Early life and careerReich was born to a Jewish family in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the son of Mildred Dorf (née Freshman) and Edwin Saul Reich (1914–2016), who owned a women's clothing store. As a child, he was diagnosed with multiple epiphyseal dysplasia, also known as Fairbank's disease, a bone disorder that results in short stature among other symptoms. This condition made him a target for bullies and he sought out the protection of older boys; one of them was Michael Schwerner, who was one of the three civil rights workers murders of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner, murdered in Mississippi by the Ku Klux Klan in 1964 for the registration of African-American voters. Reich cites this event as an inspiration to "fight the bullies, to protect the powerless, to make sure that the people without a voice have a voice". He attended John Jay High School (Cross River, New York), John Jay High School in Cross River, New York. Reich received a National Merit Scholarship Program, National Merit Scholarship and attended Dartmouth College, graduating with an A.B. ''summa cum laude'' in 1968 and winning a Rhodes Scholarship to study Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at University College, Oxford. While at Dartmouth, Reich went on a date with Hillary Rodham, the future Hillary Clinton, then an undergraduate at Wellesley College. While a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, Reich first met , also a Rhodes Scholar. Although he was drafted to serve in the Vietnam War, he did not pass the physical as he was under the required minimum height of five feet. Reich subsequently earned a Juris Doctor, J.D. from Yale Law School, where he was an editor of the ''Yale Law Journal''. At Yale, he was classmates with Bill and Hillary Clinton, Clarence Thomas, Michael Medved, and Richard Blumenthal. From 1973 to 1974, he served as law clerk to Judge Frank M. Coffin, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit; and from 1974 to 1976 was assistant to the U.S. Solicitor General, Robert Bork (at Yale, Reich had studied antitrust law under Bork). In 1977, President appointed him director of the Policy Planning Staff at the Federal Trade Commission. From 1980 until 1992, Reich taught at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at , where he wrote a series of influential books and articles, including ''The Next American Frontier'' and ''The Work of Nations''.
Secretary of LaborBill Clinton incorporated Reich's thinking into his 1992 campaign platform, "Putting People First", and after being elected invited Reich to head his economic transition team. Reich later joined the administration as Secretary of Labor. During his tenure, he implemented the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), successfully lobbied to increase the minimum wage, lobbied to pass the School-to-Work Jobs Act, and to integrate all job-training and job-displacement programs so workers who lost their jobs could get access to all the help they needed to get new ones that paid at least as much as the old. In addition, Reich used the office as a platform for focusing national attention on the need to help American workers to adapt to the new economy. He popularized the term "corporate welfare"—arguing that the nation could get the money it needed to retrain people and move them from welfare to work by cutting "aid for dependent corporations". He advocated that the country provide more opportunities for workers to learn technological skills.
After the Clinton administrationIn 1996, between Clinton's re-election and second inauguration, Reich decided to leave the department to spend more time with his sons, then in their teen years. He published his experiences working for the Clinton administration in ''Locked in the Cabinet''. After publication of the book, Reich received criticism for embellishing events with invented dialogue. The paperback release of the memoir revised or omitted the inventions. Reich became a professor at , teaching courses for undergraduates as well as in the Heller School for Social Policy and Management. In 2003, he was elected the Professor of the Year by the undergraduate student body. Massachusetts general election, 2002, In 2002, he ran for Governor of Massachusetts. He also published an associated campaign book, ''I'll Be Short''. Reich was the first US gubernatorial candidate to support same-sex marriage. He also pledged support for abortion rights and strongly Capital punishment debate