tv American Politics CSPAN November 30, 2009 12:30am-2:00am EST
proposal that will mean 100 billion of their funding for climate change in the year 2020 as a result of the contributions of the european union, america and some of the richest countries of the world. we will do everything in our power to secure a climate change agreement in copenhagen. >> thank you, mr. speaker. whatever are the individual speakers on afghanistan there's clarity on the mission. the prime minister has said we're in afghanistan to protect british people against terrorism. and yet almost in the same breath threatens to pull out of the country if president karzai can't clean up his corrupt government. these are contradictory messages they are sending out mixed signals. can the prime minister now square that circle?vu >> we are in the country because of the threat to britain. a threat that has been seen over eight years as a result of projected and actual terrorist defenses in our country. three-quarters of which come
from afghanistan and pakistan and mainly the borders of pakistan. that is why we are there to protect the streets of britain. i was right to ask president karzai to give us assurances about how in his second term he would tackle corruption. he has now announced an anticorruption task force. i gather 12 people have been arrested yesterday from within the core administration. at the same time, i've asked him to appoint district and regional governors and he has agreed to do so that are free of corruption and will deal with the problems of hand that the governor is dealing with helmand. the test i have sent to president karzai. he's met by speeches and now they have to be met by delivery. next week, i believe, we will see the american government and the rest of nato coming together in a strategy that will mean we will have the forces that are necessary so that we can create the space for a political solution in afghanistan that means our streets will be safer. i think it is as clear as that. >> tony lloyd. ?
>> thank you, mr. speaker. the prime minister will be aware of the warning of the top cop of the dangers and the widespread need about the investments in the police commissioners. can the prime minister tell the house whether this labour government will ever allow the police to be politicized as the conservatives propose? >> mr. speaker, the operational independence the chief police officers is of and has been and should continue to be an important constitutional principle. it must be clear that chief officers and chief officers alone are responsible for running their force. and i believe that the leader of the opposition should immediately withdraw his proposal that would mean the politization of the police and has been criticized by the chairman in the last few days. >> dr. evan harris. >> when the lord chancellor in march talked out my private members bill which would end the discrimination against catholics
in the role of secession and women in the line of succession. the government recognized this discrimination should end. can the prime minister confirm that he is as the lord chancellor said is ready to consult the relevant commonwealth heads of government this week and can he say that he's confident that we can then sort this out so that the -- >> prime minister? >> mr. speaker, the act of succession is outdated. i think most people recognize the need for change. change can only be brought about by not just the united kingdom but all realms where her majesty is queen and making the decision to change. that is why it is important to discuss this with all members of the commonwealth with all countries such as australia and canada and that is the process that will be undertaken in due course. >> thank you, mr. speaker. is my right honorable friend aware of the growing evidence in
the north hamton families and the recession. as a result of the recession women are doing more of the bred-winning and men of more of the caring and what further measures will his government take to support the flexible working arrangements that are needed for today's working families? >> mr. speaker, there are about 500,000 more families receiving working tax or child tax credit as a result of the help we're giving in a recession. i think people in this country have got to make a choice. do we want to help families and help children through these difficult times or do we -- or do we wt to cut -- i think i know what choice the people of this country will make. >> each week, the house of commons is in session, we air prime minister's questions.
wednesday at 7:00 a.m. eastern and then again on c-span at 9:00 p.m. eastern and pacific and that c-span.org you can find an archive of past prime ministers questions. >> on tuesday, president obama will address the nation outlining his afghanistan strategy. we will have coverage on tuesday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern live on c-span networks. >> on this boat, the yeas are 60 and the nays are 39. to 3/5 of the united -- of the senators being chosen have voted in the affirmative. the motion is agreed to. >> with that vote, the senate moves its health-care bill to the floor. that is live on our companion network, c-span2.
what's tuesday, the u.s. house gutters with suspension build boats at 6:30 p.m.. later in the week, but the work of the permit a state tax bill. -- later in the week, they will work on a permanent the state tax bill. u.s. foreign policy was discussed. we will hear from the publisher, and columbia university business school dean glenn hubbard. this is about 90 minutes. ok, let's get on with the work of the evening. if any of you, i think all of us have, read newspapers. you may be wondering where america -- whether america is in
a long-term decline. this is nothing new. n of america's decline does nothing new. go back to that. when the popular refrain was, " come home america," and isolation was on the rise. many said that our form of government was different than the soviet union, but it was not necessarily better. we had to learn to live without, not to mention the rising price of oil, the emergence of the middle east cartel, the first bout of hyperinflation, high unemployment, and the idea of stagflation was going. then came the 1980's, and almost everything went in precisely the opposite direction, which is why this panel is not called america in decline.
