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(2008) *** 1/2 Pg
85 min. Roadside Attractions. Director: Patrick Creadon. Cast: Ron Paul.


Though it identifies as non-partisan (and its credits tout a non-partisan website), the new doc I.O.U.S.A. can easily be taken as another attack on George Bush, with a round of applause for Bill Clinton. Director Patrick Creadon, inspired by the book Empire of Death, makes the case that U.S. fiscal policy is heading over a cliff. And if Creadon tells us that Clinton pulled us over onto the shoulder for a while, and then Bush gunned the engine, he has the facts to back up his argument. The facts are so clear, in fact, that there can be no argument. Cutting taxes and raising expenditures is a recipe for economic disaster that even a child can understand. The trick is getting people to care.

That's an uphill battle, but Creadon repeatedly invokes the idea that the children are the ones inheriting the mess we tacitly endorse by voting for those who promise not to tax us. Mostly following comptroller general David Walker and Robert L. Bixby of the Concord Coalition on their Fiscal Wakeup Tour, I.O.U.S.A. charts a clear picture of the worsening crisis of our national debt, "financial warfare" with on-the-rise China, and the roles played by our politicians and ourselves. It's understandable that our electorate doesn't want to dwell on seemingly insurmountable problems, and even more understandable that audiences aren't likely to shell out to see a movie about economics. But all you English majors should think twice: I'm here to tell you that I.O.U.S.A. is not only a clear-headed and comprehensible picture of American fiscal policy, but one that's not in the least boring. Bleak, yes. Boring, no.

Creadon simply and with snappy graphics lays out four key deficits the U.S. faces: a budget deficit, a savings deficit, a trade deficit, and a leadership deficit. The talking heads participating in interviews inlcude Fed chairman Paul Volker, former Treasury Department secretary Paul O'Neill, billionaire Warren Buffett, congressman Ron Paul, and former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan, even though Greenspan isn’t embraced (as he has often been in mainstream media) as an economic savior touting all the right answers. We all have a responsibility in the future of our nation, and the first step to a better day is getting informed.

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