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Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan testifies during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing about U.S. dependence on oil in Washington, D.C., June 7, 2006.
Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan testifies during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing about U.S. dependence on oil in Washington, D.C., June 7, 2006. Mark Wilson/Getty Images
In an NPR interview, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan weighs in on President Bush's economic and tax policies and shares his views on deficits.
As a very substantial part of the baby boom generation moves into retirement, benefit requirements will experience an "extraordinary, unprecedented" rise. Greenspan notes that observers have concluded that programs such as Medicare are "sharply under-funded."
"What I fault the Republican Congress in doing is not coming to grips with this issue before it becomes dangerous to the economy," Greenspan tells Robert Siegel.
Although the actual deficit is small, Greenspan says "we are moving into a wholly different period .... It is what we are accruing for the future and the burdens on our children and grandchildren which are creating huge distortions in the longer term outlook."
During and after the 2000 election, the country experienced an unexpected and unprecedented surplus.
As a result, in March 2001, Greenspan — known as a strong proponent of reducing the national deficit — testified in favor of a Bush tax cut, a move for which he was later criticized.
He explains that he was recommending finding a "glidepath" that would remove the surplus at the point the level of debt went to zero — either Bush's tax cut or the Democrats' proposal. He says he was fearful of what the Bush administration would do with the surplus.
Greenspan, the author of a new memoir, The Age of Turbulence, also discusses his concerns about rising income equality, and growing up during the Depression.