The latest cover package in The History Channel Club’s magazine highlights the upcoming 100th birthday of the late President Ronald Reagan.

While one article offers a brief version of the 40th president’s biography, the other offers a lesson in political wheeling and dealing. Barbara McLennan was a congressional budget analyst in 1981 when Reagan was working on his first budget and tax plans. She explains how her boss, Sen. (and future Vice President) Dan Quayle worked to get a tax bill amendment originally proposed for a life insurance company in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

At 4 p.m. I walked to the Ways and Means offices in the Longworth House Office Building. The walk, across the Capitol grounds past the Supreme Court and the Library of Congress, took more than 15 minutes. When I arrived staff members were putting together large piles of paper and printouts for use during the tax bill conference.

I recognized a young blond woman I’d probably met at a Budget Committee hearing, though I didn’t know her name. She worked for Rep. [Dan] Rostenkowski. [He chaired the House’s powerful Ways and Means Committee.] When I told her I worked for Quayle, she smiled and said, “How is Danny? Does he like the Senate?” I replied, “Very busy. We have an amendment in the tax bill. Can I show you which one it is?”

She took out her side-by-side comparison of the House and Senate bills prepared by the Joint Committee on Taxation. I pointed to Quayle’s amendment near the end of the document. She smiled and said, “Don’t worry. I’ll make sure Danny [Rostenkowski] knows it’s Quayle’s.” She had so many papers I helped her carry some back to the Capitol.

The next morning I phoned Quayle’s staff director at home. “What happened?” I asked. “Congratulations,” he said. “We’ve got a piece of the tax bill. Of course, so did everyone else. Rostenkowski didn’t object to any amendments. The revenue loss might be tremendous.”

A passage like this one helps make the case for more open, transparent government operations, much like those proposed in the John Locke Foundation’s recommendations for the new General Assembly’s First 100 Days.