Obama & the Reagan Legacy

I keep hearing from some people that Obama will reverse the effects of the Reagan revolution. It doesn’t make sense. I know that some extremists are still irked at Reagan, but most Americans do not agree. I don’t even think Obama does. We have come too far ever to “reverse” the progress of the Reagan legacy. But I wonder if my liberal friends really think it would be possible or even desirable.

Maybe we should rebuild the Berlin Wall. The world was a lot more predictable back then. Anyway, I have three questions. 1) Was there really a Reagan Revolution or was it just an American development? (2) Can it be reversed? (3) What would a reversal look like?

Oh yeah, one more - will Obama try to revese the Reagan legacy.

Posted by Jack at May 5, 2008 3:54 PM
Comment #252195

Cultural conservatism is on the wane in America. Many of the racial resentments are being healed by time and intermix of formerly ghettoized cultures. The environment and the economy are becoming interlinked as a permanent, not artificial energy crisis looms. People fear the lack of good government more than the presence of big government, and taxes have lost much of their ability to motivate voters to vote Republican.

That’s the end of the Reagan Revolution. Conservatism has lost its place on the pedestal.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 5, 2008 5:01 PM
Comment #252196

I think Obama himself has come out and said he admires a lot of things about Reagan, without specifically saying what.

Anyway, Reagan left us deep in debt, but we were lucky that the .com boom helped us dig our way out. If there’s a Republican trend I would like to see reversed it’s the notion that you can borrow, borrow, borrow while cutting taxes for the wealthy. I guess I agree with Bush Sr. in thinking that trickle down economics are a scam.

Personally, I hope that our current financial crisis as well as the Enron fiasco end the days of zero regulation, too.

Posted by: Max at May 5, 2008 5:03 PM
Comment #252199

What is Reagan’s legacy? There seems to be an assumption that we already agree on that.

In general, Reagan advocated a larger military, a smaller government (except for the military), lower taxes, and a balanced budget.

Taxes were lowered and spending was increased on the military, resulting in enormous deficits. The idea of balanced budgets no longer exists in the conservative pantheon of ideas.

Smaller government was an idea that was never implemented.

The Reagan White House ran an operation out of the basement selling arms to Iran, and using the profits to fund a bunch of thugs in Nicaraugua, the Contras. Not good.

There were appalling massacres of people in El Salvador and Guatemala, funded by the United States of America.

Money was redistributed on a large scale from the poor and middle class, to the rich.

Reagan led the busting of unions. That legacy continues to reverberate.

The median real wage failed to climb in the 1980’s. Coincidentally, it has also remained stagnant under Bush.

Posted by: Phx8 at May 5, 2008 5:34 PM
Comment #252200

Jack, you’re looking for conflict where it doesn’t exist. I’ll grant you that most Obama supporters probably weren’t and aren’t Reagan supporters, but there is hardly a consensus of anti-Reaganism amidst Obama supporters and I have never even heard that as an issue before now.

Posted by: Zeek at May 5, 2008 5:57 PM
Comment #252201

WOW! Jack. “Maybe we should rebuild the Berlin Wall.”

We never built the original Berlin Wall. Therefore, it makes no sense to say we should rebuild it, or not rebuild it. We certainly didn’t tear it down. The German people did that, after the Soviet Union withdrew its forces.

What we did was create the national debt that underpinned the massive Bush Debt increases, in an arms race that the Soviet Union could ill afford to leverage against their future to keep pace with. Appears the one thing Republican presidents are really good at is deficit spending.

In Reagan’s case, there was a positive outcome of the joint Democratic Congress and his efforts to outspend the Russians on credit. That positive outcome is not to be understated. But, the ability to indebt the American people as a Reagan’s legacy should cannot be overstated.

The only thing worse than a Democratic Congress and Republican president for impoverishing the next generations through deficit spending is one party Republican government like we have just witnessed in the 21st century.

Pretty much the rest of Reagan’s legacy was about dividing Americans on cultural issues immunizing politician’s corruption against a united majority electorate. Until now, of course.

Reagan did the best he could for a sleeping president in the White House. You have to give him that. And many of us thought the more he slept in the Oval Office, the safer we all were.

Oh, yes, and he did radically expand the market and profitability of jelly beans investors. Have to give him credit for that. Our economic future could have been in real jeopardy had it not been for the boon to the jelly bean industry. :-)

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 5, 2008 6:15 PM
Comment #252202

Phx8 said: “In general, Reagan advocated a larger military, a smaller government (except for the military), lower taxes, and a balanced budget.”

Quite right. Reagan was the anti-Eisenhower. Dwight D. was the last of the responsible foreign policy conservatives. Every Republican president since has assumed a war footed economy is a healthy economy, damn the deficits and national debt. Full speed ahead for the military-industrial complex and world hegemony through military might.

Obama stands 180 degrees opposed to that Republican doctrine, and so too now, do the majority of the American electorate as November’s election of a Democratic president will attest.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 5, 2008 6:23 PM
Comment #252206

Liberal Democrats just can’t stand Ronald Reagan as he represented all that is good in America and won huge landslide victories over the failed liberal policies of Carter and the McGovern nuts. Reagan won the hearts of moderate and conservative Dems who now find their party has deserted them with Obama and, to a lessor degree Clinton.

