The Government We Deserve is a periodic column on public policy by Eugene Steuerle, an Institute fellow and the Richard B. Fisher Chair at the nonpartisan Urban Institute. 

Steuerle is also a former deputy assistant secretary of the Treasury. The opinions are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Urban Institute, its trustees, or its sponsors. 

Latest Columns from The Government We Deserve: 

Dead Men Ruling 

The news coming out of Washington, D.C., and reverberating around the nation increasingly sounds like a broken record: low or zero growth in employment, inadequate funds to pay future Social Security and Medicare obligations, cuts in funding for education and children’s programs, arbitrary sequesters or cutbacks in good and bad programs alike, threats not to pay our nation’s debts, inability to reach political compromise, and political parties with no real vision for twenty-first-century government.

In Dead Men Ruling, C. Eugene Steuerle argues that these seemingly separable economic and political problems are actually symptoms of a common disease, one unique to our time. Despite the despairing claims of many, Steuerle points out that we no more live in an age of austerity than did Americans at the turn into the twentieth century with the demise of the frontier. Recognizing this extraordinary but checked potential is also the secret to breaking the political logjam that—as Steuerle points out—was created largely by now dead (or retired) men.

Dead Men Ruling is the winner of the 2014 TIAA-CREF Paul A. Samuelson Award, and is available on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, or find it at your local independent bookstore by searching on

Please contact Gene ( if interested in a presentation for his book tour or in discounts for groups or larger orders.