The authors start with a historical view of public finance in the United States. I found that to be interesting. The book is a worthwhile read just from an educational standpoint. If you have never taken a class in public finance, you will learn a lot about how the tax system in our country works and how are Founding Fathers set up the financing of our country.
But as the book unfolds, we learn that authors Johnson and Kwak have never met a tax on the "rich" (a term they never define) that they don't embrace. They love every federal program ever enacted (or proposed).
The authors suggest that the government is our national insurance program. Geico and Progressive be damned; I think they would let the federal government take over the automobile insurance as well! There is no limit to the government in their world. The government should defend, build bridges and maintain laws that protect our property rights rather than assess energy taxes on all and rebate some of those taxes to "the poor" (another term never defined).
Johnson and Kwak don't see any problem with our current social security system other than their view that "the rich" don't contribute enough to the system and receive too much in benefits. Payroll taxes are not even paying the current obligations of retirees, much less setting aside enough money in a true financial instrument to pay for anyone in the future.
I do not recall one comment critical of "Obama Care". Rather, they embrace the federal takeover of the healthcare system. Again the problem is the rich doctors bilking the system. Of course the trial attorneys and their malpractice law suits are not a drain on the system - only the doctors.
The authors feel there is not a significant debt problem if the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire according to the authors. They never acknowledge that, unlike every other institution in the United States (and just about every other government in the world), Congress exempts itself from normal accounting standards. Specifically, it doesn't include the cost of future retirement benefits. If any other institution in the U.S. – including corporations, state governments, local governments, or banks – did their accounting this way, they would go to jail.
This really is the single most shocking fact of our national debt crisis. It renders their argument for "tweaking" the tax system to solve the budget deficit ridiculous. When you know the real numbers, you know what a mess we're in. The only viable solution is cutting the size of government by a huge amount which Johnson and Kwak don't find necessary.
Politicians have shown us that it is politically impossible to reduce spending in Washington D.C. They see only acceptable solution to these problems is to borrow and print and repeat!
To me, "White House Burning" looks like what an unconstrained President Obama would do in his second term if he also had congressional majorities in the House and the Senate. If you like Obama's policies or if you like what you see in Europe, you will like this book.