Posted by: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. | 13 September 2011

Erskine Bowles on the Economy


Former UNC system President Erskine Bowles , and co-chair of President Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (Simpson-Bowles Commission) gave the 2011 Lambeth Lecture at Garrard Hall in Chapel Hill on September 12. The University’s video of the lecture (and the Q/A session afterwards) can be viewed below. As a Democrat (Clinton’s former Chief of Staff), he is surprisingly full of praise for Republicans like Tom Coburn and Alan Simpson and (see below) Paul Ryan – and even Newt.

While I tend to disagree with some of his priorities relative to what should be fully funded and what should be cut, nevertheless I found his approach, demeanor, and goals to be exactly what is needed.

Here are a couple of quotes from his presentation I found interesting.

starting at the 31:45 mark
“We have the most ineffective, inefficient, anti-competitive tax system in the world. You couldn’t dream up our tax system if you tried.” [His plan for stripping down the tax code and repairing it follows this quote, and it has appealing features.]

starting at the 35:40 mark
“Have any of you all met Paul Ryan? We should get him to come to the University. I’m telling you, this guy is amazing. I always thought I was okay with arithmetic; this guy can run circles around me. And he is honest, he is straightforward, he is sincere – and the budget he came forward with is just like Paul Ryan. It is a sensible, straight-forward, honest, serious budget. And it cut the budget deficit just like we [the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform] did by $4 Trillion.” [He goes on to compare the differences between how Ryan got to the 4$ Trillion compared to the Commission, but his admiration for Ryan never decreases.]

And be sure to listen to the question and answer starting at the 54:50 mark. It proves he has mastered the art of making us affirmatively chuckle, while still not answering the question.

The full lecture is here:

Erskine Bowles delivers the 2011 Lambeth Lecture on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill.


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