. “His plan for paying for college with a tax on Wall Street trades would mean colleges would run by government rules.”</strong></p><p>Baloney. Three-quarters of college students today already attend public universities financed largely by state governments, and they’re not run by government rules. The real problem is too many young people still can’t afford a college education. The move toward free public higher education that began in the 1950s with the G.I. Bill and extended into the 1960s came to an abrupt stop in the 1980s. We must restart it.</p><p><strong>6. “He’s too old.”</strong></p><p>Untrue. He’s in great health. Have you seen how agile and forceful he is as he campaigns around the country? These days, 70s are the new 60s. (He’s younger than four of the nine Supreme Court justices.) In any event, the issue isn’t age; it’s having the right values. FDR was paralyzed, and JFK had both Addison’s and Crohn’s diseases, but they were great presidents because they fought adamantly for social and economic justice.</p> Sun, 17 Jan 2016 07:08:00 -0800 Robert Reich, Robert Reich&#039;s Blog 1049071 at http://www.alternet.org Election 2016 Election 2016 sanders clinton Robert Reich: Why Sanders' Plan to Bust Up the Big Banks Is So Much Better than Clinton's http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/robert-reich-why-sanders-plan-bust-big-banks-so-much-better-clintons <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">&quot;The Big Short&quot; gets it essentially right.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/robert_reich_7.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>If you haven’t yet seen “The Big Short” – directed and co-written by Adam McKay, based on the non-fiction prize-winning book by Michael Lewis about the housing and credit bubble that triggered the Great Recession — I recommend you do so.</p><p>Not only is the movie an enjoyable (if that’s the right word) way to understand how the big banks screwed millions of Americans out of their homes, savings, and jobs – and then got bailed out by taxpayers. It’s also a lesson in why they’re on the way to doing all this again – and how their political power continues to erode laws designed to prevent another crisis and to shield their executives from any accountability.</p><p>Most importantly, the movie shows why Bernie Sanders’s plan to break up the biggest banks and reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act (separating investment from commercial banking) is necessary – and why Hillary Clinton’s more modest plan is inadequate. </p><p>I’ll get back to Bernie and Hillary in a moment, but first you need to know why Wall Street wants us to forget what really happened.</p><p>The movie gets the story essentially right: Traders on the Street pushed highly-risky mortgage loans, bundled them together into investments that hid the risks, got the major credit-rating agencies to give the bundles Triple-A ratings, and then sold them to unwary investors. It was a fraudulent Ponzi scheme that had to end badly – and it did.</p><p>Yet since then, Wall Street and its hired guns (including most current Republican candidates for president) have tried to rewrite this history.</p><p>They want us to believe the banks and investment houses were innocent victims of misguided government policies that gave mortgages to poor people who shouldn’t have got them.</p><p>That’s pure baloney. The boom in subprime mortgages was concentrated in the private market, not in government. Wall Street itself created the risky mortgage market. It sliced and diced junk mortgages into bundles that hid how bad they were. And it invented the derivatives and CDOs that financed them</p><p>The fact is, more than<a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2011/11/22/5086/"> 84 percent </a>of the subprime mortgages in 2006 were issued by private institutions, and nearly <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2011/11/22/5086/">83 percent</a>of the subprime loans that went to low- and moderate-income borrowers that year.</p><p>Why has Wall Street been pushing its lie, blaming the government for what happened? And why has the Street (along with its right-wing apologists, and its outlets such as Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal) so viciously attacked the movie “The Big Short?”</p><p>So we won’t demand tougher laws to prevent another crisis  followed by another “too-big-to-fail” bailout.</p><p>Which brings us back to Bernie and Hillary. Hillary Clinton doesn’t want to break up the big banks or resurrect the Glass-Steagall Act, as Bernie does</p><p>Instead, she’d charge the big banks a bit more for carrying lots of debt and to oversee them more <a href="https://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/wall-street/">carefully</a>. She’d also give bank regulators more power to break up any particular bank that they<a href="https://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/wall-street/">consider</a> too risky. And she wants more oversight of so-called “<a href="https://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/wall-street/">shadow banks</a>” such as hedge funds and insurance companies like the infamous AIG.</p><p>In a world where the giant Wall Street banks didn’t have huge political power, these measures might be enough. But, if you hadn’t noticed, Wall Street wields extraordinary power.</p><p>Which helps explain why no Wall Street executive has been indicted for the fraudulent behavior that led up to the 2008 crash. Or for the criminal price-fixing scheme settled last May. And why even the fines imposed on the banks have been only a fraction of the banks’ gains.</p><p>And also why Dodd-Frank is being watered down into vapidity. For example, the law requires major banks to prepare “living wills” describing how they’d unwind their operations if they get into serious trouble. But no big bank has come up with one that passes muster. Federal investigators have found them all “<a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/regulators-say-megabanks-living-wills-are-unrealistic-2014-8">unrealistic</a>.”</p><p>Most of Hillary’s proposals could already have been put into effect by the Fed and the Securities and Exchange Commission, but they haven’t been – presumably because of the Street’s muscle.