As Ronald Reagan’s first budget director, former Michigan congressman David Stockman led the charge to cut the size, scope, and spending of the federal government in the early 1980s. He made enemies among Democrats by pushing hard for cuts to welfare programs—and he ultimately made enemies among his fellow Republicans by pushing equally hard to slash defense spending. His memoir of the era, The Triumph of Politics: Why the Reagan Revolution Failed, is a legendary account of how libertarian principles got sacrificed on the altar of political expediency.
Stockman’s new book is Trump’s War on Capitalism, and it takes a blowtorch to the former president’s time in office. “When it comes to what the GOP’s core mission should be…standing up for the free markets, fiscal rectitude, sound money, personal liberty, and small government at home and non-intervention abroad,” he writes, “Donald Trump has overwhelmingly come down on the wrong side of the issues.”
At a Reason Speakeasy event in New York City, I talked with Stockman about his political journey from being a member of Students for a Democratic Society who protested the Vietnam War to being one of Reagan’s main advisers to his denunciation of Donald Trump and his hope that Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s candidacy helps throw the 2024 election into the House of Representatives.
Stockman also explains how Trump led the disastrous charge on COVID-19 lockdowns, got rolled by Wall Street and the Federal Reserve, and why his nativist views on immigration are inimical both to freedom and economic growth.
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- The Reason Speakeasy. The Reason Speakeasy is a monthly, unscripted conversation in New York City with outspoken defenders of free thinking and heterodoxy. Go here for an online archive and go here to sign up for information about upcoming events.