As an undergraduate at the University, Gene Sperling’s life consisted of going to class, playing tennis and taking study breaks at Annie’s Parlour after long nights at Wilson Library.
Now, his life is just as busy. Sperling, the economic adviser to Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry, said his success can be traced back to the things he learned while studying at the University.
After earning a political science undergraduate degree, Sperling went on to Yale Law School and Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania before becoming an economic adviser to former President Bill Clinton.
During a forum Thursday at the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, Sperling outlined Kerry’s economic policies while lashing out at President George W. Bush.
Sperling was a tennis player from Ann Arbor, Mich., who came to the University because he was offered a tennis scholarship.
He said that as a political science student, people would always ask him what type of job he was going to do with his degree.
“And when I got a job at the White House, I always wished I could go back and say, ‘How about this?’ ” he said.
Sperling said he learned to work hard and pick interesting courses with “world-class” professors to get the most out of his education while at the University.
“The ‘U’ is as good as any school,” he said. “If you find the right professors and classes, it can be the same as an Ivy League school.”
But he said increasing tuition is becoming a major problem for many students, and Bush has done nothing to help.
“Tuition is up (in Minnesota) record levels, because Bush cared more about his next tax cuts for millionaires than ensuring that states didn’t have to raise tuition,” he said.
Kerry has a plan for helping students afford college, he said. That plan includes a tax credit for students that would give back $2,500 of tuition money during four years of college.
But during the forum, Sperling’s fellow panelist, economist Tim Kane from the Heritage Foundation, criticized Kerry’s economic plan and praised the president’s.
“The president has offered innovative policy for prescription drugs and Social Security reform,” he said. “Kerry has come up with gimmicks and fear.”
Kane said those who criticize Bush’s tax cuts don’t understand them.
Beyond economics, Sperling said students should carefully consider whom they are going to vote for in the election, because Bush’s foreign policy hurts the United States’ credibility in the world.
“The recklessness and incompetence in the way Bush went to war is unacceptable,” he said. “There are young people in other countries growing up with resentment towards us because of it.”