</p><p>As a practical matter, then, her proposals are invitations to more dilution and finagle.</p><p>The only way to contain the Street’s excesses is by taking on its economic and political power directly – with reforms so big, bold, and public they can’t be watered down. Starting with busting up the biggest banks, as Bernie Sanders proposes.</p><p>More than a century ago, Teddy Roosevelt broke up the Standard Oil Trust because it posed a danger to the U.S. economy. Today, Wall Street’s biggest banks pose an even greater danger. They’re far larger than they were before the crash of 2008.</p><p>Unless they’re broken up and Glass-Steagall resurrected, we face substantial risk of another near-meltdown – once again threatening the incomes, jobs, savings, and homes of millions of Americans.</p><p>To paraphrase philosopher George Santayana, those who cannot remember they were screwed by Wall Street are condemned to be screwed again. </p> <p> </p> Tue, 12 Jan 2016 06:52:00 -0800 Robert Reich, Robert Reich&#039;s Blog 1048806 at http://www.alternet.org News & Politics Economy Election 2016 News & Politics robert reich bernie sanders Robert Reich on Ending the Vicious Cycle of Wealth and Power http://www.alternet.org/economy/robert-reich-ending-vicious-cycle-wealth-and-power <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">America has succumbed to a vicious cycle in which great wealth translates into political power.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/robert_reich_1.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>What’s at stake this election year? Let me put as directly as I can.</p><p>America has succumbed to a vicious cycle in which great wealth translates into political power, which generates even more wealth, and even more power.</p><p>This spiral is most apparent is declining tax rates on corporations and on top personal incomes (much in the form of wider tax loopholes), along with a profusion of government bailouts and subsidies (to Wall Street bankers, hedge-fund partners, oil companies, casino tycoons, and giant agribusiness owners, among others).</p><p>The vicious cycle of wealth and power is less apparent, but even more significant, in economic rules that now favor the wealthy.</p><p>Billionaires like Donald Trump can use bankruptcy to escape debts but average people can’t get relief from burdensome mortgage or student debt payments.</p><p>Giant corporations can amass market power without facing antitrust lawsuits (think Internet cable companies, Monsanto, Big Pharma, consolidations of health insurers and of health care corporations, Dow and DuPont, and the growing dominance of Amazon, Apple, and Google, for example). </p><p>But average workers have lost the market power that came from joining together in unions.</p><p>It’s now easier for Wall Street insiders to profit from confidential information unavailable to small investors.</p><p>It’s also easier for giant firms to extend the length of patents and copyrights, thereby pushing up prices on everything from pharmaceuticals to Walt Disney merchandise. </p><p>And easier for big corporations to wangle trade treaties that protect their foreign assets but not the jobs or incomes of American workers. </p><p>It’s easier for giant military contractors to secure huge appropriations for unnecessary weapons, and to keep the war machine going.</p><p>The result of this vicious cycle is a disenfranchisement of most Americans, and a giant upward distribution of income from the middle class and poor to the wealthy and powerful.</p><p>Another consequence is growing anger and frustration felt by people who are working harder than ever but getting nowhere, accompanied by deepening cynicism about our democracy.</p><p>The way to end this vicious cycle is to reduce the huge accumulations of wealth that fuel it, and get big money out of politics. </p><p>But it’s chicken-and-egg problem. How can this be accomplished when wealth and power are compounding at the top? </p><p>Only through a political movement such as America had a century ago when progressives reclaimed our economy and democracy from the robber barons of the first Gilded Age.</p><p>That was when Wisconsin’s “fighting Bob” La Follette instituted the nation’s first minimum wage law; presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan attacked the big railroads, giant banks, and insurance companies; and President Teddy Roosevelt busted up the giant trusts.</p><p>When suffragettes like Susan B. Anthony secured women the right to vote, reformers like Jane Addams got laws protecting children and the public’s health, and organizers like Mary Harris “Mother” Jones spearheaded labor unions.</p><p>America enacted a progressive income tax, limited corporate campaign contributions, ensured the safety and purity of food and drugs, and even invented the public high school.</p><p>The progressive era welled up in the last decade of the nineteenth century because millions of Americans saw that wealth and power at the top were undermining American democracy and stacking the economic deck. Millions of Americans overcame their cynicism and began to mobilize.</p><p>We may have reached that tipping point again.</p><p>Both the Occupy Movement and the Tea Party grew out of revulsion at the Wall Street bailout. Consider, more recently, the fight for a higher minimum wage (“Fight for 15”). </p><p>Bernie Sander’s presidential campaign is part of this mobilization. (Donald Trump bastardized version draws on the same anger and frustration but has descended into bigotry and xenophobia.)</p><p>Surely 2016 is a critical year. But, as the reformers of the Progressive Era understood more than a century ago, no single president or any other politician can accomplish what’s needed because a system caught in the spiral of wealth and power cannot be reformed from within. It can be changed only by a mass movement of citizens pushing from the outside.</p><p>So regardless of who wins the presidency in November and which party dominates the next Congress, it is up to the rest of us to continue to organize and mobilize. Real reform will require many years of hard work from millions of us.