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Buffett, others say high U.S. debt levels pose risks

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Jonathan Stempel
Friday, Aug 22, 2008

Warren Buffett, the billionaire co-founder of a top private equity firm and a prominent voice for U.S. fiscal responsibility, called on the United States and its elected officials to combat the nation’s fast-growing, multi-trillion dollar debt load.

Buffett, Blackstone Group LP co-founder Peter Peterson, and former Comptroller General David Walker were part of a panel that spoke Thursday night in Omaha, Nebraska following the national premiere of the documentary “I.O.U.S.A.” The talk was simulcast in more than 350 movie theatres.

The film argues the country might face economic disaster if it can’t find a way to pay some $53 trillion it has committed to spend — and doesn’t have now — as the population ages, and Medicare and Social Security costs soar.

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It also argues, and panelists agreed, that the United States has become too dependent on foreign investors to buy its goods and its publicly-issued debt. There was also agreement that many politicians fear making tough policy choices that have ramifications far beyond the current election cycle.

“Our politics have become so embedded and so partisan, with so many special interests, that they require a massive effort from the public telling them, ‘we want something done’,” Peterson said.

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This article was posted: Friday, August 22, 2008 at 2:59 am

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