Some liberal dems still think the 2006 election was about them and their socialist leanings and actually believe the 2008 electorate wants more big government, more spending, and higer taxes.

Blinded by a guy who pretends to be everyman, Obama is just more of the failed ideas from the liberal game plan. The Obama’s, McGoverns, Macarthys, and Naders always appeal to the young and inexperience voter who is all heart and no brain.

Granted, McCain is no great conservative and doesn’t stand as tall as the tops of Reagan’s boots, but even he can whip a liberal running on a platform of even greater government spending, more government regulation, two chickens and a pig in every pot, more illegal immigration, higher taxes on the middle class and no coherent energy strategy.

Posted by: Jim M at May 5, 2008 6:41 PM
Comment #252211

In my view, comparing Obama to Reagon is an insult. Obama’s own state Senate and U.S. Senate record clearly shows that he has not united Democrats and Republicans. What past of 100% failure did I miss based on Sen. Barack Obama’s actualy record.

I am not talking about the biased one sided record reported on most news networks. The news networks hate for Sen. Hillary Clinton has allowed this inexperienced Senator become the primary Democratic candidate over grossly over qualified Democratic candidates.

For someone running a clean campaign, listen to Obama constant dirty attacks on his opponents. Sen. Obama’s sexist and gender attacks are nothing when one compares his constant lies about what Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. John McCain are saying. Obama and his staff will twist any statement and must believe that American’s don’t understand the Basic English language. For example, Sen. Clinton stated her summer tax plan was part of her long-term plan. Sen. Obama truly does not get this simple fact as his ads and non-ending lies reflect.

Clearly Sen. Obama represents the worst type of Washington politician primarily because he does not believe his is responsible for what his campaign members say. Obama’s recent closed door comments reflect Obama’s true character as supported by his typical White American comment and his wife’s “for the first time” she is proud comments. This in spite of being the only candidate that has taken a two-day vacation because his ego tells him that he will win. I guess Sen. Obama who is the youngest candidate is getting burned out being on the campaign trail. Luckily the more knowledgeable and experienced candidates like Clinton and McCain have more stamina that the Presidency office will call for. College graduates should examine Obama tax and job creation plans. They will find out that they will stay unemployed or forced to take lower paying jobs to move out from their parent’s homes.

Posted by: Dr Hubert, Lt Col, USAF Retired (2005) at May 5, 2008 6:58 PM
Comment #252219

It always amazes me how Reagan gets blamed for the overspending of the 80’s. Congress spent approximately 8% above the budget that Reagan proposed 7 out of 8 years. Remember, a DEMOCRATIC congress. Besides the fact that we doubled the gross receipts into that budget over those 8 years.

Lets put it this way. Lets take it home! A man makes $50,000 a year. He is $200,000 in debt due to house, car, cc, etc. In 8 years his income is $100,000 but he borrows more. Who wants to go back to the lower income. I know this is a simplified version of US economics but the basic concept is very true. More money in the coffers comes from lowering taxes. Worked for Kennedy, Reagan, Bush, and Guiliani in New York City. And Congress spends the money, NOT the President.

Yes we need to control our spending, no I am not happy with our debt. but our standard of living even at the poverty level in this country is better than any time in history and definately than any place in the world.

Posted by: scottie at May 5, 2008 8:22 PM
Comment #252224

Jack, it was the Thatcher revolution, to give credit where credit is due. I agree on the point that BHO’s advisor’s are stuck in rearguing the past. McCain is actually stuck in the 80s more than anyone. He keeps sounding like he thinks Gramm Rudman Hollings should be the law of the land. I agreed with it then, but don’t have a time machine to bring everything back to the way it was before we started deficit spending. William Jefferson Clinton, 42nd President of The United States, straightened it all out once, but it got tangled up again. We have to have a different solution this time.

Posted by: ohrealy at May 5, 2008 9:14 PM
Comment #252226


The person who reversed the Reagan legacy, as you call it, was Dubya. He made the lie of trickle down jingoism obvious.

Posted by: googlumpus at May 5, 2008 9:23 PM
Comment #252231

David, we are rebuilding it…along the Rio Bravo.

Posted by: googlumpus at May 5, 2008 10:28 PM
Comment #252233
Taxes were lowered and spending was increased on the military, resulting in enormous deficits. The idea of balanced budgets no longer exists in the conservative pantheon of ideas.

Wow, what a complete lack of any sense of reality of history…

The spending on non-military items during the 1980s increased much faster than military spending. The idea of ‘balanced budgets’ went out of window of FDR and the embracement of Keynes. The notion that Democrats want to ‘balance a budget’ is laughable, especially considering the spending that Obama and Clinton are calling for at preciesly the wrong time, when we can’t afford it and area already in debt thanks to the runaway spending of the Republicans who, according to the Democrats, didn’t spend ENOUGH.

So the Republicans finally caught up to the Democrats, good job. Now that we are officially bankrupt as a nation, I’m sure we can spend even more with the knowledge that there are no constraints left until we file and let the Chinese call in the debt in about 25 years.

Posted by: Rhinehold at May 5, 2008 10:39 PM
Comment #252234
William Jefferson Clinton, 42nd President of The United States, straightened it all out once, but it got tangled up again.

