March 20th, 2009
11:00 AM ET

Goodbye to unlimited prosperity

In an interview with Fortune about his new book, CNN commentator Jack Cafferty blasts "morons" in Washington and calls on Republicans to quit "carping."

NEW YORK (Fortune) - The American dream is in peril, and Jack Cafferty has something to say about it. In his new book, Now or Never: Getting Down to the Business of Saving Our Dream, CNN's irascible commentator takes on the economy, foreign policy, education, health care, immigration, energy, the Bush legacy and Obama's opportunity–nothing less than the future of the country. He even manages to tie in his life story, complete with a hardscrabble youth, alcoholism, and redemption in marriage and fatherhood. Fortune spoke with Cafferty about what he sees is wrong with the country - and what needs to be done about it. Below are excerpts from that discussion:

The title of your book says the American dream is in peril. Why is that?

Well, take a look around. Foreclosures, unemployment, debts and deficit, companies going out of business, bailouts. The evidence is pretty clear.

Who's to blame?

You can't assign blame to a person for the kind of cumulative gathering of storm clouds that we're dealing with right now, but mostly policies of not living within our means and in the case of Wall Street and the banks, a lack of proper supervision for these mortgage-backed securities and some of these other investment instruments that have led to the kind of horrific situation we've got in the financial sector. We've been running deficits and debt for years. George Bush doubled the national debt in the eight years he was in office. He accumulated more debt on his watch than all the previous U.S. Presidents before him combined.

What lessons can corporate America draw from the outrage at Wall Street?

Well, it doesn't seem to me like [Corporate America] is too concerned about it. The problem, I think, is the deregulation that actually happened. The public elects the morons that are supposed to watch over these things. People in Connecticut sent Chris Dodd to Washington. Chris Dodd collected the second-biggest amount of money from AIG of anybody in Washington [for the 2008 election cycle].

Was there a quid pro quo? I don't think so, but there's an unhealthy and unwholesome relationship between corporate America and the federal government. It's the thing that Dwight Eisenhower warned about in the '50s: watch out for the military industrial complex. Well, they came along and they finally got strong enough and they bit everybody right in the ass.

To read Jack's full interview at CNNMoney.com, click here

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