Running On Empty
By Peter G. Peterson

Peter G. Peterson Quote:
"Like a million of other Americans, I didn't always feel this way. As it happened, I was born a Republican, and for most of my life it felt easy and right to be one. My father was a Greek immigrant and small businessman who taught me to value thrifts, stewardship, individual responsibility, and compassion for the poor. He started out as a railroad dishwasher who slept in a caboose to save on rent. He settled in Kearney, Nebraska, and used his savings to start the inevitable Greek restaurant. With the help of my mother, he ran it 24/7 for twenty-five years so that my brother and I could "get the best education money could buy." Meanwhile, if an unemployed person came to the back door of the Central Café asking to be fed-and during the Great Depression there were countless numbers-none went hungry as long as they were willing to do some honest labor.

These values were reinforced when I arrived at the University of Chicago and learned from its famed economists about the virtues of open markets, the hazards of too much government, and of course the importance of fiscal responsibility. From Milton Friedman I learned that in public finance, as in life, there is no such thing as a free lunch. You borrow today, you pay tomorrow. As for permanent tax cuts, Friedman taught us they were a fine idea as long as we remembered that they were not tax cuts at all unless accompanied by permanent spending cuts. Otherwise, they were simply a shift in taxes to future taxpayers-which is to say a tax cut for us, but a tax increase on our children."