The Wrecking Crew
Thomas Frank takes on the capitol and a legacy of government as business.
(Page 2 of 2)
Could it be that was unusual, atypical? A fluke? No.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Frank points out: “When Reagan took over in 1981, he inherited an annual deficit of $59 billion and a national debt of $914 billion; by the time he and his successor George H.W. Bush had finished their work they had quintupled the deficit and pumped the debt up to $4 trillion.”
And that occurred while federal spending on agencies was being “defunded” so that many federal programs that many Americans relied on no longer had any money.
Phillips was the defunder in chief in the 1970s, named by Nixon to be director of the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO). He purged moderate Republicans on the staff and probably would have killed OEO if a judge hadn’t prevented him. Nixon didn’t seem to care. But, Frank writes, when Reagan was elected, defunding “was dusted off and put into mass production.”
But the Democrats’ winning Congress in 2006 apparently has intervened.
An especially enjoyable part of the book is the end notes section. Frank often elaborates on his sources at length, and if he thinks you might want even more, he gives it to you.
An unenjoyable part is that the author is Naderish in his refusal to support Democrats and centrist Republicans. He criticizes President Clinton for balancing budgets, and dismisses him as “the most pro-business Democratic president since Grover Cleveland.” He concludes that conservatives have been “choosing money” over “the common good“ for decades, and “[i]t’s time to make them answer for it.”
I’m ready. But he doesn’t say how.
Theo Lippman Jr. is a freelance writer who lives in Fenwick Island, Del.