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Product Description

Studio: Public Media Distribution Release Date: 04/07/2009 Run time: 80 minutes

As the average American can attest, personal debt is bad enough, but as Thomas Jefferson once cautioned, public debt is "corruptive of the government" and "demoralizing of the nation." Patrick Creadon's I.O.U.S.A. documents the efforts of two concerned citizens, former US Comptroller General Dave Walker and Concord Coalition Director Robert Bixby, to explain how America racked up over $9.5 trillion in debt and what we can do to stem the tide. Based on the book Empire of Debt by William Bonner and Executive Producer Addison Wiggin, Wordplay's Creadon combines Walker and Bixby's "Fiscal Wake-Up Tour" with observations from former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, former Treasury Secretaries Robert Rubin and Paul O'Neill, superstar CEO Warren Buffett, and student activists. The information flows with ease and the clips from Saturday Night Live and The Daily Show add levity to an undeniably dark and timely topic, but the narrative rests on a long list of facts and figures, leading to a production that feels more like a special news report than a work of cinema. Unlike Alex Gibney's Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, on which co-writer/producer Christine O'Malley (Creadon's wife) assisted, character development takes a backseat to data. Arguably, the director lacks an outsized personality, like Enron's Kenneth Lay, around which to assemble his argument, but the subject calls for more of a human face to have the desired effect, i.e. to encourage beleaguered taxpayers to care enough to rise up off their easychairs and agitate for greater fiscal responsibility. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Customer Reviews:

  • Too much of a Road Show
    I drove a long way to see this movie and I had very high expectations. I know several people who have seen David Walker speak on the subject and they said he was very effective. Nonetheless, I was disappointed in the film. While the subject matter is very compelling, watching David Walker driving around in a minivan to give speeches on the subject doesn't make for an interesting documentary. I would agree with the sentiment noted above in the product description that the production that feels more like a special news report than a work of cinema. But I'm not so sure the problem is that the film lacks an outsized personality around which to assemble the argument. The problem with this film is that is focuses too much on the road show and not enough on the story. A few quips from the former Treasury Secretaries Rubin and O'Neill, Warren Buffet, and Ron Paul help this film but it is not enough. This could have been a lot better. And the subject deserves better.
    ...more info
  • Must See
    This film is a must-see for every American. It highlights the unfunded national liability, in addition to the national debt, that nobody is talking about. We need to take action now or have the debt take the world and our grandchildren down with it.
    ~Jim Bennett...more info
    Scary! This is an unsavory subject every American needs to know about. It is an eye-opening lesson about our national debt....more info
  • Tremendously important film
    This film is tremendously important and talks about a subject every American needs to know about: the looming debt crisis. Yes, everyone knows about the subprime loan crisis, but fewer know about (or are willing to acknowledge) the biggest subprime borrower of all: the U.S. government. Most people have a vague sense that something is wrong with the size of the national debt and the Federal deficits, but this movie really shows the full extent of the the problem.

    This movie's primary message is that, unless something changes really quickly, there is another subprime crisis just waiting to happen: the national debt and the governments' unfunded liabilities (especially Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid) are ticking time bombs. In other words, if you're not worried yet, you should be; the movie effectively demonstrates that, unless these problems are acted on quickly, the next generation will almost certainly have a lower standard of living than the current generation.

    This film is an extremely well-done, high-quality documentary that addresses a crucial issue. It also does an extremely good job of being non-partisan; the film deliberately avoids taking a position on issues like big government vs. small government, the welfare state, tax cuts, etc. It merely argues that we need to pay for the government we actually have; most people are trying to have their cake and eat it too in the sense that they want ever-increasing government benefits and ever-decreasing taxes. (Consider that Bush pushed through a large tax cut and then dramatically increased government spending).

    I have been studying this issue for some time now and still learned a lot from this film; for example, one particularly interesting chart used in the film illustrated how most of the typical "solutions" to the problems that politicians propose (such as earmark reform, eliminating pork-barrel spending, ending the war in Iraq, etc.) are only a drop in the bucket in terms of the overall debt crisis the government is facing. The film deliberately avoids entering into the debate over the policies themselves (you won't find any discussion of whether or not we ought to end the war in Iraq, for example) but rather limits itself to discussing the implication of these policies for the budget.

