“The good news is, solving some of the long-term budgetary problems doesn’t require an act of genius,” Schiff said. “There is a menu of discreet choices we have to make. None of them are very pleasant, but made in small increments, they can have a big impact downstream.”
Audience members pressed him repeatedly about the federal government’s move to bailout corporate banks, large automakers and mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Schiff responded that money lent to the banks and car companies has largely been recovered.
Money used to prop up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac has not, he acknowledged. But he added that he did throw his support behind the Wall Street regulatory overhaul in an effort to safeguard the economy from a repeat of the 2008 meltdown.
“Once the economy really starts humming again, you know what is going to happen?” Schiff said. “There is going to be pressure to deregulate again. People are going to forget the kind of disaster we have just come through…We have to keep our [focus] and not forget this painful period we have just come through.”
Schiff, who serves on U.S. Intelligence Committee, also spoke at length on foreign affairs, including the Armenian Genocide, the series of uprisings across the Arab world and the death of Osama bin Laden.
He was bitterly disappointed that the Armenian Genocide Resolution stalled in Congress last year, Schiff said, but added that he is confident it will eventually pass. Refusing to officially recognize the genocide undermines the country’s credibility on human rights issues, he said.
Speaking on the recent death of bin Laden, Schiff said that U.S.-Pakistani relations are more precarious than ever. And yet the two countries need one another.
“Right now we are seeing a great amount of stress on the U.S. relationship with Pakistan,” Schiff said.