Interesting that it was the Republicans who were in charge of the spending of the country’s finances at the time, yet Clinton gets the credit. It was a face balanced budget in any regards, thanks to some funny accounting practices, like including the social security ‘trust fund’ in with the numbers and enjoying the benefits of the y2k spending and tech boom of the late 90s that all came crashing down on him during his last term…

The spending of the people’s money in the United States has been deplorable for the past several decades. To think any different is delusional.

Posted by: Rhinehold at May 5, 2008 10:43 PM
Comment #252242

Clinton and the Democrats gets the credit, because the critical piece of legislation which put the country back on a viable track was the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993.

The Reagan theory of supply side economics was proven wrong in practice during the Reagan/Bush years, and proven spectacularly wrong again under the current administration.

Although it seems like common sense, the economic theory which worked under Clinton and the Democrats, and will work again after this November, stresses the need for deficit reduction. Deficits are critical to economic health. Running up the national debt causes inflation and higher interest rates, which in turn causes many other problems.

It seems so obvious, yet the Reagan Legacy ignored the obvious.

The other aspect of the Reagan Legacy which is in the process of deservedly being put to rest is the Friedman School of “free trade” and “free markets.” It really started under Nixon, but it’s closely associated with Reagan and conservative thought. No country around the world will touch it with a ten foot pole anymore. Wonder why? If you find this kind of thing interesting, or you’re looking for challenging ideas, then I recommend “Shock Doctrine” by Naomi Kline. It’s available at the library.

I think a pretty good economic argument could be made that it is not the level of taxation & spending that matters, but matching the income and outgo; that creates economic health and growth.

Posted by: phx8 at May 6, 2008 12:27 AM
Comment #252245

It depends on what you mean by cultural conservatism. Our country changes with the times and we certainly cannot go back to the 1980s (or the 1970s as Obama & Clinton advocate). I hope that the values of hard work, individual responsibility and love of country have not gone out of style.

Reagan stood for optimism and hope and a faith in the future. That is where Dems fall down with their pessimism.

We do need good government and good government tends to know its limitations.


Rhinehold addressed some of your concerns. We should cut spending. Republicans have spent too much too, but in the 1980s it was a Dem congress doing the spending and – BTW – it was a Republican congress in the 1980s that reigned it in. Spending bills originate in House.
Re Enron – Enron was a creature of regulation. It made its money on arbitrage among different regulation regimes. Enron was a big proponent of things like the Kyoto Protocols.

During the Clinton Administration, when Enron did the deeds you complain about, such things were popular. It was not zero regulation that caused the Enron fiasco, it was misguided regulation.
“What is Reagan’s legacy? There seems to be an assumption that we already agree on that.”
I made no such assumption and asked the question.

His policies did help defeat insurgencies in Central America and there were some abuses, but the alternative of letting Cuba style dictatorships be imposed was worse. His policies also weakened the Soviet Union. I do not believe Poland would have been able to shake off the communists w/o the support of the U.S. in the 1980s. Certainly the Polish leaders of the time credited Reagan with the support. And w/o the crack in the iron curtain in Poland, I am not sure the rest of the Soviet edifice would have collapsed.

The median income climbed smartly throughout the Reagan times. The median income adjusted for inflation was $40,573 in 1981 and $45,382 in 1989. Not bad. Reagan, like Bush, inherited an economy in decline, so the first couple years were lost. This is the census bureau source.

I see things in bigger swings. I believe that Clinton, for example, helped consolidate the Reagan revolution with things like welfare reform and free trade. He also famously said that the era of big government was over.
Obama and Hillary Clinton don’t agree. I just want to get out in the open the real differences between Reagan style (and Bill Clinton for that matter) and Hillary and Obama big government 1970s liberalism.
The German people would have been unable to tear down the wall, which the other part of the German people built with Soviet support, had the free Germans not enjoyed the support of the U.S.
“The only thing worse than a Democratic Congress and Republican president for impoverishing the next generations through deficit spending is one party Republican government like we have just witnessed in the 21st century.”
I know you would prefer a Dem president, aren’t you worried about that one party government?
Dr. Hubert
Obama tries to copy Reagan’s optimism, but he doesn’t have his track record. I don’t think there is any comparison either, but some people seem to.
It is ironic. Dems blame Reagan for deficits and credit Clinton with surpluses when we had a Dem congress in the first set and a Republicans in the second. Congress authorizes all spending.
We all love Thatcher. She gave the backbone the conservative’s needed.

You are probably right. In the longer cycle, Clinton consolidated Reaganism with his push for free trade and smaller government, but then the Republican congress pushed him into it.
Rhinehold explains it better than I do.

Posted by: Jack at May 6, 2008 1:06 AM
Comment #252246

Sorry, phx8, but your story about ‘free markets’ and ‘supply side economics’ being proven spectacularly wrong is so much fantasy that it makes me wonder if I was not alive the past 40+ years…

Nevermind the truth, just make up your own as you go along?

Seriously, why do you think the Democrats were thrown out of congress in 1994? It was partially to stop Hillary Clinton’s huge spending debacle called ‘national healthcare’ that would have further bankrupted this country more than it already is.

As a blueprint for the policy of the new Congressional majority, Micklethwait & Wooldridge argue in The Right Nation that the Contract placed the Congress firmly back in the driver’s seat of domestic government policy for most of the 104th Congress, and placed the Clinton White House firmly on the defensive.

