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Experts Discuss Economy

Speakers Offer Solutions to Country's Fiscal Problems

By Nan Zheng, Contributing Reporter

Top Clinton economic advisor Robert B. Reich and business administration expert Michael E. Porter presented their solutions for America's economic woes at a Kennedy School of Government discussion last night.

Walburg Professor of Economics Emeritus John Kenneth Galbraith moderated the ARCO Forum event, which drew more than 500 people.

Reich, a Kennedy School lecturer, spoke on the international economic situation and the proper role of government in fiscal regulation.

"In the global economy, there are only two factors of productivity that are unique in the nation, the people of the nation and infrastructure," Reich said. "Companies themselves and products have become international composites."

Pointing out that a third of the federal government's budget goes toward research and development, the Kennedy School professor called for an active government within the economy.

"The government has an important role to play," Reich said. "The government's first and foremost responsibility is to focus on human investment and infrastructure."

Porter, who is Christensen professor of business administration, focused on the necessity for decentralization of economic power through local control.

"The government's role is to create a climate that fosters innovation and upgrading," he said. "We have the need to decentralize. We need to decentralize more and more to local and state levels."

Reich said that Americans' income distribution gaps show why economic decentralization cannot solve all of the nation's problems.

"Americans are segregating by income more than we've ever segregated before," said Reich. "If you base your strategies on localities, you're going to find huge disparities."

However, the two professors agreed on the problems of America's current economic situation.

Both addressed the issue of the U.S. debt. Reich urged governmental intervention to spur the economy. "We have a government of with more than four trillion dollars of debt," said Reich. "We need to apply some kind of stimulus."

Porter said that the country needs more investment in businesses.

"We have a third-world debt problem," said Porter. "We're not investing enough in the private sector."

Galbraith offered his own views on the present economic situation in the U.S. at a Kennedy School "Pizza and Politics" discussion before the forum.

The former president of the National EconomicAssociation attributed the economic problems tothe Reagan and Bush administrations.

"I would say the economic problem was made inan extensive measure back in the Reagan years," hesaid. "Bush has done nothing to correct theproblems of Reaganomics."

"The most important thing is to get thedomestic economy functioning," Galbraith said."This administration hasn't done anything aboutit.

The former president of the National EconomicAssociation attributed the economic problems tothe Reagan and Bush administrations.

"I would say the economic problem was made inan extensive measure back in the Reagan years," hesaid. "Bush has done nothing to correct theproblems of Reaganomics."

"The most important thing is to get thedomestic economy functioning," Galbraith said."This administration hasn't done anything aboutit.

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