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David A. Stockman

Former Director of the Office of Management and Budget in the Reagan administration, fired for outspoken criticism of the administration's failure to carry through on spending reductions, author of The Triumph of Politics: The Inside Story of the Reagan Revolution (1986)

None of us really understands what's going on with all these numbers... People are getting from A to B and it's not clear how they are getting there...

Dec. 1981 - quoted in "The Education of David Stockman" by William Greider, published in The Atlantic Magazine
The actual electorate ... is not interested in this doctrine [of reductions in the size of government and its spending]; when it is interested at all, it is interested in getting help from the government to compensate for a perceived disadvantage. Consequently, the spending politics of Washington do reflect the heterogeneous and parochial demands that arise from the diverse, activated ... electorate across the land. What you see done in the halls of the politicians may not be wise, but it is the only real and viable definition of what the electorate wants.

1986 - from The Triumph of Politics
The conservative opposition helped build the American welfare state brick by brick during the three decades prior to 1980. The Reagan Revolution failed because the Republican Party decided to stick with its own historic handiwork.

1986 - from The Triumph of Politics
Implicit in the conservatism of the Right is a profound regard for the complexity and fragility of the social and economic order; and a consequent fear that policy interventions may do more harm and injustice than good. By contrast, the activist impulses of the Left derive from the view that a free society is the natural incubator of ills and injustices. The Left assumes that society has an infinite capacity to absorb the changes it imposes on it.

1986 - from The Triumph of Politics