</p><p>As we learned in the last progressive era, this is the only way the vicious cycle of wealth and power can be reversed.</p> Sun, 03 Jan 2016 11:35:00 -0800 Robert Reich, RobertReich.org 1048324 at http://www.alternet.org Economy Economy reich economy Robert Reich: Why Pharma Bro Martin Shkreli's Corruption Is All Too Common http://www.alternet.org/economy/robert-reich-why-pharma-bro-martin-shkrelis-corruption-all-too-common <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The pharmaceutical industry is making a fortune off average Americans.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/martin_shkreli2-620x412.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Martin Shkreli, the former hedge-fund manager turned pharmaceutical CEO who was arrested last week, has been described as a sociopath and worse.</p><p>In reality, he’s a brasher and larger version of what others in finance and corporate suites do all the time.</p><p>Federal prosecutors are charging him with conning wealthy investors.</p><p>Lying to investors is illegal, of course, but it’s perfectly normal to use hype to lure rich investors into hedge funds. And the line between the two isn’t always distinct.  </p><p>Hedge funds are lightly regulated on the assumption that investors are sophisticated and can take care of themselves.</p><p><a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/martin-shkreli-says-drug-price-hikes-led-to-arrest-1450671884">Perhaps</a> prosecutors went after Shkreli because they couldn’t nail him for his escapades as a pharmaceutical executive, which were completely legal – although vile.</p><p>Shkreli took over a company with the rights to a 62-year-old drug used to treat <a href="http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/toxoplasmosis/overview.html?inline=nyt-classifier">toxoplasmosis</a>, a devastating parasitic infection that can cause brain damage in babies and people with <a href="http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/aids/overview.html?inline=nyt-classifier">AIDS</a>. He then promptly <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/21/business/a-huge-overnight-increase-in-a-drugs-price-raises-protests.html?_r=0">raised its price</a> from $13.50 to $750 a pill.</p><p>When the media and politicians went after him, Shkreli was defiant, <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/business/wp/2015/12/17/pharma-bro-martin-shkreli-arrested-for-securities-fraud/">saying</a> “our shareholders expect us to make as much as money as possible.” He said he wished he had raised the price even higher.</p><p>That was too much even for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, Big Pharma’s trade group, which complained indignantly that Shkreli’s company was just an investment vehicle “<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/20/opinion/sunday/no-justification-for-high-drug-prices.html">masquerading</a>” as a pharmaceutical company.</p><p>Maybe Big Pharma doesn’t want to admit most pharmaceutical companies have become investment vehicles. If they didn’t deliver for their investors they’d be taken over by “activist” investors and private-equity partners who would.</p><p>The hypocrisy is stunning. Just three years ago, Forbes Magazine <a href="http://business.financialpost.com/news/fp-street/how-martin-shkreli-the-teen-wolf-of-wall-street-thrived">praised</a>Shkreli as one of its “30 under 30 in Finance” who was “battling billionaires and entrenched drug industry executives.”</p><p>Last month, Shkreli got control of a company with rights to a cheap drug used for decades to treat <a href="http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/chagas-disease/overview.html?inline=nyt-classifier">Chagas’ disease</a> in Latin America. His aim was to get the drug approved in the United States and charge tens of thousands of dollars for a course of treatment.</p><p>Investors who backed Shkreli in this venture did well. The company’s share price initially shot up from under $2 to more than $40.</p><p>While other pharmaceutical companies don’t raise their drug prices fiftyfold in one fell swoop, as did Shkreli, they would if they thought it would lead to fat profits.</p><p>Most have been increasing their prices more than <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/18/business/martin-shkreli-arrest-gives-drug-makers-cover.html">10 percent</a> a year – still far faster than inflation – on drugs used on common diseases like cancer, high cholesterol, and diabetes.</p><p>This has imposed a far bigger burden on health spending than Shkreli’s escapades, making it much harder for Americans to pay for drugs they need. Even if they’re insured, most people are paying out big sums in co-payments and deductibles.</p><p>Not to mention the impact on private insurers, Medicare, state Medicaid, prisons and the Veterans Health Administration.</p><p>And the prices of new drugs are sky-high. Pfizer’s new one to treat advanced breast cancer costs $9,850 a month.</p><p>According to an <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-art-of-setting-a-drug-price-1449628081">analysis</a> by the Wall Street Journal, that price isn’t based on manufacturing or research costs.</p><p>Instead, Pfizer set the price as high as possible without pushing doctors and insurers toward alternative drugs.</p><p>But don’t all profit-maximizing firms set prices as high as they can without pushing customers toward alternatives?</p><p>Unlike most other countries, the United States doesn’t control drug prices. It leaves pricing up to the market.</p><p>Which enables drug companies to charge as much as the market will bear.</p><p>So what, exactly, did Martin Shkreli do wrong, by the standards of today’s capitalism?</p><p>He played the same game many others are playing on Wall Street and in corporate suites. He was just more audacious about it.</p><p>It’s easy to go after bad guys, much harder to go after bad systems.</p><p>Hedge fund managers, for example, make big gains from trading on insider information. That robs small investors who aren’t privy to the information.</p><p>But it’s not illegal unless a trader knows the leaker was compensated – a looser standard than in any other advanced country.