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Books by and about 2012 presidential nominees
Do Not Ask What Good We Do
about Rep. Paul Ryan (2012)
The Path to Prosperity
by Rep. Paul Ryan (2012)
Ten Letters
about Pres. Barack Obama (2011)
A Life of Trial and Redemption
about V.P. Joe Biden (2010)
No Apology
by Gov. Mitt Romney (2010)
Young Guns
by Rep. Paul Ryan et al (2010)
The Path to Prosperity
by Rep. Paul Ryan (2012)
Promises to Keep
by Vice Pres. Joe Biden (2007)
The Audacity of Hope
by Pres. Barack Obama (2006)
Turnaround
by Gov. Mitt Romney (2004)
Dreams from My Father
by Pres. Barack Obama (1996)

Book Reviews

(from Amazon.com)

(click a book cover for a review or other books by or about the presidency from Amazon.com)

The Freedom Agenda
Why a Balanced Budget Amendment is Necessary to Restore Constitutional Government
by Mike Lee



(Click for Amazon book review)

BOOK REVIEW by OnTheIssues.org:

This book is about how Mike Lee, and by extension how the Tea Party, would like to reduce federal spending and federal debt. Mike Lee was elected in Utah by a surging Tea Party in a Republican primary against an establishment incumbent, Bob Bennett. But the book doesn't mention the Tea Party by name -- just by concept. The book has four parts:

  1. Enumerated powers
  2. Balanced Budget Amendment
  3. Restore constitutionally-limited government
  4. Crucial documents (including the Constitution and a Clarence Thomas court ruling)
That's all pretty heavily theoretical, so Sen. Lee gets specific by establishing three categories of spending on pp. 93-4:
  1. Core responsibilities that have been so since before the New Deal; these are OK by Sen. Lee.
  2. Government operations that were not done federally prior to the New Deal, or were done by states; these are iffy by Sen. Lee, maybe allowing for some intrastate add-ons since then.
  3. Entitlements established by the New Deal or later; these are unacceptable by Sen. Lee, because they are all seen as redistributing wealth.
The New Deal is further back than most analysts go; it means Sen. Lee wants to return federal powers to those of the 1920s.

While that's a consistent theoretical framework, Sen. Lee addresses a "straw man" throughout the book. Lee repeats--often--that defense spending is constitutional because it's enumerated on the constitution and fulfills the pre-New Deal core responsibility test above. But that's a "straw man" because no one asks, "Is Department of Defense spending Constitutional?" The relevant question is instead, "Is Department of Defense spending too much?" Defense spending is the largest discretionary item in the budget -- 18% -- and the only way to balance the budget without cutting defense is to cut out just about all entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare. That's what Sen. Lee means by the third criterion above: ALL entitlements must go.

That's the key distinction between libertarian Republicans (like Sen. Rand Paul and Rep. Ron Paul) and GOP budget-cutters (like Sen. Lee and Ronald Reagan). Libertarians want to cut the budget and cut spending by cutting everything, including defense, to cut the size of government entirely. The rest of the GOP budget-cutters want to INCREASE defense spending and cut everything else. That REALLY means, shift resources from entitlements to defense. That's the subtext of Sen. Lee's outline above, and readers should be clear that that's what he's really proposing.

-- Jesse Gordon, OnTheIssues editor-in-chief, July 2012

 OnTheIssues.org excerpts:  (click on issues for details)
Budget & Economy
    Barack Obama: OpEd: Undermined message of restraint with new "investments".
    Chris Christie: Erased $11B in budget deficit via spending cuts.
    Mike Lee: Our economy cannot survive this ruinous level of debt.
    Mike Lee: Congress wants praise; incapable of fiscal responsibility.
    Mike Lee: Balanced Budget Amendment with supermajority to circumvent.
Crime
    Mike Lee: My old-fashioned Judeo-Christian tenet: stealing is wrong.
Government Reform
    Clarence Thomas: Regulating commerce does not encompass 50 states' laws.
    Clarence Thomas: If Congress could regulate all commerce, why enumerate?
    Mike Lee: Antidote to federal "mission creep" is enumerated powers.
    Mike Lee: Constitution says Congress is not about making life better.
    Mike Lee: Citizens need to hold elected representatives accountable.
    Mike Lee: Make "no" the default vote on all spending measures.
    Mike Lee: Always ask, should program be federal or state?
    Milton Friedman: Problem is concentrated benefits & dispersed costs.
Gun Control
    Clarence Thomas: Interpreting Commerce Clause to ban guns is unconstitutional.
    William Rehnquist: Can't use Commerce Clause to criminalize guns.
Health Care
    Barack Obama: OpEd: No authority to micromanage citizens' healthcare.
Principles & Values
    Mike Lee: Article I Society: message of constitutional limitations.
Tax Reform
    Mike Lee: Taxes are necessary but inherently impinge on liberty.
Welfare & Poverty
    Mike Lee: Social programs "crowd out" church & charitable giving.


The above quotations are from The Freedom Agenda
Why a Balanced Budget Amendment is Necessary to Restore Constitutional Government
by Mike Lee.
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