I'm reading William Greider's 1981 Atlantic article, "The Education of David Stockman." , about Ronald Reagan's incoming budget director. Not only is it a great glimpse behind the scenes of the beginnings of "Reaganomics", but there's a quote from Stockman that jumped out at me in light of today's problems:
Social Security was much more volatile, but Stockman noted that the Senate had already expressed a willingness in test votes to reconsider such basic components as annual cost-of-living increases for retirees. In the House, the Democrats, led by J. J. Pickle, of Texas, were preparing their own set of reforms to keep the system from bankruptcy, so Stockman thought it would be possible to develop a consensus for real changes. He didn't much care for Pickle's proposals, because the impact of the reforms stretched out over some years, whereas Stockman was looking for immediate relief. "I'm just not going to spend a lot of political capital solving some other guy's problem in 2010."
For some reason I feel like this terribly unflattering moment for Mr. Stockman, captures so much of the attitude that led us to this point with our debt/deficit problems and with issues of entitlement spending. It's something few people in Washington have ever spoken aloud, but a mindset that their daily actions speak to.