For years, Peterson, secretary of commerce under Nixon and author of Gray Down, has been a compelling Cassandra, warning that the mix of growing debt, an aging population, and deficits in Social Security and Medicare portend disaster. Now, he laments, Republicans pursue reckless supply-side economics and Democrats, assuming a repeal of Bush's tax cuts would enable new government spending, are unwilling to consider limits on entitlements. Citing study after study, the author shows that it is a failure of leadership, not knowledge, that has let deficits loom. Beyond that, add the new burdens imposed by September 11—and the fact that European countries, aging like us, likely will have less money for security and international aid. Peterson attacks 10 partisan myths, among them that means-testing federal benefits will shred the safety net; that the elderly are poorer than children, that Americans are overtaxed and that using tax cuts to shrink government can work. What went wrong? He blames interest groups, individualism, short-termitis and generational change. Peterson offers concrete solutions: among them: index Social Security to prices, not wages; use the federal employees' health plan as a model; force Congress to include unfunded retirement obligations in its balance sheet; and pursue more nonpartisan politics, such as free TV time during campaigns. A self-described "fat cat," Peterson is willing to bear an "affluence test" for Social Security; he challenges leaders to revive JFK's call for civic responsibility.
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Peterson takes the role of an extraordinary flight attendant preparing 290 million passengers for a hard landing--but the landing he anticipates involves not jetliners hitting the tarmac but rather the entire American economy spiraling into insolvency. Basing his conclusions on one inescapable economic reality, Peterson argues that twin deficits in trade and government spending now require an astounding infusion of $4 billion in foreign capital every day just to avert economic meltdown in this country. And foreign investors are growing weary of propping up the U.S. economy while American political leaders ignore the perilously unbalanced government budget. Unfortunately, Peterson finds both major parties locked into pathologically rigid ideologies of denial. While Democrats push for ever-larger entitlements for ever-more interest groups, Republicans press for ever-deeper tax cuts. Neither party will initiate the reforms--succinctly outlined here by Peterson--essential to safeguard the country's long-term financial health. Sobering, urgent, and evenhanded. Bryce Christensen
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It's amazing just how consciously stupid our politicians can be -- especially with a book like this available for them to read. Read morePublished on February 10, 2010 by DJ
Peter G. Peterson, former member of Nixon's cabinet, ex-head of Lehman Brothers, and billionaire co-founder of Blackstone Group, provides a stern warning that the United States... Read morePublished on January 26, 2010 by Swami B
Ten Tremendous chapters:
Chapter 1. Bankrupt Parties, Bankrupt Nation. "Steered by bankrupt parties, in short, we will soon become a bankrupt nation. Read more
Buy this book and share with your friends! This book, which was recommended to me in the Fall of 2008, just as the world financial system began to collapse, is absolutely prescient... Read morePublished on March 31, 2009 by P. Cohen
This is a book about the culture of Washington that has developed over the course of the past 20 years which has resulted in an inability for those active in governance to serve... Read morePublished on September 7, 2008 by RebeccaPea
Before writing my review, I read many of the others and Robert Steele's is best. I agree with him in many particulars, especially since the situation has worsened dramatically in... Read morePublished on August 25, 2008 by David M. Dougherty
When the media or politicians bleat on about the waning economy or "soft" economic conditions, it's usually in regard to the stock market, gas prices, the unemployment rate or... Read morePublished on August 5, 2008 by Sal Nudo
Peter G. Peterson has captured the essence of what is happening in the USA that will eliminate the opportunities to succeed that have been the hallmark of our great nation. Read morePublished on June 23, 2008 by S. Schoonover