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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 2/22/18

Robert Reich: Morality & the Common Good Must Be at Center of Fighting Trump's Economic Agenda

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A Year Without a President -- Robert Reich
A Year Without a President -- Robert Reich
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As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump made a promise to the American people: There would be no cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Well, the promise has not been kept. Under his new budget, President Trump proposes a massive increase in Pentagon spending while cutting funding for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Trump's budget would also slash or completely eliminate core anti-poverty programs that form the heart of the U.S. social safety net, from childhood nutrition to care for the elderly and job training. This comes after President Trump and Republican lawmakers pushed through a $1.5 trillion tax cut that overwhelmingly favors the richest Americans, including President Trump and his own family.

We speak to Robert Reich, who served as labor secretary under President Bill Clinton. He is now a professor at the University of California, Berkeley. His most recent book, out today, is titled "The Common Good."

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZALEZ: As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump made a promise to the American people: There would be no cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

DONALD TRUMP: Save Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, without cuts. Have to do it. Get rid of the fraud. Get rid of the waste and abuse. But save it.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, that promise has not been kept. Under his new budget, President Trump proposes a massive increase in Pentagon spending while cutting funding for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Trump's budget would also slash or completely eliminate core anti-poverty programs that form the heart of the U.S. social safety net, from childhood nutrition to care for the elderly and job training. This comes after President Trump and Republican lawmakers pushed through a $1.5 trillion tax cut that overwhelmingly favors the richest Americans, including President Trump and his own family.

AMY GOODMAN: Our next guest has been one of the vocal critics of President Trump's economic policies. Robert Reich served as labor secretary under President Bill Clinton. He's now a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, senior fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. Most recent book is out today, it's called The Common Good.

Welcome to Democracy Now! It's great to have you back, Robert Reich.

ROBERT REICH: Thank you, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: So, respond to what we see today. You have this fall in Wall Street, which doesn't necessarily reflect what happens on Main Street, and you have this budget that's been introduced, that we just heard, and the broken campaign promises of President Trump. Who's winning and who's losing at this point?

ROBERT REICH: Well, I think we're all losing. That is actually the theme of my book. The rich in America cannot continue to do well when most others are not. If the social contract, that is the basis of this country, is coming apart, if we are basically saying to everyone, "You're on your own," we're all going to be worse off. There is a common good. At least there was a common good. I think the purpose of the book is to ignite a discussion about whether we can re-establish a sense of common good in America.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, when you say there has been a common good, talk about that historically in terms of the how the concept developed.

ROBERT REICH: Well, in the Constitution, Juan, it says, "We the people." We, the people, are establishing a government, and one of the purposes is for our own domestic well-being. And the Declaration of Independence and our founding documents and the Gettysburg Address -- I mean, go through everything over the last 200 years that has talked about who "we," what the pronoun "we" means, and it means equal political rights. And that has been a goal. It hasn't been effectuated. We've sought it. We certainly -- I don't want to romanticize a past in which we certainly have not had equal political rights. But there was -- for much of our history, we've at least been seeking it. The same with equal opportunity. The same with the rule of law, that no person is above the law. And you go -- you go down the list. Again, I want to emphasize these are aspirations, these are ideals, that kept us together, again and again.

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