Local Politics

Bowles calls for cutting deficit before stimulus spending

Posted November 3, 2011

— Former University of North Carolina President Erskine Bowles said Thursday that the U.S. cannot afford much more stimulus spending and must drastically cut the federal deficit to improve the economy.

Two days after Bowles told Congress' so-called super-committee, which is tasked with trying to cut $1.2 trillion from the deficit over the next 10 years, that he feared they would "fail the country," he was in Chapel Hill to speak at the UNC School of Government.

A former co-chairman of President Obama's deficit panel, he said he needed to be blunt since the super-committee needs to strike its debt-reduction deal by Nov. 23. If it fails to meet that deadline or if Congress doesn't enact a package by Dec. 23, $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts to defense and many domestic programs would begin in 2013.

"This is the most predictable economic crisis in history," he told WRAL News in an exclusive interview. "The fiscal path we're on is simply not sustainable."

Still, he knows the path is difficult. The deficit isn't simply a federal issue, he said, because government spending also affects state and local economies.

It's also very personal. Bowles recounted a conversation with his mother in which she expressed pride in the work he was doing to reduce the deficit, only to add, "Don't cut my Medicare."

Cuts to Medicare and defense spending will be needed, he said, as will an overhaul of the U.S. tax system.

Erskine Bowles Bowles: Deficit 'most predictable economic crisis in history'

Neal Wolin, deputy U.S. Treasury secretary, agrees.

"We're going to have to address deficit issues with a combination of spending cuts and revenue increases," said Wolin, who was in Raleigh Thursday for a meeting of groups working to reduce the number of home foreclosures.

Deficit reduction is a long-term process, he said, but the economy needs Obama's American Jobs Act now to boost the economy.

The Senate has balked at the $447 billion legislation and also has defeated portions of the bill that have been presented piecemeal in recent weeks.

"I'm not talking about another stimulus per se. I'm talking about real, concrete ideas (to put people to work)," Wolin said.

Bowles said attacking the deficit needs to be the first priority for Congress.

"These deficits are like a cancer. They're literally going to destroy this country from within," he said. "I want these guys (in Congress) to do what we sent them up there to do."


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • michaelclay Nov 4, 2011

    VariousGood, it appears that WRAL did.

  • harmstrong4 Nov 4, 2011

    Hey VariousGood...he's and American. you sound like you like this mess Barry has got us into..Go drink some coolade.

  • smegma Nov 4, 2011

    who is asking him? he's not a politician. he's not a university president. who picked up the phone and called him? SERIOUSLY

  • buffalobills-last-roundup Nov 4, 2011

    WOW!!!! A liberal that actually said something that made sense.

    I'm pretty sure the 3rd seal has been broken.

  • artist Nov 4, 2011

    "Erskine Bowles for PRESIDENT"

    I agree. He is absolutely right.

    Tired of hearing about JOBS - JOBS! Why the heck is it the responsibility of business to create any jobs? Tax em' to death if you want... don't tax em' at all... whatever.

    But who are you to demand they create any jobs whatsoever?

    If you do not like a business for whatever reason, do not buy their products. Seems so easy. Then they will go under and you will have your revenge.

    If you think the government is allowing businesses to rape and rob the citizenry... then vote them out.

    But who among you has the right to demand any business spend their money as you demand? None of us have that right.

    Do you think you have the right to demand your neighbor spend their savings account just to stimulate the economy?

  • Rebelyell55 Nov 4, 2011

    November 4, 2011 9:34 a.m.
    Report abuse
    You state a very good point, but you left out all the corp. welfare that been given out in the last 25 years that also have cost as much or more than the social welfare.

  • Rebelyell55 Nov 4, 2011

    If the super committee pay was tied to their performance I bet they would come up with something pretty quick. As it is, nothing is going to happen and the problems in Europe will just make thing worse here. Recession is almost unavoidable in 2012.

  • Gork Nov 4, 2011

    NCPictures - so millions of jobs should have been created since Bush cut taxes, right? But they weren't. Businesses don't invest in public infrastructure and, regarding "private infrastruture", businesses are sitting on a few TRILLION dollars, more cash reserves THAN EVER. And - not fair, you can't answer the question by asking a question.

  • NCPictures Nov 4, 2011

    "So far none of you has explained how cutting spending will create jobs - I was sure you would, from all the ranting about doing that..." ---Gork

    Pretty simple stuff actually. But first, what jobs have been created by spending all of this money? And dont give me that old line of "saved jobs".

    If taxes are lowered, business can invest in more people an infrastructure. In addition, (as was stated before) if businesses know what is going to happen with taxes and other things that effect their bottom line, they will feel free to begin to invest in their business and hire more people.

    Also, sooner or later this debt needs to be paid. All politicians are doing now (and I hate using cliches) are kicking the can down the road. As the old TV used to say, you can pay me now.... or you can pay me later.

  • gingerlynn Nov 4, 2011

    Erskine Bowles for PRESIDENT