Recent quotations on the economy that may not put you to sleep....
President Obama: "All of us should be worried about the fact that we have been running the credit card in the name of future generations. We've got to get our debt and our deficits under control. That's going to be our project for the next couple of years."
Carnegie Mellon University economics Professor Allan Meltzer: "The administration's stimulus program has failed. Growth is slow and unemployment remains high. The president, his friends and advisers talk endlessly about the circumstances they inherited as a way of avoiding responsibility for the 18 months for which they are responsible. But they want new stimulus measures -- which is convincing evidence that they too recognize that the earlier measures failed. And so the U.S. was odd-man out at the G-20 meeting...,continuing to call for more government spending in the face of European resistance."
Washington Post economics columnist Robert Samuelson: "What we're seeing in Greece is the death spiral of the welfare state....Virtually every advanced nation, including the United States, faces the same prospect. Aging populations have been promised huge health and retirement benefits, which countries haven't fully covered with taxes. The reckoning has arrived in Greece, but it awaits most wealthy societies."
Nobel economist Gary Becker, a founder (with Milton Friedman) of the Chicago school of economics: "This belief in individual responsibility -- the belief that people ought to be free to make their own decisions, but should then bear the consequences of those decisions -- this remains very powerful. The American people don't want an expansion of government. They want more of what (Ronald) Reagan provided. They want limited government and economic growth. I expect them to say so in the elections this November."
Mark Dowding, head of institutional fixed income in Europe for DB advisors: "You have a number of countries in Europe who have sovereign debt situations where the debt burden is barely sustainable....The thinking is that (if the situation in Greece doesn't resolve well,)what you effectively could be looking at unfolding is the European sovereign version of the Lehman crisis."
David Crane, special adviser to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger: "The state of California's pension debt clocks in at more than $500 billion....That's the finding from a study...by Stanford University's public policy program, confirming a recent report with similar stunning findings from Northwestern University and the University of Chicago. To put that number in perspective, it's almost seven times greater than all the outstanding voter-approved state general obligation bonds in California."
George Melloan, author of "The Great Money Binge: Spending Our Way to Socialism": "The percentage of personal income accounted for by interest and dividends, currently declining, has been doing so throughout this decade. In 2000, interest and dividends accounted for 17.2 percent of personal income. In April, the percentage was 14.5 percent. Interestingly, transfer payments like Social Security and welfare rose to 18.2 percent from 12.8 percent."
Economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former director of the Congressional Budget Office: "Under President Obama, only federal spending is going up; jobs, business start-ups, and incomes are all down. It is proof that the government can't spend its way (into) prosperity."
Clinton administration labor secretary Robert Reich, now a professor at the University of California at Berkeley: "I worry that because it is a kind of super sales tax, (the value-added tax) is regressive. It does not take a bigger bite out of the incomes of the wealthy than it does out of the incomes of the poor, and therefore it is a step backwards toward greater tax regressivity -- as is every sales tax."
Rick Karlgaard, publisher of Forbes magazine: "Caught between a rock of debt and a hard place of slower growth -- and unable to imagine transcendence through tax and budget cuts -- our Washington geniuses will give us inflation. Now add the debt bomb into the mix. The accumulated national debt is $12.8 trillion (about 90 percent of GDP). When federal, state, and local debt surpass GDP early next year the event will trigger headlines and a national discussion of what to do about it. President Obama will renew his efforts to pass a value-added tax....But with Democrats holding much thinner majorities in Congress -- or, possibly, none at all -- the VAT will go nowhere. Unlike Bill Clinton, Obama will dismiss any push for supply-side incentives in the hope of goosing the economy and, along with it, the tax revenue base. So America will take door number three and inflate its way out of debt."
Former City Journal editor Myron Magnet, now its editor-at-large: "Like any grass-roots revolt, starting with the Colonial Committees of Correspondence, the (economy-based) Tea Party movement begins with a resounding no! As one sign (at a rally) commenting on the president's health care takeover phrased it, 'Ram it down our throats, and we'll shove it up your' -- and here followed a picture of a bucking Democratic donkey. The no is remarkably sweeping, too."