START A PETITION 25,136,189 members: the world's largest community for good
START A PETITION
x

Robert Reich on Romney, the New Gilded Age and More


Business  (tags: americans, business, corporate, corruption, debt, dishonesty, economy, Entrepreneurs, ethics, finance, government, investments, labor, law, lies, marketing, money, oil, politics, society, SustainableDevelopment )

Kit
- 684 days ago - opednews.com
You've been writing a lot lately about the many shortcomings of Mitt Romney. Your latest piece essentially calls him out for his constant lying. All candidates exaggerate and stretch the truth. Aren't you being a little harsh?



Select names from your address book   |   Help
   

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.

Comments

Kit B. (277)
Wednesday September 5, 2012, 12:23 pm

My guest today is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at UCal Berkeley, Robert Reich. Welcome to OpEdNews, Robert. You've been writing a lot lately about the many shortcomings of Mitt Romney. Your latest piece essentially calls him out for his constant lying. All candidates exaggerate and stretch the truth. Aren't you being a little harsh?

To the contrary, I may not have been harsh enough. While every presidential race is guilty of exaggeration, to some extent, and some have told half-truths, I'm aware of no previous presidential candidate or campaign that has told such brazen lies -- which the media have reported as false -- and yet continued to tell them even after having been outed. Romney's and Ryan's repeated claims that President Obama ended the work requirement in welfare, and that the Affordable Care Act reduces Medicare payments to beneficiaries -- to take but two examples -- are outright lies. They've been called "falsehoods" by the New York Times, "misstatements" by USA Today, and "wrong" by numerous non-partisan fact-checking organizations and sites. But Romney and Ryan continue to tell them, and use them copiously in their ads.


So, how do they get away with it? Once, such lying that could have precipitated the downfall of a candidate.

They're getting away with it because the GOP has figured out how to bypass all neutral fact-checkers, the mainstream media, and any other trusted, non-partisan source. They've done this by, first, raising a huge amount of money through a network of super PACs and political nonprofits that's being spent on negative ads -- so many ads that the public can't differentiate between truth and falsehood; second, by discrediting the mainstream media in the eyes of many Americans; and third, by using a disinformation industry composed of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and his various wanna-be's, the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, and the right-wing blogosphere to legitimize their lies or at least give them a patina of respectability.

A multi-layered smokescreen. Ingenious. In July, you wrote Mitt Romney and the New Gilded Age, which appeared in The Nation . Is that just hyperbole? And what does it have to do with this election season?

I think it has everything to do with this election. Romney isn't a businessman; he's a financier. The world of private equity is part of Wall Street -- and it depends on the same combination of debt financing coupled with tax loopholes (in this case, the so-called "carried interest" loophole that allows private equity managers and hedge-fund managers to treat their earnings as capital gains, taxed at just 15 percent). The reigning economic philosophy during the Gilded Age was social Darwinism -- a bastardized form of Darwin's thinking about evolution. The thinking was that the wealthy should get special preferences because they strengthened society, while the poor shouldn't get any help at all, because they weakened society. This is, in essence, Romney's and Ryan's economic approach. Finally, the Gilded Age was an era of hugely concentrated wealth, and political corruption. The lackeys of the rich literally placed bags of money on the desks of legislators, in order to get legislation that would favor the wealthy. Here again, the parallels are stunning. The Republican platform comes out explicitly and forcefully against any limits on campaign spending, or any constraints on contributions. Romney not only represents the new Gilded Age, and casino capitalism. He IS our economic problem.

Robert, maybe now is the time to point out the growing reports of voter disenfranchisement, through voter IDs and other means, that threatens to disenfranchise possibly millions of voters nationwide. How does the 99% counter the 1% under those circumstances?

Over the next few weeks, all instances of voter suppression should be reported to the media and to the Justice Department. Over the long term, we have to reverse the dangerous trend toward demanding photographic IDs, which disenfranchise everyone who doesn't have one and can't afford one. This may take a court case or two. It necessitates a Justice Department with an Attorney General who understands the issue and is committed to voting rights for all Americans -- in other words, we have to have a second Obama administration.

