THE EDUCATION OF DAVID STOCKMAN AND OTHER AMERICANS by William Greider
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THE EDUCATION OF DAVID STOCKMAN AND OTHER AMERICANS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The text of the celebrated Atlantic article--which amounts to much more than the shocking admissions quoted in the press--framed by Greider's comments on the uproar and a ruminative essay on politics and government. In the article itself, we first meet OMB director-designate Stockman in his rural Michigan homeland confident that federal aid for ""comfortable towns,"" for farms and businesses, is unwarranted. ""We are interested in curtailing weak claims,"" he assures Greider, ""not weak clients."" He is also certain that it is possible ""to raise defense spending, cut income taxes, and balance the budget, all at the same time""--via the supply-side premise that investor ""expectations"" will trigger revenue-producing economic growth. And when his first OMB projections show unprecedented deficits, he reprograms the computer accordingly. Come spring, Stockman is both winning the budget fight (to axe CETA, etc.) and learning how little can actually be trimmed--unless he tackles defense spending. Worse, the financial markets aren't responding: they've spotted those looming budget deficits too. And Stockman himself, though still buoyant, isn't so sure about anything. Then the President retreats on Social Security cuts. Stockman has to trade (e.g. the sugar subsidy) to get votes: so much for rejecting ""weak claims from powerful clients."" He loses on defense. As of September, politics and economics have prevailed over ideology. And now: ""Who knows?"" (The article appeared in October.) Greider's wrap-up addresses the issues: How do the David Stockmans--young ""political technocrats""--come to wield so much power? Why did so many delude themselves? What does the chaos revealed portend? In the latter, he sees opportunity: the political system is more vulnerable to citizen influence ""than either the system or the citizenry appreciate."" Priority reading for the politically-minded.

Pub Date: Sept. 30th, 1982
Publisher: Dutton