Red Ink

Inside the High-stakes Politics of the Federal Budget

Wessel, David

Book - 2012
Average Rating: 3 stars out of 5.
Red Ink
In a narrative about the people and politics behind the federal budget, Wall Street Journal economics editor David Wessel, author of the New York TImes bestseller In Fed We Trust, looks at where the money comes from, how the government spends taxpayers' money, and why the budget is on an unsustainable trajectory. Few topics are more contentious or more consequential than the federal budget. For on thing, the numbers boggle the mind. The U.S. government spent $3.6 trillion in fiscal 2011--$400 million an hour--more than $30,000 per household. That is as much as all the goods and services produced by the entire economy of Germany, the fifth-largest economy in the world. In an account written for those who live outside the Beltway, Wessel explains the vast scope of the budget and puts its growth in historical context. When Franklin Roosevelt was elected president in 1932, federal spending stood at 4.3 percent of the GDP; today it is almost six times that, accounting for one dollar out of every four int he overall economy. He tells us, fro example: The U.S. defense budget is greater than the combined defense budgets of the next seventeen highest defense spenders; The federal government gives up almost as much money for tax loopholes, deductions, credits, and other tax breaks as it collects in individual and corporate income taxes; Firing every federal government employee wouldn't save enough even to cut the budget deficit in half. Next. he pulls back the curtain to show us where all that money goes, introducing us along the way to some of the key figures who help to shape the budget and guide policy over taxes and spending, from Jack Lew, former director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under Presidents Clinton and Obama and current White House chief of staff, and Representative Paul Ryan to Douglas Elmendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office, and Leon Panetta, director of the OMB from 1993 to 1994 and current secretary of defense. Finally, Wessel walks us through the nuts and bolts of why current budget trends are unsustainable. As he makes painfully clear, America's twentieth-century tax code can't support a twenty-first-century budget. In a sweeping narrative about the people and the politics behind the budget, Wessel looks at the 2011 fiscal year (which ended September 30) to see where all the money was actually spent, and why the budget process has grown wildly out of control.

Publisher: New York : Crown Business, c2012
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780770436155
Branch Call Number: 336.73 W
Characteristics: 204 p. : ill. ; 22 cm.


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Apr 20, 2014
  • StarGladiator rated this: 0.5 stars out of 5.

Oh, wow, people, Wessel [who claims on NPR there is some sort of government agency which miraculously tracks every American who is, and is not, looking for employment] looks through the eyes of ??? key people ??? like Jacob Lew, who was unable to pay off his mortgage loans while employed at NYU, so they paid them off for him [no doubt for ending the collective bargaining rights of grad students there], and who received his bonuses at Citi through TARP bailout funds, i.e., taxpayer monies; and Pete Peterson, who has done more harm to the American tax base, through all that private equity leveraged buyouts, destroying companies, employment, asset stripping and dramatically increasing debt, than the next 1,000 Wall Streeters combined!

Sep 10, 2012
  • binational rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

If you want an uncontroversial statement of pure conventional wisdom à la Wall Street Journal, this one is for you. I learned nothing from it.

Sep 06, 2012
  • mnack rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

A 'must read' for anyone interested in getting past the partisan dialogue about our economic situation to learn where we really are.


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Red Ink
Wessel, David
Red Ink

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