</p><p>Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical industry is making a fortune off average Americans, who are paying more for the drugs they need than the citizens of any other advanced country.</p><p>That’s largely because Big Pharma has wielded its political influence to avoid cost controls, to ban Medicare from using its bargaining clout to negotiate lower prices, and to allow drug companies to pay the makers of generic drugs to delay their cheaper versions.</p><p>Shkreli may be a rotten apple. But hedge funds and the pharmaceutical industry are two rotten systems that are costing Americans a bundle.</p><p> </p> Tue, 22 Dec 2015 08:42:00 -0800 Robert Reich, Robert Reich&#039;s Blog 1047787 at http://www.alternet.org Economy Economy News & Politics Martin Shkreli big pharma pharmaceutical industry Robert Reich: How to Deal With Your Right-Wing Uncle Bob This Christmas http://www.alternet.org/economy/robert-reich-how-deal-your-right-wing-uncle-bob-christmas <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Here&#039;s a helpful holiday guide.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2015-12-18_at_1.57.55_pm.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>In preparation for the holidays, here’s a survival guide for dealing with your right-wing relatives.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ByhKM8NBK2E" width="560"></iframe></p> Sat, 19 Dec 2015 00:00:00 -0800 Robert Reich, RobertReich.org 1047618 at http://www.alternet.org Economy Culture Economy Video christmas arguments rightwing Robert Reich: Why the Middle Class Is in Revolt and Susceptible to a Dangerous 'Strongman' http://www.alternet.org/economy/robert-reich-why-middle-class-revolt-and-susceptible-dangerous-strongman <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">&quot;It was only a matter of time before the anxious class would revolt.&quot; </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/robert_reich_6.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>The great American middle class has become an anxious class – and it’s in revolt. </p><p>Before I explain how that revolt is playing out, you need to understand the sources of the anxiety.</p><p>Start with the fact that the middle class is shrinking, according to a new <a href="http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2015/12/09/the-american-middle-class-is-losing-ground/">Pew survey</a>.</p><p>The odds of falling into poverty are frighteningly high, especially for the <a href="http://hechingerreport.org/proportion-of-americans-with-college-degrees-continues-to-eke-up/">majority </a>without college degrees. </p><p>Two-thirds of Americans are living <a href="http://www.marketwatch.com/story/most-americans-are-one-paycheck-away-from-the-street-2015-01-07">paycheck to paycheck</a>. Most could lose their jobs at any time.</p><p>Many are part of a burgeoning “on-demand” workforce – employed as needed, paid whatever they can get whenever they can get it.</p><p>Yet if they don’t keep up with rent or mortgage payments, or can’t pay for groceries or utilities, they’ll lose their footing.</p><p>The stress is taking a toll. For the first time in history, the lifespans of middle-class whites are dropping.</p><p>According to <a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/112/49/15078.full.pdf">research</a> by the recent Nobel-prize winning economist, Angus Deaton, and his co-researcher Anne Case, middle-aged white men and women in the United States have been dying earlier.</p><p>They’re poisoning themselves with drugs and alcohol, or committing suicide.</p><p>The odds of being gunned down in America by a jihadist are far smaller than the odds of such self-inflicted deaths, but the recent tragedy in San Bernardino only heightens an overwhelming sense of arbitrariness and fragility.</p><p>The anxious class feels vulnerable to forces over which they have no control. Terrible things happen for no reason.</p><p>Yet government can’t be counted on to protect them.</p><p>Safety nets are full of holes. Most people who lose their jobs <a href="http://www.newsmax.com/Finance/Unemployed-Jobless-Claims-Economy-Labor-Market/2014/11/22/id/609019">don’t even qualify </a>for unemployment insurance.</p><p>Government won’t protect their jobs from being outsourced to Asia or being taken by a worker here illegally. </p><p>Government can’t even protect them from evil people with guns or bombs. Which is why the anxious class is arming itself, buying guns at a <a href="http://freebeacon.com/issues/gun-sales-set-another-monthly-record/">record rate</a>. </p><p>They view government as not so much incompetent as not giving a damn. It’s working for the big guys and fat cats – the crony capitalists who bankroll candidates and get special favors in return.</p><p>When I visited so-called “red” states this fall, I kept hearing angry complaints that government is run by Wall Street bankers who get bailed out after wreaking havoc on the economy, corporate titans who get cheap labor, and billionaires who get tax loopholes.</p><p>Last year two highly-respected political scientists, Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page, took a <a href="https://scholar.princeton.edu/sites/default/files/mgilens/files/gilens_and_page_2014_-testing_theories_of_american_politics.doc.pdf">close look</a> at 1,799 policy decisions Congress made over the course of over twenty years, and who influenced those decisions. </p><p>Their conclusion: “The preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”</p><p>It was only a matter of time before the anxious class would revolt.</p><p>They’d support a strongman who’d promise to protect them from all the chaos.</p><p>Who’d save jobs from being shipped abroad, slam Wall Street, stick it to China, get rid of people here illegally, and block terrorists from getting into America.</p><p>A strongman who’d make America great again – which really means make average working people safe again.</p><p>It was a pipe dream, of course – a conjurer’s trick. No single person can do this. The world is far too complex. You can’t build a wall along the Mexican border. You can’t keep out all Muslims. You can’t stop corporations from outsourcing abroad.</p><p>Nor should you even try.