Business, College of


Date of this Version

December 1990


Published in The Journal of Economic History 50:4 (December 1990), pp. 989– 990. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Economic History Association. Copyright © 1990 Economic History Association. Used by permission.


The 1950s have often been characterized as a period outstanding only for its banality, when the head of state "preferred golf to government" (p. I). Historians have reconstructed Dwight Eisenhower's leadership style but have given scant attention to the evolution of economic policy during the 1950s and to his role in fiscal policy formation. Iwan Morgan's Eisenhon,er Versus ‘The Spenders’ goes far in filling this void and provides an insightful, interesting discussion of fiscal policy formation during the Eisenhower years.

For many economic historians, the 1950s seems to have been a nonevent sandwiched between the New Deal-Fair Deal and the New Frontier-a period of general prosperity punctuated by a few inventory recessions, or in current vernacular, slowdowns. Neither depression, war, nor rapid inflation occupied center stage. For Morgan, however, the 1950s represents a compelling decade when the contours of the debate over the proper scope of fiscal policy in the postwar years emerged.

Shaping this debate were external factors such as the return of the presidency to Republican leadership, the advent of the cold war, and the continued development of the corporate welfare state. Internally, the debate over fiscal policy took shape in a highly partisan environment when such irascible characters as Arthur Burns, George Humphrey, Lyndon Johnson, and Richard Nixon all, in varying degrees, influenced policy.

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