“Violence should express the political purpose, and express it in a rational, utilitarian manner; it should not take the place of the political purpose, nor obliterate it” -Carl von Clausewitz, On War

I’m beginning to pivot in my reading from the 2003 Iraq War to the Persian Gulf War. I’m currently on an excellent, dense history of the interwar period, Sarah Graham-Brown’s Sanctioning Saddam: The Politics of Intervention in Iraq and Andrew and Patrick Cockburn’s Out of the Ashes: The Resurrection of Saddam HusseinI haven’t read many of the key books on the Persian Gulf War just yet (give me another two months), but I’m beginning to get a feeling that many of the politico-military dynamics of the second war in Iraq were present in the first.

Not having previously studied the Persian Gulf War in any detail, I think I inherited the general left-of-center view of that war as a military and political success. That George H. W. Bush’s calculus of not moving on Baghdad to depose Saddam had been an intelligent decision, which was borne out by the experience of George W. Bush in Baghdad. That the Shiite and Kurdish uprisings were unfortunate but ultimately not relevant for the US strategically. But as I read, that view appears to be fading, and I am beginning to see the elder Bush’s handling of the end of the Persian Gulf War as an inordinate failure. Not for the reasons neoconservatives would assert, but because of the same reason the Iraq War of 2003 was a failure: there was no plan for the post-war and extemporaneous policy-making failed to adequately secure the stated political goals of the war.

I’ve written before about the lack of adequate political goals or, rather, the lack of planning to achieve the purported political goals in the Iraq War of 2003. That the necessity of securing political support of the war undermined the planning, which in turn undermined the political outcome of the war. Could it be that those same dynamics were present in the Persian Gulf War? I just came across this passage in Out of the Ashes:

Militarily, an advance on Baghdad might not have been difficult. General Steven Arnold, the U.S. Army’s chief operations officer in Saudi Arabia, actually drew up a secret plan after the cease-fire entitled “The Road to Baghdad,” which he calculated could easily be carried out with a fraction of the forces available. Arnold’s commanding officer, horrified at such an implicit admission that the victory was less than complete,  put the plan under lock and key. Unfortunately, neither the military nor the White House had as yet any other plan for dealing with Iraq once the issue of Kuwait had been settled.

According to Chas. Freeman, wartime ambassador to Saudi Arabia, this lack of forethought was deliberate. “The White House was terrified of leaks about any U.S. plans that might unhinge the huge and unwieldy coalition that George Bush had put together to support the war,” he recalled later. “So officials were discouraged from writing, talking, or even thinking about what to do next.” [italics mine]

And, not to put too fine a point on it:

Faced with such awkward considerations, the conduct of the war had been left largely to the military, whose vision had its limitations. Before the bombing started, an air force general paid a call on Ambassador James Akins, a distinguished former diplomat with a wealth of experience in Iraq. The general explained that he wished to consult the ambassador on the selection of suitable bombing targets. Akins suggested that the Pentagon might find it more useful to draw on his knowledge of Iraqi politics and of Saddam, whom he had known for years. “Oh no, Mr. Ambassador,” said his visitor. “You see, this war has no political overtones.”

iraq-war-marlboro-man-786950

I’m currently stuck in a series of books about the conduct of the Iraq War and its aftermath. Two of the most illuminating thus far are Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone by Rajiv Chandrasekaran and George Packer’s The Assassins’ Gate: America in Iraq. Following are two anecdotes that reflect ideological and practical constraints on policy options.

The first is from Chandrasekaran’s Imperial Life:

Once the Americans arrived, the job of rehabilitating Iraq’s health-care system fell to Frederick M. Burkle, Jr., a physician with a master’s degree in public health and postgraduate degrees from Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, and the University of California at Berkeley. Burkle was a naval reserve officer with two Bronze Stars and a deputy assistant administrator at the U.S. Agency for International Development. He taught at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, where he specialized in disaster-response issues. During the first Gulf War, he provided medical aid to Kurds in northern Iraq. He had worked in Kosovo and Somalia. And in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq, he had been put in charge of organizing the American response to the expected public health crisis in Iraq. A USAID colleague called him the “single most talented and experienced post-conflict health specialist working for the United States government.”

