Courtesy of Pam Martens.
Robert Reich, former Labor Secretary in Bill Clinton’s administration and currently Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, is an important voice for tackling income inequality in America by bringing back the Glass-Steagall Act, busting up the too-big-to-fail banks, and imposing a securities transaction tax.
In 2013, Reich released a documentary, “Inequality for All,” that demonstrated that there is a finite equilibrium of income distribution at which the U.S. economy can grow and prosper. In 1928 and 2007, the year before each of the greatest financial crashes in our nation’s history, income inequality peaked. When workers are stripped of an adequate share of the nation’s income, they are not able to function as consumers, creating a vicious cycle of layoffs and slow economic growth – the situation the U.S. has been mired in since the Wall Street crash of 2008.
Unfortunately, Reich, an otherwise clear-eyed progressive has a deep blind spot. Her name is Hillary Clinton. In a column posted to his blog last month, Reich had this to say about Hillary:
“In declaring her candidacy for President she said ‘The deck is stacked in favor of those at the top. Everyday Americans need a champion and I want to be that champion.’
“Exactly the right words, but will she deliver?
“Some wonder about the strength of her values and ideals. I don’t. I’ve known her since she was 19 years old, and have no doubt where her heart is. For her entire career she’s been deeply committed to equal opportunity and upward mobility.”
This is more than a dangerous, rickety limb for Reich to be climbing out on when the financial stability of the nation hangs in the balance. During the primary challenge in 2008 between Barack Obama and Hillary, Reich made headlines by endorsing Obama despite his long-term friendship with the Clintons. That decision was at least partly influenced by what Reich called Hillary Rodham Clinton’s (HRC’s) “Odd Economics.” In an April 2008 post on his blog, Reich appeared to intuitively understand that the same men who deregulated Wall Street and mushroomed the derivatives gambling casino under Bill Clinton would be back in power in a Hillary presidency.