White House Burning: The Founding Fathers, Our National Debt, and Why It Matters to You

White House Burning: The Founding Fathers, Our National Debt, and Why It Matters to You

by Simon Johnson, James Kwak
3.7 9

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White House Burning: The Founding Fathers, Our National Debt, and Why It Matters to You 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
JGRBRIT More than 1 year ago
I read this book right after I read Tom Coburn's book: The Debt Bomb. I like Johnson's books and I liked his idea that we - as Americans - need to focus on those areas where we need to pool our collective resources to guard against disasters that none of us individually can either predict or survive: a notion that gets lost in the ideology-driven blather that passes for information in the current political debate. On the other hand, I feel the solutions outlined for our horrific fiscal challenges put too little emphasis on the savage problems of waste, corruption and downright financial stupidity embedded in the way our present political system works to allocate taxpayer dollars - actually regardless of which side of the aisle you're on.
DickK More than 1 year ago
I'm finding it difficult to finish. It is like reading a text book.
Tbrewer1982 More than 1 year ago
This book really digs into the history of our national debt and how it has been used since our nation's founding. It also provides practical solutions for solving our current debt crisis. This book cuts through the hyperbole that we usually get from the talking heads and provides the truth about our fiscal situation.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The reader can understand the details and concepts in a well written book.
Yellow-Snow More than 1 year ago
Breaks down the history of U.S. debt and deficits in clear and easy to understand writing. It provides a general history and basic primer on economics, economic policies from Federal spending, the budget, and many topics that are at the forefront on the current political climate. This is one of those books you'll want to keep around for reference.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I purchased this book expecting to get a serious attempt to explore the evolution of economics and public debt in the U.S. I was disappointed to find that I got a biased political discourse. If you believe in big government and support tax and spend policies, you will like this book. But the authors only restate the same tired arguments while concluding that with increased taxes we could afford anything we want. The first part of this book covers the growth of our national debt from the Revolutionary War through to the end of 2010. The material is accurate and well written. However, it is a light-weight treatment. The struggles of Alexander Hamilton to finance the war debt are extensively covered and there is a good accounting of the financing of succeeding wars. However, the forging of the first central bank and its subsequent demise under Jefferson’s Presidency are absent. And there is no mention of the battles between Andrew Jackson and Nicholas Biddle cumulating in the closure of the Second Bank of the United States. These banking milestones are important because they influence liquidity and money supply as well as affect the government’s ability to borrow cash and finance its debt. Since this book is purportedly about debt, their absence seems perplexing. The middle section of the book is by far the longest section. The authors discuss expenditures and revenues from Reagan to Obama and they accomplish this by way of flattering the left while finding fault with Republicans, conservatives, the Tea Party and the so called tax revolt. For example, when former President Bush adds a new prescription drug program to Medicare, it is seen as causing ‘increased long-term entitlement spending’ while Obama’s three consecutive years of $1T deficits are considered a good thing. The authors also go to great lengths to defend Obamacare. The claim is that the federal government is the only entity capable of providing this insurance. Yet even the authors find that ‘the United States pays almost twice as much per person on health care as the typical industrialized country, yet our actual outcomes are mediocre at best..’ How they then conclude that the government is best suited to fill this role is a further example of economic (if not journalistic) irresponsibility. In the last part of the book, the authors present their solutions to these complex problems. The first step is to eliminate the Bush era tax cuts. This is actually a step I would agree with if I felt my hard-earned dollars were being wisely spent. Then to solve the Social Security problem, we merely need to raise payroll taxes (both rates and caps) and index the retirement age. Other issues are likewise solved by raising taxes. The bottom line is that if you are fortunate enough to have a job today, you pay income tax on your earnings. Then if you elect to invest any savings, you will be taxed on any investment return. If you have any money left after this and want to spend it, you will be taxed a third time. The authors only want to add to your burden and support President Obama’s stated goal of wealth redistribution. This should make anyone revolt – unless you are part of the 45% that pay no income taxes. In that case, this is a situation you would want to see expanded. A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul (George Bernard Shaw).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very useful analysis
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Following mass medias example this author tries to blame all of our country's problems on Republicans. Don't waste your time if you're anywhere right of center.