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The Big Con: The True Story of How Washington Got Hoodwinked and Hijacked by Crackpot Economics
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The Big Con: The True Story of How Washington Got Hoodwinked and Hijacked by Crackpot Economics

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  246 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
American politics has been hijacked. Over the past three decades, a fringe group of economic hucksters has corrupted and perverted our nation’s policies. With dark, engaging wit, Jonathan Chait reveals how these canny zealots first took over the Republican Party and then gamed the political system and the media so that once unthinkable policies -- without a shred of ...more
Hardcover, 294 pages
Published September 12th 2007 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Don Munsil
Dec 09, 2013 Don Munsil rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is the book to read if you want to understand supply-side economics. Well, perhaps you could read Wanniski's "The Way The World Works", but you might come away from that book assuming that supply-side economics actually works the way its proponents say it does.

Jonathan Chait absolutely thoroughly demolishes the intellectual underpinnings of supply-side economics, and provides a coherent and plausible account of how a theory that was proposed by people like Wanniski with no economics creden
Oct 04, 2007 Carl rated it really liked it
While initially I thought I had read enough about the Republicanism's recent ascendancy and it's use of supply-side economics, this book gave me a break from the never ending onslaught of outrage I experience from the Bush administration. It was comforting to think of this all as a cohesive narrative and not just something that makes me cringe every time I hear a snippet from Bush or read about the latest sham the Republicans are trying to parade. Plus, it's a whole lot funnier to read stupid ...more
Mar 23, 2008 Christopher rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Liberals, Obamacans, communists, recovering Republicans. Also anyone interested in politics.
For someone raised in a conservative, Christian, Republican family, this book goes a long way in explaining the historical and cultural context behind why my feelings for George W. Bush border on loathing. Chait is a writer for The New Republic and so is clearly a liberal, but his argument is lucid. It presents at least "the other side" of the coin.
Nov 01, 2011 Patrick rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mark  Baier
Oct 23, 2016 Mark Baier rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great Read

Whether or not this book leans left will be for each individual reader to decide. I found this book incredibly interesting in its explanation and analysis of how the American economy has been hijacked by Republican supply side economic theory. This is a clear, cogent presentation of the author's argument and is a must read for everyone who wonders how this theory has survived in spite of its utter failure over the past thirty years.
Preaching to the choir in my case

This is not so much a review as a small assortment of comments. Disclaimer: I'm left-leaning, so I am inclined to agree with the author from the beginning. I'm sure that plenty of right-wing authors have books out that tell stories about liberals that sound every bit as scary as Chait's story does here about conservatives.

Perhaps what impressed me the most in this book was the allegation that the Republican Party in Washington has developed an extraordinary type
Jun 14, 2008 Katie rated it really liked it
First - you don't have to be an economic guru to read this book. It will interest anyone wondering how we got in the bad economic situation we are in today, all Democrats, Republicans wondering what the hell happened to their political party, anyone interested in the upcoming election, and anyone who cares that future generations will have to pay up the wazoo for the tax cuts of today. The beginning and middle sections are scary indeed - especially when seeing the recent McCain pronouncements on ...more
Feb 05, 2009 Rachel rated it really liked it
Ok, I should start by stating that "technically" I have not finished this book - but I will either tonight or tomorrow morning. For me, this was an educational book on how the Republican Party has taken an obscure and untested economic theory - basically cutting taxes - and promoted it to the point where millions of us Americans have either fallen into line in agreement or probably more likely never really looked at the realistic outcomes. However, if you are a Republican I highly suspect you ...more
Jan 08, 2012 Jean rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Jonathan Chait does a great job of telling the history of GOP economic theory for the last 40 years. From the Laffer Curve drawn on a cocktail napkin, to Reagan's trickle-down-theory, to the current supply-side "tax cuts raise revenue" thinking, Chait shows how GOP thinking went off the rails.

The most remarkable thing about this book was that it was published in 2007 but is still spot on. The Great Recession of 2008 and the advent of the Tea Party have had zero influence on GOP talking points.

