I've had a lot of problems with the things Ben Stein has written in the past
(understatement alert), and I cut the parts I didn't like from this commentary,
but I suppose I should give credit when it's due:
Henry M. Paulson Jr.
The Goldman Sachs Group
New York, N.Y.
Dear Mr. Paulson:
You almost certainly don't remember little me, but I met you many years ago... To become chairman of an empire like Goldman Sachs is a spectacular achievement by any measure. But now you have your work cut out for you as Treasury secretary. You are facing what is, in many ways, the most dangerous economic future since the Depression. Danger is coming on many fronts, only dimly seen by the powers that be in Washington, and your insights ... will be urgently necessary. ...
Right now, inflation is moving out of the Federal Reserve's comfort zone. The Fed chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, is doing the right thing by raising rates and trying to slow the overheated economy, but in a way that does not bring us a recession. To give us a soft landing without recession or stagflation — rising inflation and slow growth, as we had in a good part of the 1970's — is not an easy or assured task. ...
May I respectfully suggest that in this environment, ending the estate tax is not a major sensible priority? May I suggest that having the lowest taxes in 65 years on high-income taxpayers is not really as prudent as it might be if we were not running stupendous deficits, with far worse in the future?
I know you are a Republican, and so am I. Now and then, scornful fellow Republicans ask me what kind of Republican I am, since I'm for higher taxes on the rich. I tell them that I am an Eisenhower Republican, the kind who wants to leave a healthier America to posterity. That includes an economy not headed for the status of a banana republic's economy.
Now, I know that ... Ronald Wilson Reagan, when asked if he were not worried that his tax cuts would burden posterity with a heavy weight, supposedly asked, "What has posterity ever done for me?" Those of us with teenage children certainly know what he meant. But the problem is no longer quite as funny.
The fiscal house is in severe disorder. ... Mr. Bernanke knows what's right and wrong. You will have allies. But someone needs to take a stand, and that person might as well be you. The time is always right to do right... This one will make running Goldman Sachs look easy.