Clip: Robert Reich’s Plan for Fixing America’s Economy

Ahead of Bill’s interview with economic analyst Robert Reich about Inequality for All, his new documentary about America’s widening income gap, we asked our smart, engaged community on Facebook what they wanted Bill to ask Reich. We received many stellar questions including one that we’re guessing is on the minds of many of you: What specifically can we do to fix our economy?

Turns out, Reich has a clear plan of action — which he lays out in this video — to ensure there is “upward mobility again, in our society and in our economy.” He also believes that political engagement by all Americans will help “change the rules” that created the widening income gap between the top one percent and everyone else, and contributed to the Great Recession. Reich has set up a “take action” area on the film’s website, where he is promoting actions we can take to improve the future health of America’s economy.

Inequality for All opens on September 27, 2013. (See Bill’s interview with the film’s director, Jacob Kornbluth.)

And thank you to all our Facebook fans for the intelligent contribution you make to Bill’s on-going conversation about America’s democracy.

Be sure to tune in this weekend to Moyers & Company to see the entire interview with Robert Reich.

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  • DavidW

    We need to make sure that cooperative enterprise growth is one of the components and we need people educated on it. It can be a way to take market share away from some of these corporate bad actors.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, business owners should be the people who work IN them, not just the rich fat cats who collect the bux on the backs of hard-working people and then have the balls to call themselves “job creators.” What bunk.

  • Anonymous

    Harm to others has always been a limit on private property. Bob Reich proposes a number of sensible regulations to prevent economic actions from becoming harmful and to promote a more sensible and fair economic distribution. Additionally, we need to remember that the Preamble specifies that our national union is established to “promote the general welfare.” When economic inequality has gotten out of hand, as it has, the Constitution provides the corrective of taxation to serve the general welfare.

  • david haight

    Reich’s plan sounds good, but, the problem is really beyond the scope of a single intellect, as good as Robert’s may be. I think it will take many minds, working together..much like a mini-constitutional convention…to craft a way out of the mess we find ourselves in.

  • Anonymous

    So Reich’s proposal implicitly includes to need to vote all Republicans out of any position of influence.

  • Kenneth Crim

    best interviewer ever& a good man with a great plan.

  • Anonymous

    Any proposal that seriously tries to address our problems involves voting Republicans out of any position of influence.

  • Anonymous

    Reich isn’t even a leading mind on the subject. But what he’s saying is stuff most great minds more or less agree on. Problem we have is that if it is a good idea and supported by professionals, facts and analysis… The right has managed to create its own reality and they lean on that reality to justify opposing everything that could help. On top of that they get rewarded with more power by their fanatical base that voted on what can only be described as questionable information.

  • Anonymous

    you got that right. no evidence of that. The evidence points the other way. But we know who’s fighting to keep the wealthy paying lower taxes.

  • Strawman411

    Let me state up front that I am a longtime admirer of Bill Moyers, and indeed regard him as a national treasure.

    I likewise once admired Mr. Reich, but by campaigning lustily for Obama’s reelection last fall, he proved himself just another operative for the mainstream Democrats — you know, the “liberal” wing of the Corporate-owned Party?

    Mr. Reich, in my opinion, has these days much to answer for. I hope Bill asks it.

  • Anonymous

    Under Eisenhauer the top rate was 90% the world did not come to an end. The people like Gates, Jobs, Musk, Hewlett & Packard, Buffett & Munger, Intel, Schultz did not do and create the firms they did for money. They had ideas and worked hard and the money followed

    PACCAR is an old firm – but successful and every trucker aspires to have one of their cabs.Their executives are not extravagantly paid. When they have a great year everyone gets a bonus every worker, mgr, clerk & a dividend bonus for the shareholders. The are real makers & inmovators.

    The financial & mortgage industries, hedge funds are managed by mediocre poseurs who ate in fact takers not makers.

