The former secretary of labor under the Clinton administration thinks that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is leading the movement best suited to address the excesses of income inequality in the United States.
Robert Reich, professor of public policy at UC Berkeley, spoke to Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric on Monday about his reasons for endorsing Sanders over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“I always try to do whatever my conscience tells me to do. I think very, very highly of Hillary Clinton. I’ve worked closely with her. I have nothing but admiration, and if she gets the Democratic nomination, I tell you I’m going to work my heart out to make sure she’s president,” Reich said in a phone interview. “But on this one, I really struggled.”
Despite his close ties with the Clintons, Reich was attracted to the Sanders campaign because of its emphasis on addressing income and wealth inequality. The growing divide between the rich and poor and the struggles of the dwindling middle class are among Reich’s chief concerns.
“Bernie Sanders is really leading a movement to try to reverse this, to make our democracy work, to get big money out, and I think that’s extremely important. That’s why I’m supporting him,” he said.
Couric asked Reich how it would be possible for Sanders to follow through on his plans for campaign finance reform after the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision that corporations are people with the same rights as citizens.
Robert Reich was labor secretary under President Bill Clinton. (Photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
The economist, who is an active liberal voice on social media, responded that mass mobilization is the only way to bring fundamental change to this nation – as evidenced by the civil rights and women’s suffrage movements.
“That’s why Bernie Sanders’ candidacy is so important. He does represent a movement, a mobilization to get big money out of politics,” he said.
Clinton needs to work hard, he said, to demonstrate that she is not tethered to Wall Street.
Reich expressed pride for his role in her husband’s administration in the 1990s but lamented that Wall Street still had too much sway over politics at the time.
“I don’t want to in any way denigrate Hillary Clinton. As I said, she’s been somebody who I’ve known for 50 years. I think that in these days where people have some justifiable concerns about Wall Street and its political power, its political connections, particularly after the Wall Street bailouts, it is very important that there not even be the appearance of impropriety.”
Bernie Sanders raises a fist and marches around after speaking during a rally at Colorado State University’s Moby Arena on Sunday, February 28, 2016. (Photo: Aaron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images)