Interview with John Tower

On Sunday, the McCuistion Program on KERA aired a retrospective episode on Federal Government Debt, Credit Issues and Foreign Policy featuring the late Senator John Tower (from its first television program 20 years ago). An interview with Jim Hollifield is also featured.

Program overview:

Over the last 20 years the McCuistion Program has looked at various public policy issues that impact the United States. This 20 year retrospective focuses on three key areas that are presently at the core of American society. Looking back in history and going forward in time, key experts take us to the present credit crisis, and government boondoggle.

Berlin Wall

Dennis McCuistion begins with August 13, 1961 and the rise of the Berlin Wall. It was in the aftermath of the Berlin Wall coming down in November of 1989 that we taped our first television program featuring the late Senator John Tower. The Senator compares negotiating with the Soviets during the Cold War to playing chess, which he didn’t and poker- which he did. Ambassador Hank Cooper adds the behind the scenes story with President Reagan and the SDI program… President Reagan wouldn’t capitulate and Cooper says, ”Gorbachev went off and wrote Perestroika.”

Dr. James F. Hollifield, Director of the Tower Center of Political Studies at Southern Methodist University, gives us a very thorough history of Soviet collapse under its own weight of communism, and takes us to the Putin age of ”managed democracy”. We hear from Herb E. Meyer, author of a best selling and controversial video, the Siege of Western Civilization, who talks about Putin as a thug and predicts the coming Russian population diminishing to smaller than the population of Yemen.

China & the Federal Debt

Leaving the topic of Russia, Angelina Kwan, from Asia Pacific Cantor -Fitzgerald, takes us to China, ”China is a country of the future and views the US as a past and present trading partner.” Still our debt affects their position. The exact position of United States debt is dramatically chronicled by Dennis with a chart- held by audience members, extending across the studio. The chart shows that in less than 30 years our debt has gone from $1 trillion to $12 trillion and has quadrupled in less than 12 years from $4 trillion to present day.

In 1991 Dr. James Buchanan, Nobel Prize winner, joined us with a look at the impact of budget deficits. Congressman Ron Paul, R. Texas, expressed his concern about ”honest money”. And in 1995, Kay Bailey Hutchison joined us as well, addressing the issue from her perspective.

We meet David M. Walker, Former Comptroller General, who expresses his concerns with Social Security and Medicare promises that over the next 75 years will not keep up with payroll taxes and premiums. ”$40 trillion is what is needed and we have $0!” Steve Moore, Senior Economics writer for the Wall Street Journal tells us, ”70 to 77 million baby boomers will be retiring in the next 15 to 20 years”, a recipe for disaster if we continue on our present course. And Peter G. Peterson, Chair of the Council on Foreign Relations, and founder of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, talks about how this group can organize given the AARP and other venues, and the significance of this, as 1/3 of this retiring group have no savings, and depend almost entirely on social security and Medicare for their health benefits.

Credit Crisis

Banking comes in for its fair share with the late Charlie Pistor and other bankers taking a fun hit from Dennis on the credit crisis in the 80’s and now. Brian Beaulieu of the Economic Institute for Trend Research brings the economic situation to present day, calling California, ”the poster child for lunacy.” With 65% of the mortgages held there, interest only variable rate mortgages, and homeowners with no equity.

Fred Foldvary, Professor of Economics at Santa Clara University in California, who had predicted the current real estate ”depression”, leaves us with a future prediction- another credit crisis and recession coming up.

Yet, while some of the comments and conclusions made by a stellar cast of experts, this episode thoroughly examines the past, brings us solidly to the present and helps us more clearly understand the future. Thanks as always for joining us as we talk about things that matter with people who care.