i am not suggesting that last time was an anomaly or that this time will necessarily be different. but tonight, the question will be what our esteemed analysts think about the future of the united states as we stand here at the end of 2009. we really have an extraordinary group of panelists. let me just share their introduction so everyone knows who they are. i have learned that people like introductions. certainly, i like it louise gives me that wonderful introduction. we will first hear from richard haas, counsel for relations, who has worked with two presidents. as council president, he has truly been an entrepreneurial leader. it has always been important, but richard has he brought many
scholars and expertise and wide range of subjects. his most recent book is called a " war of necessity, war of joyce," -- "war of necessity, war of choice." glenn hubbard is no ordinary academic. he is dean of columbia business and a tenured professor of finance and economics at the columbia school of arts and sciences. he has worked for the treasury and as a consultant to the federal reserve bank, and recently he wrote a book called "healthy, wealthy, and wise -- five steps to better health care system." next is robert keeton -- kag an, senior associate at the carnegie endowment for
international peace. he has served in the state department as a member of the policy planning and writes a monthly column for the washington post-and is the author of a great history book, dangerous nation, america's place in the world. finally, we have mort zuckerman. his activities span the world of business, where he is co-founder of one of the largest and most successful real estate empires in the country. and the media world. as co-publisher of the new york daily news, his editorial voice in those publications and many others is a strong and powerful
one, and he provides deep insight on many questions. each of us will talk for of five minutes to explain their views, and then he will -- i will try and engage a panelist for questions i have prepared and we will do that for 20 minutes or 25 minutes. at that point in time, we will open it up. with that, let me welcome richard haas. [applause] >> let me thank roger, not just for assembling my colleagues tonight, but for all that he does to introduce the themes i talk about in the next few minutes. his contributions are important.
you cannot discuss the future of the united states without discussing the future of others in the world. to put it another way, the las vegas metaphor does not work. what happens here will not stay here. it will go there. what happens there will not stay there, it will come here. so our future, for better or worse, is inextricably intertwined with the future of others. at the risk of being misunderstood, though, let me say something about our future. the united states will continue to grow economically, maybe not as robustly, but it will continue to grow, it will continue to get stronger militarily. so by absolute measures, we will grow and get stronger. we begin from a higher base, as
opposed to those who have gdp in the whole or per-capita. that is simply a fact of life. the fact that the united states will decline in relative terms, relative terms, is neither good nor bad in itself. it just is. indeed, one of the great moments, the golden year as, was the aftermath of world war two, were the united states grew absolutely, declined relatively, and engineered that decline, and a principal part of it was called the marshall plan. the idea of a relative decline is not bad, but it depends what happens here. what is the pace and nature of change and what happens elsewhere in the relationship between the two. let me just say something about the two sides of the future. what happens elsewhere, what
happens here. economic growth is inevitable, particularly in asia, the most dynamic part of the world, and we would like to stay that way for the foreseeable future. and the growth in others is something we cannot control. in principle, the fact that others get stronger gives them potential to contribute more and become part, so the challenge for american foreign policy is to influence how others use their guerin -- growing strength and capabilities, to integrate them into an international order with the arrangements that we take the lead in shaping. essentially to help give them skin in the game said it will play the game are rules that we support. we want -- we do not want anyone to think, any leader to think
we're trying to slow terrorist record and an act of terrorism. this is essential the goal of american foreign policy, to integrate others as they inevitably grow stronger, both in absolute terms and relative to us. for ourselves, there's a different goal. that is to make sure the united states stays strong enough so we can participate on the world tries to tackle these global problems and also to discourage anyone from thinking they have more to gain for overthrowing the system rather than working within it. we do not want anybody to be tempted to become what energy -- henry kissinger called a revolutionary power. that will not just happen. it will require us to get stronger, and that means, of other things, we need to take steps to get our economic house in order, to reduce our deficit,
not to eliminate it overnight, but to set it on a path toward gradual reduction. we need to educate ourselves. we do not have the citizenry able to cope with the challenges of the 20th-century, and we need to think of education as not to something and people do, but something that is a life of an enterprise. we need to build economic safety net so people continue to get agitated -- educated. we need to change immigration policy and get beyond the obsession and think about how the united states once again opened its borders and long numbers to a highly educated people who can help for kendall of culture and the reality of innovation so they can stay here when they have so much to contribute. we need an energy policy and independence, an unrealistic goal, but it would help reduce
consumption on fossil fuels. lots more, but we need to put our domestic house in order, essentially. let me say that the biggest question facing the united states is not the rise of islam or anyone else or terrorism or anything like it. the biggest question facing the united states is ourselves. it is rather whether institutions are ready for the challenge to function and tackle real challenges. i do not have the answer to that. in the past, we have the capacity of making ourselves, of dynamism. it is more a political science question as to whether our politics will allow our country to tackle the deficit, or
whether politics are so entrenched that they have made these problems tragic. at the end of the day, what makes history more than anything else is people and ideas. i believe again that the child -- the trial for us is to continue to create a political process for people and ideas to proper. i'm afraid that the answer to that is not obvious. i think there are real questions about whether the politics of the united states, whether the institutions have become sufficiently sclerotic, and special interests, whether we are in a position to assert leadership. [applause] >> thank you. >> thank you for your leadership. this is an amazing place.
