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Buck Wild: How Republicans Broke the Bank and Became the Party of Big Government Hardcover – Bargain Price, August 15, 2006

4.4 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, August 15, 2006
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One chart in this succinct, readable book compares overall federal spending under presidential administrations since Johnson's; another chart shows that spending minus military, homeland security, and entitlement (mostly Social Security and Medicare) outlays. The first shows Bush II outspending every administration since LBJ's; the second, every one but Nixon and Ford's. What happened to the party that railed against big government? Well, it caved to "the smell of the marble." The moneyed ambience of a capital crawling with organizational lobbyists and devoid of ordinary-citizen advocates seduced would-be budget hawks of the Reagan and especially the Contract-with-America revolutions. In chronicling this GOP collapse, Slivinski shows that both revolutions reined in spending early on, and that a small band of congresspersons remained both hard on spending and reelectable. The spending orgy in reaction to but by no means spent directly on hurricane-damaged New Orleans revived the budget hawks and may provoke a fight within the Republican Party. Meanwhile, Slivinski argues that having one party control the White House and the other Congress is more economical--look at Clinton's tenure. Ray Olson
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About the Author

Stephen A. Slivinski is an expert in tax and budget issues and is the director of budget studies at the Cato Institute. His writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, New York Post, and Washington Times, among other national publications, and he is the coauthor of Cato's Fiscal Policy Report Card on America's Governors, a biennial report that has become very influential due to its trenchant analysis of tax and budget politics in the states. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (August 15, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159555064X
  • ASIN: B003D7JZMG
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,126,513 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Larry Mann on September 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I am glad I bought this book. Good books entertain and inform. Really good books also make you think. Buck Wild is a really good book.

The author tells a compelling story about the federal budget process. Like any good story, it has villians and heroes. Who wears the black hats and who wears the white ones will surprise you.

The history of the budget process, how it's written, approved and implemented is well researched by the author and presented in an entertaining and informative style. For a non-fiction offering, Buck Wild is more paced than most books of this genre. It's a page turner that keeps you wondering what the next chapter will offer up.

Today's hot items of term limits, the war on terror,taxes and the deficit are all discussed in the book. How the current Republican leadership has chosen to govern in light of these factors is the book's real meat. Once the GOP gained control of both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue they changed. Mr. Slivinski offers some intriguing reasons.

The author closes with a brilliant historical analysis of the spending habits of two types of government, united government, our current form, and divided (gridlock).

I have been a proud Republican for thirty years and will continue to be.However when I enter the voting booth this November I will be approaching the who and why of my vote from a different viewpoint thanks to Mr. Slivinski.

Buck Wild is a must read,if you pride yourself in being an informed voter.

by Larry Mann

Trenton NJ
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Format: Hardcover
The inability -- or the unwillingness -- of congressional Republicans to limit the growth of government has been a source of considerable frustration for fiscal conservatives. Shortly after the 1994 election, many conservatives hoped that Republicans would fulfill their campaign promises to end scores of federal programs and eliminate Cabinet agencies. However, just a few years later the Republican National Committee was sending out press releases boasting about record increases in federal education spending. Even worse, in 2004 the same Republican leadership ruthlessly twisted arms and violated House procedural rules to pass the Medicare prescription-drug bill, the largest increase in entitlement spending since the Great Society.

Stephen Slivinski's new book, Buck Wild: How the Republicans Broke the Bank and Became the Party of Big Government, describes this transformation. The book begins with President Reagan's bruising battle to pass the 1981 budget, which included substantial cuts in both taxes and spending. This was one of the most important victories of the Reagan presidency, as Reagan was never again able to enact substantial cuts in expenditures. Still, Reagan was at least fairly successful in limiting the growth of government. In fact, non-defense discretionary spending actually declined relative to inflation during the 1980s.

Unfortunately, Reagan's legacy has been lost on his successors. President Bush's tax hike in 1990 betrayed many fiscal conservatives. Furthermore, after Republicans won control of both the House and Senate in 1994, they seemed poised actually to reduce the size of government. In fact, in 1995 Congress passed a budget that cut non-defense domestic spending for the first time since 1981.
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Format: Hardcover
Steven Slivinski's BUCK WILD does an excellent job of documenting the migration of the Republicans from a party of limited government conservatism (Goldwater/Reagan) to a party of national greatness conservatism (Brooks/Kristol), compassionate conservatism (Brooks) and big government conservatism (Barnes).

Starting his analysis in 1994 with the Republican Revolution, Slivinksi argues that the Republican Party stuck to its Contract With America pledge to scale back a federal government "that is too big, too intrusive and too easy with the public's money," but only for a short period. From 1995 through 1997, the Party was able to limit discretionary spending, move towards a balanced budget and pass welfare and farm subsidy reform under intense opposition. Beginning in approximately 1998 when a strong economy produced a surge in federal revenues, the Party started to abandon its limited government roots in favor of expanded spending, targeted tax breaks and increased government pork. This transformation reached its apex under the GWB administration, which has presided over the largest expansion in federal spending since LBJ (in total) and Nixon (after excluding defense and homeland security expenditures). This leads Slivinksi to conclude that the Republicans have become the party of big government.

Many who disagree with Slivinski's and others' criticisms of the Republican spending spree, like to argue that federal spending increases should be evaluated as a percentage of GDP, rather than in absolute terms. While I disagree, the record from 1995 through 2006 lends little support for this argument. In 1995, when the Republicans took control of Congress, federal spending was 20.7% of GDP.
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