Warning that massive and prolonged federal budget deficits threaten the country, Virginia Democratic Gov. Charles Robb said here today that unless Americans "direct the national dialogue to the question of giving up something, we may run the risk of losing everything."
In the closing speech to a three-day symposium assessing President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal, Robb called for sharp cuts in the federal budget, including reductions in so-called entitlements programs that up to now have largely been spared. Entitlements programs, such as social security and Medicare, provide assistance to any American who qualifies for them.
"Those of us in public service at the state level . . . simply don't believe that we can afford to continue with the huge federal deficits we have now and are facing in the future and still have any hope of serving either the needs of the American people, or the long-range economic interests of the country," Robb told an audience that included former President Ford, gathered at the Lyndon B. Johnson Library.
On the 50th anniversary of Roosevelt's first inaugural, Robb praised FDR, but said even the New Deal did not try to solve "all of the problems of all the people, always and everywhere."
Robb said the New Deal "sought to target those problems that the complexities of modern, industrial society had placed beyond the abilities of individual Americans to control."