If you want to be blindly partisan, feel free. But don’t expect people who lived through it to accept fantasy in place of reality.

Posted by: Rhinehold at May 6, 2008 1:08 AM
Comment #252247

Jim M said: “Liberal Democrats just can’t stand Ronald Reagan as he represented all that is good in America”

Yeah, like passing the costs of the highlife to the next generation to worry about through huge increases in the national debt. That is one of those good things in America that got so good it now threatens our economic future and the ability of future generations to ever manage outside of poverty for themselves.

Keep the spin going and revisionist history going. Every Republican elected since 1994 has invoked the Reagan legacy as their own, and look at the results of Republican rule in America. A completely failed war in a podunk country like Iraq with a military capability little better than that of Pre WWI European nations. Doubling the national debt in just 8 years. One recession wasn’t enough, they had to recreate another one just for grins and giggles. Falling educational standards, large losses of state’s rights at the hands of Republican Congress and President, and falling real wages for the middle class every year of Republican control.

If that is the performance invoking the Reagan model leads to, we will all do much better to bury the Reagan memory along with his mumified corpse.

The man did have a wit (when he could stay awake) and passion for jelly bean investors, though. So it wasn’t all negative. Rather than an actor playing President, why don’t we just elect a real president who can actually solve more problems than they create?

There is one Republican actor governor I respect. California’s Ahhnold! Once he shed his Republican dogmatic positions for bipartisan cooperative solutions for real problems facing all Californians, he actually became quite popular as governor for the problems he helped solve. Now that’s a Republican model for future GOP candidates to emulate. A GOP version of Barack Obama, if you will. A model for solutions through cooperation instead of problem plagued victories over political adversaries.

It will actually be something to see what Obama and Schwarzeneggar can accomplish together for California.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 6, 2008 1:19 AM
Comment #252248
It will actually be something to see what Obama and Schwarzeneggar can accomplish together for California.

At the expense of the Midwest. :/

Posted by: Rhinehold at May 6, 2008 1:30 AM
Comment #252249

Rhinehold said: “The idea of ‘balanced budgets’ went out of window of FDR and the embracement of Keynes.”

Sorry, but that comment is so out of touch with reality. Balanced budgets during times of civil or foreign war, depression or recession, has never been the norm, and both Keynes and Friedman acknowledge the potential need for deficit spending during times of national emergency.

Keynes NEVER argued for perpetual deficit spending. Rather, that during national emergencies deficits can be entirely warranted, however, such deficits should be zeroed out in the following economic relief periods following the emergency. This way the debt is not foisted upon future generations depriving them of the opportunity to manage their own economic needs and emergencies in their time.

It is Republicans we heard from time and again over the last 8 years argue that deficits don’t matter and the national debt doesn’t matter, economic productivity is all that matters. I think you have your economic theorists confused. You may want to pick up some cliff notes.

Not that Republicans have been particularly observant of Friedman’s principles either these last 8 years.

Friedman economists, supply-side economists, argue that micro-managing the economy by manipulating consumer spending was short-sighted and counterproductive. As a macro concept, that theory holds up very well against the tests of time. But, Republicans completely ignored this theory by trying to perpetuate tax cuts in perpetuity during both bad times and good totally ignoring deficits and debt as if they didn’t matter.

Keynes was a demand sider economist of sorts, advocating tax cuts during national emergencies and their consequential deficits, but, then raising taxes again during boom economic periods, not only to control consumption against inflation alone, but also to pay down the debts incurred by the tax cutting deficits of the previous national emergency.

Republicans also completely ignored Keynesian economists. In other words, Republicans acted as if they didn’t like economic theory at all if it constrained their actions one way or the other. Republicans acted as if the purpose of taxes was to pander for votes and continued power by advocating for perpetual tax cutting.

Rather a destructive path for Republicans to take since the logical outcome of such actions over a long enough time would result in the elimination of government altogether which cannot exist without tax revenues.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 6, 2008 1:45 AM
Comment #252251
Keynes NEVER argued for perpetual deficit spending.

NEVER David? Are you sure…? Wasn’t it Keynes who (wrongly) stated that after deficit spending ended following the Depression that the environment it created would return? That the days of low unemployment and prosperity had ended? He later changed his view and may have figured out why he was wrong, but that doesn’t mean NEVER.

Not that Republicans have been particularly observant of Friedman’s principles either these last 8 years.

No, they haven’t. And it backs up my point with phx8. If they have not been following the economic principles while comitting their crimes against our national debt, how can those principles be considered the fault?

That is why I am opposed to a ‘balanced budget amendment’ like the one suggested by Newt and Kemp in 1994. There are times when it is necessary to spend if the revenues are not there. But I agree that these last batch of Republicans were no very adept at common sense or what it takes to balance a checkbook…

Posted by: Rhinehold at May 6, 2008 1:55 AM
Comment #252252

Oh, and I add that the CURRENT crop of Democrat congresscritters are not much better. OR worse. Just bad.

I say worse, since they even put in a system to prevent pork and runaway spending and then promptly started to ignore it in favor of ‘sending the money back home’. Being intentfully wrong is worse than being incompetently wrong…

Posted by: Rhinehold at May 6, 2008 1:58 AM
Comment #252253

Rhinehold said:

The idea of ‘balanced budgets’ went out of window of FDR and the embracement of Keynes.

