Ben Stein is a man of words. He's written speeches for two Presidents, he's written more than a dozen books, authored countless magazine articles and columns, and has shared his thoughts via thousands of interviews and appearances, the latest of which can be seen in the attached video. But despite this prolific mountain of ideas he's amassed over the past 50 years, Ben Stein still always surprises his audience with fresh and unexpected insights. And so it was when I asked him which Presidential candidate he thought would be best for long-term investors.
"Probably the best candidate would be Dwight Eisenhower, but he's not running," Stein quips at the outset of our chat. In fact, even though this actor and best-selling author (who is out with a new book, How To Really Ruin Your Financial Life and Portfolio) admits he likes and will vote for Mitt Romney, his overall assessment of the candidates and campaigns seems cl0ser to none of the above. (See Related: Jim Rogers: Neither Obama nor Romney Are Worthy of My Vote)
"Neither candidate has a plan to get us out of debt. Neither candidate has a plan to make us energy independent," he rattles off. "Neither one has a plan to restore full employment, and neither one has been really playing honest with us."
Wow. With praise like that, who needs critics?
"It's a choice of two people, neither of whom has a plan. You know who had a plan? Simpson and Bowles had a plan to cut the deficit and they dropped it like a hot potato," Stein says.
In some regards, lots of pundits share his sense of foreboding about the future, a future many have said will be challenging no matter who wins the election. Still, at his core, Stein is a money guy, an economist, and therefore (when prodded) says the Republican ticket would be better for investors.
"Investors are buying a stream of corporate earnings and dividends, which are retained earnings. So which will be better for that? Whichever is better for the economy generally," he says.
As much as Stein supports Romney and his anti-regulation/pro free enterprise positions, this transplanted Californian's endorsement is not without barbs. In fact, he says it's ''not good enough'' for the former Massachusetts Governor to simply say ''trust me." He wants more specifics.
He's particularly skeptical of any proposal that doesn't include serious budget cuts that go beyond the ''waste, fraud and abuse'' level, as well as raising taxes, something he thinks neither candidate is willing to say.
But the bottom line from Ben, whether it's this election or the next one, we're living in a dreamworld.
"It cannot go on forever," he warns, "and it's going to stop in tears."
Pass the Kleenex, Mr. President, let's get on with it.
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