A week after Baghdad’s liberation, Burkle was informed that he was being replaced. A senior official at USAID told him that the White House wanted a “loyalist” in the job. Burkle had a wall of degrees, but he didn’t have a picture off himself with the president.

Burkle’s job was handed to James K. Haveman, Jr., a sixty-year-old social worker who was largely uknown among international health experts. He had no medical degree, but he had connections. He had been the community health director for the former Republican governor of Michigan, John Engler, who recommended him to Wolfowitz. Haveman was well-traveled, but most of his overseas trips were in his capacity as a director of International Aid, a faith-based relief organization that provided health care while promoting Christianity in the developing world. Prior to his stint in government, Haveman ran a large Christian adoption agency in Michigan that urged pregnant women not to have abortions.

So, it’s obviously ridiculous that someone whose resume sounds perfect for post-conflict medical administration in Iraq is replaced by an ideologue with connections.

Now, onto a Packer’s The Assassins’ Gate where, after a description of Rice’s inability to apparently understand the purpose of her job as the National Security Advisor, he relates this story from late 2002, with less than six months until the war commenced.

In October 2002, Leslie Gelb, the president of the Council of Foreign Relations, had approached Rice and Hadley with an offer of help. The council and two other think tanks, the Heritage Foundation and the Center for Strategic and International Studies, would form a consortium that would gather a panel of experts to provide facts and options for the postwar. Their work would be politically palatable, coming from across the ideological spectrum, not insisting on a single plan that would corner the administration. “This is just what we need,” Rice said. “We’ll be too busy to do it ourselves.” But she didn’t want the involvement of Heritage, which had been critical of the idea of an Iraq War. “Do AEI.”

Chris DeMuth, president of the American Enterprise Institute, where the administration’s neoconservatives drew their support and many of their personnel, neither consented nor refused when Gelb broached the possibility. On November 15, the representatives of the think tanks met with Rice and Hadley in Rice’s office at the White House. John Hamre of CSIS went in expecting to pitch the idea to Rice, but the meeting was odd from the start: Rice seem attentive only to DeMuth, and it was as if the White House was trying to sell something to the American Enterprise Institute rather than the other way around. When Gelb, on speakerphone from New York, began to describe his concept, DeMuth cut him off. “Wait a minute. What’s all this planning and thinking about postwar Iraq?” He turned to Rice. “This is nation building, and you said you were against that. In the campaign you said it, the president has said it. Does he know you’re doing this? Does Karl Rove know?”

Without AEI, Rice couldn’t sign on. Two weeks later, Hadley [Rice’s deputy] called Gelb to tell him what Gelb already knew: “We’re not going to go ahead with it.” Gelb later explained, “They thought all those things would get in the way of going to war.”

There’s so much going on here. Firstly, Rice, the top person in the US government responsible for national security policy planning, just months before the war began had no idea what would happen once the hostilities ended. Second, there’s the ideological imperative of dealing with AEI instead of Heritage even though Heritage is a decidedly conservative institution. Thirdly, you have Rice acting as if she’s working for AEI. Fourthly, and this is an issue that comes to the fore in every book I’ve read about the Iraq War, the Republican anti-nation building rhetoric from pre-2001 was never completely disregarded despite its obvious disconnect with the need to administer a country you’ve just invaded. As many have noted, 9/11 changed Bush and Cheney’s views on containment, deterrence, and the need to meet threats before they materialize. But unchanged was the reflexive aversion to nation building a la Clinton. This is bad if you’re planning on invading other countries with no exit strategy.

This is brought into relief most clearly, perhaps, in a Donald Rumsfeld speech “Beyond Nation Building” given on February 14, 2003 on the aircraft carrier Intrepid, chronicled in Gordon and Trainor’s Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq. Rumsfeld depicts the Clinton strategies in the Balkans as failures while depicting Afghanistan as a model of post-conflict management. Iraq, Rumsfeld asserts, might be even more easy than Afghanistan because “[w]ith Iraq…there has been time to prepare.” While there was indeed time, all of 2002, in fact, no time had been spent on post-war planning at CENTCOM, DoD or the NSC.