Thanks for the laugh. Next you’ll be extolling the terrors of embracing Darwin, Newton and Einstein. have you been watching Ben Stein movies or something?

Posted by: googlumpus at May 6, 2008 2:12 AM
Comment #252255


If you can name one economist or anyone else who can predict economic conditions more than say 6 months down the road, I’d like to meet him and his billions. Please teach us how you know the exact economic conditions say… 5 years from today.

Posted by: googlumpus at May 6, 2008 2:16 AM
Comment #252256

Jack, so, what you are really hearing is a general call for change which is naturally at odds with the Reagan legacy even though it is not specifically directed at it.
I think if anyone is stunned by the news that Obama will not be keeping in line with the ideals of the conservative legacy they would not be voting anyways.

And just so we are clear on one point, I hardly consider our current administration to be running a “small” or even “moderately” sized government. The debate of “big” versus “small” government is an interesting one, but any way you look at it Obama would be hard pressed to make the government any “bigger” as a whole than it already is.

Posted by: Zeek at May 6, 2008 3:07 AM
Comment #252257


Just being generally for change is silly. On the one hand, change is constant and unavoidable anyway. Most radical change is bad or fatal. You have to specify what changes?

It is true that the current government is too big and intrusive, but it CAN get much larger and more intrusive. What Obama & Hilary are calling for is a bigger, more intrusive government. Their “change” all goes in that direction.

Obama and Clinton want to go back to the 1970s. This is not good change. We should seek change that will try some new things.

Posted by: Jack at May 6, 2008 7:41 AM
Comment #252262

Yes there was a Reagan revolution. Economically it set about cutting taxes and simultaneously spending beyond our means. It deregulated much of the economy and pretty much re-wrote the rules basically transferring much more wealth to an economic elite. In the long run such policies have lead to the destruction of the dollar, us going from the worlds largest exporter to the worlds largest importer and the dead end debt driven economy we see crumbling before us. Also we have a virtual oligarchy of power and wealth concentration that would astound the founding fathers.

Politically it was summed up by Reagan himself when he made everyone believe government, even if by the people, is a bad thing by saying, “the 9 words that scare me most are, ” I’m from the government and I’m here to help”“. Government has since been looked at as only a problem and never a solution. The failure of our private medical systems, our education and our corporate media make clear his mistake especially in light of such governmental successes where in other countries health care is far less expansive, outcomes are as good or better, the media is more open and in many other country’s including the Celtic Tiger higher education cost are paid by the state while cost for collage skyrocket here.

Finally, he legitimized government corruption right from the start of his regime with the Iran-Contra Affair. From the very start he committed crimes that should have put him and many in his administration in jail and now the trend is set for ever increasing governmental atrocities and neglect of the public trust.

What would a reversal look like?

Shared prosperity with a strong middle class, opened and transparent government that was responsive to the peoples desires and not multi-national corporations. We’d have better roads, better schools, better health care, more time off, more independence, far better media and far less war…. oh and a lot lot more politicians in jail.

Posted by: muirgeo at May 6, 2008 10:09 AM
Comment #252263


McCain is new? We’ve tried Senility and puppet presidents, one who could it his marks and read his lines well, the other who couldn’t.

Based on your last sentiment, I’m guessing you’ve ditched everything and now support Obama.

Posted by: googlumpus at May 6, 2008 10:11 AM
Comment #252267


McCain’s team understands the need for trade, the necessity of letting individuals and firms make decisions about their own busines and the limits of government fiat.

Ronald Reagan was advanced in years, but his ideas were more appropriate for the new times than the failed liberalism of Carter or Mondale. New ideas are not limited to “new people.” The same goes for McCain. Obama & Clinton could have taken their speeches from 1975.


The “reversal” - When did we have those things before? I think a big reason Obama is doing so well is that most voters are too young (or maybe now too old in memory) to remember the 1970s, so they can try to use those old ideas.

Re criminals - the Clinton Administration had more convictions among insiders than either Bush or Reagan. Maybe that is also something people forgot.

I think Reagan went a bit too far in his distrust of government, but then he had to break up the terrible calcification that has set in by 1980. Government definitely has a key role to play in society, but it cannot be too big or too intrusive.

Posted by: Jack at May 6, 2008 12:26 PM
Comment #252269
Government has since been looked at as only a problem and never a solution.

No, they were looked at as that since the beginning of our country. It was only the recent history that that has changed. With disasterous results, as I will point out…

The failure of our private medical systems

Which aren’t private, now that Medicare and Medicaid are in the mix, as well as the numerous regulations and paperwork that doctors are forced to spend 40% of their time dealing with instead of seeing patients.

our education

Which has gone downhill ever since the Department of Education was created. Since the mid 70’s, after it’s creation, test scores in this country have dropped while they are rising all around the globe.

Well, we could continue, but remember… FDR was elected because he said that Hoover was doing too much. People at the time felt that the problem was TOO MUCH GOVERNMENT and Hoover was ridiculed for trying to fix the problem with more government. It was bad government, not too much, but that lays the question. Do you really want to give that much power to a single entity that can, and does, use its legal use of power against the citizenry for things that we could do without it?