Shifting gears slightly, you currently serve as Chair of Common Cause. I think many of us have heard of it but aren't sure exactly what it does. What can you tell us?

It's a grass-roots membership organization dedicated to reducing the influence of money in politics. I took the chairmanship because I'm convinced that nothing else we need to do as a nation is possible unless we reverse Citizens United (even if it takes a constitutional amendment), get workable public financing of elections, and limit the power and influence of big money in our democracy. Common Cause is one of the few groups leading the way.

Those are definitely goals worth pursuing. Tell us more. Are you making any progress on them? And if so, will it be in time? It feels like the 99% is constantly losing ground these days, with things going from bad to worse.

Progress is all relative. Yes, we're making progress if you mean are we helping to push back against the tide of money. But the tide is very strong -- stronger than ever. My sense of America's history is the progressive side always wins eventually. But before it does, the forces of regression -- intolerance, exclusion, plutocracy, and corruption -- pull us backward until the nation summons enough indignation to set us back on track. You're right -- the 99 percent is losing ground. But if history is any guide, this won't last. We'll have another burst of progressive reform.

My friend Mick is a big fan of yours and was enthused to hear about our interview. He has a question for you: "How is it possible to explain to the average American the argument that a massive inequality of income in a society damages the economy?. It's a difficult argument to get across to a short sound-bite nation." He's right. How would you respond?

The reality is this: No business will hire without an expectation of customers. But as more and more of the nation's income and wealth has gone to the top, the vast American middle class no longer has the purchasing power to keep the economy going. The wealthy spend only a fraction of what they pull in, while the middle class and the poor spend almost all they earn. And they can no longer borrow, as they did before the housing bust. So unless prosperity is more widely shared, our economy will continue in the doldrums.


Thanks. I'll pass this on. You've served in three administrations during your public career. What are the most dramatic changes you've noticed in the political landscape over the years?


Washington is far richer than it was when I served in the Ford administration. There's far more money in politics. Washington is far more partisan. And every major institution in our society -- not just the presidency and Congress but also the courts, business, and the media are far less trusted. I saw these trends grow larger in the Carter administration, larger still in the Clinton administration, and now they're almost out of control.

That's what I was afraid you were going to say. You never told me how to address you so I chose Robert. Do you prefer something else? If so, now's the time to let me know.
Officially, former cabinet secretaries are supposed to be addressed as "Mr. Secretary," but I'm fine if you'd like to do it less formally.


I'm happy to give you due respect. Our readers will probably connect better with you and your message if you're Robert or something similarly reader-friendly. Out of curiosity, what do your students call you?


Grad students call me Bob. Undergrads call me Professor Reich. You can call me whatever you wish. I've been called every name in the book.


Hmm. In that case, let's go with Bob. I was a grad student once... Anything you'd like to add before we wrap this up, Bob?

Notwithstanding all of this, I'm still optimistic. Americans are pragmatic and resilient. When we understand a problem, we roll up our sleeves and get on with what has to be done -- regardless of ideology. When we get too far off track -- when we temporarily forget our commitment to equal opportunity and inclusiveness, or when capitalism runs to excess -- we get back on track. Time and again, the trigger for progressive reform has been reactionary, regressive actors or factions that remind us of what we believe and why we believe it, and then we get back to the long-term task. I've been around long enough to see this process again and again.

Well, we've jumped all over the place in this interview but I think we've also covered a lot of ground. Thanks so much for talking with me, Bob. I've enjoyed your writing for a long time so this has been a special treat for me. Perhaps we can do it again sometime soon!
****


By Joan Brunwasser | OpEd News.com |

 

Roger Garin-michaud (61)
Wednesday September 5, 2012, 12:50 pm
noted thanks !
 

