The Triumph of Politics
Why the Reagan Revolution Failed
by: David A. Stockman
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In The Triumph of Politics, David Stockman brings us a front-line report of the miscalculations, head-on collisions, secret manipulations, and alliances that let to the failure of the Reagan Revolution, a failure that has produced a staggering deficit of one trillion dollars in stead of the balanced budget the President had promised the electorate by 1984.
The Reagan Revolution began when a deal was struck early in the 1980 presidential campaign: Congressman Jack Kemp, one of a small cadre of "supply-side" ideologues, agreed to back Ronald Reagan for the presidential nomination if Reagan would in turn commit himself to their revolutionary agenda for economic reform. Their program called for bold tax cuts and drastic reductions in the scope and cost of government while still allowing for increased military spending. One of its architects and most ardent proponents was David Stockman, who was to be appointed Director of the Budget, a position of critical influence in the new Administration.
In this remarkably candid account, we participate in economic strategy sessions and private meetings with the President, cabinet members, White House staff, congressional leaders. We see Caspar Weinberger shrewdly defending every dime of his defense budget; Alexander Haig fighting " in the national interest" to protect every State Department job; Donald Reagan, as Secretary of the Treasury, trying to "read" the President and totally misreading the gathering economic crisis; and Edwin Meese moving the President toward easy accommodations rather than hard choices.
Despite the powerful mandate given to the President by the American people, his program faces increasing difficulties as it encounters bedrock political realities. Even those members of Congress who favor spending cuts in principle hastily vacate the battlefield when this conflicts with powerful demands of their own constituencies. Eventually Stockman, the revolutionary, is forced to accept the reality that his theories, which looked so convincing on paper, have been based on a profound misjudgment about the American political system.
Far more than any journalist's expose, The Triumph of Politics is an insider's revelation of what happens when a radical ideology backed by the power of the Presidency runs headlong into the world of personal rivalries and special interests and ignores our continuous national tradition of accommodation and compromise. In telling this story David Stockman has created a work work without parallel.