Book Forum

DC Confidential: Inside the Five Tricks of Washington

(Encounter Books, 2017)

September 19, 2017 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM EDT

Hayek Auditorium, Cato Institute

Featuring the author David Schoenbrod, Trustee Professor, New York Law School; with comments by William Galston, Ezra K. Zilkha Chair in Governance Studies and Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution; moderated by John Samples, Vice President, Cato Institute.

You think you know why our government in Washington is broken, but you really don’t. You think it’s broken because politicians curry favor with special interests and activists of the left or right. There’s something to that, and it helps explain why these politicians can’t find common ground. But this theory misses the root cause. A half century ago, elected officials in Congress and the White House figured out a new system for enacting laws and spending programs—one that lets them take credit for promising good news while avoiding blame when the government produces bad results. With five key tricks, politicians of both parties now avoid accounting to us for what government actually does to us.

While you understand that these politicians seem to pull rabbits out of hats, hardly anyone sees the sleight of hand by which they get away with their tricks. Otherwise, their tricks wouldn’t work. DC Confidential exposes the sleights of hand. Its author argues that we can stop the tricks, fix our broken government, and make Washington work for us once again.

The book explains the necessary reform and lays out an action plan to put it in place. Stopping the tricks would be a constructive, inclusive response to the anger that Americans from across the political spectrum feel toward what should be our government.