Reviews

‘Dead Men Ruling’ argues for long-term balance between spending, revenue by Charles Lane (The Washington Post)

“This near-total loss of “fiscal freedom” is the theme of “Dead Men Ruling,” a short, superb new book by C. Eugene Steuerle, from which the above statistics derive; the title nicely expresses the fact that today’s lawmakers are tightly constrained by the accumulated, and seemingly unalterable, decisions of their predecessors. “

Governed from the grave by Robert J. Samuelson (The Washington Post)

“Unless public opinion shifts, the budget stalemate will persist. But being brutally honest in defining a new social contract, people like Steuerle might make it easier for practical politicians to do what, up until now, has been impractical.”

Robbing the Next Generation of Fiscal Freedom by David Wessel (The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire)

“In a new book, “Dead Men Ruling: How to Restore Fiscal Freedom and Rescue our Future,” Urban Institute economist C. Eugene Steuerle highlights a new way to illustrate the reasons to worry about the status quo. He starts with federal revenues past and projected under current law, and then calculates how much is left after paying Social Security, Medicare and other benefits promised under law and interest on the federal debt – that is, how much is left for scientific and medical research, education, infrastructure, defense and government salaries. The answer: Less and less.”

U.S. Fiscal Policy Is Increasingly Managed by Dead Men by Rob Garver (The Fiscal Times)

“Steuerle’s position is studiously non-partisan. He says he is less interested in taking aim at particular programs or policies than in making sure that decisions about taxation and spending get made by the people they are actually affecting – not left on an autopilot program devised decades before.”

‘Dead Men Ruling’ Examines Harmful Fiscal Legacy, Yet Offers Hope by Robert Bixby (The Tabulation)

“If we are ever going to break free from the structural deficits weighing down the future, we will need the kind of positive vision Steuerle provides. However, “Dead Men Ruling” is also valuable for its bluntly accurate diagnosis of the fiscal challenge. Readers will come to appreciate that it is not a matter of policymakers choosing each year to spend too much or tax too little; it is that they have switched these decisions to autopilot, knowing full well that the course is unsustainable.”

How “Dead Men” Fiscal Policy is Paralyzing Government by Howard Gleckman (TaxVox)

“In his new book, Dead Men Ruling, my Tax Policy Center colleague Gene Steuerle delivers a powerful indictment of the current epidemic of irresponsible fiscal policy. But Gene isn’t writing about deficits and today’s economy. His focus is on the long-term political, social, and economic consequences of mindless budgeting that increasingly functions on policy autopilot.”

Political Gridlock is an Enemy of Children by Bruce Lesley (Huff Post Politics)

“Consequently, rather than allowing investments in children or other priorities to continue to dwindle, Steuerle highlights other suggested structural and system changes that will allow us to pursue a new vision that includes such things as investments to combat child poverty, child abuse and neglect, infant mortality and childhood obesity.”

The future sans the government Santas: Will anyone try to map it? by Laurie Sturdevant (Star Tribune)

“Steuerle’s analysis fires the imagination about what all those candidates who paraded across civic center stages at dueling state political party conventions Friday and Saturday might discuss this year if the next Congress could be unshackled from spending commitments made by Congresses elected decades ago — hence ‘Dead Men Ruling’.”

Book review: Reclaiming America’s fiscal freedom by Will Marshall (Republic 3.0)

“Dead Men Ruling offers progressives an alternative to the GOP’s dismal politics of austerity – a positive vision for making fiscal policy once again an enabler of economic growth and opportunity.”

Don’t let the past constrict the future by William Fietzer (Examiner)

“To “remove [America’s] fiscal strait jacket” and restore political flexibility, Steuerle called for budgetary restraint and a reallocation of resources toward children and young people. Reducing mandatory entitlements for the elderly and baby boomers also would help.”