in the United States, condemned capital punishment. His campaign staff was largely made up of his Brandeis students. Although his campaign had little funding, he came in a close second out of six candidates in the Democratic Party (United States), Democratic primary with 25% of the vote; Shannon O'Brien, the first-place finisher, went on to lose the general election to Republican Mitt Romney. In 2003, he was awarded the Václav Havel Foundation VIZE 97 Prize, by the former Czech President, for his writings in economics and politics. In 2004, he published ''Reason: Why Liberals Will Win the Battle for America''. In addition to his professorial role, he was a weekly contributor to the American Public Media public radio program Marketplace (radio program), Marketplace, and a regular columnist for '' The American Prospect'', which he co-founded in 1990. He has also frequently contributed to CNBC's ''Kudlow & Company'' and ''On the Money (2013 TV series), On the Money''. In early 2005, there was speculation that Reich would once again seek the Democratic nomination for Governor of Massachusetts. He instead endorsed the then-little-known candidacy of Deval Patrick, who had previously served as United States Assistant Attorney General, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in the Clinton Administration. Patrick won the party's endorsement, a three-way primary with nearly 50% of the vote, and the general election in November 2006. In September 2005 Reich testified against John G. Roberts, John Roberts at his confirmation hearings for Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. On January 1, 2006, Reich joined the faculty of UC Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy. Since then, he has taught a popular undergraduate course called Wealth and Poverty, in addition to his graduate courses. Reich is also a member of the board of trustees for the Blum Center for Developing Economies at the University of California, Berkeley. The center is focused on finding solutions to address the crisis of extreme poverty and disease in the developing world. On April 18, 2008, Reich endorsed for President of the United States. During the 2008 primaries, Reich published an article that was critical of the Clintons, referring to Bill Clinton's attacks on Barack Obama as "ill-tempered and ill-founded", and accusing the Clintons of waging "a smear campaign against Obama that employs some of the worst aspects of the old politics". On April 3, 2009, Reich commented that published Unemployment#United States Bureau of Labor statistics, U6 employment figures indicated that the United States was in a depression. In 2010, his weekly column is syndicated by Tribune Content Agency. In 2013, he teamed up with filmmaker Jacob Kornbluth to produce the documentary ''Inequality for All'', based on his book ''Aftershock'' which won a Special Jury Award at the Sundance Film Festival. On February 26, 2016, he endorsed Bernie Sanders for President of the United States. After Sanders ended his campaign, Reich urged Sanders's supporters to back eventual Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Since at least summer 2016, Reich has contributed an opinion column to ''Newsweek''. In 2020, he again endorsed Bernie Sanders for President. In 2017, he again teamed up with Jacob Kornbluth to produce the documentary ''Saving Capitalism'', based on his book of that name. Netflix chose the film to be a Netflix Original Documentary. In the documentary, Reich posits that large corporations began in the late 1960s to use financial power to purchase influence among the political class and consolidate political power, highlighting in particular the influence of the 2010 Citizens United v. FEC, Citizens United ruling that allowed corporations to contribute to election campaigns. In the documentary, he advocates for grassroots political mobilization among working class Americans to countervail the political power of corporate America. In February 2017, Reich criticized UC Berkeley's decision to host Donald Trump supporter Milo Yiannopoulos. Following 2017 Berkeley protests#February 1, protests on the Berkeley Campus Reich stated that although he didn't "want to add to the conspiratorial musings" he wouldn't rule out the possibility the "agitators" were a right-wing false flag for Trump to strip universities of federal funding. On May 31, 2020, Reich declared that "by having no constructive response to any of the monumental crises now convulsing America, Trump has abdicated his office."
