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Running on Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do about Itby Peter G. Peterson
"The problems we face are the combined product of decades-old policies and long-foreseen realities — rising healthcare costs, increasing life spans, falling birthrates, a falling savings rate, a tendency to import more than we export. Despite years of warning, we have, amazingly, done nothing to avoid disaster. The really frightening thing is that even during this election year, Americans — the candidates as well as the voters — remain largely indifferent to the crisis. Running on Empty is a tour de force; even if you disagree with Peterson's proposed solutions, the book makes it almost impossible to deny that we do have problems. But will anyone listen to Peter Peterson this time?" Farhad Manjoo, Salon.com (read the entire Salon.com review)
Synopses & Reviews
When Bush came to office in 2001, the 10-year budget balance was officially projected to be at a surplus of $5.6 trillion. But after three big tax cuts, the bursting of the stock-market bubble, and the devastating effects of 9/11on the economy, the surplus has evaporated, and the deficit is expected to grow to $ 5-trillion over the next decade. The domestic deficit is only the half of it. Given our $500 billion trade deficit and our anemic savings rate, we depend on an unprecedented $2 billion of foreign capital every working day. If foreign confidence were to wane, this could lead to the dreaded hard landing.
Peter G. Peterson--a lifelong Republican, chairman of the Blackstone Group, and former secretary of commerce under Nixon--shatters the myths with hard facts and a harrowing view of the twin deficit's real impact. Republicans and Democrats alike have mortgaged America's future through reckless tax cuts, out-of-control spending and Enron-style accounting in Congress. And the situation will only get worse as the Baby Boom generation begins to retire, making unprecedented demands on entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare. Despite what Bush says, we are on a path that could end in economic meltdown, and we simply cannot grow out of the deficit.
In Running On Empty, Peterson sounds the warning bell and prescribes a set of detailed solutions which, if implemented early, will prevent the need for draconian measures later. He takes us behind the politicians' smoke-and-mirror games, and forcefully explains what we must do to rescue the future of our country.
"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. Agent, Andrew Wylie. (July 14) Forecast: The punditocracy will embrace and debate this book. Though Peterson has harsh words for all, George W. Bush's opponents could seize on the charge that Bush and his Congress 'have presided over the biggest, most reckless deterioration of America's finance s in history.'" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Peterson--a lifelong Republican, chairman of the Blackstone Group, and former secretary of commerce under Nixon--reports that Republicans and Democrats alike have mortgaged America's future through reckless tax cuts, out-of-control spending and Enron-style accounting in Congress. In this book, he sounds the warning bell and prescribes a set of detailed solutions.
The national bestseller, described by Tom Brokaw as the “wake-up call we cannot ignore,” with a new preface by the author
Acclaimed by all sides of the political spectrum, Peter Peterson's Running on Empty not only traces the deterioration of Americas finances but offers solutions. This national bestseller is required reading for everyone concerned with Americas long-term economic survival. In clear and concise prose, Peterson offers America not only a vision but the practical steps by which to ensure our childrens economic future. Running on Empty is not only a warning, it is also a manifesto calling for the next administration to finally confront a deep and disturbing problem that politicians of all parties have insisted on ignoring for too long.
About the Author
Peter G. Peterson is the author of Gray Dawn: How the Coming Age Wave Will Transform America--and the World. He is chairman of The Blackstone Group and chairman
of The Council on Foreign Relations.
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