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The Triumph of Politics: Why the Reagan Revolution Failed Paperback – March 26, 2013
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From Library Journal
This memoir is a bitter review of Stockman's years in the Reagan Administration. It is a book with few heroes and many fools. The author claims naivete as his excuse. Although the narrative is somewhat confusing, overall, its backstage view of policymaking leaves one discouraged, even frightened by the superficiality. The book is a necessary library purchase for two reasons: the notoriety of the book and its author, and the insider's view of key policies still in place and key personalities still in power. Richard C. Schiming, Economics Dept., Mankato State Univ., Minn.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Contrary to the reviewer below, I don't think Stockman argues that the Laffer curve was "discredited" in an intellectual sense, but rather that it was only applicable in an inflationary economy; Paul Volcker's tightening actions at the Federal Reserve denied this crucial condition. As to the reviewer with the childish "liberal propaganda" claim, Stockman clearly makes the point that Republicans and Democrats alike were unwilling to make the drastic spending cuts needed to offset the revenue loss. (And regardless of your political affiliation, I'm not sure how you can defend the economic wisdom of a president who doesn't understand such rudimentary concepts as the difference between current and constant dollars). And as to the idea that Rosy Scenario wasn't all that important, how else would you explain that the mounting debt feared by Stockman actually materialized? Say what you will, Stockman's predictions turned out to be right. It would be wrong to characterize Stockman's book as an attack on Republicans, or supply-side economics per se. It is rather a warning to would-be ideologues who would attempt to impose their dreams on an uncooperative world, a lesson that both liberals and conservatives should take to heart.
The author covers his years in the OMB for Reagan, but to be fair he really spends about 80% of the book on the first budget and the process he went through to get it passed into law. If you are a fan of detail, this book has it by the bushel full. He takes the reader into every meeting, phone conversation and thought about the process. You see just exactly how much horse-trading and arm-twisting there is in this process and you come away feeling a little unclean. This is where the author finally comes to his point, which is that, the Reagan revolutions plan of dramatically reduced tax rates and government services failed. The tax cuts happened, but the spending reductions never had a chance. This, of course, created the massive government deficits that we have been living with for the past 20 plus years. Overall this is the most interesting part of the book. His realization that the budgets he worked on and the overall outcome could be more harmful to the long term interests of the US then if the old system would have been left in place.
Let me end this review by stating that I have never read a book by anybody so conservative as this man. Conservative is being kind, he is a hard core Libertarian who comes across as the only good government program is a dead government program type. He railed against all programs, even taking on school lunches for poor kids and wheel chair assistance programs for the poor. He could not stand government regulations either. He went into one section stating that seat belt and safety glass requirements for car manufactures were unnecessary and overbearing government intrusions into the private sector. Overall I felt the book was a bit too jumpy for me in the writing style and the detail was about 25% too much. There are interesting parts, but describing the 5th meeting on some section of the budget was a bit dull.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I loved this book when I read it about 30 years ago.Read more