</p><p>Besides, we live in a messy democracy, not a dictatorship.</p><p>Still, they think maybe he’s smart enough and tough enough to pull it off. He’s rich. He tells it like it is.</p><p>He makes every issue a test of personal strength. He calls himself strong and his adversaries weak.</p><p>So what if he’s crude and rude? Maybe that’s what it takes to protect average people in this cruelly precarious world.</p><p>For years I’ve heard the rumbles of the anxious class. I’ve listened to their growing anger – in union halls and bars, in coal mines and beauty parlors, on the Main Streets and byways of the washed-out backwaters of America.</p><p>I’ve heard their complaints and cynicism, their conspiracy theories and their outrage.</p><p>Most are good people, not bigots or racists. They work hard and they have a strong sense of fairness.</p><p>But their world has been slowly coming apart. And they’re scared and fed up.</p><p>Now someone comes along who’s even more of a bully than those who for years have bullied them economically, politically, and even violently.</p><p>The attraction is understandable, even though misguided.</p><p>If not Donald Trump, then it will be someone else posing as a strongman. If not this election cycle, it will be the next one.</p><p>The revolt of the anxious class has just begun. </p><p> </p> Tue, 15 Dec 2015 06:32:00 -0800 Robert Reich, Robert Reich&#039;s Blog 1047357 at http://www.alternet.org Economy Economy Election 2016 News & Politics robert reich middle class revolt donald trump Robert Reich: America Is Now a Full-Scale Oligarchy http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/robert-reich-america-now-full-scale-oligarchy <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">We must get big money out of politics.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/robert_reich_1.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>According to an investigation by the New York Times, half of all the money contributed so far to Democratic and Republican presidential candidates—$176 million—has come from just <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/10/11/us/politics/2016-presidential-election-super-pac-donors.html?_r=0">158 families</a>, along with the companies they own or control.</p><p>Who are these people?  They’re almost entirely white, rich, older and male—even though America is becoming increasingly black and brown, young, female, and with declining household incomes.</p><p>According to the report, most of these big contributors live in exclusive neighborhoods where they have private security guards instead of public police officers, private health facilities rather than public parks and pools.</p><p>Most send their kids and grand kids to elite private schools rather than public schools. They fly in private jets and get driven in private limousines rather than rely on public transportation.</p><p>They don’t have to worry about whether Social Security or Medicare will be there for them in their retirement because they’ve put away huge fortunes. They don’t have to worry about climate change because they don’t live in flimsy homes that might collapse in a hurricane, or where water is scarce, or food supplies endangered.</p><p>It’s doubtful that most of these 158 are contributing to these campaigns out of the goodness of their hearts or a sense of public responsibility. They’re largely making investments, just the way they make other investments.</p><p>And the success of these investments depends on whether their candidates get elected, and will lower their taxes even further, expand tax loopholes, shred health and safety and environmental regulations so their companies can make even more money, and cut Social Security and Medicare and programs for the poor—and thereby allow these 158 and others like them to secede even more from the rest of our society.</p><p>These people are, after all, are living in their own separate society, and they want to elect people who will represent them, not the rest of us.</p><p>How much more evidence do we need that our system is in crisis? How long before we make it work for all of us instead of a handful at the top? We must not let them buy our democracy. We must get big money out of politics. Publicly-finance political campaigns, disclose all sources of campaign funds, and reverse “Citizens United.”</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/f7Amf7-SYNk" width="560"></iframe></p> Tue, 08 Dec 2015 08:31:00 -0800 Robert Reich, Robert Reich&#039;s Blog 1046989 at http://www.alternet.org News & Politics News & Politics Video wealthy politics campaigns donor citizens united Robert Reich: How Should We Punish Disloyal Corporations? http://www.alternet.org/economy/robert-reich-how-should-we-punish-disloyal-corporations <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Rather than lower corporate tax rates, an easier fix would be to take away the benefits of citizenship.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_76996033-edited.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Just like that, Pfizer has decided it’s no longer American. It plans to link up with Ireland’s Allergan and move its corporate headquarters from New York to Ireland.</p><p>That way it will pay less tax. Ireland’s tax rate is less than half that of United States. <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/may/04/pfizer-boss-ian-read-profile-astrazeneca-takeover" target="_blank">Ian Read,</a> Pfizer’s chief executive, <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/pfizer-ceo-says-u-s-tax-regime-pushing-him-to-seek-alternative-1446140269?alg=y" target="_blank">told the Wall Street Journal</a> the higher tax rate in the United States caused Pfizer to compete “with one hand tied behind our back.” </p><p>Read said he’d tried to lobby Congress to reduce the corporate tax rate (now 35 percent) but failed, so Pfizer is leaving. </p><p>Such corporate desertions from the United States (technically called “tax inversions”) will cost the rest of us taxpayers some $19.5 billion over the next decade, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/nov/23/pfizer-allergan-agree-160-billion-dollars-deal-tax" target="_blank">estimates </a>Congress’s joint committee on taxation.