Maggie S. (40)
Wednesday September 5, 2012, 12:53 pm
NO ONE is being harsh when it comes to Romney! His lies in political ads are just one of many! How asbout lying about his time at Bain and outsourcing? The 900 page Bain papers outed him! He never "retired" in 1999, and, is no longer denying it! Insorfar as outsourcing - he now says he was simply "sharing" the jobs! What an SOB! AND no OpEd is going to white wash him or even make him just a little less dark!
 

Arielle S. (316)
Wednesday September 5, 2012, 1:04 pm
Mitt/Ryan are blatantly arrogant about their lies - this attitude seems to be yet another remnant of the Bush regime. Wouldn't it be nice to have some moral and ethical character from the people we're supposed to trust? Oh, yeah, we do - Obama/Biden in 2012
 

Jennifer C. (172)
Wednesday September 5, 2012, 5:29 pm
Thanks.
 

pam w. (191)
Thursday September 6, 2012, 10:03 am
Romney reminds me of an old song...."Wishing will make it so...."

If he lies and lies and lies....maybe, eventually, wishing will make it so?
 

Kit B. (277)
Thursday September 6, 2012, 10:27 am

Romney is a salesman, he's trying to close the deal. He will say what is needed to close the deal and sort it out once the "contract" in this case election, is done. I don't think either Romney or Ryan is stupid, they both know that their "budget" proposal is impossible, but it's also what their base wants to hear. Politicians are in the position of having to sell themselves rather than a product, they are the product.
 

Craig Pittman (45)
Thursday September 6, 2012, 1:17 pm
So true Kit and what a faulty product it is indeed.
Remember the day when someone who told lies was actually called a liar! To me and I imagine to most folks someone who lies has zero credibility. There are no mitigating circumstances, they can't be trusted on anything. The fact that the Polls have the candidates so close is amazing to me.
 

David Menard (43)
Thursday September 6, 2012, 1:36 pm
Romneynomics REVERSE Robin hood system the banksters and 1% steal from the poor middle class and working class and give to the rich.
 

Mary D. (64)
Thursday September 6, 2012, 1:37 pm
Noted. What's the point of putting out a budget proposal that's unworkable? And everybody knows it! What next? Throwing all our resources into Scrooge McDuck's money bin????
 

Christopher Fowler (84)
Thursday September 6, 2012, 4:05 pm
The lies are starting to catch up to the Romney/Ryan deception ticket. They are running the same sort of campaign that Hitler ran on to get elected Chancellor of Germany.

Birds of a feather, I guess.
 

Stuart Thomas (505)
Thursday September 6, 2012, 8:48 pm
Noted, Thanks Kit.
 

Susanne R. (249)
Thursday September 6, 2012, 11:23 pm
Wow! It's a sad reflection on the Republican party and the sheeple who follow them when a big part of their winning strategy relies on strategies outlined in the answer to this question:

" So, how do they get away with it? Once, such lying that could have precipitated the downfall of a candidate.

They're getting away with it because the GOP has figured out how to bypass all neutral fact-checkers, the mainstream media, and any other trusted, non-partisan source. They've done this by, first, raising a huge amount of money through a network of super PACs and political nonprofits that's being spent on negative ads -- so many ads that the public can't differentiate between truth and falsehood; second, by discrediting the mainstream media in the eyes of many Americans; and third, by using a disinformation industry composed of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and his various wanna-be's, the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, and the right-wing blogosphere to legitimize their lies or at least give them a patina of respectability."

I've never used the term "sheeple" before, but in this case, I can't think of more appropriate name for those who would mindlessly follow anyone's lead --as long as they're offered something in return. Unfortunately for them, what they end up getting is exactly what they deserve: fleeced!
 

Jo Ellen H. (3)
Friday September 7, 2012, 6:19 am
thanks
 

Gene Jacobson (244)
Friday September 7, 2012, 9:16 am
"Washington is far richer than it was when I served in the Ford administration. There's far more money in politics. Washington is far more partisan. And every major institution in our society -- not just the presidency and Congress but also the courts, business, and the media are far less trusted. I saw these trends grow larger in the Carter administration, larger still in the Clinton administration, and now they're almost out of control."

