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Showdown at Gucci Gulch
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on February 13, 2000
Birnbaum and Murray obviously spent a lot of time researching and writing this. The result is not only very insightful into what Washington looks like from the inside, but is also a highly readable exercise in how policy in the US really is made (the authors liken law-making to sausage-making), and how revolutions for high-minded ideals can indeed occur (for all you cynics out there). None of this could ever be found in an encyclopedia because the way Congress works is much more complex than anything an encyclopedia could ever possibly detail. B&M offer not only commentary on the process, but also into the heads of those working on the Hill; something you're not likely to see very often. Finally, if you're ever interested in where your tax dollars go, how the policy got the way it is, and why you're paying what you do, this is an extremely candid review. It's a bit disheartening to know that there are those out there who still 'just don't get it' even after being presented with such a readable presentation of the way our government works, and at this point, I guess they never will.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on April 20, 2000
While this book may not appeal to students in search of the CliffNotes version of the political process, this exhaustive account of the1986 tax reform bill gets a complicated story just about right. Especially when it concerns the tax code, the devil is in the details, and while B&M sometimes go a little overboard in describing the small print of oil depletion allowances and the like, the fact is that Congressmen think that way -- and voters had better know it. All in all, a solid addition to the 'how a bill becomes a law' ouevre. Plus, it makes you like an odd array of people: Ronald Reagan, Bill Bradley, and even Bob Packwood. Where are they now?... END
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on January 22, 2002
Tax laws may have changed, some of the main actors are serving jail time, but it doesn't matter. This is the best case study of congressional decision making available. I still use this in courses because there is no better example of the tension between political horse trading and genuine reformist impulses available.
Is it detailed? Of course it is: the back and forth in the Ways and Means committee, for example, illustrates the kind of negotiaions that are the bread and butter of policy making.
Is there material that is "in the encyclopedia?" That is silly. There is little there that is basic review. In fact, anyone who found this boring probably does not know the basics of congressional procedures -- that is not the goal of this book -- or has a professor or teacher who does not know how to link a journalistic case study like this with the textbook or scholarly treatment of Congress.
A classic.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 4, 1999
This book details a revolution in government. Not a huge revolution like the Aemrican/French/Russian but a revolution deep in the bowels of US Congressional Tax policy. Boring you say? MEGO you scoff? Well, check this one out and be surprised. Bill Bradley, running now- May 1999- for President plays a critical and positive role and anyone contemplating voting for President next year should consider buying this book if only to learn more about Mr Bradley.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 18, 2012
This book documents the process/drama behind the astonishingly comprehensive mid-1980s overhaul of the US Income Tax system.

The goals were to:
- Simplify the tax system.
- Reduce marginal rates.
- Broaden the tax base.

Those goals were accomplished. What is especially interesting reading this now (2012) is that our country really needs a similar effort to take place.

To see our current dysfunctional congress arguing these issues, you might imagine that nothing resembling this is possible. But this book proves that it IS possible. It happened. It is quite interesting to find out exactly how.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 2004
Definitely an enjoyable book that gives insight into the behind-the-scenes details of congressional politics. "Showdown" is a great book if you are interested in the nitty-gritty details of lobbying or Congress and Birnbaum and Murray provide a knack for detail (and humour) rarely found in today's books. Written in '86ish, and still a classic. A great supplement to "The Power Game" by Hedrick Smith.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 5, 2013
If you ever wanted to know how 1986 tax reform came about, this is the book to read. I haven't finished the book, but it is definitely worth your while especially if you began your tax career after 1986 and you were to young to understand what was going on anyway.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 29, 2013
needed for project so I needed it quick. gets kinda boring but overall good book. Recommended to anyone who likes politics.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 10, 2014
Really detailed book about tax policy. Could be considered boring but it really important.
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2 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on June 24, 2003
the best book I was ever required to read for a class
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