    I can't recommend this documentary enough. As a citizen, taxpayer, or voter (or future citizen, taxpayer, or voter) you owe it to yourself to see this film....more info
  • Must-See Film
    This is an excellent movie that explains the fiscal crisis our country is facing in laymens terms. It is a must-see film for retirees who will be relying on government for healthcare and social security, the current generation of workers who will be paying into these programs but will not receive the benefits when its their turn, and future generations who will be forced to bear the burden of our present overspending. Key figures featured in the movie include David Walker (former head of the GAO), Warren Buffett, Alan Greenspan and Paul Volcker. I have shown this film in a high school classroom and it was warmly received. The students were surprisingly inquisitive and understood the call for action. ...more info
  • Manditory for every citizen
    It is unfortunate that only 10 people were in the theater besides my wife and I to watch this documentary film. The past head of the GAO for the last 3 presidents is the 'star' of this film and he presents the case about the national debt in a logical and yet terrifying manner. This is a must see for every high school student in America. Unfortunately, this will never happen. The film does present a method to save the country, but it will come at a cost that probably few in this land of ours will want to pay. But,if we don't, there is no doubt that a payment of some kind will occur, but it will be disastrous. Once you see this, you will begn to change your personal financial decisions with a wary eye on the future. Don't see this at your peril. ...more info
  • Clear, simple and to the point explanation of the credit crisis
    I. O. U. S. A. is a wake up call from some of the government experts and policy consultants (not lobbyists) who have been warning the President for years about this coming crisis. Philanthropist Peter G. Peterson put $1 billion of his own money in this organization and hired America's Watchdog, GAO Comptroller General David Walker to head up the effort.
    This movie is a "must watch." CNN ran a shorter version on a recent Sunday with several of the stars live.
    This is real, it is disturbing and it is timeless. The government was already in serious debt BEFORE the credit crisis hit the fan. We won't get out of this easily nor will most investment advisors even address it.
    I will bet your advisor sat you down to discuss your "risk tolerance" years ago and you agreed that you could stand a 10% short-term decline but that 20% would be troubling. In the past seven months the stock market fell 45% and no one called you and the market is about to fall further and you probably have not reallocated your portfolio to gold, silver and inverse or bear market funds. The losses are so bad your advisor doesn't want to discuss such a painful outcome with you.
    Watch this film and you will understand that it is unlikely that you will see much of the money you had one or two years ago ever in your lifetime.
    It's troubling for the government but it is tragic for you.
    Bill Donoghue, Chairman, W. E. Donoghue & Co., Inc. Norwood Massachusetts...more info
  • Bone Chilling
    Any American who is not facinated and horrified by this movie is brain dead. Everyone should watch this film. This problem is certianly scarier than Global Warming. One is a huge threat in the next 100 or more years, the other is a ticking time bomb that could go off at any time but definitely in our life time....more info
  • an outstanding and informative film
    I.O.U.S.A. educates people about the very real and very dangerous financial problems our government is facing. The producers of the film pull no punches here and they don't sugar-coat it; and that was the right thing to do. The way Americans live today is essentially "living for the moment" without thinking of the importance of saving money for a rainy day; and the film goes into great, great detail highlighting that the American government does the same. I will tell you just some of the points made by this movie; although it will seem as if I've given it all away I assure you that I haven't.

    The film starts with cameramen asking people just how much they know about the federal deficit, the federal debt, the difference between the two and more. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people simply didn't know the answers to these questions. This is no laughing matter. These topics are highly relevant in these harsh economic times when America is at a true crossroads; the nonpartisan film shows that we and our government have to choose between spending and saving wisely or being reckless with our money as we have been.

    In addition, the interview footage we get here is extraordinary. Peter Peterson contends that out biggest threat is our own financial turmoil, not terrorism (I would rank the two about equal, though). I also appreciated the footage with former Comptroller General Of The United States, David Walker. David Walker speaks in plain English about the dangers of America's national debt, the ballooning national trade deficit and the increasing budget deficit. David Walker and his colleagues including Robert Bixby, head of The Concord Coalition, go on "fiscal wakeup tours" that never make the news although they should have been reported. The statistics we also get along the way are presented neatly with graphs and charts that are easy to understand; the points being made are rather gloomy but all too true. These issues demand immediate attention.

    The movie also contends that American financial problems have four primary sources: a budget deficit issue, a savings deficit issue, a trade deficit issue and a leadership issue. The film also deals with entitlement programs including Medicare. Just how all these come into play I will not go into here so that you can have plenty of new material to uncover when you watch this movie. There's quite a bit more interview footage in this movie.

    The DVD also boasts some wonderful extra features including more talking with everyday people like me; and I especially liked the features entitled "Panel At The Premiere" and "More From Leading Economic Experts."

    Overall, I.O.U.S.A. fascinates me and the issues are so critical that this film should be mandatory viewing for all Americans. The film was produced largely before the current economic crisis began but we still see some commentators predicting the house of cards could well fall. I highly recommend this film.
    ...more info


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