when roger asked me to speak this evening, he said, i want you to talk about the entire future. listening, 22 minutes can give you the whole world. i want to do something really simple and focus on only two numbers as a touchdown. because this is a said the toll of history, i want to frame and in a historical story. back to 1959. interesting impromptu exchange between then-vice president nixon and premier khrushchev on consumer goods and the notion of whist country is better able to satisfy consumer wants. nixon pointed out when challenged record show the superiority of color television.
but this was a big deal for president nixon. his knowledge that the u.s. might not fare so well in the comparison about missile construction or thrust. fast forward a year to the debate with senator kennedy for the presidency. kennedy called nixon on that and said it is on acceptable, senator kennedy, that we would say this, because clearly missile thrust is more important, and as an economist, what is more important to me is what the vice-president said. nothing. the correct answer is the superiority of the united states, because of a small critically important number called productivity growth. one of the things that will
determine our future is the pace of that growth. vice-president nixon's error was a simple one, but it really was the key to why the race between the united states and soviet union was vastly different. there was also an essential air -- error. crucial for got a simple number. the no. i'm about to say is a constant. it never changes. it is called 100%. the tierney of 100% is that the shares of government spending must add to 100%. why do i raise an obvious fact of arithmetic? what crucial for got -- khrushchev forgot was that an
allocation towards defense is simply with the resources of the productive sectors of the economy, undermining productivity growth. in the same argument of government spending shares adding to 100%, our tierney has to do with missiles -- not missiles for defense, but entirely -- entitlement spending, looking forward and spending so much more on our entitlement programs that we must have the ability to project american authority and defense or educate our children, a simple number that the congressional budget office tells us if we do not do anything, 25 years from now we will consume 10 percentage points of american gdp, more
than they do today. for that to happen, crowding out would occur. these two numbers give a snap the pitch to the story, which is that productivity growth is so important, what can we do about it? two things we can do about it are to write the shift of our financial system, which is a bulwark of our strength in recent decades and to pick up on something richard said, to continue to promote openness in the american agenda and free trade. on entitlements, we cannot raise taxes sufficiently to fund promises under current law. i make that statement less as a matter of politics as arithmetic. to do so would crowd out the entire increase in american growth that has happened in the past 20 years. i would just wind up with the point richard concluded on,
which is that the real thing here has to do with these numbers, the tyranny of 100% and productivity growth. they are not economic insights. there's a real question as to whether we can deliver not only the right outcome for productivity growth but the right mix for our budget. because i am the eternal optimist, i would close with the note that american history has been replete with such arguments on the economic side. we have been successful, and we will. [applause] >> thank you. then a star with three stipulations. one is that we have had this discussion practically every decade for the last four about impending american decline, but that does not mean we are not
right to be having now. we've gone through this before, in the late-80's, and secondly, i would stipulate that what goes up must come down and the united states is not going to be no. 1 forever. at some point, and the question is, are we at that point, 20 years away, a century away, or more? that is the question. if we are counting on the quality of our political leadership and the abandonment of special interests, we are again dead. because my reading of american history is that that is the norm, not the exception, people rising above the norm is rare, and we succeed despite all of our sclerotic politics. and that is why bismarck said god looks after drugs, children,
and the united states of america. i want to try and dispel to debut exaggerations' that i think lead us to accept pessimism about our current situation. one is the tremendous overestimation of the power we had. i heard that america can no longer do everything it wanted to do. i do not remember the time where that is true. if you look of the entire history of the cold war, it was marked a lot by not being able to do what we wanted to do until we were finally able to do what we wanted to do. but if you look at the time frame that people talk about a decade around the end of world war two, if you think about the events, the marshall plan and reestablishment of nato and getting europe's trade, other things happened.
the iron curtain fell, and that shook the entire cold war in an adverse way. there was a major setback soviet testing of a hydrogen bomb, the korean war, and the 1950's. the united states still enjoys a substantial of vantage as a great power and super power. one is the oldest behalf, which is geographic. we're the only major power that
does not live in the neighborhood, doing major power. this is what i call the wolf fourth principle, because it is by a political scientist by that name illustrating it. if you look at the major powers like china, russia, and india, in order to get to where they are perched american power, long before they get to the point, they will get to those around them that have, as geography has it, some other part to look for for assistance. so as china grows bigger and stronger, it is not surprising that we find greater eagerness or more american involvement in the region, not less. and i think although our west european friends are in european friends are in different,
-- there is a checking mechanism. that does not have to work. that is something that other european powers have to overcome that we do not have to overcome. i continue to believe that we are the world's most dynamic economy, even if we are going to our doldrums. i will leave it to this panel to say that something we are doing now has fundamentally changed that dynamism to the point where we will no longer be dynamic. i am not persuaded that that is no longer the case. finally, there is the fact that our enormous defense capability that is not measured in the size of our $600 billion budget deficit, which is roughly 3.5% of our gdp, it is a very large number. but 3.5% of our gdp is a low
figure. at the end of the cold war, we were spending up to 8% and for the first two decades of the cold war, we were spending upwards of 15% to 20%. . . sustain high spending is substantial, and in addition, to the extent in which the debilities for personnel training are there, it is far better than potential competitors. there are weaknesses, potentially, and pitfalls i worry about. we have mortgaged our future, that will have an affect on our power, but that is not something that we cannot do anything about. about. i worry about the strength of our allies, because if you want to talk about relative decline in the world, the unmistakable decline is for our european allies. they are in a state of decline, spending less and less, less capability, falling behind. now have to worry about china, which soon will be of spending
the entire european union in dollars and capabilities, and also russia and india. so i worry about our allies and about ourselves for different reasons. i worry that we are prone to commit suicide for want of being murdered. by which i mean that we will convince ourselves that we are in decline before we are actually in decline and begin to take actions which, in fact, hasten our decline. we begin in particular to start ceding power and authority to other great powers before it is necessary or right to do so. thereby, in a way, we create a self-fulfilling prophecy. that is the shorthand. i will be happy to talk about it in our questions and answers. finally, does it matter? richard suggests, i think, that is neither here or there and it just depends what.
