Yet Kotlikoff is quite unlike other liberals in that urban Democratic bastion. And his criticism of the government dates back to far before the current controversies that surround President Donald Trump’s administration.
For one, Kotlikoff credits Ross Perot — the independent presidential candidate in the 1992 and 1996 elections — as being the only politician to bring the country’s true fiscal situation to light. Since then, all other presidents and their administrations have buried that information, according to Kotlikoff.
“Both parties are trying to hide this,” Kotlikoff said. “We’re in an emperor’s new clothes story. Our conversations about the fiscal policy are about the emperor’s latest apparel.”
Kotlikoff’s frustration led him to one conclusion: He had no choice but to run for president.
Kotlikoff mounted two campaigns, in 2012 and in 2016. His economics-based platform left no stone unturned in trying to overhaul everything from banking to education, taxes and Social Security.
“All of these things need to be fixed right away, and they’re not being fixed right away,” Kotlikoff said.
Success in those campaigns proved elusive, first through an internet third party campaign and then subsequently as a write-in candidate.
It also prompted people — including some in Kotlikoff’s inner circle — to ask, “Who does this guy think he is?”
“I didn’t think of it as an ego trip,” Kotlikoff said. “My ego was not being reinforced by people telling me I was being ridiculous.”
But Kotlikoff has not given up fighting.
Much of his attention is now consumed by pushing for individuals’ financial rights.
As Kotlikoff tells it, he will not hesitate to call up executives at major financial firms to complain that they are bilking investors by misleading them with erroneous retirement calculations.
It’s all part of his latest battle: to give consumers the tools that will empower them to make better financial decisions.