David Sugimoto asks via e-mail, " Whatever happened to . . . " Budget Director David Stockman

When President Reagan wanted to balance the federal budget while also cutting taxes and increasing military spending, he called on David Stockman.

A rising star in the House of Representatives, Mr. Stockman was in his mid-30s when he became Mr. Reagan's budget director in 1981. His stance against big government spending made him a good ideological fit.

But frustrated by the administration's lack of willingness to attack the deficit (then $128 billion), Stockman talked often - and early on - with journalist William Greider.

The resulting article in The Atlantic Monthly (December '81), which quoted Stockman as saying, "None of us really understands what's going on with all these numbers," earned him a trip to the presidential woodshed.

He left the White House in 1985. His 1986 book, "The Triumph of Politics," criticizes the Reagan administration for not cutting spending. But many considered the spiraling deficits of the Reagan era a vindication of his criticisms.

Stockman is now a senior managing director of the Blackstone Group, a New York-based investment bank. Last fall, he reportedly engineered Blackstone's takeover of Detroit-based American Axle and Manufacturing Inc, Detroit's largest auto- parts supplier.

The firm is also thought to be a candidate for the takeover of British department store Selfridges PLC.

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