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Bruce Bartlett (b. October 11, 1951, in Ann Arbor, Michiganmarker) is a historian who turned to writing about supply-side economics. He was a domestic policy adviser to President Ronald Reagan and was a treasurymarker official under President George H.W. Bush.


Bartlett was educated at Rutgers Universitymarker (B.A., 1973) and Georgetown Universitymarker (M.A., 1976). He originally studied Americanmarker diplomatic history under Lloyd Gardner at Rutgers and Jules Davids at Georgetown. He did much work on the origins of the Pearl Harbormarker attack, doing a master's thesis on the topic at Georgetown, the substance of which was later published as "Coverup: The Politics of Pearl Harbor, 1941-1946". He was closely advised by Percy Greaves, who had been Republican counsel to the congressional committee investigating the Pearl Harbor attack in 1946.

In 1976, Bartlett changed careers, going to work for Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texasmarker). Bartlett spent much of his time working with the House Banking Committee, of which Paul was a member, which involved Bartlett in economic issues. Paul was defeated for reelection in November, 1976. (Paul was subsequently elected in 1978-1984, did not seek reelection after 1986, but has been elected and reelected since 1996.)

In January 1977, Bartlett went to work for Congressman Jack Kemp (R-New Yorkmarker) as staff economist. Bartlett spent much of his time on tax issues, helping to draft the Kemp-Roth tax bill, which ultimately formed the basis of Ronald Reagan's 1981 tax cut. Bartlett's book, "Reaganomics: Supply-Side Economics in Action" appeared in 1981 (New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House Publishers). He also co-edited the book The Supply-Side Solution (Chatham, NJ: Chatham House Publishers, 1983).

In 1978, Bartlett went to work for Perry Duryea, who was the Republican candidate for governor of New York. In November 1978, Duryea was defeated and Bartlett returned to Washington, where he joined the staff of newly elected Senator Roger Jepsen (R-Iowamarker).

In 1981, Jepsen became Vice Chairman of the Joint Economic Committee of Congress and Bartlett became deputy director of the committee staff. In 1983, Jepsen became chairman and Bartlett became executive director of the JEC. During this period, the committee was very active in promoting Ronald Reagan's economic policies.

In late 1984, Bartlett became vice president of Polyconomics, a New Jersey-based consulting company founded by Jude Wanniski, a former Wall Street Journal editorial writer, that advised Wall Street clients on economic and investment policy. Bartlett left in 1985 to become a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, where he specialized in tax policy and was especially involved in the debate around the Tax Reform Act of 1986.

In 1987, Bartlett became a senior policy analyst in the White House Office of Policy Development, then headed by Gary Bauer. In 1988, Bartlett left to become deputy assistant secretary for economic policy at the Treasury Department, where he served until the end of the administration of George H.W. Bush. He worked briefly at the Cato Institute in 1993.

Bartlett lives in Great Falls, Virginiamarker.

Current work

Since 1993, Bartlett had been affiliated with the National Center for Policy Analysis, a free-market think tank based in Dallas, Texasmarker. In 2005 he was fired by the NCPA for his outspoken criticism of President George W. Bush.

Since 1995, he has written a newspaper column for Creators Syndicate, based in Los Angeles, and written extensively for many newspapers and magazines, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fortune magazine, and Commentary magazine. He currently blogs at Capital Gains and Games

In 2006, he published Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy (ISBN 0-385-51827-7), which is critical of the Bush Administration's economic policies as departing from traditional conservative principles. He compared the second Bush to Richard M. Nixon as "two superficially conservative presidents who enacted liberal programs to buy votes for reelection."

In an August 2007 The Wall Street Journal op-ed, Bartlett criticized the FairTax proposal as misleading and unlikely to simplify taxpaying. Bartlett was especially critical of what he states are FairTax's accounting tricks in rate calculation and proponent claims that "real investment spending would rise 76%" if their plan were adopted. A sponsor of the plan, Representative John Linder acknowledged Bartlett's point that the Church of Scientology had proposed a national sales tax, but said that the FairTax movement was independent of the Church of Scientology and Bartlett had confused them with the Scientology-affiliated Citizens for an Alternative Tax System. Other sponsors of the plan were critical of Bartlett's article claiming he used "red herrings" and provided false information on the plan and research. In September 2007, Bartlett wrote an article for The New Republic, where he continued his criticism of the FairTax, including his claim that the FairTax/national sales tax has its origins with the Church of Scientology. Bartlett restated information about the bill ("prebate" distribution method, i.e., rebate in advance) and what is included in the rate studies (prebate and government) that the plan's proponents have disputed and claim are false.

In August 2009, Bartlett wrote a piece for the Daily Beast in which he attributed the recession of 2009 to George Bush and Republicans, whose policies he claimed resulted in an inferior record of economic performance to those of President Clinton. In the same editorial, Bartlett wrote that instead of enacting meaningful healthcare reform, President Bush pushed through a costly Medicare drug plan by personally exerting pressure on reluctant conservatives to vote for the program. Bartlett claimed that because reforming Medicare is an important part of getting health costs under control generally, Bush could have used the opportunity to develop a comprehensive health-reform plan and that "[b]y not doing so, he left his party with nothing to offer as an alternative to the Obama plan." Bartlett concluded:
"Until conservatives once again hold Republicans to the same standard they hold Democrats, they will have no credibility and deserve no respect. They can start building some by admitting to themselves that Bush caused many of the problems they are protesting."

In Bartlett's latest book, The New American Economy:The Failure of Reaganomics and a New Way Forward, he goes back to the economic roots of Impostor and abandons the conservative dogma in favor of a policy strongly based on what’s worked in the past. Bartlett explains what went wrong with Reaganomics and what the Obama Administration is doing to fix it.


  • Bruce R. Bartlett, The New American Economy: The Failure of Reaganomics and a New Way Forward, Palgrave Macmillan (October 13, 2009) ISBN 978-0230615878
  • Bruce R. Bartlett, Wrong on Race: The Democratic Party's Buried Past, Palgrave Macmillan (January 8, 2008) ISBN 978-0230600621, Palgrave Macmillan (January 6, 2009) ISBN 978-0230610996
  • Bruce R. Bartlett, Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy, Doubleday (February 21, 2006) ISBN 978-0385518277
  • Bruce R. Bartlett, Reagonomics, Arlington House (1981) ISBN 978-0870005053, Random House Value Publishing (March 24, 1982) ISBN 978-0517548172
  • Bruce R. Bartlett, Cover-Up: The Politics of Pearl Harbor, 1941-1946, Arlington House Productions (1978) ISBN 978-0870004230


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