Jun 20, 2013 Ben rated it liked it
Great information. This could really open people's eyes, but for one small failing. Chait often resorts to name-calling and emotional language, albeit boring approach could reach more people. What he's saying, though, is that political conservatives and liberals alike have shifted to the right in the past 30 years. Not only has there been a shift, there has also been a marked drop in analytical and critical thinking among the media. He gives ample news sources, lengthy quotes, and in-depth ...more
Emmett Hoops
Jan 21, 2013 Emmett Hoops rated it it was amazing
Even though this book is a few years old, it is of lasting value because of its description of the transition in the Republican Party over the past 50 years. It's also an eviscerating indictment of supply-side economics; the author goes to great lengths, with success, to provide incontrovertible evidence of this theory's Potemkin village nature. Its presenters know it to be a sham, yet continue to propound the sanctity of Milton Friedman and all supply-siders, including, so they allege, St. ...more
Seth the Zest
Jun 12, 2014 Seth the Zest rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2012
Few books have better helped me understand the peculiarities of American politics than this one has. I had wondered why most other industrialized nations felt that a mix of taxes and spending cuts were the answers to the fiscal crisis when this country flinches at the word "tax." I had known of Grover Norquist, of course, but it's more useful to understand how such a character could ever hold sway with a major political party.

The book manages to inform and entertain while discussing topics that
Dec 20, 2007 Jeffe rated it liked it
A good overview of the present stupidity we're mired in, for those unfamiliar with the neo - conartists who have hijacked this once great nation. For those of you who have been paying attention you won't find much new stuff here. I fact I feel that Chait in the interest, perhaps, of maintaining his credibility with the publishing cliques doesn't really go far enough. He could dig a little more for the historical roots of this dirt. But he does document the kind of crazy shit flying around in ...more
Jul 09, 2015 Matt rated it really liked it
I thought this book was written after the Great Recession not before. It shows how shameless ultra-conservatives have taken over the Republican party and are railroading the United States into a path of economic destruction that will only benefit the top of the top 1%.

A great overview of our current situation but it offers little in solutions that common people can take. Reading these kinds of books just make me more and more anxious.
Denis Kaufman
Sep 13, 2009 Denis Kaufman rated it it was amazing
Should be read by anyone who wonders why the wingnuts didn't mind Bush spending our grandkids into poverty, but freak out when Obama suggests we raise taxes (a little) and increase spending to get us out of financial quicksand that we blundered into because Bush, Bush & Reagan led us there through slavish adherence to a nutty fiscal ideology (gasp). Actually Chait points out that the elder Bush tried to redress the damage done under Reagan and paid a frightful price in Republican circles.
Jun 22, 2008 Yuri rated it liked it
I gave up reading the end of this - maybe I had just heard enough of the argument and I felt like a choir being preached to.

Lots of interesting (and true) interpretations of the Bush Regime's actions and the history that made it possible.
Aug 11, 2010 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a must-read for every American. Even more relevant now that our tanking economy is proving the thesis of the book.
Surfing Moose
Aug 10, 2010 Surfing Moose rated it really liked it
I found it to be more balanced than other books I've read on the subject. Also I really did enjoy and found the history of the republican conservative movement quite insightful.
Oct 19, 2014 Reid rated it really liked it
The infamous Laffer curve should be called the Laugher curve, but unfortunately that's not been the case. After all, it was written on a four-ply square of toilet paper, after cocktails.
David Shank
Feb 16, 2011 David Shank rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Surprisingly readable discussion of the issues and problems with "supply-side" economics and how an unsupported economic theory is now driving republican part policy.
Dane Morgan
Jul 25, 2013 Dane Morgan rated it really liked it
I registered a book at!
Tom D.
Dec 23, 2015 Tom D. rated it really liked it
An impressive summary of the rightward shift in American political discourse. Chait speaks clearly to the evidence for this shift and its causes.
Dakota rated it liked it
Sep 09, 2011
Cecilia Dunbar Hernandez
Cecilia Dunbar Hernandez rated it it was amazing
Oct 17, 2015
Mj rated it it was ok
Oct 11, 2016
Brad rated it really liked it
Jun 12, 2014
Anthony rated it really liked it
Jul 16, 2010
John rated it liked it
Jun 16, 2012
Terry Recker
Terry Recker rated it liked it
Jun 12, 2014
Robert rated it really liked it
Jun 22, 2008
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Jonathan Chait is a senior editor at The New Republic and a former assistant editor of The American Prospect. He also writes a periodic column in the Los Angeles Times.
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