Americans need to prepare for a grim economic situation

Americans will grapple with more economic troubles: Edward Peck

Thu Dec 27, 2012 12:42PM

Interview with Ambassador Edward Peck, consultant & TV commentator

A former diplomat tells Press TV that the United States economy is going through a ‘grim situation’ and the American people should be prepared for harsher times.

The uncertainty of an agreement between the White House and Congress to prevent the country from going over the so-called fiscal cliff has frustrated US citizens. The fiscal cliff refers to a combination of tax increases and spending cuts that are set to come into force on January 1, unless Republicans and Democrats can come together with an alternative budget plan. Economists warn that such a shock could send the economy back into recession. According to a Gallup poll released on Wednesday, hopes of a fiscal-cliff deal by the end of the year dropped amongst Americans last week, with only 50 percent of Americans now expecting a resolution this year. The figure was down from 57 percent six days before.

Press TV has conducted an interview with Ambassador Edward Peck, a consultant and TV commentator in Washington, to further talk over the issue. The video also offers the opinions of two additional guests: Bruce Dixon, from the Georgia Green Party in Atlanta, and Eric Draitser who is the founder of from New York. The following is an approximate transcript of the interview.

Press TV: The headline reads: A final effort to negotiate a deal with Congress on this fiscal cliff. But whether a deal is reached or not, which it probably is going to, shouldn’t the focus be on spending by this US administration?

Peck: Certainly, it should be on a number of things and that is one of the key things that should be focused on. I think it is important for all of us to remember that the spending by the US government is not decided by any one individual. That is the way our system is set up.

We have political parties. Sometimes they are working together and sometimes they are not. You have the common people who can express their views to their representatives in the Congress and then you have the president and the attention that he has to pay to what the parties and the people want.

So it has always been a little bit difficult but I think most Americans, a lot of Americans, would agree today that the divisions between the two major political parties are perhaps one of the key handicaps to climbing out of this rod that we have been in now for the last couple of years and that does not seem to have much chances for real success unless people are ready to negotiate rather than on either side, sticking hard and fast to their rules and nobody being willing to give.

Press TV: Roughly and around 24 percent of the spending there, equaling about a trillion and now the US is sending troops to 35 African nations. Not to get into political discussion about that, having troops all over the world, whether this actually helps or do they attract to the US, but isn’t the US going overboard regarding this?

Peck: Well, if you ask me, yes. The other two gentlemen have certainly had views on political situation and the words that are used to describe it. As a former diplomat, I am very much concerned with the impetus in the United States that we see rather clearly, using some of the statistics that you just mentioned, to believe that it is our role to run the world and to affect everything that happens everywhere.

That smacks a little bit of imperialism. Let’s be honest, if it is okay, it has smacked an awful lot of imperialism and when you hear some of our leaders, both current and past, talking about how the world has to be the way we want it and it does cost money.

I was struck by something I saw the other day that said if we were to spend one million dollars each and every day, it would take 2700 years to spend a trillion dollars. That is a lot of money.

So when we talk about the billions and the trillions going into defense but it is not for defense, it smacks an awful lot of imperialism and I think it is one of the things in the back of the minds of many Americans that make them a little discouraged about the future when they see the number of people who are developing for reasons which those people consider to be useful and significant, a strong dislike for our behavior worldwide and it looks like it is getting worse as what we call the military industrial complex seems to be driving our foreign policy which does affect of course our internal policy’s management and standard of living.

Press TV: We are looking and painting a pretty gloomy picture but a lot of this, as I presented to you and our guests here, is based on statistics. Obviously authorities, officials, etc. are aware of what is going on, what is there that this current US administration is going to offer in order to remedy all these different weaknesses that not only affect Americans but also the global economy?

Peck: That is probably the key question to this whole thing. What is going to be done? Who is going to do it? And how is it going to be done? Because I get the very clear impression living here in the Washington area and then nobody is sure about the answers to any of those questions and I am not even sure that an awful lot of people understand the basis for the importance that should be attached to those questions.

Americans have always been relatively optimistic, perhaps overly so, and it is not surprising nor is it to me terribly frightening that all of a sudden, there is a bump in that road and an awful lot of people are concerned.

What the other experts were talking about, I use them as experts and I am not, but it is the fact that so many Americans who did not care for the fact that one of the candidates for the presidency in the recent election did not seem to have much awareness of how ordinary people lived because of his own personal wealth, I believe that transcends down a lot more into the middle classes where I am proud to be and I am really unaware, as are most people in my category, of the extent to which an awful lot of people in this country not only are facing grim situations now but are facing even potentially grimmer situations later.

It has not affected me which does not mean I do not think about it. It is just I do not have that personal experience and the descriptions that Mr. Dixon and the other gentleman gave were, you know, of some developing country with masses of unemployed people and no jobs for the people coming out of schools.

That has been a condition in many of what we call the less developed countries for a long time. It is really frightening to think that that can be happening here.

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