Lastly, as I’ve conjectured before, Gelb believed that planning for the post-war was seen as an impediment to getting the political approval for the war in the first place. Within parts of the administration, it was more important to get to go to war, even if it meant not planning for the most crucial part of the war. George W. Bush was certainly poorly served by his national security policy formation apparatus, but he exerted virtually no control and displayed no curiosity about the course of war planning. As Packer relates of a meeting in early January 2003 in a meeting of Iraqi exiles, Rice and Bush, Bush asks, “”A humanitarian army is going to follow our army into Iraq, right?’ ‘Right,’ Rice affirmed, but she glanced down in a way that suggested she knew how inadequate the answer was.”

Monument at Alamogordo, N.M. commemorating the first nuclear explosion

Monument at Alamogordo, N.M. commemorating the first nuclear explosion

Paul Schroeder quoted in Robert Jervis’ The Meaning of the Nuclear Revolution: Statecraft and the Prospect of Armageddon:

Since the second century A.D. under the Pax Romana, the Western World has known no long periods of general peace. The modern record was 38 years, 9 months, and five days…from the aftermath of Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo to the effective beginning of the Crimean War…That record was broken…on May 15, 1984.”*

*Paul Schroeder, “Does Murphy’s Law Apply to History?” Wilson Quarterly, 9 (New Year’s 1985), 88.

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Quoting from Robert Jervis’ The Meaning of the Nuclear Revolution: Statecraft and the Prospect of Armageddon, a possibly apocryphal yet compelling anecdote from the memory of Ambassador Averell Harriman:

As Harriman later remembered it, the Soviet leader [Khrushchev] declared that America could not maintain its position in Berlin by force: after he signed a peace treaty with East Germany, any attempt to reassert Western access rights would mean that “rockets would fly and the tanks would burn.”…”I laughed. He asked, ‘What are you laughing about?’ I said, ‘What you’re talking about would lead to war and I know you’re too sensible a man to want to have war.’ He stopped a minute and looked at me and said, ‘You’re right.’ “

Democrats have made much hay over House Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s post-2010 midterm speech at the Heritage Foundation in which he says “our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second term”. And rightly so. If a party decides denying Obama a second term takes priority over all else, it’s a given that it will do its best to trash the economy. After all, it’s an established fact that the one thing that can lose a president re-election is a bad economy. So, while it might seem like a no-brainer to have as a primary goal the unseating of an opposing president, the implications are quite severe. Could attempting to unseat Obama, for instance, necessitate something as bad for America as a credit rating-lowering debt default fiasco? So, obviously to people who follow politics, Republicans adopted a strategy of denying Obama the votes to get anything done to improve the economy while simultaneously highlighting how bad the economy was.

All this was fleshed out recently in a Michael Grunwald column in Time, which is unfortunately behind a firewall. He details a series of meetings in December 2008 of the Republican House leadership where (in true Nixonian fashion) excerpts from George C. Scott’s opening speech in Patton are played to give Republicans the gumption to do what they believe to be their best strategy: oppose everything. “If [Obama] was for it,” former Ohio Senator George Voinovich explained, “we had to be against it.” And bills that did get passed, such as PPACA and ARRA were misrepresented ad nauseam. It’s worth a read.

I’m currently working for a major retail pharmacy as a pharmacy technician. Which is pretty unforgiving as a career, but it gives me a flexible schedule while I finish my last two years of school and also gives me a perspective of the US healthcare industry.

So, yesterday (a Saturday) a gentleman in his 80’s comes in to pick up 5 prescriptions for his wife who just had knee-replacement surgery. Four of them have been filled and the fifth, Oxycontin, for his wife’s pain, has been held up by the insurance and has not been filled. The insurance company demands, as it does very often, a prior authorization from the doctor. A prior authorization is basically a mechanism that insurance companies use to minimize their own costs related to patients’ coverage. It is paperwork a doctor fills out saying that, yes, my patient really does need this medication that I’m prescribing (as if the prescription itself wasn’t a good enough indication of that).

There are generally 3 ways things can go if the doctor submits the prior authorization paperwork. The insurance company may just flatly reject that the patient needs the medication, it can grant the doctors request that the patient receive the medication, or it can try to offer alternative medications that have similar effects (and are cheaper). Often, patients have already tried the alternative medications without success and this is usually a very tense and frustrating situation.

May I step back for a second and ask a question? What would happen, do you think, if the Affordable Care Act had included a single-payer system which introduced provisions that required doctors to fill out prior authorizations like insurance companies have been requiring doctors to do for decades?

