H. Ross Perot. Reuters

Ross Perot, a Texas billionaire who twice ran for US president, has warned that the United States is at the edge of the fiscal cliff and could be taken over if it becomes financially weak.

Perot, 82, spoke candidly in an interview last Thursday with USA Today, during which he criticized both U.S. President Barack Obama and his challenger, Republican Party presidential nominee Mitt Romney, saying the two prefer to not discuss the issue. The full interview airs tonight at 9 p.m. EDT on C-Span. (Watch the clip.)

“Every generation throughout our history has worked and sacrificed to leave a better country to their children, grandchildren and future generations,” Perot said. “We were then spending their money. We are now, even much more, spending their money and we are leaving them a mess. It will be very difficult to deal with.

“And if we are that weak, just think of who wants to come here first and take us over,” he added. “And the last thing I ever want is to see our country taken over because we are so financially weak we can’t do anything. We are moving in that direction. We are on the edge of the cliff, and we have got to start fixing it now. Otherwise we are leaving a disaster to our children and grandchildren in the future, and we could even lose our country.”

America’s national debt now stands at $16 trillion, with the Obama administration struggling to balance the budget. Romney has also proposed trillions in tax cuts.

“Nobody who’s running really talks about it, about what we have to do and why we have to do it,” Perot said. “They would prefer not to have it discussed.

Perot first warned that America was heading into economic problems in 1992, when he ran for president. At that time, the national debt was approximately $4 trillion. He sought the presidency again in 1996.

Cut Lawmakers’ Pay

The billionaire, who founded Electronic Data Systems in 1962 and Perot Systems in 1988 – the latter bought by Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) for $3.9 billion in 2009 – said in these tough economic times lawmakers should take a pay cut.

“If you had a company you would have to, right,” he said. “They need to set the perfect example of making the cut backs for themselves.”

But it wasn’t all critique of lawmakers. Perot also criticized the nation’s public schools and what he perceives to be the declining moral and ethical base in the country.