Posted by: Rhinehold at May 6, 2008 12:47 PM
Comment #252271

It was not government per se, but “taxation without representation” that originally caused rebellion. The Founding Fathers created an excellent government- as long as you were a white male. Back then, women, blacks, and indians need not apply.

Agreed, the medical system needs reform. Until Big Pharma, the insurance companies and trial lawyers can be removed from the mix, I am not optimistic.

The Department of Education is somewhat useless. But it’s hardly the source of problems with education.

FDR was NOT elected because people thought the government was doing too much. Just the opposite. Hoover and his predecessors believed “the business of America is business.” The turning point came when US troops shot upon the Bonus Army, a large encampment of war veterans who were in desperate straits, and were asking for early payout of a promised bonus. Hoover was widely despised, and more than any single incident, that demonstrated the moral bankruptcy of a corporatist America.

It’s “We the people.”
NOT “We the profitable.”

Posted by: phx8 at May 6, 2008 1:42 PM
Comment #252272

I think you may be too caught up in the past Jack. Honestly, I don’t think there is much of a Reagan legacy anymore - it was never delivered on, and pretty much proved to be fantasy. We’re certainly not going back to the seventies - Democrats are talking about fixing healthcare and the environment. These are pressing issues for today.

Posted by: Max at May 6, 2008 1:46 PM
Comment #252273

I kind of reached the same conclusion. There really isn’t much of a Reagan Legacy in the first place. I think there was a general movement to the right in terms of economics, although I’m not sure anyone ever took Supply Side Economics seriously. It was basically a justification for redistributing wealth from the poor to the rich. Worked like a champ. The rich got richer. Some things never change. The Reagan Legacy supposedly pulled for “less government,” which usually meant, not smaller government, but less regulation, less oversight, and more privatization. The results for the environment, energy policy, finance, and so on, have been disastrous in practice. But can the greed and excesses of capitalism be attributed to Reagan? Or is it simply a manifestaton of the negative side of human nature, taking advantage whenever the opportunity allows, to skirt responsibility to others, and profit at their expense?

Posted by: phx8 at May 6, 2008 2:20 PM
Comment #252274

Oh, yes, we’re all enjoying the great Reagan legacy of rolling back the progress the Carter administration was making toward making the US energy independent…

Applause, applause, please!

Posted by: Rachel at May 6, 2008 2:29 PM
Comment #252275

Under Reagan, the solar panels came off the White House for maintenance, and never put back. Hurray for oil!!!

You wrote: “His policies did help defeat insurgencies in Central America and there were some abuses, but the alternative of letting Cuba style dictatorships be imposed was worse.”

Reagan supported policies which led to the slaughter of tens of thousands of innocent people, aka “insurgents.” Countries such as Nicaraugua, El Salvador, and Guatemala were ruled by right wing dictatorships- remember Somoza?- in order to make it a profitable climate for American corporations.

The only alternative to “authoritarian” right wing dictatorships is not another communist Cuba. That is a false choice, typical of the simplistic, black/white thinking of the Reagan era. In fact, most of the world today is embracing “socialist” leftist governance which blends democracy and capitalism into the mix. That what we are seeing now, in countries across South and Central America.

Median and mean incomes increased, but almost all of the increase was in the top 1 or 2% of the population, much like we see today. Good times if you are fabulously wealthy or a multinational corporation, because you just got wealthier! For everyone else- meh.

Posted by: phx8 at May 6, 2008 2:44 PM
Comment #252277

Jimmy Carter was the answer we ignored. Ronald Reagan was the disater we chose. Todays oil crisis, todays terrist crisis, todays oil dependency and it’s effects on our economy and our climate are a result of Reagan handing the reigns of our energy policy to the fossil fuel intrerest.

From the Jimmy Carter speech; Delivered 15 July, 1979:

The energy crisis is real. It is worldwide. It is a clear and present danger to our nation. These are facts and we simply must face them.

What I have to say to you now about energy is simple and vitally important.
Point one: I am tonight setting a clear goal for the energy policy of the United States. Beginning this moment, this nation will never use more foreign oil than we did in 1977— never. From now on, every new addition to our demand for energy will be met from our own production and our own conservation. The generation-long growth in our dependence on foreign oil will be stopped dead in its tracks right now and then reversed as we move through the 1980s, for I am tonight setting the further goal of cutting our dependence on foreign oil by one-half by the end of the next decade — a saving of over four and a half million barrels of imported oil per day.”

A criminal act of exchanging hostages for arms sealed this nations fate and the consequences are unfolding before.

The stupid ignorant idea that our economy should be left to the free market profiteers rather then using our evolved brains to plan for the future is the disaster of lazy simple-minded thinking topped off with a good helping of greed.

Posted by: muirgeo at May 6, 2008 2:52 PM
Comment #252281

Murigeo quotes Carter, “From now on, every new addition to our demand for energy will be met from our own production and our own conservation.”

Why do we find today that we are not allowed by the “eino’s” to use our own “production”? Would this be anti-Carter? I ask Murigeo and others who decry our energy crisis, what have you been doing in the past ten years to lower your own energy use? When is the last time our energy providers caused you to stand in line for gasoline, electricity, natural gas, propane, or fuel oil?

