Alexa

Billionaires say US debts need attention

Billionaires say US debts need attention

Two billionaires used the opening of a documentary in theaters across the United States on Thursday to urge the country to come to grips with its staggering debt load.
Warren Buffett and Pete Peterson were at the premiere of the movie "I.O.U.S.A." to add their views to the movie's message: An economic disaster will befall the nation if the federal government's $53 trillion in debts continue to grow.
But Buffett said at a news conference before the movie's showing that he doesn't think the country's financial picture is quite as dire as the filmmakers portray.
"I do not regard our national debt as unduly alarming," said Buffett, who is chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., and is listed by Forbes magazine as the world's richest man.
Buffett said he's confident the country will be able to address its debts and remain prosperous, but he doesn't want to see the share of the U.S. gross domestic product devoted to debt continue to grow.
"We've overcome things far worse than what is going on right now," Buffett said.
The film that opened Thursday in 358 theaters nationwide details the federal government's debts. The movie is backed by Peterson _ who co-founded the Blackstone Group LP private equity firm and served as commerce secretary under President Nixon _ and is part of his campaign to give the ballooning debt a central role in the presidential campaign.
"What concerns me more than anything is our savings rate," Peterson said.
Peterson said the meager U.S. rate of savings today means that roughly 70 percent of the nation's debts are being bought by foreign investors, and that could create geopolitical and economic problems for the country.
A live panel discussion will follow the movie, but it will be tape delayed for moviegoers on the West Coast. Thursday's panel discussion features Buffett, Peterson, AARP Chief Executive Bill Novelli and William Niskanen, chairman of the libertarian-leaning CATO Institute.
The "I.O.U.S.A." filmmakers followed former U.S. Comptroller David Walker as he toured the country, speaking to college groups, newspaper editorial boards and community groups about the nation's financial problems.
Most of the talks in the movie took place while Walker still ran the Government Accountability Office, an investigative arm of Congress that audits and evaluates the performance of the federal government.
Walker and the movie cite GAO figures that show the U.S. government owed roughly $53 trillion more than it had at the end of the 2007 fiscal year, the most recent figure available.
About $11 trillion of that covers publicly traded government debt, the amount the federal government owes to employee pensions and the cost of environmental cleanup of federal land. The rest of the $53 trillion figure accounts for projected shortfalls in Medicare and Social Security.
The cost of covering those obligations is expected to soar as more baby boomers become eligible for the two programs.
The film also features interviews with prominent businessmen and officials from both major political parties, such as former Federal Reserve chairmen Alan Greenspan and Paul Volcker and former U.S. Treasury secretaries Paul O'Neill and Robert Rubin.
___
On the Net:
http://www.iousathemovie.com
http://www.pgpf.org
http://www.fathomevents.com
http://www.roadsideattractions.com
http://www.berkshirehathaway.com


Updated : 2021-03-05 10:02 GMT+08:00