</p><p>Which is fueling demands from Republicans to lower the corporate tax rate.</p><p>Donald Trump wants it to be 15 percent. </p><p>Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz want to eliminate the corporate tax altogether. (Why this would save the Treasury more money than further corporate tax inversions is unclear.) </p><p>Rather than lower corporate tax rates, an easier fix would be to take away the benefits of corporate citizenship from any company that deserts America. </p><p>One big benefit is the U.S. patent system that grants companies like Pfizer longer patent protection and easier ways to extend it than most other advanced economies. </p><p>In 2013, Pfizer raked in nearly $4 billion on sales of the Prevnar 13 vaccine, which prevents diseases caused by pneumococcal bacteria, from ear infections to pneumonia – for which Pfizer is the only manufacturer.</p><p>Other countries wouldn’t allow their patent systems to justify such huge charges. </p><p>Neither should we – especially when Pfizer stops being an American company. </p><p>The U.S. government also protects the assets of American corporations all over the world. </p><p>In the early 2000s, after a Chinese company replicated Pfizer’s formula for Viagra, the U.S. Trade Representative <a href="http://www.law360.com/articles/7080/chinese-drug-makers-appeal-pfizer-s-viagra-win" target="_blank">put China</a> on a “priority watch list” and charged China with “inadequate enforcement” against such piracy. </p><p>Soon thereafter the Chinese backed down. Now China is one of Pfizer’s major sources of revenue. </p><p>But when Pfizer is no longer American, the United States should stop protecting its foreign assets.</p><p>Nor should Pfizer reap the benefits when the United States goes to bat for American corporations in trade deals.</p><p>In the Pacific Partnership and the upcoming deal with the European Union, the interests of American pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer – gaining more patent protection abroad, limiting foreign release of drug data, and preventing other governments controlling drug prices – have been central points of contention.</p><p>And Pfizer has been one of the biggest beneficiaries. From now on, it shouldn’t be.</p><p>U.S. pharmaceutical companies rake in about <a href="http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/114th-congress-2015-2016/dataandtechnicalinformation/50013-HealthPolicy_0.pdf" target="_blank">$12 billion a year</a> because Medicare isn’t allowed to use its huge bargaining power to get lower drug prices.</p><p>But a non-American company like Pfizer shouldn’t get any of this windfall. From now on, Medicare should squeeze every penny it can out of Pfizer.</p><p>American drug companies also get a free ride off of basic research done by the National Institutes of Health.</p><p>Last year the NIH began a <a href="https://ncats.nih.gov/cti" target="_blank">collaboration</a> with Pfizer’s Centers for Therapeutic Innovation – subsidizing Pfizer’s appropriation of early scientific discoveries for new medications.</p><p>In the future, Pfizer shouldn’t qualify for this subsidy, either.</p><p>Finally, non-American corporations face restrictions on what they can donate to U.S. candidates for public office, and how they can lobby the U.S. government. </p><p>Yet Pfizer has been among America’s biggest campaign donors and lobbyists. </p><p>In <a href="http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?id=D000000138&amp;cycle=2014" target="_blank">2014, it ponied</a> up $2,217,066 to candidates (by contrast, its major competitor Johnson &amp; Johnson spent $755,000). And Pfizer spent $9,493,000 on lobbyists. </p><p>So far in the 2016 election cycle, it’s been one of the <a href="http://www.cheatsheet.com/business/10-companies-likely-to-bankroll-2016-presidential-campaigns.html/?a=viewall" target="_blank">top ten </a>corporate donors.</p><p>Pfizer’s political generosity has paid off – preventing Congress from attaching a prescription drug benefit to Medicare, or from making it easier for generics to enter the market, or from using Medicare’s bargaining power to reduce drug prices.</p><p>And the company has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the candidacies of state attorneys general in order to get <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/29/us/lobbyists-bearing-gifts-pursue-attorneys-general.html?_r=0" target="_blank">favorable settlements</a> in cases brought against it.</p><p>But by deserting America, Pfizer relinquishes its right to influence American politics.</p><p>If Pfizer or any other American corporation wants to leave America to avoid U.S. taxes, that’s their business.</p><p>But they should no longer get any of the benefits of American citizenship – because they’ve stopped paying for them.<br />_______</p> Mon, 07 Dec 2015 07:40:00 -0800 Robert Reich, RobertReich.org 1046900 at http://www.alternet.org Economy Economy reich economy politics money corporate Robert Reich Lists and Smashes Paul Ryan's 7 Terrible Ideas (VIDEO) http://www.alternet.org/economy/robert-reich-lists-and-smashes-paul-ryans-7-terrible-ideas-video <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Ryan clings to dumb ideas that are also cropping up among Republican presidential candidates. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2015-12-04_at_1.24.11_pm.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Yesterday, the new Speaker of the House, <a href="http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/r/paul_d_ryan/index.html?inline=nyt-per">Paul Ryan</a>, summed up his House Republican agenda – vowing to pursue legislation that would frame a stark choice for voters in 2016.</p><p>



