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Where Does the Money Go?
Your Guided Tour to the Federal Budget Crisis

by Scott Bittle and Jean Johnson

      Be prepared to have some of your preconceptions challenged and your viewpoints shaken out of their ruts by this incredibly readable, understandable book about our federal budget and debt. Both authors live in the NYC area and work for Public Agenda, a public affairs web site. The information is presented in a no-nonsense, straightforward manner, without a partisan perspective.

Want to know what's the worst that can happen? Flip over to chapter 2 and discover the dangers that are imminent for Social Security and Medicare. Resplendent with graphs and pie charts, you will really have an idea after reading about what the future will be like for our dependents after the debt clock clicks over to, get this, 10 Trillion Dollars. How long can we continue to keep our heads in the sand, with such enormities hanging over collectively-responsible voters? This book both fascinates and horrifies - and certainly encourages you to gulp down that big knot in your throat and read through this timely information.

The publication of this book is timed so it will arrive just about in conjunction with the State of the Union address, the Congressional budget debates, and the open primaries of our 2008 election series. The knowledge is elemental, practical and necessary for intelligent choices at the polls. It explores why elected leaders on both sides of the aisle have failed to truly address this ongoing and crucial issue.

Chapter quotes provide both humor and more food for thought. For example, "Blessed are the young, for they shall inherit the National Debt," Herbert Hoover, U.S . President. Or, "Death and taxes and childbirth! There's never any convenient time for any of them!" Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind (Margaret Mitchell, 1936.) These all help make us realize that budgetary problems have been with us for generations, are getting worse, and need all Americans working together to solve them.

Clever chapters headings also fuel the interest of the reader: "Voter Protection Kit" (see chapter 17), or "Six Realities We Need to Accept to Solve This Problem" (see the last chapter), which will jolt many out of complacency and rudely open some eyes to the ultimate, albeit difficult-to-swallow, solutions. The terrific Appendix (Places to Go, People to Meet) alone is well worth the price of the book! It covers where to go online for further information, who has written guides to further your education on the subject, groups working on the issue, and much more hands-on places to investigate. If you only read one book during the upcoming election brouhaha, read this one. You will be better able to discuss the issue at parties, be better educated on this ongoing crisis, and, hopefully, prepared to step up to the plate to change the bottom line. A great read!

The Book

Collins: An Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers
February 12, 2008
Trade Paperback
Non-Fiction / Economics / Federal Budget
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The Reviewer

Laura Strathman Hulka
Reviewed 2008
© 2008