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Question: How should the next president address the economy?

George Mitchell: Well, I think all of the candidates have laid out economic problems. I’m a Democrat, and I will support the Democratic nominee, and I believe that both of the remaining Democratic candidates, Senator Clinton and Senator Obama, have laid out economic programs, which I think probably represent the right approach for the country. We have this problem of this staggering deficit and while all three of them have made proposals that will probably result  in an increase, the proposals made by Senator McCain will have a spectacular increase in the deficit, if they’re all put into place, as proposed. It’s really kind of amazing, given the history of politics with respect to the deficit. When I was in the Senate, from 1980 to 1995, there was a lot of concern about the deficit, and Republicans were the most concerned. They made huge issues of it, and I can remember when we were talking about a deficit of a hundred billion dollars, it was like the sky was falling. And we dealt with it. With President Bush, we had very protracted and contentious budget negotiations. You remember his famous pledge about raising taxes, “Read my lips” and then, of course, he proposed raising taxes, with which we agreed. And then President Clinton dealt with it, I think, most effectively in his 1993 budget, which we passed by a single vote. Every single Republican in the Congress, every single one, House and Senate, voted against it, and every one of them predicted that if Clinton’s budget passed, there’d be a recession, there’d be high interest rates, high unemployment, the economy would tank, deficits would rise, and of course the exact opposite occurred. There were other factors, as well, government policy doesn’t operate in a vacuum and by itself doesn’t decide what happens in economic affairs, but it was a significant step forward and I think that’s something that the next President should deal with, along with the economic growth package I was talking about.

 

Sen. George Mitchell on The...

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