Many libs have been asking for higher fuel prices for years and now that we have them are wringing their hands and blaming the very companies who are ensuring the steady supply of these critical products all the while having their hands tied by the “eino’s”. Wow, are some of you screwed up or just blind!

Posted by: Jim M at May 6, 2008 3:55 PM
Comment #252289


I’ve done my part by minimizing my commute and buying the most fuel effecient cars I could find. But it doesn’t help if everyone goes and buys 10 mpg SUV’s and fills them with war subsidized oil. If everyone else had been efficient and requested developement of alternatives the laws of supply and demand would have kept prices lower. Or if we pushed our government to mandate high fuel efficiency our demand and prices would go down.

The real cost of gasoline should be even higher because SUV junkies have pushed demand but the product is so subsidized we don’t see it’s real cost and because we’ve sat on our laurals all these years not developing alternative transportation we are stuck in quite a predicament.

That’s what happens when you believe silly ideals like the one that suggest the market left to it’s own will solve all our problems.

The market left to it’s own doesn’t solve problems but becomes manipulated by those with money and power..ie the oil industry. It would be much better to hand back the government to the people and let them decide how to plan our future.

Our last energy policy formed behind closed doors under the direction of Dick Cheney is the evidence that we have lost control of our democracy. It’s also evidence that the ol industry does not operate under the rules of a free-market even if that IS what you want.

Posted by: muirgeo at May 6, 2008 4:39 PM
Comment #252306


Re FDR – you are factually wrong about the history. Hoover was an activist president by the standards of the time. FDR specifically campaigned in 1932 on a balance budget platform.

The other undeniable historical fact is that the New Deal did not end the great depression. 1937 was a worse year than 1929. WWII finished it and many of the New Deal policies were jettisoned to make way for the war effort.


It depends on what you say about heath care and the environment. We all want the good things in life. It depends on the tools you will use. Government is just ONE tool and it is not the most subtle or innovative.


Please check your history and understand what types of fuels Carter was developing. The synfuels would have done things like made gasoline from coal. Had the Carter synfuels initiaive worked, we would have a bigger problem with CO2. Thank God that Carter failed.


I remember Somoza. Didn’t he lose power in 1979? I know Dems are not good at causality, but it is hard to be the cause of something that happened before you got there.

The terms capitalism and socialism are so 1970s. The free market, which encompasses the rule of law, reasonable regulation and the market mechanism is the way to go. The Sandinistas were not headed down that path. The Cuban are still busy oppressing their people. It is the path of error.

Re median – Median is median. It means that HALF of all the earners make less and half make more. Your arguments re the top 1% have absolutely no effect on the median. If the top 1% or the top 10% or the top any percent up to 50 make big piles of money, it does not change the median.

Liberal often make that erroneous argument. Let me ask you, so that I am sure I got your argument right. Do you really think that the median income went up because the top percentages made more while the majority stayed the same or even declined? This is not an opinion question, BTW. It goes to the meaning of median.


You are making the intelligent design argument over using evolutionary policies re the economy. Funny. It was a joke you intended to make?

The market is never left on its own. Government can set directions. But it is not good at micromanaging. The higher price of oil has made people change their commuting habits and buy fewer SUVs. This works.

Posted by: Jack at May 6, 2008 11:15 PM
Comment #252310


Just being generally for change is silly.

And I agree with you 100%. But you should criticize his ambiguity rather than some supposed anti-Regan movement.

Posted by: Zeek at May 6, 2008 11:39 PM
Comment #252312

Re criminals - the Clinton Administration had more convictions among insiders than either Bush or Reagan. Maybe that is also something people forgot.

JAck where are your figures coming from when you claim the Clinton administration had more convictions? According to this site Reagans administration wins hands down.


Posted by: j2t2 at May 7, 2008 12:33 AM
Comment #252581

Jack said: “The other undeniable historical fact is that the New Deal did not end the great depression.”

Here are to other undeniable facts.

1) The New Deal kept millions from starving 100’s of thousands employed who otherwise wouldn’t have been.

2) Before the New Deal, there was an unparalleled stock market crash and Depression, which was a series of recessions waxing and waning for the following decade. After the New Deal, much of which is still in place, there has never been another Depression nor stock market crash nor systemic banking failures to rival that of the Hoover years.

Put those facts in your pipe and smoke’m for awhile. :-)

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 10, 2008 5:55 AM
Comment #252582

Jim M Blindly said: “Many libs have been asking for higher fuel prices for years and now that we have them are wringing their hands and blaming the very companies who are ensuring the steady supply of these critical products all the while having their hands tied by the “eino’s”. Wow, are some of you screwed up or just blind!”

Jim, you fail to distinguish the complexity of the situation. Yes, we have had a continuous supply. But, we are also being scalped by the oil companies, who have been taking subsidies, buying oil leases on federal lands, and NOT drilling them. They are, as became clear in yesterday’s hearings in the House, been hording about 40% of those leases undrilled. The reason is rather obvious. Why drill today for 90 or $100 a barrel, when waiting a year or couple will fetch $200 a barrel.

The fact that the oil companies, the market speculators, and the hedge funds have artificially driven up the price of oil for highly profitable reasons is adding insult to the injury of oil companies taking subsidies from taxpayers during record profitable years, under the Bush Administration and Republican Congress.