The current Congress has a 10% approval rating. The lowest ever. He's right, no one trusts government, but ever the optimist, I think that rating is reflective of what Congress has done since 2010 when the Teapublican's took office promising to fix the economy and have done nothing whatsoever about that and have simply followed their extremist agenda in attacking women and minorities at the federal level and that plus voter id and marriage amendments at the state level, in all states in which republicans seized control in 2010 including for the first time ever in my own state, MN. I think that will be rectified in November, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. We won't be fooled twice and I don't believe we will be at the national level either. Our hope for progress and change lies in the national electorate sweeping the House clean of teapublican's, and enlarging the majority in the Senate. I think that's going to happen, pity all of us if it doesn't.
 

marie tc (166)
Friday September 7, 2012, 5:37 pm
Noted thanks Kit
 

Mary Donnelly (47)
Friday September 7, 2012, 5:44 pm
Thanks Kit.

The last gilded age occurred when the USA was a rising economic power, this time it is a recovering economic power, so the inequality you write about so often might well increase to unsustainable levels.
 

Devon Leonard (54)
Saturday September 8, 2012, 1:04 am
I can't imagine Obama losing this election. Only dirty tricks could cause that. Obama is ahead not just in the polls but in every other way that means anything!!!
Thanks Kit....
 

Past Member (0)
Saturday September 8, 2012, 12:46 pm
Did he not get a cabinet position because the right wing, shadow government media would have destroy him?

If Left and Right are right and wrong, how can there be a far Left?
 

Kit B. (277)
Saturday September 8, 2012, 2:01 pm

That's a good thought Mary, it's impossible to sustain economic growth with such a wide margin of difference between the wealthy and the rest of us.

Unlike Devon, I can imagine a loss for Obama and win for R/R. If you listen, then you know what this means and it has little to with jobs momentum as we all know that recovery is still a long way out there. It does have a lot to with balancing out some form of equality and that will not happen. I take the candidates on what they say, if R/R win and they follow up on what they say. The we must resolve ourselves to an even longer road to recovery and a total imbalance in economics for some time in the unforeseen future.
 

Mary D. (64)
Saturday September 8, 2012, 2:30 pm
If Obama loses, God help us all. Think about it!
 

Sharon F. (0)
Sunday September 9, 2012, 4:41 am
Is Rmoney's lying approved by his Mormon religion. That religion is something else we need to know more about. We do NOT KNOW Rmoney. How old is he? Which (of many) state is his official residence?

RE: Clint Eastwood: An empty suit talking to an empty chair. Respectable adult behavior??
 

Mike m. (9)
Sunday September 9, 2012, 5:31 am
Like Kit, I'm not overly optimistic about the ability of the average voter to see the writing as clearly on the wall as I do. I saw it coming during the 2010 elections, and I'm much dismayed by the fact that I was right. I can't see how any sensible voter can avoid voting Obama, or third party, perhaps. I'll be holding my breath on election day. A telling quote from the Romney campaign: "Our campaign will not be dictated to by fact-checkers." No. It won't be dictated to by facts, either. But will the voters see that?
 

. (0)
Sunday September 9, 2012, 9:28 am
Met Mitt Romney eons ago! What a nice man! Genuine, and patient! His wife Ann a gentle, kind lady! Very Classy Couple, but not judgmental! So they get my vote!
 

Kit B. (277)
Sunday September 9, 2012, 1:35 pm

Nope Michael the average voter does not do any research about who they are voting for or why. We have a fully polarized electorate. I think we should count on election night being a long night.
 

Sterling B. (0)
Sunday September 9, 2012, 2:05 pm
we need solutions not the empty promises that both partys are giving, and untill they start talking about the real problems plauging america nothing is going to change.

http://www.dancarlin.com/disp.php/csarchive
 

Mac R. (289)
Sunday September 9, 2012, 6:10 pm
Hi Kit! Long time no see! I've been gone from C2 for a while because I kinda got burned out. I guess I got tired of making the same arguments over and over again without being able to finally just call idiots idiots, and having to watch my language etc... ---- not that I need to fill out my commentary with expletives, just that sometimes calling an idiot and idiot needs to have the f word as a prefix, ya know what I mean?