we were declining relative to our european partners during the cold war, during the and, relative to japan. i do not consider that actual decline. if your allies robert, you get stronger. that was the genius. where is different and i disagree with some is to talk about china in the same way. i do not see china as a future partner and buddy and strategic pal of the united states. i see china as a competitor. i think that they see themselves as a competitor. i do not think it will be easy for us to sway them from that notion because it is so fundamentally true. we can talk about this in the question and answer, but when we talk about integrating powers, especially rising powers, there's the question, do they want to be integrated? we're asking them to be integrated into a system of our making. it serves our interests.
the one system that serves our interests and is of their choosing, and i think our ability to integrate will to a certain extent be limited and we will have to engage in old- fashioned realist activity of balancing and checking as we try to integrate. i know that richard does not disagree with that. let's not kid ourselves that it does not matter. there is a lot about the situation that is the product of american power, and i think that a lot of people live under the illusion that we can proceed but all the things we like will stay the same. that is an illusion. things we like about the world will begin to disappear as other people shape the world in ways that we may not like. thank you. [applause] .
country and this culture. in many ways, there are unique -- it was perfectly cared -- it clear to me that a body with energy and talent would want to move here because of the opportunities created -- and not just in terms of economic opportunities, but in general. it open society from the bottom up and like a place like canada or england that was more of the top down society. there was much less present -- prejudice. despite all of this experience that would have made me very optimistic on some new levels, i have developed an increasing sense of pessimism about where we're going in the future. the main reason for that, frankly, is the propensity of the american system now to produce weekly -- leadership to
paralyze that leadership. without it, we will have a difficult time solving the myriad of problems that we are trying to grapple with. the emergence of this kind of leadership where, in a sense, the national interest is put more head of the political interest -- it has always been a part of the history of the united states. what worries me is the rare inability of leadership to concern itself -- to discern itself as leadership. we're living in york where someone came out of the wilds and gave the impression for a very long time that he put the interest of the city ahead of his own political interests. for that reason, his role was enhanced. this is a country that is hungry
for that kind of leadership, and we don't see it very often. this is the exception to the rule. what worries me about the ability to produce the right kind of leadership is the nature of our political system and the nature of the role of the media. i find myself a little bit puzzled. it in terms of our political system, unlike the british system where you have the cabinet and the majority in the house of commons so that your executive and legislative branch comes out of the same party. it doesn't mean you will be reelected, but you can make decisions that will be made legislation. at least there is the chance to implement major programs. we have a system now where the legislator has hundreds of different constituencies and is responsive to various elements and is almost always with
depressing ready, you get the sense of people not putting the national interest ahead of their political interest. it is extraordinarily difficult to deal with the issues, whether it be health care reform or a stimulus program we have a political system that is not conducive to general leadership. it doesn't mean -- is much more difficult to imagine that occurring that it is. this is something that worries me enormously. it is easy to talk about what would be wise international or domestic policy. it is much more difficult to implement it. the fragmentation of political power is an enormous cost
involved in running for office and staying in office. there factors that have emerged in the most recent decade. it seems to me to suggest -- we will meet increasingly going forward. we have always had the luxury of being shielded. canada was not a threat to the united states. no matter what you may have thought, we're not taking over the country in any way. it is very difficult to attack the united states. one thing is the absolute shock to the system that came out of 9-11 -- 9/11.
it was the first time we had an attack on our soil since the british attacked the white house. it happened a scale that will completely upset the whole country. i do not know if we have the capacity to deal with these kinds of issues. there is such an emotional response that makes it very difficult to govern, and the role of the media does not help. particularly when the media is more visual than it is reality. the images tell partial truth, the humans do not tell the truth. they distort the american political system and indeed, the american political issue. it is astounding to me to see how people can claim a victory on today's news stories.
it is going on today, as we speak. i find it very discouraging. i remained optimistic about the qualities of american society. its willingness to recognize merit -- the one thing that is disturbing to me is the corruption. not just an economic corruption, but in terms of the money that it takes to dominate the media on one level or another and how this can be presented to the american public in ways that really did not tell an accurate story. i have no answer to that unless the other members of the panel decide to run for office. [applause] >> what i would like to do is engage with our panel members.
