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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Thomas Friedman's Candidate for President: The Leader of the Economic Sleepwalk Tour

Thomas Friedman's Candidate for President: The Leader of the Economic Sleepwalk Tour

Sunday, 19 February 2012 14:08

Thomas Friedman gave readers his pseudo endorsement of a candidate for president today. The person is David Walker, who headed up the Government Accountability Office from 1998 to 2008 before leaving to take the helm as president of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. He later left that organization to head up another Peter Peterson funded venture.

Walker has been in the public over for more than a decade as a result of his crusade against the government budget deficit. In fact, he led a "fiscal wake-up tour" around the country in the years 2004-2008 to try to call attention to the problem of the budget deficit.

The great irony of this tour is that the deficit was not actually a big problem at the time, falling to just over 1.0 percent of GDP by 2007. The real problem facing the country was the housing bubble, which was growing ever larger. Unfortunately, people like David Walker and his merry band of deficit hawks, financed by the likes of Peter Peterson, sucked up much of the oxygen for coverage of economic issues. There were many news shows and stories devoted to their apocalyptic warnings of budget doom. There was no time to waste talking to people yelling about things like an $8 trillion housing bubble.

Of course one of the ironies of this story is that the bursting of the housing bubble led to an economic collapse which resulted in much bigger deficits than anything that Walker and his crew ever warned about. One of the other ironies is that being completely wrong about the nature of the problems facing the economy does not seem to have affected Walker's standing in public debates one iota, at least it sure hasn't in Thomas Friedman's world. 

Comments (9)Add Comment
Deficit Hawk Sounds Like a Dream Job!
written by Paul, February 19, 2012 2:51
You get paid huge bucks by Pete Peterson to go around the country spouting nonsense while the brain-dead media sucks up your every word and says you are a profound prophet. Even more incredible, you can do this dog and pony show for years with no loss of credibility!
written by Ron Alley, February 19, 2012 3:04
I read the piece, failed to recognize the name and thought I'd put off Googling the name. Thanks for saving me the time and trouble.

Unfortunately, considering Friedman's recent columns I hardly find his choice surprising.
written by Reba Shimansky, February 19, 2012 4:52
Thomas Friedman has been drinking the GOP kool aid. In that column he refers to Obama as left of center.
The mother lode
written by jhand, February 19, 2012 8:41
For Walker and Peterson is the Social Security Trust Fund or funds headed in that direction (cf. Ryan, Paul), so that they and their friends can invest it "smarter" and make a killing from the investments. There is hardly a financial consultant alive who doesn't show his/her audience the film "IOUSA" for the purpose of influencing retirees to take lump sum settlements and invest that settlement through the consultant. That's the Peterson/Walker film and shtick.
Where's the thingy...
written by Buddy Boy, February 20, 2012 9:13
that is supposed to accompany everything Friedman says:

Due to Friedman being filthy rich because he married into a feces pot full of money, nothing he says about the world is to be construed as being anywhere near the truth"?
Cause and effect confuses people
written by Lord, February 20, 2012 12:39
The same people are against bailouts and also against doing anything to prevent the need for them.
written by S. D. Jeffries, February 20, 2012 7:40
David Walker?! Are you freaking kidding me? It's not time for April Fool's Day yet, so I can only conclude that Friedman has finally lost the last shred of his mind. He should go back to writing about how flat the world is.
Pete's Puppet
written by FoonTheElder, February 21, 2012 4:08
Freidman and Pete's Puppet. A perfect pair of examples of what the economic elite believe are deep thinkers. In reality they are clueless shills in service for the top 0.1%
You forgot
written by Kai B, February 21, 2012 11:17
You need to mention the fact that Petersen has dedicated his life and millions of dollars to undermine and destroy Social Security. That's his game.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.