April 12, 2012 | last updated June 4, 2012 12:02 pm

Ex-SEC chief says gov't in way of recovery

Former Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Richard Breeden warned Thursday that federal spending and regulation are stifling America's economic recovery.

"We must not stand by and let government spend the country into national insolvency," Breeden told the faculty, students and guests in a lecture to Sacred Heart University's John F. Welch College of Business. "Every American -- young and old, rich and poor -- is put at risk by this out of control situation."

Despite four years of fiscal stimulus, two rounds of quantitative easing, and the Federal Reserve's historically easy monetary policy, "We still have had the weakest recovery from a recession since before World War II," Breeden said.

"Driving interest rates close to zero helps finance government debt, but it also severely damages savers and investors just like a tax, and drives them into riskier investments."

He urged action to remove "barriers to economic growth'' by reducing tax rates for individuals and businesses as part of a sweeping overhaul of the U.S. tax code.

Breeden also said government should reduce its "absolute level of spending, not just reduce its rate of growth.''

The U.S. must also reinforce entrepreneurialism, Breeden told the Welch College audience.

"This is a major issue for our future, and also for the wider world. Producing enough jobs and opportunity will require a focused effort to encourage the formation and growth of business."

Breeden has been chairman and CEO of Breeden Capital Management in Greenwich since 2006. From 2007-2011, he was non-executive chairman at H&R Block after saving that company from failure during and after the financial crisis.

Breeden also worked in the White House as a senior economics and domestic policy adviser during the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan and.

He chaired the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission from 1989 to 1993 under President George H.W. Bush.

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