initially, we will do a couple of foreign policy questions and we will do the economic question. i would just ask that we try to keep our answers as brief as possible. not so brief to say nothing, but brief enough so that we get a lot accomplished in this time. . -- time period. i think we have to ask ourselves this question. i will ask you this, richard and bob. will we have to learn to live with red as a nuclear power -- with i raran as a nuclear power? and will begin this weapon to states like saudi arabia, syria, egypt, turkey, jordan?
and what will that do going forward? -- in terms of united states security and global security? >> the short answer is will we have to live with iran as a state with nuclear weapons, i would certainly hope not. it would provide a backdrop for which there foreign-policy which is already plenty assertive -- this is a principle states sponsor of terrorism. this is the group that is the principal backer of such entities as hezbolla and hamas. an iran the next time there were either confrontation between israel and iran or between israel and one
of iran's proxy's, and as your question suggested, roger, proliferation would not stop there. -- one of iran's proxies. it is a process. several of the sunni arab regimes, possibly as well as turkey, might reexamine their policies or positions. as bad as the middle east is today, the idea of a middle east with multiple finan errors on multiple triggers ought to be anyone's sense of a strategic nightmare, but the real question is, can you stop it? there are two ways. one is in negotiation, whether the iranians would agree to a ceiling on something we feel confident with. i have no idea whether that is negotiable. we will try to do so. it is right to try. we will see if we can get the russians and chinese to join the united states.
again, given what is going on within iran and the politics, nobody here can sit and predict with certainty if the negotiations will succeed. would consider with certainty that the negotiations will succeed. the principal alternative is military force in my own view. the united states would buy a small amount of time, perhaps a couple of years. i do not believe it would change the basics. that would be the principal, a lesson derived by most iranians i would worry that a military strike would short circuit the most interesting and promising political dynamic in the middle east, which is the rise of the islamic revolution. i feel a little bit like yogi berra, if there is a fork in the road, take it.
we have no particularly attractive options. we have to look at deterrence. >> i do not have much to add to what richard said except that if you look back at history at all the times when people say, if only this country had done this, it could have forestalled the horrors to come. if only the french had stopped hitler. if only britain had been able to land the force on the continent that would deter germany before world war one. they are immensely difficult. immensely dangerous. if the actions had been taken, people would blame them for doing it. this is what of those things that of course, it is terribly
difficult, but i do believe that as we look back on those episodes, if we look back on this and say that we did not stop iran from getting nuclear weapons, we will consider it a missed element with big consequences. what is interesting to me is that the breadth of opinion runs from the right to all the way to the non-proliferation. some of the most fervent in the administration are about non- proliferation. you'll get tremendous proliferation following a iran. people see venezuela or brazil drizzling -- pursuing nuclear weapons. the notion that iran can go ahead and do this without consequences is astounding.
if something is unacceptable, you have to do [unintelligible] >> is there anyone there really thinks that when the administration says that is unacceptable, will they do anything about it? it is hard for me to understand. they are an administration committed to engagement. it is the use of the kind of force that it would take to deter a regime like iran. there is concern in parts of the arab world over whether or not this is an administration that is willing to be tough. as a major leader said, we're not sure that the united states has the will to confront its enemies. we don't even know if they have the will to support their friends.
i think that if iran and its achievement of nuclear capabilities is going to be the litmus test, and if all the estimates are right, this is going to happen in the next 18 months. it is certainly a new world. i can't imagine that we hope -- it is something i don't see happening. does anybody here think that the administration is going to oppose force? -- oppose iran with force? >> the pentagon is close to acquiring a deep penetration conventional weapon. why this news has made it to
television, i don't know. but i suspect. stranger things have happened in history. i do not rule out the possibility that the administration would take that action. in >> let's talk about taxes. [laughter] the administration plans to raise income-tax is as taxes on related items from health care to energy. with these projected increases, we will be flirting with a 60% federal marginal rate, on top of which there are state and local taxes. what will be the impact of these kinds of changes in our tax policy relative to economic growth?
in a given that the driving force in this administration or any would be how you create jobs. can this strategy work? what would you recommend? >> those are a lot of great questions. for the dismal science to become the more entertaining part is a rare thing. i would begin by saying that marginal taxes are high -- [unintelligible] what the american people for get and what our leaders often forget -- the really fundamental finance decisions are about spending. taxes and deficits are accounting terms that pay for spending. we either pay for today or we shift the bill to our children. are we locking ourselves on to a spending trajectory that
necessarily implies tax increases? if we don't make changes soon, absolutely. we have entitlements alone in a commitment to spend 10% of american gdp. we might cut back on defense and education, but we are on the hook for a tax increase. economists that have studied the link between taxes and growth, if we raised taxes as much as it would take to validate the end of this president's budget, we would probably crowd out about a full percentage point of american gdp growth. that is the entire dividend that we got from productivity since the 90's. these are not nesmall numbers.
economists -- the reason i say it is necessary, we cannot raise taxes with the current system enough to accommodate. for a variety of reasons, we will see that. you asked about jobs. the first is to focus. if you really want to focus on the economy, don't be simultaneously trying to do cap-in-trade and health care. try to figure out what you want to do. we have been talking about mandates in the health care bill, set to increase taxes, all of these things are job killers. that would include a focus on basic skills.