“Our No. 1 goal for the next year is to put together a complete alternative to the left’s agenda,” he said. </p><p>Despite the speech’s sweeping oratory and careful stagecraft, Ryan clings to seven dumb ideas that are also cropping up among Republican presidential candidates. </p><p>Here they are, and here’s why they’re dumb:</p><p>1. Reduce the top income-tax rate to 25% from the current 39%.  A terrible idea.  It’s a huge windfall to the rich at a time when the rich already take home a larger share of total income that at any time since the 1920s.</p><p>2. Cut corporate taxes to 25% from the current 35%.  Another bad idea.  A giant sop to corporations, the largest of which are already socking away $2.1 trillion in foreign tax shelters.</p><p>3. Slash spending on domestic programs like food stamps and education for poor districts.  What?!  Already 22% of the nation’s children are in poverty; these cuts would only make things worse.</p><p>4. Turn Medicaid and other federal programs for the poor into block grants for the states, and let the states decide how to allocate them.  In other words, give Republican state legislatures and governors slush funds to do with as they wish.</p><p>5. Turn Medicare into vouchers that don’t keep up with increases in healthcare costs.  In effect cutting Medicare for the elderly.  Another awful idea.</p><p>6.  Deal with rising Social Security costs by raising the retirement age for Social Security.  Bad!  This would make Social Security even more regressive, since the poor don’t live nearly as long as the rich.</p><p>7. Finally, let the minimum wage continue to decline as inflation eats it away.  Wrong again.  Low wage workers need a higher minimum wage.</p><p>These 7 ideas will harm most Americans.  Ryan is wrong. </p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/0DTnCqgqYws" width="560"></iframe></p> Fri, 04 Dec 2015 10:16:00 -0800 Robert Reich, RobertReich.org 1046792 at http://www.alternet.org Economy Economy News & Politics gop ryan Robert Reich: Hate Speech by Republican Candidates Is More than Despicable, It Incites Violence http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/robert-reich-hate-speech-republican-candidates-more-despicable-it-incites-violence <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Trump, Carson and company are fanning the flames of hatred and violence.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/cruzcarsontrump_0.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>On Friday, a gunman killed three at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado. Later, in explaining his motive to the police, he <a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/planned-parenthood-shooting-suspect-made-comment-about-no-more-baby-n470706">said</a>“no more baby parts.”</p><p>Last Monday, gunmen opened fire on Black Lives Matter protesters in Minneapolis who were demanding action against two white Minneapolis police officers involved in the fatal shooting of Jamar Clark, 24, an unarmed black man, on Nov. 15.</p><p>Evidence <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/26/us/4-arrested-in-shooting-at-black-lives-matter-protest-are-identified.html">shows</a> the accused shooters were linked to white supremacist organizations operating online.</p><p>In a video that surfaced before the shootings, one of two men on the way to the protest <a href="https://www.facebook.com/BlackLivesMatterMinneapolis/videos/vb.838424259534702/1010885932288533/?type=2&amp;theater">says</a> “we’re going to go see what these f—– dindus are up to,” using slang insulting toward African Americans. He then brandishes a pistol and says, “we are locked and loaded.”</p><p>Meanwhile, the FBI reports an upturn in threats on mosques and Muslims in the United States.</p><p>In Connecticut, police are <a href="http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2015/11/18/us-mosques-vandalized-muslims-threatened-after-paris-attacks.html">investigating</a> reports of multiple gunshots fired at a local mosque. Two Tampa Bay-area mosques in Florida <a href="http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2015/11/18/us-mosques-vandalized-muslims-threatened-after-paris-attacks.html">received </a>threatening phone messages. One of the calls threatened a firebombing.</p><p>In an Austin suburb, leaders of the Islamic Center of Pflugerville<a href="http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2015/11/18/us-mosques-vandalized-muslims-threatened-after-paris-attacks.html">discovered</a> feces and torn pages of the Qur’an.</p><p>Hate crimes will never be eliminated entirely. A small number of angry, deranged people inevitably will vent their rage at groups they find threatening. Some will do so violently.</p><p>But this doesn’t absolve politicians who have been fueling such hatefulness.</p><p>Perpetrators of hate crimes often take their cues from what they hear in the media. And the recent inclination of some politicians to use inflammatory rhetoric is contributing to a climate of hate and fear. </p><p>Carly Fiorina continues to allege, for example, that Planned Parenthood is selling body parts of fetuses.</p><p>Although the claim has been proven baseless, it’s been repeated not only by Fiorina but also by other candidates. Mike <a href="https://www.mikehuckabee.com/home">Huckabee</a>calls it “sickening” that “we give these butchers money to harvest human organs.”</p><p>Even in the wake of Friday’s Colorado shootings, Donald Trump<a href="http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/presidential-races/261432-trump-planned-parenthood-shooting-suspect-a-maniac">referred</a> to videos “with some of these people from Planned Parenthood talking about it like you’re selling parts to a car.”</p><p>Some candidates are also fomenting animus toward Muslims.</p><p>Huckabee <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/nov/28/republican-candidates-anti-muslim-rhetoric">says</a> he’d “like for Barack Obama to resign if he’s not going to protect America and instead protect the image of Islam.”</p><p><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/ben-carson">Ben Carson</a> <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/nov/28/republican-candidates-anti-muslim-rhetoric">says</a> allowing Syrian refugees into the United States is analogous to exposing a neighborhood to a “rabid dog.” Last September Carson said he “would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation.”</p><p>Since the attacks that killed 130 people in Paris earlier this month, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/nov/28/what-will-it-take-to-stop-donald-trump">Trump</a> has <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/nov/28/republican-candidates-anti-muslim-rhetoric">advocated</a> registering all Muslims in the United States and putting American mosques under surveillance.