Introduction for the new series from Econ4. The Bottom Line looks beyond narrow debates about debt and spending to the deeper, systemic issues facing the US economy. Featuring interviews with some of the most forward-thinking economists in the country, this series provides a thoughtful antidote the simplistic talking points and cynical bromides currently dominating the economic discussion. Each film in the series will be accompanied by an open statement on policy, crafted and signed by members of the Econ4 Network.
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Paul Ryan: This nation is going deeper and deeper into debt. Forty-two cents out of every dollar coming out of Washington, it’s borrowed.
President Obama: Government has to start living within its means, just like families.
Mitt Romney: The amount of debt we’re adding is simply not moral.
President Obama: Reducing spending while still investing in the future is just common sense. We’ve got to cut the deficit.
Paul Ryan: Six point two trillion dollars, the largest spending cut in American history.
President Obama: The largest annual spending cut in our history.
Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism: The debate is really off kilter in terms of what our national priorities should be.
Jeffrey Sachs, Columbia University: “Government can’t do anything, government’s incompetent.”
Mitt Romney: The government does not create prosperity. Free markets and free people create prosperity.
Juliet Schor, Boston College: The free market is a myth. The question is how you structure the market, and who you structure it for.
Gar Alperovitz, University of Maryland (voice): The top 400 people have more wealth than the bottom 180 million taken together.
Robert Pollin, University of Massachusetts-Amherst: And then “nurses are to blame, firefighters are to blame” …what!?
Speaker Boehner: We need to keep the cuts coming…
Paul Ryan: …so that individuals and the economy can be free.
Gerald Epstein, University of Massachusetts-Amherst: After we generated more freedom for the bankers, it created a lot of unfreedom for the rest of us.
James Boyce, University of Massachusetts-Amherst: We’ve had thirty years of rising incomes at the top, thirty years of tax cuts for the richest Americans.
Mitt Romney: High-income people are doing just fine in this economy. They’ll do fine whether you’re president or I am. But let’s get to the bottom line.
Jeffrey Sachs, Columbia University: What the public wants just sometimes doesn’t count anymore compared to what the corporate interest groups want.
Robert Pollin, University of Massachusetts-Amherst: They’re not talking about tightening their belts. They’re talking about the middle class people accepting the fact that their living standard has to go down.
Politician (Tim Pawlenty): Benefits and salaries and pensions…
Politician (Rick Santorum): … these entitlement programs, that’s the big problem.
Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism: We talk about “entitlement reform.” We don’t talk about cutting social security, or more bluntly, having old people die faster.
Julie Nelson, University of Massachusetts-Boston: “Let’s not talk about poverty, let’s not talk about the environment, let’s not talk about real structural change.”
Gar Alperovitz, University of Maryland: We do not have an economic problem. There is no economic problem. We have a political problem managing the wealthiest economy in the history of the world.