MinnPost’s Dave Beal reviews the Dream

March 26th, 2014

As published by MinnPost on March 25, 2014:

Hedrick Smith won the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting for his stories about Russia in the early 1970s, when he was the Moscow bureau chief for the New York Times. After he returned to the U.S., he described his many encounters with ordinary Russians in their homes, at restaurants and factories and on trains, in “The Russians.” His book was translated into 16 languages.

Now Smith has turned the tables. “I’m covering America as a foreign correspondent would cover it,” he said, discussing his latest book in a telephone interview. “I could have called it ‘The Americans.’ ”

Read the rest here.

A Crash Course in Growth Economics

February 17th, 2014

First published by Reuters on February 6, 2014

By Hedrick Smith

Congressional Republicans like to talk about creating jobs and growing the economy. With the government shutdown and rigid spending cuts, however, Congress created a fiscal drag that cost the economy a full percentage point of economic growth in 2013.

Now, Congressional Republicans are again digging in their heels against measures that would ramp up the economy and generate jobs. It’s time for Congress to take a refresher course in growth economics — the economic forces and programs that power U.S. growth.

As President Barack Obama barnstorms the country, he should be making the argument that it is not only fair, but smart growth economics to raise the minimum wage, extend unemployment benefits and reduce income inequality. These steps will help accelerate economic recovery this year above its anemic 1.9 percent growth rate in 2013.

Read the rest here.

Boeing’s Hollow Victory

January 8th, 2014

As first publish by the Los Angeles Times on January 7, 2014.

By Hedrick Smith

The narrowly approved contract agreement between Boeing and its Washington state workforce will be hailed by some as a victory for the canny, hardball brinkmanship of Boeing’s management and the knuckle-under economic pragmatism of the International Machinists Union.

But the steep cutbacks in retirement and health benefits that tens of thousands of Boeing workers were forced to swallow have far larger implications for middle-class America.

Boeing’s stingy treatment of its highly skilled workforce offers a vivid example of how America’s new economy has created gaping economic inequalities and steadily squeezed the economic life out of the U.S. middle class over the last three decades, even as corporate profits and CEO pay have skyrocketed.

Boeing’s case epitomizes that sharp economic divide. For just as the company was wringing concessions from its workers, its board of directors approved a 50% increase in the company’s stock dividend and a $10-billion stock buyback that will richly reward investors and executives who get paid in Boeing shares.

See more here.

Why this shutdown isn’t like 1995

October 10th, 2013

As first syndicated by Reuters on October 4, 2013

By Hedrick Smith

The political battlefield of the current government shutdown looks a lot like the last big shutdown of 1995. But major changes within the Republican Party in Congress — a weaker leadership, the demise of moderates and two decades of gerrymandering — could make this year’s endgame far harder.

Then as now, a rebellious Republican Congress used a budget bill to set up a deliberate confrontation with a Democratic president over spending priorities. GOP militants and radicals in the House – today’s wing nuts — bet that gridlock, disarray and the embarrassment of a shutdown would force the White House to give in.

Read the rest here…

Reject Wall St., pick Yellen for Fed

September 24th, 2013

ColumnsAs first appeared in The Sacramento Bee on September 20, 2013

By Hedrick Smith

Wall Street is used to getting its way in Washington, but for once it has been dealt a rebuff. The question now is whether President Barack Obama has gotten the message as he seeks a new chairman for the Federal Reserve.

Just a month ago, the president was stumping the heartland as champion of the middle class. But lately, he seems to have lost his way. His plan to nominate former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers as Fed chairman would have hurt the middle class and rewarded the financial elite by renewing Wall Street’s domination of U.S. financial policies.

Read the entire piece here.

A Plan to Reclaim the Dream

September 24th, 2013

MarchersAs originally published by Nextavenue on August 28, 2013 and adapted from Who Stole the American Dream?

By Hedrick Smith

Over the past three decades, we have fallen from being the envy of the world, with the most affluent middle class of any place on Earth, to losing our title as “the land of opportunity.” The way we have responded with our New Economy has put the American middle class in an ever-tightening financial squeeze, raising protests from both left and right.

Restoring the American Dream will not be quick or simple. We have a long-term structural jobs problem that demands new thinking and an ambitious new economic agenda.

See all 10 steps for reclaiming the American Dream here.

Investigating the Theft of the Dream

September 24th, 2013

As originally published by the History News Network and conducted by Robin Lindley

“I began work on the book in the fall of 2009. Like everybody else at that time, I was troubled by what had happened to America: the financial collapse, the housing boom and bust, all of the foreclosures, the rising unemployment, the fear that we were in for another round of depression — not recession. I had done a number of PBS documentaries and mini-series on subjects such as Wall Street, Wal-Mart, off-shoring of jobs, healthcare, and retirement, but I had never tackled the housing sector.”

“So I was interested in understanding the housing bubble and bust, and that led me into the banking system and how it works and the Wall Street collapse. As I came to understand what was going onI saw parallels with the work I had previously done on healthcare, on retirement, on job off-shoring, on global competition with Asia and with Europe. I began to see a pattern and I decided I needed to do something bigger, to go beyond the housing issue and look at what had happened to the economy and the middle class in general.”

See the rest of the interview here.

A Lesson from the March on Washington

September 3rd, 2013

National Archives, Records of the U.S. Information Agency, Record Group 306 (ARC ID 542044)

As carried by Parade on August 27, 2013

By Hedrick Smith

From the Lincoln Memorial, a great mass of humanity stretched away toward the spire of the Washington Monument. The March on Washington, 200,000 strong, was the largest protest army ever seen up to that time in the nation’s capital—a movement with historic impact and a message for us today, 50 years later.

The mood of that throng, as I mingled among them, was a surprise. People were determined, but not angry. They had come, yes, to protest against racial and economic discrimination, but also to celebrate. They had come to stake their claim to American democracy and to test whether People Power could move a Congress and a President to expand the boundaries of freedom in America.

Read the full piece here…

A Reporter Remembers the ’63 March

September 3rd, 2013

As first published by The Daily Beast on August 27, 2013National Archives, Records of the U.S. Information Agency, Record Group 306 (ARC ID 542045)

By Hedrick Smith

Fifty years ago today, August 28, 1963, I watched the first advance elements of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom arriving in the nation’s capital. As the sky dawned pink-then-orange behind the stiletto spire of the Washington Monument, an army of overnight buses rolled into the city from points north—New York, New England, the Middle West. They parked single file along the Mall, delivering a small army of people.

The early arrivers bubbled with quiet excitement. In little groups, they moved toward the Lincoln Memorial, talking with hushed expectancy, as they occupied the historic ground at the heart of Washington.

See the entire piece here…

Mayday for America’s Middle Class

August 20th, 2013

(Peter and Maria Hoey / For The Times / August 4, 2013)

As published by the Los Angeles Timeson Sunday, August 4, 2013

By Hedrick Smith

In his fresh effort to put the economy back at center stage in Washington, President Obama has issued a

new challenge to congressional Republicans on the crucial issue of why the American middle class is hurting and which side can best lift average Americans out of the rut. And the president has history on his side of the argument.

Both sides agree that the middle class is financially squeezed. But they disagree on the causes and the cures, which means they are headed for a nasty showdown in the fall over government programs and the budget.

Read the rest here…