>> let me just ask you a related question. i know you have written on it. the congressional budget office has projected that over the next 10 years, national debt will rise from 41% of gross domestic product which it was in 2008, to 82%. two related questions. will we be able to fund this debt without destroying the credibility of the dollar? and relatedly, will we be forced to raise interest rates enough to get them to buy these bonds? what is the risk underlying the nascent economic growth? >> it is clear was pessimistic
in my first comment. i think we are in a very strange position as a country in macro economic and microeconomic terms. we have had a shock to the system that is really unprecedented. it is affected -- it has affected the attitudes of american business. they can make quite a bit more money by cutting costs. the cost is going down. what does that mean? they're letting people go and they are not going to rehire as many people that had been hired when we come out of recessions. other discretionary expenditures which probably have national significance -- i refer you to advertising in print.
this is really a national tragedy. wherever business has really looked at their operations and really -- i think productivity went up something like 9% in the third quarter. at an unprecedented and probably unsustainable number. it tells you something about where the american business world is. we will see a continuation of this as we go forward. because virtually -- in a sense, the growth of the economy is primarily going to be keeping costs under control. the opportunities for hiring or rehiring is the lowest it has been in the last 30 or 50 years. the attitude has changed, and it
has changed for consumers. we were on a consumer binge that was sustained by borrowing. that is no longer sustainable. the attitude of the consumer has changed. we will see -- i don't see how we will be able to sustain -- we will have to do it. as we were implying, there is tremendous downward pressure on the ability of the american economy to grow. i do not think that we're going to be in a position -- we have no choice about that -- debt. if you have too much credit card debt, or a disproportionate low
in relation to the value of your home, if you lose your job, you still have to pay your debts. so we will be in the same position as a country. the issue of that has become a more serious political issue. the country is really worried about the assumption of debt and what it means for succeeding generations. it goes in the same issue that i find pretty deeply troubling. the about the deficits that we are building into our system are really staggering. if you look at the health care system carefully, it is going to add dramatically to our national debt. debt. it is going to be and i think, therefore, we are also looking at a period where not only the economy will be
squeezed, but the public will have a very different attitude towards any kind of new programs, and we are going to be in a position where income taxes or other taxes are going to go up to sustain this. i just do not see how it will be able to be changed. it would be wonderful if it were not the case. i just do not see how we get out of the box that we are building for ourselves. >> can i add something to that, roger? i cannot put a probability on it, but you race to china, as well. to me, china and the u.s. faced the old prayer of "lord, make me virtuous, but not yet." a change done gradually but is not yet part. this could still all and well, but the u.s. needs to gradually start to increase savings. china actually needs to go the other way. they actually need to strengthen safety nets, that is to reduce their savings.
these styles are turned gradually enough, the plane can land with the casualties. >> ok, one or two more questions, and then we will open it up to you guys, but let's start with you, richard, on this. between 1945 and 1989, the united states went through what has been called the long war, the cold war. the cold war against the soviet union. the cold war. the cold war against the soviet union. are we got a similar time, but the time of some form of conflict -- are we not in a similar time? the time of some form of conflict? how do we have bill ourselves domestically? ? there is some sort of a conflict
or struggle with terrorism that is done in the name of islam. i'm not particularly wild about the metaphor that suggests that military instruments, soldiers, battlefields -- none of those things seem to be right. one is for people that have made a career choice to be terrorists. we have got to stop them. the best analogy i am able to think of is disease. attack it where you can. you've got to build recovery mechanisms. we're likely to see another -- that is part of what we have to do. we have to go after terrorists in the country's -- counties.
that is easier said than done as we see every day with pakistan. pakistan is a painful reminder. the bigger challenge is to get to people before they make a career choice. we want to somehow interrupted the recruiting chain because there is a limited number of terrorists. there is an unlimited number of what you might call potential terrorists. that requires getting inside the education system, getting inside the process by which religious leaders are taught and trained. at the top of the list, that includes influencing saudi policy.
