Continual references throughout these pieces to former Director of the Office of Management and Budget David Stockman and Stockman’s memoirs provide Moynihan with his proverbial axe. Labeling Stockman an ideological capitalist, Moynihan explains that the economic revolution heralded by the Reagan Administration’s arrival in Washington, D.C., was based on a near-fanatical hatred for what was perceived as government-subsidized poverty-- government bloated by social responsibility. Stockman believed that he could reduce the size of the federal government by cutting taxes, thus removing its major supply of revenue. Spending would nevertheless continue, and the government would be forced to cut back on social programs such as education and welfare.
Stockman, according to Moynihan, never expected resistance to the logically necessary cutbacks, but that is what happened. Thus, the deficit has tripled since Ronald Reagan’s inauguration in 1981. The problem, says Moynihan, is not simply the size of the deficit; rather, the problem is growing interest paid to foreign investors who fund the administration’s spending spree.
In the essays discussing Stockman and in other pieces, Moynihan’s descriptions of Reagan’s role in his administration’s activities, from the economic “revolution” to the Iran-Contra affair, suggest that the president was operating in a state of blissful ignorance. In the Democratic response to the president’s weekly radio broadcast of November 29, 1986, as the details of the Iran-Contra affair were first becoming public, Moynihan stated simply: “This is no occasion on which to respond to the president. This is a time to talk to him.”
Moynihan charges the Reagan Administration with profound contempt for the federal government as a major player in the national political economy. Ideology, in the form of Stockman’s capitalistic fervor, Lyndon La Rouche’s sweeping bigotry, or the Soviet Union’s Marxist-Leninist dogmatism, has no role in responsible governance of a nation.
Moynihan’s arguments are thought-provoking and articulate. He wants his audience to understand his interpretation of current affairs, a refreshing attitude from a politician.