Of course, conservatives would scream bloody murder, saying (correctly, in fact) that the government is getting “between a patient and his doctor”, that this is another step down the road to serfdom, etc. And I would think progressives and liberals would agree with them. If a doctor prescribes a medication for his patient, the patient should probably take the medicine.

So, this elderly gentleman spent 30 minutes at the pharmacy window trying to understand the situation before him, with a wife alone at home in pain. It was a Saturday, he would have to wait until Monday to get in touch with a doctor who was not his wife’s primary care doctor. He was, after all, the surgeon, and good luck getting in touch with him. Meanwhile, the wife does what? Deals with having a knee that just been removed and replaced with metal hinges without pain medication.

It’s just such a great example of how we do need the government to regulate the insurance industry, something which the Affordable Care Act does, to the extent it wasn’t watered down to appease moderate Republican votes.

After giving the elderly gentleman all the best advice I knew to give, he says “Well, I hope this helps us next time because she’s having the other knee replaced in a few months.”

Quoting from Frances FitzGerald’s Way Out There in the Blue: Reagan, Star Wars and the End of the Cold War:

In those years [’81-’82] Henry Kissinger was occasionally invited to the White House to talk with the President about world affairs. James Baker and those other White House aides who worried that Reagan was too much identified with the right wing of the party thought it good public relations for the President to be seen consulting with the acknowledged master of geopolitics, whose policies had come under attack from the right. Kissinger was always happy to accept these invitations, though, after a few meetings with Reagan, he realized that they were essentially for show. In the course of their talks the President displayed little knowledge of world affairs and almost no curiosity about them. What was more, he seemed quite unconcerned with foreign policy. It was as if thinking about long-term strategies was something that other people were paid to do. When Kissinger talked about what the U.S. goverment ought to be doing in the coming years, Reagan often tuned out of the conversation altogether. “He would try to avoid policy discussions,” Kissinger said. “If he couldn’t, he’d resort to his cue cards. If he was alone, I knew that nothing would go on–he was just massaging me. Only if there was someone there would there be a discussion of substance.”

After experimenting with a number of conversational gambits, Kissinger discovered that the best way to get Reagan’s attention was to talk about what he ought to say publicly on an issue. If there was talk of a speech or a public statement, Reagan would sit up and his eyes would come back into focus. “He was an actor,” Kissinger said, “the quintessential actor. What he said was what he believed. He didn’t stand in front of his mirror in the morning while he shaved wondering whether that was the truth or not. If I told him Dobrynin had just told me that the Soviets couldn’t stand it ay more and would be launching their missiles in forty-eight hours, Reagan would no call the JCS. He would talk from his cue cards, then he would tell some Hollywood stories, and when I left, he would not call someone and say, ‘You know, Henry Kissinger has gone mad?”

“It’s very unusual,” Kissinger said, “to have a president who is not interested in policy at all.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since the Soviet Union’s first atomic test in August of 1949 ended the US’ monopoly of nuclear weapons, US’ strategies for averting nuclear war have evolved.  Watershed events such as the development of intercontintental ballistic missiles, the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1968, the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, and the rise of non-state actors such as al Qaeda in the 1990’s have morphed the contours of the strategic landscape and challenged strategic thinking of how best to keep the world safe from nuclear war.  One constant attribute among most US strategic analysts throughout these dilemmas has been the dubious, though at one time probably commendable, tendency to exaggerate nuclear threats in conscious attempts to use the unique psychological impact of nuclear weapons to accomplish non-proliferation policies that were not politically possible for conventional weapons.  John Mueller, in his Atomic Obsession:  Nuclear Alarmism from Hiroshima to Al Qaeda, quotes Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists editor Eugene Rabinowitch explaining that the purpose of his publication was “to preserve civilization by scaring men into rationality” as one of many examples of such hyperbole.  In the context of the Cold War, these exaggerations led to the nuclear disarmament movement and fostered the development of institutions such as the United Nations and International Atomic Energy Agency, which were at least ostensibly established to realize these goals.  Since the US became the world’s sole superpower in 1992, and the parallel ascendancy of the right in the US’ and European political systems, the anathematic role nuclear weapons play in world politics produces a different effect–namely, to make war with so-called “rogue states” more likely, evidenced first in Iraq in 2002 and 2003 and currently in Iran.  Thus, what was once a powerful argument for restraint is, in the post-Cold War international environment, a pretext for belligerent elements in the US to wage war.

Absent the Soviet threat, a more effective US strategy for maintaining peace is, first, recognizing the moderating effect nuclear weapons have had on great powers since the advent of nuclear weapons and applying those lessons to current conflicts; secondly, recognizing the moderating effect nuclear weapons have had on the few smaller states which maintain arsenals and applying those lessons to current and continuing conflicts is essential for effective security policies; finally, both the inability of emerging nuclear nations such as Iran to use their new weapons to achieve anything but the worthy goal of deterring attack and, absent threats from the West, the very limited incentives non-nuclear states have for pursuing nuclear programs should be recognized.

Nuclear weapons are stabilizers in an international system historically fraught with dissension.  As John Mearsheimer shows in his seminal The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, in the one-hundred and fifty-three years preceding the invention of nuclear weapons, Europe was ravaged by fifty-five wars.  The number of casualties in these wars exceeds 28 million, not including the approximately 75 million casualties in the two world wars.  Conversely, Europe has only had one war since the invention of nuclear weapons.  That war, the Russo-Hungarian War of 1956, saw the deaths of a meager 10,000, and evidence suggests that Soviet aggression in Hungary was tempered by the presence of NATO nuclear arsenals in the European theater.  Mearsheimer concludes that “[nuclear weapons] surely account for the absence of great-power war in Europe between 1945 and 1990”.

Prior to the invention of nuclear weapons, military planners had difficulty calculating which state would have the advantage in a given conflict, leading to all kinds of miscalculations. Nuclear weapons introduce a new Weltanshauung in the world of military strategy, the result of a newly defined value in the equation of wars, the cost of aggression.  As éminence grise Bernard Brodie observed on the first page of his brief history of nuclear strategy, “The Development of Nuclear Strategy”:  “[t]hus far the chief purpose of our military establishment has been to win wars.  From now on its chief purpose must be to avert them.  It can have almost no other useful purpose”.  For states considering aggression against a state with nuclear weapons, strategic decision-making and cost-benefit analysis are simplified to the point where starting a war means annihilation of large, valuable portions of the aggressor state.  As analyst Kenneth Waltz has noted, the problematic nature of deterrence in a conventional world is absent in a nuclear world:

Nuclear weapons purify deterrent strategies by removing elements of defense and war-fighting. Nuclear warheads eliminate the necessity of fighting and remove the possibility of defending, because only a small number of warheads need to reach their targets.

Nuclear weapons eliminate the need for defense because they eliminate the possibility of defense.

The experience of Europe over the past 60 years clears a path though the paradoxical strategic morass presented by nuclear weapons.  Nuclear weapons, though highly destructive when detonated, are the first effective deterrent against wars of aggression in the long history of European warfare.  Their use as weapons of deterrence was a triumph in the second half of the twentieth century in the standoff between the US, the USSR and the European powers, and they could play a similar role in the multipolar world that is emerging in the twenty-first century.

Just as Great Powers have been successful in averting violence in the nuclear age, regional powers such as Pakistan and India are likely to have success averting major war with the presence of their nuclear weapons.  The product of a post-colonial mishandling by the British empire, the boundary between India and Pakistan was incompetently drawn by the British in their hasty withdrawal from the Asian subcontinent.  Since partition in 1947 numerous large-scale conflicts have been fought, mostly for control of the Kashmir region.  In almost every case threats of a wider war ensued, and the UN had to take drastic action to circumvent this outcome.

Nuclear weapons will give India and Pakistan the space in which a negotiated settlement may be moved toward completion.  Since the series of nuclear tests by India and Pakistan in 1998, establishing India’s mastery over nuclear technology and Pakistan’s emergence as a nuclear power, no large-scale conflicts have occurred.  Even after it had been established that Pakistan’s intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, had a role to play in the Mumbai terrorist attacks in 2008, India did not respond aggressively.

Those who argue that nuclear weapons are destabilizing in the India-Pakistan standoff generally tend to argue that these countries use the weapons as shields behind which they can launch limited attacks without fear of reprisal.  But this misses the fact that those skirmishes used to be much larger and threatened full-scale and even wider war.  Furthermore, evidence exists that the presence of the nuclear programs in India and Pakistan give the international community more impetus for and access to processes of diplomacy in the region.  Peaceful coexistence in the region is doubtful in the near future, but making the conflicts that do arise less conflagratory is a good idea.