it has been the most unhealthy. it means getting inside pakistan in figuring out ways to bolster the government so they can change the curriculum. to borrow from the late great political scientist, in order to avoid a clash between civilizations, we have to do what we can to stimulate a clash within the sterilization. -- with any civilization. -- within the civilization o. it limits with the u.s. government can do. u.s. foundations and universities can play a role. for muslims to have within their
own societies -- if we limit ourselves to going after existing terrorists, that will be a loser's game. i never forgot what the ira told her. dillard and they came close. they said that we felt tonight, but you have to succeed 100 percent of the time. we don't. we hope that we succeed 100% of the time. as good as we are, we can't expect to succeed 100% of the time. we have got to somehow figure ways of getting inside the recruiting chain of these organizations. >> in the largest sense, this
struggle is going to be with us for a long time. with all respect to richard, i am always told that my foreign- policy is too ambitious. but the notion that a judeo- christian culture will get inside their heads and convince them to go in a different direction -- i agree with you that they have to deal with it by our ability to -- influence their decision. what i worry about, and i was critical of the bush administration for this, his foreign-policy that is built around fighting that struggle. there is too much else going on for us to focus only on this. to see everything going on through the lens of this struggle. the paradox is, as richard says, the risk of making a mistake is so high that the risk of not stopping is so high.
you can't make it the only focus of your foreign policy. he had to do your best to deal with this. the other great powers -- i do not want us to lose focus by -- i don't think the military will have a tremendous amount of these struggles. i would say that if you ask me to put money down right now as to whether or not we will wind up taking military action in somalia before the end of the obama administration, i would say it is better than 50%. there'll be times that we will not be able to permit them taking over that territory. is the higher likelihood of
death in his chosen career. >> one second. i just have to requests. -- two requests. no political statements, grand visions, or geopolitical strategies. i just want -- just one question per person. this gentleman is the most eager. he probably has a real soft ball. >> i am impressed with all the members of the panel. whether it is in regard to iran or regard to combating islamic
fundamentalism/terrorism, in terms of what you read in the newspapers, china, russia, and other players -- are they at divergent points of view with the united states? the press reports are indicating they're coming around a little bit, but not cooperating. wouldn't it be the case that they would also have an interest in combating this as well. -- as well? >> the question is whether china and russia are against nuclear weapons. they are. the real question is if they will do something to make that not come to pass. they seem reluctant to introduce or support the kind of robust sanctions that might actually
place something in a helpful role. they're both also worried about iranian support of subversion within their territory. russia and china fear the impact. they're both likely to be what you might call limited partners. the process that is under way, the negotiating phase is going to persuade the iranians that the risks are greater than what they perceive to be the benefits. >> the0 this gentleman right here.
-- this gentleman right here. >> they seem to have these long- distance missiles. >> we didn't have to ask the question, can we learn to live with nuclear weapons? we are already living with north korea at the's nuclear weapons. -- north korea's nuclear weapons. i hope that we will build a missile defenses to deter them from doing that. north korea has so few foreign policy options. they are so bottled up in their miserable corner of the world. if your japan, you don't feel this way. -- if you are japan, you do not feel this way. we learn a great deal more about
iran posing nuclear-weapons -- iran's nuclear weapons. i stay up late at night less over north korea. >> the big question i have is china. the one country that has potentially decisive moves on north korea is china and they have decided not to exercise it so far. we need to get china to play a more helpful role to reassure them about what -- that ought to be the ultimate foreign policy goal. there are limits to what i believe we can do. if the north koreans don't do it themselves, it is in beijing.
>> yes, sir? that's it. >> one question, where do we get the resources to deal with the kinds of things being proposed? [inaudible] we haven't got the forces or the manpower. and we don't have the resources financially. or any of the other things going on. somebody please give me an answer. >> i believe we have the military capabilities. there may be a lot of post of
and consequences. we do have the military capacity to be able to knock out virtually everything that iran is doing, assuming we know where most of it is. i don't think that is the issue. we're spending billions of dollars on our military costs. by almost any standards, that will give us the military capability. as you know, i think our biggest are not going to be on the military side, but on the civilian side of things. these are going to be enormous and growing costs that are not going to be sustainable. if anybody wants to hear david walker, who is now the head of the peterson institute, he knows these facts inside and out.
those costs are very frightening in terms of our ability to see them over the next decade. >> an educational system for its people, a strong public good, and a social safety net. it would require productivity growth, and we have that and can encourage that, but the particular safety net that we have, as mort says, we are on an unsustainable path, and the taxes are simply incompatible with the growth that would require paid for everything else, so we have to make a decision as a country to either cut back entitlements spending over the next generation, where we will cut back everything else. >> ok, joe? we have got to get a microphone. >> we have got to get a microphone.
>> we seem to be facing a decision on afghanistan right now. the president seems to be getting conflicting advice. where would you come down on this issue, and how would you justified it -- justify the incursions into afghanistan? >> you may end up getting conflicting device if you go to some of my colleagues on this panel. i think afghanistan is a war of choice. what general mcchrystal has suggested, we have a range of options. in order to make a large investment in afghanistan, is somehow central to the effort.
