The Greenspan Memoir

Alan Greenspan’s new book, a memoir, will be hitting the bookstores shortly but is already creating a stir. Greenspan, an 18 year Fed Chairman, has been considered to be a leader of orthodox Republican economic thinking. Yet his book takes dead aim at the economic policies of George W. Bush and the Republican controlled Congress, essentially making the point that the G.O.P. abandoned fiscal conservatism for short term political gain. Greenspan has always been known as a deficit hawk, and he bemoans the policies that squandered the Clinton surplus and have driven us back to record deficits. Today’s Washington Post gives us a glimpse of the book, and tells of Greenspan’s effusive praise for President Bill Clinton.

While condemning Democrats, too, for rampant federal spending, he offers Bill Clinton an exemption. The former president emerges as the political hero of “The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World,” Greenspan’s 531-page memoir, which is being published Monday. Greenspan, who had an eight-year alliance with Clinton and Democratic Treasury secretaries in the 1990s, praises Clinton’s mind and his tough anti-deficit policies, calling the former president’s 1993 economic plan “an act of political courage.”

Greenspan takes dead aim at the Republican controlled Congress, singling out Denny Hastert and Tom Delay for criticism.

Greenspan accuses the Republicans who presided over the party’s majority in the House until last year of being too eager to tolerate excessive federal spending in exchange for political opportunity. The Republicans, he says, deserved to lose control of the Senate and House in last year’s elections. “The Republicans in Congress lost their way,” Greenspan writes. “They swapped principle for power. They ended up with neither.”

“House Speaker Hastert and House majority leader Tom DeLay seemed readily inclined to loosen the federal purse strings any time it might help add a few more seats to the Republican majority,” he writes.

He adds three pages later: “I don’t think the Democrats won. It was the Republicans who lost. The Democrats came to power in the Congress because they were the only party left standing.”

He is critical of Democrats as well, singling them out for their propensity to spend excessively. His praise of Clinton stems from what I believe is Clinton’s intellectual curiosity and truly first rate mind.

However, he calls Clinton a “risk taker” who had shown a “preference for dealing in facts,” and presents Clinton and himself almost as soul mates. “Here was a fellow information hound. . . . We both read books and were curious and thoughtful about the world. . . . I never ceased to be surprised by his fascination with economic detail: the effect of Canadian lumber on housing prices and inflation. . . . He had an eye for the big picture too.”

Looks like an interesting read. Will it have any effect on politics? Will it have any effect on Republican economic theory? Read the Post story at this link.

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