</p><p>He’s also <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/nov/28/republican-candidates-anti-muslim-rhetoric">claimed</a> that Muslim-Americans in New Jersey celebrated by the “thousands” when the World Trade Center was destroyed on September 11, 2001, although there’s no evidence to back that claim.</p><p>Indeed, much of Trump’s campaign is built on hatefulness. And Trump not only fails to condemn violence he provokes but finds excuses for it.</p><p>After a handful of white supporters recently punched and attempted to choke a Black Lives Matter protester at one of his campaign rallies, Trump <a href="http://www.vox.com/2015/11/22/9778330/trump-protester-rally-violent">said</a> “maybe he should have been roughed up.”</p><p>Trump began his campaign last June by falsely <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2015/07/08/donald-trumps-false-comments-connecting-mexican-immigrants-and-crime/">alleging</a> Mexican immigrants are “bringing crime. They’re rapists.”</p><p>Weeks later in Boston, two brothers beat with a metal pole and urinated on a 58-year-old homeless Mexican national. They subsequently <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2015/07/08/donald-trumps-false-comments-connecting-mexican-immigrants-and-crime/">told</a> the police “Donald Trump was right, all these illegals need to be deported.“</p><p>But instead of condemning that brutality, Trump excused it by<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2015/07/08/donald-trumps-false-comments-connecting-mexican-immigrants-and-crime/">saying</a> “people who are following me are very passionate. They love this country and they want this country to be great again.”</p><p>I’m not suggesting Trump, Carson, Fiorina, or any other presidential candidate is directly to blame for hate crimes erupting across America.</p><p>But by virtue of their standing as presidential candidates, their words carry particular weight. They have a responsibility to calm people with the truth rather than stir them up with lies. </p><p>In suggesting that the staff of Planned Parenthood, Muslims, Black Lives Matter protesters, and Mexican immigrants are guilty of venal acts, these candidates are fanning the flames of hate.</p><p>This itself is despicable.</p><p> </p> Mon, 30 Nov 2015 08:05:00 -0800 Robert Reich, Robert Reich&#039;s Blog 1046526 at http://www.alternet.org Election 2016 Economy Election 2016 News & Politics robert reich planned parenthood shootings hate speech republicans black lives matter Robert Reich: Why the High-Tech 'Sharing Economy' Is All About Impoverishing Workers http://www.alternet.org/economy/robert-reich-why-high-tech-sharing-economy-all-about-impoverishing-workers <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">This trend shifts all economic risks onto workers. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2015-11-29_at_1.01.18_pm.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>In this holiday season it’s especially appropriate to acknowledge how many Americans don’t have steady work. </p><p>The so-called “share economy” includes independent contractors, temporary workers, the self-employed, part-timers, freelancers, and free agents. Most file 1099s rather than W2s, for tax purposes.</p><p>It’s estimated that in five years over <a href="http://http-download.intuit.com/http.intuit/CMO/intuit/futureofsmallbusiness/intuit_2020_report.pdf">40 percent</a> of the American labor force will be in such uncertain work; in a decade, most of us.</p><p>Already <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2013/06/24/pf/emergency-savings/">two-thirds</a> of American workers are living paycheck to paycheck.</p><p>This trend shifts all economic risks onto workers. A downturn in demand, or sudden change in consumer needs, or a personal injury or sickness, can make it impossible to pay the bills.</p><p>It eliminates labor protections such as the minimum wage, worker safety, family and medical leave, and overtime.</p><p>And it ends employer-financed insurance – Social Security, workers’ compensation, unemployment benefits, and employer-provided health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.</p><p>No wonder, according to <a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/1720/work-work-place.aspx">polls,</a> almost a quarter of American workers worry they won’t be earning enough in the future. That’s up from 15 percent a decade ago.</p><p>Such uncertainty can be hard on families, too. Children of parents working unpredictable schedules or outside standard daytime working hours are likely to have lower cognitive skills and more behavioral problems, according to new <a href="http://www.epi.org/publication/parents-non-standard-work-schedules-make-adequate-childrearing-difficult-reforming-labor-market-practices-can-improve-childrens-cognitive-and-behavioral-outcomes/">research</a>.</p><p>What to do?</p><p>Courts are overflowing with lawsuits over whether companies have misclassified “employees” as “independent contractors,” resulting in a profusion of criteria and definitions.
</p><p>We should aim instead for simplicity: Whoever pays more than half of someone’s income, or provides more than half their working hours should be responsible for all the labor protections and insurance an employee is entitled to.</p><p>In addition, to restore some certainty to people’s lives, we need to move away from unemployment insurance and toward income insurance.</p><p>Say, for example, your monthly income dips more than 50 percent below the average monthly income you’ve received from all the jobs you’ve taken over the preceding five years. With income insurance, you’d automatically receive half the difference for up to a year.</p><p>It’s possible to have a flexible economy and also provide workers some minimal level of security.</p><p>A decent society requires no less.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/v_Snob8-6xM" width="560"></iframe></p> Sun, 29 Nov 2015 09:47:00 -0800 Robert Reich, RobertReich.org 1046490 at http://www.alternet.org Economy Economy sharing economy workers labor