The bill: how the adventures of Clinton's National Service bill reveal what is corrupt, comic, cynical, and noble, about Washington
Nothing Bill Clinton talked about in the 1992 campaign so typified his vision as his wildly popular plan to let Americans wipe out college loans by serving their communities. The idea was quintessential Clinton, the New Democrat trying to reclaim the moral authority of government, marrying "rights" and "responsibilities."
With the cooperation of more than fifty people intimately involved in the process - including the president himself - Waldman captures in vivid detail (and surprising humor) the struggle to revamp the college loan system and create the program now known as AmeriCorps. Because he was allowed to sit in on scores of private meetings, Waldman provides an unprecedented inside portrait of how Washington really works, one that is essential reading for even casual students of politics, economics, and history. For Americans who are interested in service or in an affordable college education, The Bill shows what happens when a policy designed to tap the best impulses of American citizens collides with a Washington culture that brings out their worst.
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The bill: how the adventures of Clinton's National Service bill reveal what is corrupt, comic, cynical, and noble, about WashingtonUser Review - Book Verdict
Despite the pretentious claims made by the title, this is a fine and accessible case study of the legislative process. Journalist Waldman was given the opportunity by his employer, Newsweek, to cover one of Clinton's legislative proposals from campaign idea to signature by the president. He had access to key White House staff and their meetings as well as to those significant members of Congress and their staffs who shepherded the bill through the legislative labyrinth. While Waldman has a somewhat cynical view of the political process that produced the National Service Act, he possesses fine political insight that allows the reader to understand the advantages and disadvantages of compromises in order to achieve one's goals in Washington. Besides making the reader aware of the roles of competing interest groups, the media, congressional representatives, and legislative and executive staffers in shaping the bill, he illuminates Clinton's motivation and political instinct. This contemporary version of Eric Redman's Dance of Legislation (1973) is highly recommended for popular political science collections.-Thomas J. Baldino, Wilkes Univ., Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
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