there is nothing special or unique about afghan real-estate. there are lots of other places where al qaeda and groups like it are holing up. it may become a sanctuary where the taliban can undermine pakistan. if they are already don't have pakistan as a sanctuary. i am not arguing that afghanistan is irrelevant. i just don't see it as critical to the effort against terrorism or the future of pakistan. i don't think the general has made the case -- this is really at the heart of the president's dilemma. would it, in the long run, accomplish anything? would the results be
commensurate with the investment? if we put in 40,000 more troops, things will improve. i have no doubt about that given the talent of the u.s. military. the real question is, will it and door once we dial it back? -- endure once we dial it back. there is also the reality of corruption that we're not going to get rid of. i do not see it as producing commensurate results. i would roughly stay where they are for the time being. i would put an emphasis on training rather than more fighting. i would put much greater resources into pakistan, and i would except at the end of the day, there are limits to what we
can accomplish. that is something to you have to keep in mind. you have got to respect political culture. there is a limited ability of the united states to transform them. >> of what this is about pakistan that was interesting. we used to have telephone conversations with the president of pakistan. i would ask him, what can we do to stabilize your country? his in answer was, textile quotas. think of all the things you can do, but textile quotas? >> it would employ a lot of women and it would help me politically. the congress will not allow an increase in textile quotas for pakistan because of domestic political interests. i went back and said, is there
anything else? he said, we have a shortage of flour. i could dispense it to various parts of the country and it would help me. even that could not be done. the when you think about what we can do, it is really a challenge to come up with something that will have durability. i do feel sorry -- it is sorrya mcchrystal strategy. it was asked that he imlement an obama strategy. after a strategic review, he said that this is what we must do. he then turned to general mcchrystal to get advice. he said that afghanistan was a war of necessity. this is not something that the
president of the united states can easily do in reverse himself and saying that -- and say that karzai is corrupt. he was corrupt months ago. this is not new. how do we get the president out of the box that he put himself in? >> bob, do what to say something about this? >> union and entirely different point of view? -- you mean an entirely different point of view? we're not showing enough imagination. it is easy to say that we should maintain the current levels. the question was, he is facing conflicting advice. his problem is that he is gotten too much of the same advice from military. they'll think that current
levels are trajectory toward defeat. if you maintain current levels, we talk about the ft. we're not showing enough imagination about that. the consequence is not negligible. almost everywhere we've never fought -- we've ever gought, -- fought, the consequences are still the same. who knows what happens in afghanistan, and who knows what the ripple effect is around the world. when we talk in terms of a massive increase in forces, at least from my historical perspective, that is not a massive number by any stretch of the imagination. we have employed numbers of
troops overseas in combat situations. the philippines -- the war comes to mind in 1900. not to mention the thousands of troops in vietnam. an additional 40,000 troops is somehow unthinkably massive. i believe it is mistaken. finally, the 40,000 troops make a difference? none of us are experts, but what i believe is the goal of the 40,000 troops is to get to the point where richard wants to get to, creating enough space to create stability to beat back the taliban sufficiently as the train the forces. the strategy is to get -- the only way out as forward. we have to fight our way, and if
we keep current levels, it will be a very unpleasant experience. >> this is a follow-on to rogers initial question about iran turning into a nuclear power. i heard the panel state a couple of options. one dealt with negotiations, and the other dealt with military action. i propose a third option, having spent a fair amount of time with leaders of the green party. they believe that their adoption is regime change. they feel that june 12 was a the -- basically, the great many
iranians said that they were willing to not only go out and the streets, but to die and be tortured for what they thought was the right thing. is there a way that intelligently, we can bring our power to help those three human- rights efforts or even through some form of severe sanctions that would strengthen the green party? >> i believe there are three options before you get to regime change. there is use of military force, and living with it. regime change is an important idea, because to put it bluntly, if iran had a clear weapons, but it was a very different terrain, it would not keep us up as much.
>> a good point. >> but the fact that it is this iran run by the clerics in the revolutionary guard -- the events in june have lit a fuse, and it has raise real questions in the arm of political legitimacy. the political regime has been hijacked by these characters. the problem for policymakers -- it is easy to see the title and a nuclear development than the timeline on political change. i suspect that we would prefer to see political change in iran. their limited tools that we, as outsiders -- the imbalance is
pretty clear. my hunch is that so long as this regime is released to kill and incarcerate large numbers of its own people, my fear is that it will stay in power long enough and then some to develop nuclear weapons if that is, in fact, what it wants to do. i believe we should. it is sort of a backdrop for policy, but i don't think that we have the luxury of making american foreign policy to say that is going to be the policy we're going to count on to resolve this problem for us. regime change in the case of the soviet union took 40 or 70 years. by then, iran can have a lot of nuclear weapons. i would be happy to look at ideas of accelerating the
process, but i don't think that you can walk into the oval office and say, mr. president, i am confident that we have a policy that would bring about regime change quickly enough to be able to make it likely that a less malign iran would emerge. >> the last question on this side. ma'am? this lady here. >> can hear me? i called the when a couple of months ago asking them questions. my question was, while of this -- why are all of these countries becoming clear all of a sudden? -- nuclear all of a sudden?
what happened that everybody wanted to be nuclear? [unintelligible] they say that france gave it to them. it is sort of an accepted and the secret agreement. obama is going along with the whole thing. i think it made everybody want to be nuclear. we have our money, our money, our money. i sorta think -- i have great not -- grandchildren now. what in the hell went wrong? when i called the u.n., i never got an answer.