Former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin told NBC anchor Tom Brokaw that America may be “facing serious economic problems” in a discussion at Lisner Auditorium Tuesday night.
The conversation, which was organized by the Smithsonian Institution, focused on topics ranging from recent tax cuts to environmental and health concerns.
Rubin, now head of Citigroup’s executive committee, discussed issues covered in his recently released book, “An Uncertain World.”
“I believe we live in the most complex and uncertain time this nation has ever faced,” Rubin said. “There is certainly good opportunity for growth, but if we, as a nation, fail to make good decisions, we could be facing serious economic problems.”
In “An Uncertain World,” Rubin offers his insight to the complexities of the economy and Wall Street and reveals details about his years as a financial advisor and cabinet member in the Clinton administration.
Rubin expressed concern at the United States’ economy, blaming problems such as a high unemployment rate on federal tax cuts passed by President Bush.
“We have a highly mechanized economy, which is very efficient, but can be disrupted with relative ease,” said Rubin, who urged building up the nation’s economy to stimulate job growth.
The two men also turned their attention to other domestic issues that have been highly talked about during the 2004 presidential race.
“If we do not deal with our environmental problems, ultimately they are going to undermine our economy,” said Rubin during a conversation about pollution and other green concerns.
The former Goldman Sachs employee and 70th secretary of the treasury also spoke on the complexities of ensuring good healthcare for all Americans and discussed troubles with the American education system.
Brokaw, the soon-to-retire lead anchor of NBC’s “Nightly News,” also engaged Rubin in a conversation about international economics.
“Fifteen years ago we were transfixed by what was going on in Japan, now it seems as though the same kind of transition is going on in China,” said Brokaw, referring to the economic growth of the communist nation.
Rubin replied, “I would make a good bet that in 15 years, both China and India will be very robust, thriving economies.” He added that America has a strong need for political leaders who will make informed decisions on U.S. relations with growing countries.
Reginald West, one of 1,500 people who paid $20 to hear the discussion, said he found Rubin to be a “humble” personality. The sold-out Lisner crowd consisted mostly of D.C. professionals.
West added, “I have always seen Rubin as a very astute observer of both politics and the economy, and I am hoping to leave with some wisdom involving the direction of our country’s economic and political scene.”