Why hasn’t Bush released oil from the Reserves to mitigate the steep rise in oil price? That would constitute an increase in supply and drop in price and we have all known for years that Bush et. al, are not into helping the working stiff when it comes to oil.

The price must rise in order for the U.S. to move to alternatives. But, that rise does not have to be crippling, as is the case now for millions of Americans. Especially the poor, who rely on older vehicles and used vehicles, (unable to afford a new fuel efficient one) for work and family needs. But, does Bush care? Obviously not.

Thankfully that will all change in January.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 10, 2008 6:07 AM
Comment #252583

Jack said: “Obama tries to copy Reagan’s optimism, but he doesn’t have his track record. I don’t think there is any comparison either, but some people seem to.”

You are right. Obama won’t be ACTING the role of President, nor napping behind the desk in the Oval office as was Reagan’s custom. Acting is the kind of experience one wants a politician to have who will fake it. Obama is the real deal, working with the law all his adult life. As far as experience goes, Obama has it hands down over Reagan’s ‘performance’ as governor and president.

Even a sleepy actor of a president is going to get some things right, if only for the wealth of civil servants and advisors of vastly greater expertise and experience to draw upon.

Oh, yeah, I forgot, it was Reagan who bought a sledge hammer and personally smashed down the Berlin Wall. The GOP’s main problem is they believe their own revisionist history condemning them to fail when attempting to repeat it.

Reagan was an outstanding spokesperson for the jelly bean industry. Let’s leave him that dignity without inventing falsehoods that injure his legacy.

Posted by: David R. Remer at May 10, 2008 6:18 AM
Comment #252706

I doubt Obama will ever drill into ANWR (~16 billion barrels), the Gulf of Mexico, the Outer Continental Shelf, the Coastlines, and the world’s largest coal and shale deposits in the world right here in the US of A.

Congress tried to go into ANWR in 1994, but Clinton vetoed it. Bush tried to get in there, but Congress shot it down 51 votes for it to 49 against it. 4 votes away from freedom.

Don’t be afraid of Obama. He can only be in office 8 years at the most. Sometimes it takes a Carter for America to find a Reagan.

Posted by: Stubborn Conservative at May 12, 2008 9:22 PM
Comment #252795

“Under Reagan, the solar panels came off the White House for maintenance, and never put back. Hurray for oil!!!” said Phx8, I won’t try to speculate on what Reagan Did but Those Batch Thermal Solar Hot water systems in the 1970s and 1980s were a Pile of junk my father a union Sheet metal heating and Air Conditioning owner told me back then the panels were fine but the electric controls were the problem they were redundate and a Rube Goldberg design they had electric valves and a electric pump to circulate the water that were very prone to burning up and very expensive to repair. the consumers were doing the R&D! and how much sunlight does D.C. get on a average day , Back then I saw people spending up to $10,000 for a Home system to save $5 to $ 10 a month on there natural gas bill Payback???. now today It’s a different matter with sky high energy and 30 plus years of technology on It’s side.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at May 14, 2008 12:18 AM
Comment #252808

Clinton takes Indiana by a ‘razor’ and Obama wins North Carolina by a huge margin. Nevertheless, Kentucky, Montana and West Virginia are still to come.

The Democratic race for nomination is still very much alive – and most likely to be decided by superdelegates

If you’re tired of waiting around for those super delegates to make a decision already, go to LobbyDelegates.com and push them to support Clinton or Obama

If you haven’t done so yet, please write a message to each of your state’s superdelegates at http://www.lobbydelegates.com

Obama Supporters:

Sending a note to current Obama supporters lets them know it’s appreciated, sending a note to current Clinton supporters can hopefully sway them to change their vote to Obama, and sending a note to the uncommitted folks will hopefully sway them to vote for Obama. It’s that easy…

Clinton Supporters too …. !

It takes a moment, but what’s a few minutes now worth to get Clinton in office?! Those are really worth !

Sending a note to current Clinton supporters lets them know it’s appreciated, sending a note to current Obama supporters can hopefully sway them to change their vote to Clinton, and sending a note to the uncommitted folks will hopefully sway them to vote for Clinton. It’s that easy…

Posted by: Kathy at May 14, 2008 6:19 AM
Comment #253043

I’m a liberal - and I liked Reagan and always will. Why? Because regardless of whatever else he did in office, he did win the Cold War. Howl about the small details, split all the hairs you want, but the one who gets all the credit and all the blame for what happens is the one who’s on watch…and Reagan gets the credit for winning the Cold War.

But one must wonder who Reagan would honestly support in the upcoming election. He’s got two wars going on, one of which was started on false pretenses and has shattered our national image worldwide. I remember Reagan said that his greatest regret was the loss of 300 Marines in a truck-bombed barracks in Beirut. Wonder what he would think about losing 4000 unnecessarily?

But he’d probably support the Republicans, because it’s apparent that he wasn’t too concerned about the deficit. Why? In 1981 Reagan claimed that the budget was ‘out of control’ - the deficit was at $74 billion. Two years later the deficit was $208 billion.

And Dick Cheney said “Reagan proved deficits don’t matter”.

I’ll always think highly of Reagan - but like all of us, he was flawed…but we’re going to be paying for his flaw and those who propagated it for generations to come.

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at May 17, 2008 10:36 PM
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