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Red Ink: Inside the High-Stakes Politics of the Federal Budget
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David Wessel, the Pulitzer-Prize-winning reporter, columnist, and bestselling author of In Fed We Trust, dissects the federal budget: a topic that is fiercely debated today in the halls of Congress and the media, and yet is misunderstood by the American public.Now a New York Times bestseller.In a sweeping narrative about the people and the politics behind the budget, Wessel looks at the 2011 fiscal year (which ended September 30) to see where all the money was actually spent, and why the budget process has grown wildly out of control. Through the eyes of key people--Jacob Lew, White House director of the Office of Management and Budget; Douglas Elmendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office; Blackstone founder and former Commerce Secretary Pete Peterson; and more--Wessel gives readers an inside look at the making of our unsustainable budget.From the Hardcover edition.

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Street Date:
07/31/2012
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780770436155
ASIN:
B0076PGLDC
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APA Citation (style guide)

David Wessel. (2012). Red Ink: Inside the High-Stakes Politics of the Federal Budget. Crown.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

David Wessel. 2012. Red Ink: Inside the High-Stakes Politics of the Federal Budget. Crown.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

David Wessel, Red Ink: Inside the High-Stakes Politics of the Federal Budget. Crown, 2012.

MLA Citation (style guide)

David Wessel. Red Ink: Inside the High-Stakes Politics of the Federal Budget. Crown, 2012. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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      • bioText: David Wessel is a senior fellow in Economic Studies at Brookings and director of the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy. Previously, he was the economics editor of The Wall Street Journal where he wrote "The Capital" column, a weekly look at forces shaping living standards around the world. Wessel joined The Wall Street Journal in 1983 after working at the Hartford Courant and the Boston Globe. He is a frequent guest on NPR's Morning Edition and has shared two Pulitzer Prizes. He and his wife live in Washington, D.C.
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title
Red Ink
fullDescription

David Wessel, the Pulitzer-Prize-winning reporter, columnist, and bestselling author of In Fed We Trust, dissects the federal budget: a topic that is fiercely debated today in the halls of Congress and the media, and yet is misunderstood by the American public.

Now a New York Times bestseller.

In a sweeping narrative about the people and the politics behind the budget, Wessel looks at the 2011 fiscal year (which ended September 30) to see where all the money was actually spent, and why the budget process has grown wildly out of control. Through the eyes of key people--Jacob Lew, White House director of the Office of Management and Budget; Douglas Elmendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office; Blackstone founder and former Commerce Secretary Pete Peterson; and more--Wessel gives readers an inside look at the making of our unsustainable budget.

From the Hardcover edition.

reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Fareed Zakaria
      • content:

        "An excellent book"

