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Reaganomics: An Insider’s Account of the Policies and the People

Reaganomics was the most ambitious attempt to change the course of American economic policy since Franklin Roosevelt’s administration. As a presidential candidate, Ronald Reagan promised to reduce the growth of federal spending, tax rates, regulation, and inflation and to promote free trade among nations. Yet his record of achieving those goals is decidedly mixed. In this lively, informative account William A. Niskanen, a distinguished economist and former top Reagan aide, tells why.

Niskanen was at the forefront of the Reagan administration’s economic program — as its supporter or internal critic and as a participant in or witness to many of the crucial decisions that shaped it. In this volume he recounts the debates over economic policy, assesses the impact of the administration’s program on the budget, taxes, regulation, trade, and monetary growth, and describes the probable legacy of Reaganomics.

Although Niskanen notes the administration’s successes in such areas as lowering tax rates and promoting the deregulation of a number of industries, he does not shrink from examining instances in which the Reagan vision of free markets and limited government went awry, such as the Commerce Department’s often‐​mercantilist view of imports and the many politically motivated concessions on spending policy. In the course of providing candid portraits of the architects of Reaganomics, he describes the exchange of positions by Donald Regan and James Baker as “a mistake for all concerned” and portrays Edwin Meese as “the most conspicuously mediocre man in American public life.” Published by Oxford University Press.