America's Priorities: How the U.S. Government Raises and Spends $3,000,000,000,000 (Trillion) Per Year
By Charles S. Konigsberg '80
Where does all that money go? It's a question many people ask when contemplating the impenetrable federal budget--or their own tax filings--each year. With America's Priorities, Charles S. Konigsberg breaks down the answer in layman's language, deploying tables, graphs, and meticulously documented legislative history. The result is an amazing document that all conscientious citizens might want to have on their reference shelf.
Konigsberg served as a senior staff member in the U.S. Senate for thirteen years, was the assistant director at the Office of Management and Budget for the Clinton White House, and worked as general counsel to Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan on the Senate Finance Committee. He was also the founder and editor of the Washington Budget Report e-newsletter, and he created www.GovBudget.com, a user-friendly tool that allows for timely analysis of budget, tax, and appropriations developments. He serves as an expert on C-SPAN's Washington Journal and the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.
This expertise informs America's Priorities. Have you always wondered what the difference is between an outlay and an appropriation? Turn to "Key Budget Concepts." What's the "tax gap"? The section on "Revenues" will tell you. And how much do we spend on Amtrak? See "Transportation Programs."
At the beginning of one chapter, Konigsberg quotes Thomas Jefferson, who wrote, "We might hope to see the finances of the Union as clear and intelligible as a merchant's books, so that every member of Congress and every man of any mind in the Union should be able to comprehend them, to investigate abuses, and consequently to control them." A tall order in this day and age. But, with America's Priorities, Jefferson's hope takes a step toward realization.
Justices, Presidents, and Senators: A History of U.S. Supreme Court Appointments from Washington to Bush II (5th edition)
by Henry J. Abraham '48 H'72 P '79, '84
Rowman & Littlefield
A recent survey found that two-thirds of Americans could not name one single Supreme Court justice. That fact alone might make Henry J. Abraham's Justices, Presidents, and Senators required reading, were it not fascinating enough in its own right. With this latest edition, Abraham brings his definitive history up to date, carrying us from the era of the Rehnquist Court into the Roberts Court. A distinguished scholar of the court, Abraham is the author of the classic textbook, The Judicial Process: An Introductory Analysis of the Courts of the United States, England, and France, and is a former Kenyon trustee.
Given its scholarly genesis, some might be surprised to find that Justices, Presidents, and Senators includes some interesting personal details about those serving on the country's high court. There is Peter Vivian Daniel, for example, a justice from 1842 to 1860, who once shot a man in a duel. And there is William Howard Taft, who prized his appointment as the tenth chief justice even more than his term as president, writing, "The truth is that in my present life I don't remember that I ever was president."
The chapter on the Roberts Court, while lacking the distance of history, proves no less interesting, setting out the "proverbial race" for the positions left open by Justice O'Connor's retirement and Chief Justice Rehnquist's death. With the appointments of John G. Roberts and Samuel Alito, the Court continues to be split between four liberals and four conservatives. And while, as Abraham notes, it has taken a swing to the right with the latest two appointments, it is good to know that, in our partisan age, the Court remains the steady counterweight it has historically been.
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