From Library Journal
With the economy likely to be the central problem facing Clinton and every president who succeeds him into the foreseeable future, this book on the history of modern budgetary politics could not have come at a better time. Morgan (history, London Guildhall Univ.) reviews the development of America's budgeting practices from the New Deal to the present, and he explains, in very clear language, how budget decisions influence our economy. Budget deficits have become the norm, with only eight instances of balanced budgets since 1933. But the real issue is not whether the budget is in balance but whether the imbalance has beneficial or harmful consequences. And it is on this theme that Morgan, as a neutral observer, provides his greatest service. Because budgets are as much political as economic statements, intepretations of them differ. What is clear from Morgan's analysis is that, despite many years of deficit budgets, the United States succeeded in controlling the negative effects except during the Reagan-Bush years. This fine short volume is recommended for political and economic collections.?Thomas Baldino, Wilkes Univ., Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Two thirds of the nation's first 140 federal budgets were balanced; in those years, war and depression caused most red ink. Since 1933, however, only eight budgets have been balanced. Morgan--principal politics and modern history lecturer at London Guildhall University and author of Beyond the Liberal Consensus
(1994) and Ike Versus "The Spenders"
(1990)--traces the ideological and institutional changes this history reflects, distinguishing forms
of Keynesianism, for example, and finding roots of supply-side economics in earlier doctrines. Since the '30s, he notes, the federal government has taken on responsibilities--as a welfare state, an investor state, a national security state--unimaginable in earlier times. Over the past six decades, Morgan argues, policymakers generally managed to balance the budget's purposes
" to pay for programs that the nation needs, to manage the economy, and to raise revenue in an equitable manner." Until the 1980s "Age of Excess," elected officials earn a passing grade for deficit control
, because red-ink amounts were low relative to GNP, except when recessions hit. On balance, Morgan sees budget deficits as beneficial to the economy through the '70s; the unproductive deficits of recent years should not, he urges, "overshadow [the deficit government's] half-century of success." Mary Carroll
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