David Stockman, former Reagan budget director, to speak Friday in Aspen

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times

David Stockman, who served as President Reagan’s budget director for more than four years, will be the guest speaker at today’s Aspen Business Luncheon.

The event is set for 12:30 p.m. at the Hotel Jerome Ballroom. Todd Shaver, who organizes the luncheon, said Thursday morning that it was close to selling out but that anyone needing a seat could contact him via email at toddshaver@aspen The cost is $35 in advance and $40 at the door.

Early last year, Stockman released a new book: “The Great Deformation — The Corruption of Capitalism in America.” In it, Stockman lays out how, in his view, the United States has devolved from a free-market economy into one fatally deformed by Washington’s fiscal largesse, lobbyists and bailouts.

Touted as a straight-talker, Stockman plans to discuss “the forces that have left the public sector teetering on the edge of political dysfunction and fiscal collapse and have caused America’s financial system to morph into an unstable, bubble-prone gambling arena that undermines capitalist prosperity and showers speculators with vast windfall gains,” according to an email that advertises the luncheon.

Now 67, Stockman was 34 and considered by some to be too young for the job when he was appointed in January 1981 by Reagan to lead the Office of Management and Budget. He previously served as a Republican congressman from Michigan.

Stockman made waves in the political arena when the Atlantic Monthly magazine published an article in 1981 called “The Education of David Stockman.” In the story, which was said to have armed critics of Reagan’s “trickle-down” economic policies, Stockman was quoted as saying of the budget process, “None of us really understands what’s going on with all these numbers.”

He resigned as budget director in the summer of 1985 and pursued a career on Wall Street. A frequent public speaker, Stockman is famous for his criticisms of Republicans as well as Democrats. In 1986, he published his first book, “The Triumph of Politics — Why the Reagan Revolution Failed,” a best-seller that sought to explain how Washington’s political culture made it difficult to cut unnecessary programs in the federal budget.

“He showed how Reagan’s quest to reduce government spending was foiled by members of his own party,” says a review in the Wall Street Journal.

Of Stockman’s latest book, the Wall Street Journal notes that Stockman continues to issue warnings about the dangers of a growing national debt.

“This time, it is true, the red-ink crisis is so many multiples larger than in the 1980s that his case, though still overheated, seems more compelling,” the newspaper said in its April review. “U.S. federal debt is starting to approach the flashing-red-siren levels of Europe.”

In a March op-ed piece for The New York Times, Stockman painted a picture of a bleak economic future not only for this country but the world at large.

“The United States is broke — fiscally, morally, intellectually — and the Fed has incited a global currency war … that will soon overwhelm it,” he said. “When the latest bubble pops, there will be nothing to stop the collapse. If this sounds like advice to get out of the markets and hide out in cash, it is.”


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