Red Ink: Inside the High-Stakes Politics of the Federal Budget

Crown Business. 2012. c.208p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780770436148. $22. ECON
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Wessel (economics editor, Wall Street Journal; In FED We Trust: Ben Bernanke's War on the Great Panic) presents a timely analysis of the U.S. federal budget. He examines the fiscal 2011 budget year, breaking down the allocation of federal money and revealing the current budget's unsustainability. Today, Wessel notes, federal spending is nearly six times what it was when FDR was first elected in 1932, approximately one out of every four dollars in the overall economy. He clearly and succinctly describes the vast scope of the budget, the budget deficit, and the almost unimaginable total national debt. He also discusses the politics and people behind the budget, citing insiders like White House Chief of Staff Jacob Lew, Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf, former Commerce Secretary Peter Peterson, and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
VERDICT Wessel's unbiased, levelheaded approach will appeal to serious readers who understand that the federal budget cannot be managed like a family budget. He offers ideas for solving the crisis, but these would require the support of elected officials and a focus on working toward a responsible fiscal future. Highly recommended for all politics wonks and university libraries supporting political science and economics curricula.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing