Starving the Beast: Ronald Reagan and the Tax Cut Revolution

Russell Sage Foundation
Free sample

Since the Reagan Revolution of the early 1980s, Republicans have consistently championed tax cuts for individuals and businesses, regardless of whether the economy is booming or in recession or whether the federal budget is in surplus or deficit. In Starving the Beast, sociologist Monica Prasad uncovers the origins of the GOP’s relentless focus on tax cuts and shows how this is a uniquely American phenomenon.

Drawing on never-before seen archival documents, Prasad traces the history of the 1981 tax cut—the famous “supply side” tax cut, which became the cornerstone for the next several decades of Republican domestic economic policy. She demonstrates that the main impetus behind this tax cut was not business group pressure, racial animus, or a belief that tax cuts would pay for themselves. Rather, the tax cut emerged because Republicans believed that following World War II, Democrats had created an extremely durable power structure based on offering government programs to Americans, through which they were able to unify an otherwise fractious coalition of farmers, workers, and African Americans and retain control of Congress for four decades. Republicans were reduced to lecturing about balanced budgets, an issue that did not win them many elections.

The Republican party began to see tax cuts as an opportunity to alter these basic building blocks of American power. If Democratic power was built out of government programs, Republicans found a new power source in offering tax cuts. Once it became clear that the resulting deficits could be financed by foreign capital, this program reoriented the Republican Party, transforming it from the party of fiscal rectitude into a party whose main domestic policy goal is reducing taxes. With one party promoting government programs to appeal to voters and the other party promoting tax cuts to appeal to voters, and neither party able to generate electoral coalitions around addressing more pressing political and economic problems, this history reveals problems at the heart of contemporary American democracy itself.

Prasad suggests some ways forward. Since the end of World War II, many European nations have combined strong social protections with policies to stimulate economic growth such as lower taxes on capital and less regulation on businesses than in the U.S. Starving the Beast suggests that taking inspiration from this model of progressive policies embedded in market-promoting political economy could serve to build an American economy that works better for all.
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About the author

Monica Prasad is professor of sociology and faculty fellow in the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Russell Sage Foundation
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Published on
Dec 5, 2018
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Pages
337
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ISBN
9781610448765
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / History & Theory
Political Science / Political Process / Political Parties
Political Science / Public Policy / Economic Policy
Social Science / General
Social Science / Research
Social Science / Sociology / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Everyone has an opinion about whether or not Donald Trump colluded with the Russians to defeat Hillary Clinton in 2016. The number of actors involved is staggering, the events are complicated, and it’s hard to know who or what to believe. Spygate bypasses opinion and brings facts together to expose the greatest political scandal in American history.

 

Former Secret Service agent and NYPD police officer Dan Bongino joins forces with journalist D.C. McAllister to clear away fake news and show you how Trump’s political opponents, both foreign and domestic, tried to sabotage his campaign and delegitimize his presidency. By following the names and connections of significant actors, the authors reveal:

 

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Mark R. Levin has made the case, in numerous bestselling books that the principles undergirding our society and governmental system are unraveling. In The Liberty Amendments, he turns to the founding fathers and the constitution itself for guidance in restoring the American republic.

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The Framers adopted ten constitutional amendments, called the Bill of Rights, that would preserve individual rights and state authority. Levin lays forth eleven specific prescriptions for restoring our founding principles, ones that are consistent with the Framers’ design. His proposals—such as term limits for members of Congress and Supreme Court justices and limits on federal taxing and spending—are pure common sense, ideas shared by many. They draw on the wisdom of the Founding Fathers—including James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and numerous lesser-known but crucially important men—in their content and in the method for applying them to the current state of the nation.

Now is the time for the American people to take the first step toward reclaiming what belongs to them. The task is daunting, but it is imperative if we are to be truly free.
#1 New York Times bestselling author and radio host Mark R. Levin delivers a "bracing meditation” (National Review) on the ways our government has failed the next generation.

In modern America, the civil society is being steadily devoured by a ubiquitous federal government. But as the government grows into an increasingly authoritarian and centralized federal Leviathan, many parents continue to tolerate, if not enthusiastically champion, grievous public policies that threaten their children and successive generations with a grim future at the hands of a brazenly expanding and imploding entitlement state poised to burden them with massive debt, mediocre education, waves of immigration, and a deteriorating national defense.

Yet tyranny is not inevitable. In Federalist 51, James Madison explained with cautionary insight the essential balance between the civil society and governmental restraint: “In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”

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Levin calls for a new civil rights movement, one that will foster liberty and prosperity and cease the exploitation of young people by statist masterminds. He challenges the rising generation of younger Americans to awaken to the cause of their own salvation, asking: will you acquiesce to a government that overwhelmingly acts without constitutional foundation—or will you stand in your own defense so that yours and future generations can live in freedom?
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