  • Animal Lover

    Great show, great commentary on where we are as a society. Gains need to be felt throughout the economy not just for the “special few”. People want to work and have upward mobility is right! It is what this country was built on. I admire Robert Reich for speaking the truth. A system that works for everyone speaks to the very core of what is wrong today with our economy – it isn’t working for everybody folks…. The majority of Americans are too busy working their crap jobs for too little money to find time to even pay attention but, and it’s a big one, there are things we can do to “right the ship”. Corp America needs to wake up and take stock in their employees, aka those of us who actually produce the labor that makes their Corporations hum…1.) Americans need to stand up for themselves and “become enlightened” to these facts about min. wage, what it was designed for – a stepping stone to gainful employment only, and how it has not increased enough if adjusted for inflation and productivity in OVER 30 YEARS!!! 2.) Lobby our legislators to put the Glass Steigel Act back into place which would separate commercial bank transactions from investment bank transactions, thereby lowering the risk of them getting too big – and they are already too big and getting bigger by the day! Wake up America!!! Banks need to be capped in size for the protection of both the rich and poor; otherwise we will stay a David & Goliath society… with future risk of bank failures, and losses to all – remember 2008 and these last 5 years ???? 3.) Tax code is an issue, let’s stop talking about it and fix it! Get it away from income generation and tax the things we buy or purchase instead…that way everybody pays! Ever hear of the Fair Tax? 4.) Do as RR suggests and exempt the 1st $15k of salary from SS tax! and remove the upper income level exemption limit on it. 5.) Find out what is driving up the costs of health care and I think we all know what that is..(pharma and insurance companies and greed).and remove it from being offered by employers only – essentially we need to “Walmart Healthcare” in this country make it so readily available that by virture of it’s availability – the price is driven down. 6) Most of all we need to stop talking about it all and get it done, put our finest minds to the task, make it a priority, take it issue by issue, believe that one person, or one group can initiate and enact change. It does take a village!! 7.) Vote with your wallet in everything you do – where you shop, companies you will or will not do business with etc etc. 8.) We need to stop taking sides like a childs game of “Tug of War” and each one of us needs to hold a place on the rope as a continuum not just at one end or the other…. 9.) Try something new because our current system is a colossal failure. 10.) We only need to look back through the ages to see what happened when the majority were getting “royally screwed” by the minority to figure out next steps.

  • Angela Fisher

    No it doesn’t. As usual we are looking at the wrong end of the beast. Rather say “we need to vote in people of influence that will serve the office and the people not the corporations and bankers or self interest.” Why is party loyalty placed so high in our society? The net effect of either of the two main ones is the same on us. Makes no sense.

  • Anonymous

    Right! “Sweat equity” would mean sticking around, learning the ins-and-outs of the business and then participating in governance of it through shareholders’ meetings.

  • Brenda Duffey

    Engagement by the people is the only way to make a change and it’s not about some political party agenda. International relations that had us on the brink of war changed drastically when President Obama decided to turn to the people for input. Maybe the people should start engaging with their senators and representatives again about our economy and quit using all these stories designed to distract the public from using the power of their democratic voice.

  • Anonymous

    I’m with you! And why the tea baggers scream about him is beyond me. His foreign policy is the Bush doctrine, his education policy is the Bush policy on ‘roids, and now we are going to rate colleges by how much their graduates earn? Puhleez! He is such a conservative enabler it makes me puke. Wall Street should put a statue of him next to the bull. And the affordable health care bill? If only. It’s sure going to enrich the insurance companies. That’s how I knew the supremes wouldn’t overturn it–it’s going to be a shot in the arm to an industry that was probably on it’s way out because of it’s own bloat. Single payer was sabotaged by this white house.

  • DavidW

    We can be our own job creators by building and expanding our Co-op sector. Look up the many Food Co-ops starting and growing in the US.

    Each new one opening can be 10-70 new jobs and with each Co-op expanding to larger or new space can create 70-140 new jobs.

    So, move your money into a Credit Union, shop and invest in these Food Co-ops, patronize worker owned Co-op businesses, Compete with these corporate fascists, they’ll understand that when their “royalty” payments slow to a trickle.

  • Anonymous

    Your assumption about party loyalty is wrong in my case. If 1 party is so overtly political in their actions that their ideas are just plain bad and counter productive what is clearly the idea to try…how is it party loyalty to go for the party that seems to have some sanity left? take HCR for example, that was RomneyCare, which was the Heritage Plan from 1994…a republican idea and they still opposed it. I wanted single payer or socialized medicine but we got a republican idea and in the process all the gop offered was fear monguering, obstruction, and a 3 page plan that didn’t do anywhere near the amount of coverage and cost reduction as the White House/Democrat plan…if the GOP had submitted their better idea to the CBO their plan would be the law of the land today but they had nothing. Not about party loyalty….they had nothing and were obstructing, lying and just doing everything they could to not let anything be done to address some of them problems in a health care system.

  • Anonymous

    Robert Reich has no interest to me, nothing new, just liberalism yuck.