Are Dead Men Ruling America? by Michael Hendrix (Values & Capitalism)

“In Eugene Steuerle’s new book, “Dead Men Ruling,” we see an America that’s deeply out of whack. Dead and retired politicians have conspired to lock in guarantees of future certainty, and thus hurt the fiscal freedom that’s essential to a healthy democracy. Current and future generations are robbed of their ability to make decisions with their dollars, whether it to be to tackle new initiatives or address new problems.”

How congress lost control of government spending by Richard Rahn (The Washington Times)

“Those wishing to understand how we got into the current fiscal mess will benefit from reading “Dead Men Ruling.””

Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, Yet Again: Review of Dead Men Ruling by Dean Baker (Huff Post Books)

“Gene Steuerle is not a standard right-winger who believes that a dollar in the pocket of a middle class or poor person is a dollar that could be in the pockets of the rich. He is a serious budget analyst who has does important work on tax and budget issues for more than three decades. He sees the deficit as a problem precisely because he sees it as having a negative impact on poorer children in both the present and the future. This is why, apart from the great title, his new book Dead Men Ruling, is worth reading. He sets out the deficit hawk case about as well as anyone can.”

Zombie Politics by Kerry Petcher (The Retirment Income Journal)

“Given the inflexible partisanship and “incivility” that makes today’s political scene seem especially hopeless, the book is refreshingly evenhanded. “Dead Men Ruling” is an important wake up call to the living. It’s a warning that each generation needs the freedom to establish its own budgets for its own needs, and not be chained to the past.”

US Fiscal Policy Challenge: Dead Men Ruling by The Buffin Foundation (Commentary)

“Dead Men Ruling provides valuable insights into the nation’s fiscal problems and the way forward to recognize and implement the changes that are necessary to restore the fiscal integrity and sustainability of the nation’s finances.”


“Great book.  I could not put it down.  Gene Steuerle’s Dead Men Ruling is a penetrating analysis of current American budgetary problems. In it, he documents how and why American governments at all levels have implemented automatic tax and expenditure programs that are crowding out discretionary spending that would allow the country to respond flexibly to challenges and opportunities and make economically and socially productive investments. This is a vital concern to those of us who study the gains possible by investing early and well in children.  He places current problems in historical context and shows how Americans successfully, if painfully, addressed previous fiscal crises and the lessons we can learn from them. He outlines an agenda for reform that will create a leaner, evidence-based, transparent, and economically efficient discretionary budgetary process that will enable the country to make wise choices and prosper in the 21st century.

-James J. Heckman, Nobel Prize Laureate and Professor of Economics, University of Chicago


“Gene Steuerle brings both enormous experience and great wisdom in thinking about the Federal budget.  This book moves beyond the urgent to the truly important as it seeks to provide a broad theory of our problems and to chart a forward course.  Anyone concerned with our economic future should carefully consider Steuerle’s arguments.”

-Lawrence H. Summers, former Secretary of the Treasury and former Director, White House National Economic Council


“America’s federal budget is structured for a bygone era. A scholar and public servant unmatched in public finance, Eugene Steuerle cogently explains how policies crafted and defended by both parties—from large and automatically growing entitlement programs to entrenched tax expenditures—have come to impede economic opportunity and undermine our democracy.  Dead Men Ruling is a must-read for anyone who believes in bringing profound change to the federal budget and restoring our ability to invest in growth and opportunity for future generations.”

-Jonathan Cowan, President of Third Way


“I’ve witnessed first-hand Gene’s rare talent at pulling together Democrats and Republicans when others feel there is no way forward, whether for the most significant tax reform in modern history or helping a budget commission step boldly into the future.  In this book he reframes our tired debates and proposes how to get past our current economic and political quagmire to a 21st century agenda focused on children, investment, and posterity.

-Senator Kent Conrad (retired, N.D.), former chair, Senate Budget Committee


“Gene cuts through the gridlock of present arguments to provide a vision for meeting the present and future challenges of governance. This is the most original and thoughtful fiscal policy work in a very long time.

Stanford G. Ross,  former Social Security Commissioner & Public Trustee, White House & Treasury official


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‘Dead Men Ruling’ given prestigious economic wellbeing award by Sarah Rosen Wartell (MetroTrends)

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