The success of nuclear non-proliferation in the years since the signing of the NPT in 1968 is impressive.  Aside from the five recognized states possessing nuclear weapons, only five nations illicitly joined the nuclear club.  This is more likely because most nations already have little interest in possessing nuclear weapons than due to leaders’ desires to adhere to the NPT.  Surely, the addition of an international treaty adds something to the incentives for not having nuclear weapons, but merely expecting a sudden rise in nuclear proliferation absent such a treaty is not realistic.

As Joseph Cirincione shows in his brief primer on nuclear weapons, Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons, “politics trumps technology”. The fact that nuclear technology may be available to states plays very little role in determining whether that state will develop a nuclear weapons program. The knowledge necessary to manufacture nuclear weapons is universal, and currently 44 countries possess the industrial capability for a nuclear weapons program.  Yet, for different reasons, leaders have decided not to pursue programs.

Furthermore, enforcing non-proliferation policies is highly problematic.  The strictures of the NPT are nevertheless toothless without enforcement, and enforcement makes non-proliferation more difficult.  In the case of Iran, the threat of attack has roots much deeper than the current nuclear standoff.  Iran has been subject to Western threat and attack since the formation of its current government in 1979, and it correctly sees nuclear arms as a guarantee against Western aggression.  In this way, the more strenuously the US threatens enforcement of nonproliferation norms, the more incentives are given to countries to develop nuclear weapons as a deterrent.

The paradoxical strategic significance of nuclear weapons continues to confound strategic thinkers and politicians tasked with keeping the world safe from war and nuclear war.  What might have been a noble and successful counterproliferation policy during the Cold War is now delusional and problematic.  Complicating the situation, current US policy applies selectively the enforcement of non-proliferation; illicit Indian and Pakistani programs were aided by the West while Iran’s legitimate program, still not proven to exist, has caused the US to threaten war.  Absent the Soviet counterweight to the West, the temptation to intervene aggressively at will throughout the world is proving too strong for the political leadership in the US.  Non-proliferation enforcement is quickly becoming the cloak under which these interventions are disguised.  The more non-ideological policy of using the natural tendencies of non-threatened nations to abstain by choice from nuclear weapons, allowing their existence in global hot spots to deter aggression, and attempting to end the current policy of disguising brazen self-interest as a movement toward peace is a better goal.

There will never be an end to Keynesian economics. Just, perhaps, an end to the Democratic Party’s ability to employ it.

Republicans pretend to disagree with Keynesianism when Democrats are in power, vociferously discouraging its use by harping on the numerous things about both Keynesian monetary and fiscal policy which are counterintuitive to average Americans who do not understand economics. For instance, Republicans during Barack Obama’s presidency have lambasted his fiscal stimulus because it just can’t be right for America to spend money when it’s already in debt, right? I mean $14 trillion’s a big number, right? And Republicans have also blasted any and all monetary stimulus out of the Fed, which is entirely consistent with Republican wishes to have hard money throughout their presidencies, right?

Democrats, on the other hand, are handicapped in that they cannot pretend to disagree with the basic premise of Keynesianism–that government, being the main actor in the US economy, must help along the economy with fiscal and monetary stimulus when it hits a rough patch–during periods of Republican reign. So, when Republicans control the executive branch and/or a branch of Congress and pass stimulative tax cuts or pass stimulative spending bills, Democrats can only disagree with the specific content of those bills, not the underlying premise, which, with an economically illiterate electorate, is a serious tactical handicap.

I’ve written previously about the Reagan administration’s 1981 Kemp-Roth tax cut. To add further to the narrative, I’d like to add William Greider’s perspective from his Secrets of the Temple: How the Federal Reserve Runs the Country. I would quote it, but it makes more sense to show the entirety of a couple of pages. So rich is the content:

So, there you have it. Ronald Reagan’s economic and political teams were completely aware of the fiscal consequences of the 1981 tax cut and chose to hide the analysis from Congress, which was debating the bill. The US barely had a $1 trillion deficit at the time Kemp-Roth passed, and, despite numerous efforts at fiscal retrenchment throughout the rest of the 80’s and into the 90’s, deficits soared.

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