  • Anonymous

    Good reply(sarcasm) but you don’t have a name?

  • John J. Messerly

    Name a source of 10 million jobs- you can wave a magic wand and create whatever infrastructure you want and labor will be trained however you want.

    Be realistic. This problem is not unique to the US. All OECD countries are methodically gutting their middle class jobs. Modern technology is not labor intensive anymore. MIT Economist David Autor has done several good studies on this effect, but his NYTime piece “How Technology Wrecks the Middle Class” is a good place to start.

  • Anonymous

    We have to end ponzi-scheme capitalism using labor as the blood money. We need to tax property and assets ONLY…while eliminating all taxes on income. People who produce income contribute to society. People who own, contribute nothing.

    If just property and assets were taxed for all government needs, owner / hoarders would be forced to expand those business assets to highest and best use in order to recoup those taxes.

    Taxing income merely chases investment away. All non-productive owners would be taxed out of those community wealth-producing assets, thereby lowering all costs for production. Only then will you see a faster route to economic justice.

  • Anonymous

    Reich has no understanding of monetary sovereignty and therefore, is ill equipped to propose economic policy solutions for America.

    Roger Malcolm Mitchell offers the following for Reich’s edification:

    “Because our Monetarily Sovereign nation has the unlimited power to create its sovereign currency, the dollar, it never needs to ask anyone for dollars. It doesn’t need to tax or borrow per se to spend, and it never involuntarily become insolvent. It can pay any obligfation denominated in dollars without having to “get” dollars from any source other than the Treasury/Fed.

    Reich maintains that payroll tax revenue is needed to fund Social Security. Wrong. Those revenues per se do not fund anything. In fact, the federal government creates money by paying its bills. The U.S. has created many trillions of dollars, simply by
    pressing computer keys, and will continue to do so. It does not “owe” anyone for creating these dollars. The government cannot live beyond its means; it has no means to live beyond.

    By contrast, if the debts of France, Germany et al, exceed their ability to obtain euros they, as monetarily non-sovereign nations, could be forced into bankruptcy. They are not currency issuers they are currency users like individuals, firms and states.

    Because no Monetarily Sovereign nation can be forced into bankruptcy, none of that nation’s agencies can be forced into bankruptcy. The U.S Supreme Court, the Department of Defense, Congress, Social Security, Medicare and any of the other 1,300 federal agencies cannot go bankrupt unless the federal government wishes it. (All the talk about Social Security or Medicare going bankrupt is misguided. Even if FICA were eliminated, Social Security and Medicare would not be insolvent.)

    The unlimited ability to create money is an uncontested fact for Monetarily Sovereign nations, although at any given time, economic growth, inflation, deflation, recession, depression and social factors may influence a nation’s decision to create money. A Monetarily Sovereign nation can choose to declare bankruptcy, for various reasons, but
    this would be an arbitrary matter of choice, not a forced necessity.

    An example would be Congress’s failure to raise the debt ceiling. This could force the U.S. into bankruptcy. To avoid all threats of bankruptcy Congress need only appropriate funding to meet public purpose. It never needs to reach a balance $1 of Appropriation with $1 of revenue. We are no longer bound by these gold standard rules abandoned 42 years ago.

    Debt hawks do not (or do not wish to) understand the implications of Monetary Sovereignty. You never will see that term on such debt hawk web sites as The Committee for a Responsible
    Federal Budget”, CBPP, Third Way, or the Concord Coalition. If you go to those sites you will see federal debt described in the same terms as personal debt –as an unsustainable obligation.

    While debt can be unsustainable for you, me,
    businesses, states, cities, counties and the monetarily non-sovereign EU nations, no debt is unsustainable for the U.S. government. These Debt Hawks cannot prove their claims absent spurious long term projections which make erroneous assumptions about national economic growth.

    The U.S. was not always Monetarily Sovereign. Prior to 1971, the U.S was on a gold standard. It did not have the unlimited ability to create dollars, since every dollar needed to be backed by a fixed amount of gold. No gold; no dollars.

    Similarly, the EU nations are on a euro standard. Their ability to create euros is limited by law. Our states, counties and cities are on a dollar standard. Their ability to create or obtain money by borrowing or taxing is limited by local law, by voters and by lenders.

    Some debt hawks (Rinehart & Rogoff now debunked) said that a Debt/GDP ratio exceeding 90% puts a nation on the brink of bankruptcy. Yet today, Japan has a Debt/GDP ratio above 200%, and this Monetarily Sovereign nation has absolutely no difficulty servicing its debt.