      • premium: False
      • source: Financial Times
      • content: "Should be a first port of call for American voters sadly misinformed about their federal budget...Wessel's aim is to explain for a general audience the basics of the budget -- where the money comes from and goes to -- and to make the explanation interesting. He succeeds."
      • premium: False
      • source: Businessweek
      • content: "Wessel...has an insider's grasp of the players, issues and argot surrounding the budget. Yet he writes with an outsider's eye, distilling his tale of the fiscal monster into about 150 pages of simple prose and a smattering of charts."
      • premium: False
      • source: Huffington Post
      • content: "This is the most useful book on government spending since the publication of the classic work, The Debt and Deficit by Robert Heilbroner and Peter Bernstein. In the service of economic literacy, I wish that a few members of the House and the Senate would read the entire book aloud on the floor of the respective chambers (but don't hold your breath)."
      • premium: False
      • source: Reason
      • content: "The federal budget is an inherently complex subject that could easily become boring. But Wessel staves off yawns by painting miniature portraits of lovable wonks from across the spectrum...He gets right to the core of the problem: Big-ticket programs that much of the public loves but few want to pay for."
      • premium: False
      • source: Salon
      • content: "An extraordinarily useful book...For people unfamiliar with the ins and outs of the federal budget, it should be required reading. For those who already know their way around government finances, it is still a handy resource, but at the same time deeply depressing."
      • premium: False
      • source: Canada Free Press
      • content: "[Wessel] is blessed with the ability to make the obscure and arcane comprehensible."
      • premium: False
      • source: Daytona Beach News-Journal
      • content: "Packed with facts and figures--not normally the sort of material that makes for riveting story-telling. Yet the plot of Red Ink is fascinating and frightening."
      • premium: False
      • source: 800 CEO Read
      • content: "When laid out in front of us in the clam and talented hand of Wessel, we begin to understand in more detail exactly what we're deciding on, and that while it's not going to be easy, fixing the deficit is entirely doable... If you're interested that dialogue and in further education instead of soundbites and the pontification of pundits this election season, then this is certainly a book for you."
      • premium: False
      • source: Kirkus Reviews
      • content: "A highly informative volume designed to give voters a grip on what exactly is at stake...Wessel doesn't tell you how to think, but he does give you the facts to think more clearly about what needs to be done."
      • premium: False
      • source: Booklist
      • content: "The inner workings of the federal budget and where the money goes by economics expert David Wessel...Controversy over whether tax increases of spending cuts should be made to defense, Medicare, or Social Security spending provides fuel for great debate."
      • premium: False
      • source: Library Journal
      • content: "A timely analysis."
      • premium: False
      • source: Alan S. Blinder, professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University, former vice chairman, Federal Reserve Board
      • content: "The federal budget deficit is among the country's most discussed but least understood policy issues. If only everyone would read David Wessel's Red Ink."
      • premium: False
      • source: David M. Rubenstein, co-chief executive officer, The Carlyle Group
      • content: "Red Ink is the most concise, understandable, and focused book I have read about the dire problems we now face because of our burgeoning deficits and debt. It is not a pretty tale, but it is a tale all informed citizens should know."
      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        July 1, 2012
        Accessible overview of America's contentious deficit politics by the Wall Street Journal's economics editor. Anticipating another summer of posturing and gridlock over the federal budget as President Obama's re-election hopes and the majority of both houses of Congress hang in the balance, Wessel (In Fed We Trust: Ben Bernanke's War on the Great Panic, 2009, etc.) provides a slender but highly informative volume designed to give voters a grip on what exactly is at stake in this corrosive battle. He begins by clarifying some common misunderstandings: Almost two-thirds of the budget gets spent automatically, with or without the consent or amendment of the current Congress; the U.S. defense budget exceeds those of the next 17 largest powers (including Russia and China) combined; Americans pay less of their income in taxes than citizens of any other developed nation, and have been paying less and less in taxes for 30 years. Wessel then tries to answer the most basic questions about the deficit: how we got here, where the money goes and comes from, and why we need to solve the problem sooner rather than later. He's the least successful on the last question; the best argument seems to be, "Because everyone thinks so." Wessel cites experts from left and right, including Paul Krugman and Paul Ryan, among others, without stating a preference for any side. (The hero of the story seems to be Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, a nonideological Democrat who, as a congressman, helped forge agreements that made the surpluses of the 1990s possible.) Without explicitly recommending a course, Wessel makes clear that a solution to the problem would necessarily be repugnant to all sides and would include some major changes to entitlement programs as well as increases in taxes for at least several years. Wessel doesn't tell you how to think, but he does give you the facts to think more clearly about what needs to be done.

        COPYRIGHT(2012) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        August 1, 2012

        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.--Dale Farris, Groves, TXEducation

        Copyright 2012 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        July 1, 2012
        Anyone who's curious to know how the U.S. government managed to spend $3.6 trillion dollars in 2011 may be interested to learn about the inner workings of the federal budget and where the money goes. Economics expert Wessel breaks it down in layperson's terms. With the budget deficit being higher in 2011 than it has ever been, he explains the ever-widening gaps between government revenue and spending from the Great Depression until now, highlighting major historical milestones in budgetary strategy and the current situation. Despite four years in which the government actually had budget surpluses enough to pay off the federal debt, economic woes, costly wars, and other problems drove the budget back into the red, where it remains up to the present. The book explains the factors causing health-care spending to rise faster than the other areas of the federal budget, which forecasts an alarming trend for the future. Controversy over whether tax increases or spending cuts should be made to defense, Medicare, or Social Security spending provides fuel for great debate.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2012, American Library Association.)

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Now a New York Times bestseller.

In a sweeping narrative about the people and the politics behind the budget, Wessel looks at the 2011 fiscal year (which ended September 30) to see where all the money was actually spent, and why the budget process has grown wildly out of control. Through the eyes of key people--Jacob Lew, White House director of the Office of Management and Budget; Douglas Elmendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office; Blackstone founder and former Commerce Secretary Pete Peterson; and more--Wessel gives readers an inside look at the making of our unsustainable budget.

From the Hardcover edition.

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