But as Jae kept telling me, you and a few others here keep asking about me, and why I stayed away. Well, I realize that it was not nice of me to just stay away like that because I miss my many friends here, like you, Dandelion and too many others to list right now. I really treasure our friendships but the way I've acted one wouldn't know it! I'm sorry, and I promise to stick around and participate some again.
 

Kit B. (277)
Sunday September 9, 2012, 6:15 pm

Yay! A Mac attack! I'm so glad you're back.
 

Tal H. (8)
Sunday September 9, 2012, 6:23 pm
Thanks for the share
 

Mac R. (289)
Sunday September 9, 2012, 6:43 pm
Now to comment on this article and the comments below it:

Michael M, "Like Kit, I'm not overly optimistic about the ability of the average voter to see the writing as clearly on the wall as I do. I saw it coming during the 2010 elections, and I'm much dismayed by the fact that I was right."

Truer words were never spoken, Michael. The average voter has almost no understanding of the over all politics and status of this country. Democrats are incredibly naive and spineless. Dems assume that if they present some facts that voters will pay attention and actually try to figure out what the differences between the parties are, but the vast majority of them never have and never will.

The dems mostly seem like they don't even want to win, because they, like anyone with eyes and ears, have seen over and over again how brutally effective the GOP strategy of sound bites and key emotional trigger terms has been. It's like the GOP studied psychology in school while the dems took woodshop. The GOP are masters of the emotional gut check bullet point, which is why they can frame the arguments so perfectly guaranteed to rouse ignorant people to their side.

Note that I call the general electorate ignorant, not stupid. They are ignorant of how things really work and what the machinations of government really are, not because they are all stupid, but because they aren't getting good information from the pols or the press---- and the press is yet another coup d' etat by the oligarchs--- and it's a sad fact that the vast majority of them are too busy surviving to take the time and effort to dig for facts. Then you have the conservative mindset (which is not just conservative but they are the most prone to this mental process) that eschews facts instantly if they don't comport to their already formed opinions on any subject.

Anyway, as Kit said above, it is entirely possible that we could see a Romney presidency, mainly, I think, because Obama has done a lot to turn off much of his base by acting like a republican on so many issues. I'm afraid that many, many voters just won't bother to go to the polls because they feel Obama let them down, broke promises and even lied to them about several important issues.

If Romney wins, it will be a disaster for the US and the world, especially if the GOP gets control of both the Senate and House, which is possible, what with voter disenfranchisement, rigged voting machines and general GOP treachery.

 

Mac R. (289)
Sunday September 9, 2012, 7:36 pm
It feels good to be back, Kit, and I came to one of your posts first. Jae has kept me apprised of the goings on at Care2 all this time---- when at our computers we're sitting just about four feet from each other ;-)

Now I need to go visit some old friends on their posts, like Dandelion, Caitlin,, robert S, Carrie, Angelika, Barbara W, Pam W and many more.
 

firedup N. (0)
Monday September 10, 2012, 12:44 pm
not here
 

firedup N. (0)
Monday September 10, 2012, 12:46 pm
Looking forward to no longer hearing about class war fair. Growing up poor, we could not afford a car so we walked or took bus. Used the sewing machine in school to make my clothes. I never enveyed the rich. I would love to hear about moral values and respect, instead of race baiting. Also looking forward to get all the lobbyist some that hold high positions some just asking for money out of the White House. Looking for a change and a candidate that can do that
 
Or, log in with your
Facebook account:
Please add your comment: (plain text only please. Allowable HTML: <a>)

Track Comments: Notify me with a personal message when other people comment on this story


Loading Noted By...Please Wait

 

 
Content and comments expressed here are the opinions of Care2 users and not necessarily that of Care2.com or its affiliates.