    The debt hawks, as usual, having learned nothing from this, continue to wail about the meaningless debt/GDP ratio, which because it is a classic
    apples/oranges comparison, is devoid of significance (the numerator is a 200-year measure of cumulative T-securities outstanding; the denominator is a one-year measure of productivity. The two are unrelated).

    All debt hawk objections revolve around just two questions:

    1. How much money can the
    federal government create? Answer: Infinite

    2. How much money should the federal government create? Answer: Up to the threat of uncontrollable

    Despite an astounding 3,500% increase in debt since 1971, we are not near the point where deficits cause uncontrollable inflation (which is controlled via interest rates). As of this writing, we are fighting deflation.


    In short, most of our economic problems are caused by the politicians, the media and the public not understanding the implications of Monetary Sovereignty. By crippling the federal government’s ability to grow the U.S. economy, the Tea/Republicans have injured more Americans than Al Qaeda.

    I suggest you next read Mosler’s “The Seven Deadly Innocent Frauds of Economic Policy” and the data at Summary, at the link below, for detailed answers to your questions.

    Question of the day: How does a tax increase or spending decrease reduce unemployment or grow the economy?

    Money is the lifeblood of an economy. Cutting the federal deficit to cure a recession is like applying leeches to cure anemia.”

    Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

    Monetary Sovereignty

  • Anonymous

    I believe that both democracy and capitalism are damaged by what I call a plutocracy. I see our country ruled not by elected representatives,who listen to the voters who put them in office; but rather to the funders and those in the lobbying profession who keep them in office. Also, I believe strategic planning from the U.S Chamber of Congress, member of the Business Round Table, ALEC, and FIX THE DEBT as well as the money from the Koch Brothers and Pete Peterson as well as others have brought us to this inequality. No, it did not happen over night. It has been happening for decades, well orchestrated and now bearing its fruit in today’s economy

  • Ed Patton

    From: Ed Patton

    Single Payer The Best

    Have you seen the newly
    released documentary, “The Healthcare Movie”? The movie heralds Canadian’s
    decade’s long battle for universal single payer health coverage and compares
    their system with ours in the U.S.
    Eye-opening! Go On-Line and watch
    “The Healthcare Movie”. You will want to purchase a copy!

    Universal healthcare is a
    huge moral issue. Every religious organization should obtain a copy of this
    movie to initiate an unprecedented dialogue.

    Medical bills, even for
    people with health insurance, are the cause of over 50% of bankruptcies in the U.S. Every Canadian is insured and there are no medical bankruptcies.

    In 2017, the Affordable Care
    Act will allow waivers for any State to pool all Exchange funds and subsidies.
    There are 20 states preparing for “State Innovation” waivers in 2017. Many are considering single payer (not the
    insurance company profiteers) and insisting on universal coverage for all.

    The “crazy” concept of mandating employer coverage of employees is greatly lacking. By making our system more efficient, humane
    and accessible, we can usher in a smarter world. A single payer system would position industry
    and business toward a more competitive role locally and the world over. Most health professionals would like to be
    providing health care instead of shuffling endless paperwork and complicated
    insurance billing. The obscene salaries paid
    to insurance executives should make everyone “sick”. Then, tack on the costs we pay for those
    worthless and unnecessary insurance ads. You begin to get the drift.

    According to Harvard Medical School, 43,000 died in 2011 because they did not have
    adequate access to health care.

    The VA healthcare system
    should be merged into each State’s healthcare system. The VA, presently purchases drugs in much the
    same way as the Canadians, (in bulk), which could easily save the U.S. tens of billions of dollars a year.

    Before you vote for any
    Legislator on any level, do not give them your vote unless they support “single

    I believe we can create a
    more civil society, one that is intent on taking care of each other. People who
    pay taxes to insure that hundreds of thousands of government employees get the
    best care are rightfully dismayed. Many
    of them do not have any coverage. Universal
    coverage will go a long way toward addressing the unprecedented control that the
    1% has over intelligent progress. A
    system where everyone is covered would, in effect, raise wages and relieve
    society from a lot of unnecessary grief.

    There is no place in
    American industry where there is more room for improvement than the Insurance
    business. They will fight to “your”
    death to keep the status quo buying off politicians and buying ads to obfuscate
    and distort the truth. Do not continue
    to let the wool be pulled over your eyes.
    Add your voice for change. For
    more information contact: or