FROM Robert Samuelson
Response to President Obama's Speech on Deficit Reduction After a meeting with leaders of both parties in Congress today, President Obama made a speech at George Washington University. He called for reducing the deficit by $4 trillion over the next 12 years. The President called on Congress to enact what he called a "Debt Failsafe," to trigger spending reductions across the board. National Journal's Michael Hirsh is author of Capital Offense : How Washington's Wise Men Turned America's Future over to Wall Street. Robert Samuelson, columnist for Newsweek and the Washington Post, is author of The Great Inflation and Its Aftermath : the Past and Future of American Affluence.
Greece's Debt Crisis and the US On Tuesday, Standard & Poor's cut Greek bonds to “junk” status. Yesterday it cut the credit rating of Spain, which has a much larger economy. Portuguese debt was downgraded as well. With Europe a major market for American exports, recent uncertainty has led to some doomsday scenarios. Is Europe's banking system in trouble? Is the Euro losing its value? What will Europe's financial problems mean for the US? Newsweek and Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson is author of The Great Inflation and Its Aftermath : The Past and Future of American Affluence.
A Medical Miracle with Conflicting Consequences Baby boomers will live almost twice as long as previous generations, and older Americans are going to outnumber the young. There's already competition for jobs, and young people who find work will pay for the rising costs of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. On the bright side, there's a new force of reliable workers with experience as well as good health, and the wisdom to find fulfillment in social improvement. On this archived segment of To the Point, originally broadcast in April of this year, we look at the pros and cons of an aging America.
A Medical Miracle with Conflicting Consequences The post-war promise of paid leisure during the Golden Years may not be an option as the baby-boom generation reaches retirement age. Boomers will live almost twice as long as previous generations, and older Americans are going to outnumber the young. There's already competition for jobs, and young people who find work will pay for the rising costs of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. On the bright side is a new force of reliable workers with experience as well as good health and the wisdom to find fulfillment in social improvement. We look at the pros and cons of an aging America.
Barack Obama: Doing Too Much or Too Little? With the motto, "never waste a good crisis," Barack Obama is pushing a broad agenda at the same time he’s trying to stabilize the financial system and restore economic stability. Eight weeks into his four-year term, the new President appears on TV two or three times a day, each time, it seems, with a different challenge. While polls show the public remains on his side, "Obama’s honeymoon in the corridors of power has come to an abrupt end." Now Warren Buffett and other authoritative supporters say he ought to be focusing like a laser beam on fixing the economy -- right now. The White House insists that issues like healthcare, education and global warming are basic to economic recovery, long term. But is Obama addressing the costs and trade-offs honestly?
The Price of Gasoline: Good News and Bad Since a high of $147 a barrel in July, the price of oil has dropped like a stone. It’s now about $45 a barrel. Some oil economists say dollar-a-gallon gasoline is possible in the US some time next year. That sounds like good news, but it’s the product of a global recession, which the World Bank today called the worst since the Great Depression. Would Americans jump back into gas-guzzling SUV’s? What about energy independence and alternative fuels? Should gasoline taxes be increased to combat global warming and promote international stability?
The Price of Gasoline: Good News and Bad Since the high of $147 a barrel in July, the price of oil has dropped like a stone, to about $45 a barrel. The Automobile Association of America says gasoline prices have dropped in the US for the eighty-second day in a row, to an average of $1.70 a gallon. Worldwide, the price of oil is dropping so fast that dollar-a-gallon gasoline is possible sometime next year. That sounds like good news, but it's the product of a global recession, which the World Bank is now calling the worst since the Great Depression. Would Americans jump back into gas-guzzling SUV's? What about energy independence and alternative fuels? Should gasoline taxes be increased to combat global warming and promote international stability?
The Candidates and the 'Vision Thing' The stock markets are down again, with the Dow Jones Industrial average falling below 10,000 for the first time in four years. With exactly a month to go before the election, the John McCain and Barack Obama campaigns are close in the polls and increasingly negative. Amid increasing concern about the economy, the two candidates are scheduled to face off again tomorrow night with undecided voters asking the questions. We look for "the vision thing." Do the candidates have any big ideas for the 21st Century? Does either want to leave a stamp like Roosevelt's New Deal , the Reagan Revolution or Clinton's New Democrat centrism? How does each see the role of government? Would the economy allow either one to fulfill his promises?
Will the Race for President Turn into a Generational Showdown? During last night's Republican debate in Florida, the only Democrats mentioned were Bill and Hillary Clinton. But the Democratic nomination has yet to be decided. In advance of tomorrow's primary in South Carolina, Clinton and Obama have engaged in a series of nasty exchanges, in what's become the kind of campaign that Obama had hoped to avoid. In his book, The Audacity of Hope , he describes the politics of the baby-boom generation as "rooted in old grudges and revenge plots hatched out long ago," by which he means the 1960's. Obama, who offers a style of leadership designed for younger voters, says he's running against that status quo--Republican and Democratic. Hillary Clinton's campaign says former President Bill will stay on the campaign trail, evoking reminders of eight baby-boom years in the White House. Will post-boom voters be turned off by the politics of divide and conquer? Will boomers themselves be attracted to the Clintons' "experience?" On the Republican side, why does John McCain , the oldest candidate in the race, appeal to young people?
President Bush Announces Economic Stimulus Package President Bush today called for an " economic stimulus package " worth $140 billion, to encourage business to create new jobs and inject money into the economy, and to provide "direct and rapid income tax relief" to the American people. The President said the package "must be big enough to make a difference" and "take effect right away." After talking with him by phone, the Democratic leaders of Congress were optimistic about a quick agreement. Robert J. Samuelson is economics columnist for Newsweek and the Washington Post .
Presidental Politics and the Promise of Change Barack Obama has been talking about "change" since the outset of his presidential campaign. After he won the Iowa caucuses, other candidates began using the word so often it's become a mantra—not just for Democrats, but Republicans too. Are they all saying the same thing, or are they using the same word to convey different messages? Does "change" mean hope? Is it the opposite of experience? Does it mean seeing the last of George W. Bush or doing the same things, only better? Do voters want real change or a vague promise they can invest with their own expectations? We talk about the language and substance of politics.
A Recession on the Horizon? In the past few days, the word "recession" has worked its way out of the business sections onto the front pages of newspapers and the covers of magazines. "Everyone knows…another recession is inevitable sooner or later. Some indicators now suggest that it might be sooner." The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times are headlining stories about a coming recession. Back in August, the Economist asked, does America need one? The sub-prime mortgage crisis and the end of easy credit are putting a damper on consumer spending, which has been driving the economy. Does that mean recession's inevitable? Could it be stopped or at least postponed? Would there be benefits to getting it over with sooner rather than later?
Is the threat from Russia missing from the Russia meddling probe? There's much being made about the Trump administration's possible ties with Russia. But the bottom line is Russia's effort to influence American democracy. Do the President and his aides care enough to take action before voters go back to the polls?
Human Rights in the era of Donald Trump President Trump’s UN Ambassador, Nikki Haley, said today the US might pull out of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council. Serious violators of human rights are members of the Council itself–and a US resignation could make things worse. Later on today’s show, now that he’s into his second term, comedian turned US Senator Al Franken is telling jokes again.
Ex-FBI Director Comey tells his side of the story Today, former FBI Director James Comey came close to calling the President who fired him a liar. The White House denied the claim and called it insulting, but Republican Senators did not challenge Comey’s truthfulness. Many questions remain: did the President try to obstruct a federal investigation? Later, we’ll go behind the “velvet rope” for a look at 5-Star health care for the richest Americans.