Political stancesIn an interview with ''The New York Times'', he explained that "I don't believe in redistribution of wealth for the sake of redistributing wealth. But I am concerned about how we can afford to pay for what we as a nation need to do [...] [Taxes should pay] for what we need in order to be safe and productive. As Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., Oliver Wendell Holmes once wrote, 'taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society.'" In response to a question as to what to recommend to the incoming president regarding a fair and sustainable income and wealth distribution, Reich said: "Expand the Earned income tax credit, Earned Income Tax Credit—a wage supplement for lower-income people, and finance it with a higher marginal income tax on the top five percent. For the longer term, invest in education for lower income communities, starting with early-childhood education and extending all the way up to better access to post-secondary education." Reich is pro-trade union, union, saying: "Unionization is not just good for workers in unions, unionization is very, very important for the economy overall, and would create broad benefits for the United States." He also favors raising the federal minimum wage to $15/hr across three years, believing that it will not adversely impact big business, and will increase higher value worker availability. Reich also supports an unconditional and universal basic income. On the eve of a June 2016 popular vote in Switzerland on basic income, he declared that countries will have to introduce this instrument sooner or later. While affordable housing has been a central issue in Reich's activism, in July 2020 Reich opposed a high-density development project in his own neighborhood in Berkeley. He supported making a 120 year old triplex a landmark to prevent the construction of a 10-apartment building, one of which would be Covenant (law), deed restricted to be rented to a low income tenant, citing "the character of the neighborhood". During an interview with W. Kamau Bell the following month, Reich reaffirmed his support for affordable housing "in every community I've been involved in," and critiqued the development for replacing the house with "condos selling for one and a half million dollars each." A supporter of Israel, Reich has criticized Israel's Israeli settlement, settlement building in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Social mediaIn 2013, with Jacob Kornbluth, Reich founded Inequality Media, which produces videos, live interviews on Facebook, portions of his undergraduate class at Berkeley, and long-form videos. The purpose is to educate the public about the implications of the widening inequalities of income, wealth, and political power. Reich and Kornbluth have produced more than 90 videos of two minutes each about the economy and current events, that have been watched by more than 50 million people. Since shortly after the 2017 inauguration Reich began producing a "Resistance Report" program, offering contextual analysis of latest White House and Cabinet activities, typically a 15- to 30-minute presentation, available on social media sites such as Facebook and YouTube. In late January 2020, Reich and Inequality Media launched a new YouTube weekly talk show called The Common Good.
Personal lifeReich married British-born lawyer Clare Dalton in Cambridge, UK in 1973; they divorced in 2012. During their marriage, the couple had two sons: Sam Reich, Sam, an American producer, director, writer, actor, and performer; and Adam, a sociology professor at Columbia University. In 2020, the City of Berkeley Landmarks Preservation Commission published letters that he had written to them regarding a housing project being constructed near his home.
Awards*Bruno-Kreisky Award, best political book of year (''Supercapitalism''), 2009 *Vaclav Havel Vision Foundation Prize, October 2003 *Louis Brownlow Award (best book on public administration), National Academy of Public Administration, 1984
Books* 1982: ''Minding America's Business: The Decline and Rise of the American Economy'' (with Ira Magaziner), * 1983: ''The Next American Frontier'', * 1985: ''New Deals: The Chrysler Revival and the American System'' (with writer John Donahue), * 1987: ''Tales of a New America: The Anxious Liberal's Guide to the Future'', * 1989: ''The Resurgent Liberal: And Other Unfashionable Prophecies'', * 1990: ''The Power of Public Ideas'' (editor), * 1990: ''Public Management in a Democratic Society'', * 1991: ''The Work of Nations: Preparing Ourselves for 21st Century Capitalism'', * 1997: ''Locked in the Cabinet'', * 2000: ''The Future of Success: Working and Living in the New Economy'', * 2002: ''I'll Be Short: Essentials for a Decent Working Society'', * 2004: ''Reason: Why Liberals Will Win the Battle for America'', * 2007: ''Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life'', * 2010: ''Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future'', (updated edition 2013) * 2012: ''Beyond Outrage: What Has Gone Wrong with Our Economy and Our Democracy, and How to Fix It'', * 2015: ''Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few'', * 2017: ''Economics in Wonderland'', * 2018: ''The Common Good'', * 2020: ''The System: Who Rigged It, How We Fix It'',
Plays*''Milton and Augusto'' (reading, University of California Berkeley, Center for Latin American Studies, September 2013) *''Public Exposure'' (East Coast premier, Wellfleet Harbor Actor's Theater, June 2005; West Coast premier, Santa Rosa Theater, June 2008)
FilmographyThese documentaries, and additional social media movies, have been made in collaboration with Jacob Kornbluth. * 2013: ''Inequality for All'' * 2017: ''Saving Capitalism''
See also* 2008–09 Keynesian resurgence * ''Journal of Women, Politics & Policy'' – Reich sits on the editorial board * The Trap (British TV series), ''The Trap'' (TV series), BBC documentary featuring Reich