Archive for Ronald Reagan

Snub Hubbub


The June 24, 1986, edition of The Wall Street Journal featured a story headlined, “President’s Bid to Address the House On Nicaragua Is Rejected by Speaker.” That’s right, no quibbling over the date and time, just a flat-out rejection. In that case, President Ronald Reagan wanted to address the House before its critical vote on funding for the anti-communist “Contra” rebels in Nicaragua. Then-Speaker Thomas “Tip” O’Neil said that he was willing to host a Reagan speech if it was expanded to include the Senate in a joint session, or he would allow the President to speak to the House alone if the President would also agree to take questions from lawmakers. Otherwise, there would be no Reagan speech in the House chamber. Reagan already had the votes to prevail in the Senate, and Mr. O’Neil wanted to avoid having the spotlight turned on the House, which would make him and his colleagues accountable to the public if Contra aid were rejected.

Boehner asked Obama to wait a day—after not being consulted on the original date (according to my understanding). O’Neil told Reagan to eff off.

If Obama tried to high-hand the House by trying to commandeer it at his whim, he got exactly what he deserved.

But even more obscene is his use of the place as a stage set for his fiscal failures, a Paramount backlot of floperoo.

It is as if the captain of the Titanic had gathered the assembled luminaries in the ballroom, stood regally atop the curved marble staircase, and, as the icy North Atlantic waters lapped at their ankles, told them how the icebergs were worse than he had been led to believe and that he needed more time to right the ship.

He should be embarrassed! Mortified!! Yet he literally knows no shame.



In a spirited debate with friends recently, I was pressing the attack on Obama’s record of failure and shattered promises. I usually wouldn’t bother, preferring to enjoy their company rather than endure their opinions, but the wine was flowing and they wouldn’t shut up.

My rhetorical adversaries were trotting out all the tired themes and memes (I don’t yet trust that word—we haven’t been formally introduced), including the granddaddy of all excuses: blaming Bush.


To these die-hards, there is no blaming Obama for Bush’s ever-more evident catastrophes, and any attempt at even mild criticism is deeply rooted in America’s unique loam of racial antipathy.

Well, if the shoe fits, I guess:

If you really want to light the fuse of a liberal Democrat, compare Barack Obama’s economic performance after 30 months in office with that of Ronald Reagan. It’s not at all flattering for Mr. Obama.

The two presidents have a lot in common. Both inherited an American economy in collapse. And both applied daring, expensive remedies. Mr. Reagan passed the biggest tax cut ever, combined with an agenda of deregulation, monetary restraint and spending controls. Mr. Obama, of course, has given us a $1 trillion spending stimulus.

By the end of the summer of Reagan’s third year in office, the economy was soaring. The GDP growth rate was 5% and racing toward 7%, even 8% growth. In 1983 and ’84 output was growing so fast the biggest worry was that the economy would “overheat.” In the summer of 2011 we have an economy limping along at barely 1% growth and by some indications headed toward a “double-dip” recession. By the end of Reagan’s first term, it was Morning in America. Today there is gloomy talk of America in its twilight.

My purpose here is not more Reagan idolatry, but to point out an incontrovertible truth: One program for recovery worked, and the other hasn’t.

Can’t have enough Reagan idolatry, as far as I’m concerned. I missed it at the time, so caught up in Carter and Mondale idolatry as I was. (I can’t believe I just wrote that.)

You young uns won’t remember how bad it was under Carter. But it was really, really bad. End of America bad. No reason to live bad. Iran was pulling our strings, oil shocks rattled the economy, a malaise was settling over the country—and then there was the Misery Index.

The Misery Index, seized by Ronald Reagan during the campaign against Carter, was the simple (even simplistic) metric that added the inflation rate to the unemployment rate. The two were (are?) thought to be mutually exclusive: inflation meant there was too much money chasing too few goods, thereby raising prices. Unemployment implied less money in the system, hence falling (or at least stable) prices. Like I said, simplistic. And it didn’t take into account stagflation.

The table I link to above shows how bad (really, really bad) it got: not only did the Misery Index reach a record high of nearly 22 under Jimmy Carter, the change from the beginning to the end of his administration was a plus-7. Under Reagan, it reached a low of 7.7, with a net from beginning to end of minus-9.6. Not only did Reagan leave the economy better than he found it, he left it better than Carter found it.

While we’re on the subject, W’s net MI was minus-.44, while Obama’s is a plus-4.9. Do I think he can hit up there with Carter? No, but then I’m supposedly a racist. If some peanut farmer from Georgia can nearly ruin a great nation of two centuries’ age, who am I to suggest that a community organizer from Chicago (or Hawaii, or Kansas, or Kenya) can’t do worse?

I take it back. Of course he can.

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Why Can’t We Get Presidents Like That?

You know, Ronald Reagan would have made a pretty darn good president.

What brilliant good it can do a country when the world respects, and will not forget, one of its leaders. What was vividly true 30 years ago is true today: The world looks to America. It doesn’t want to be patronized or dominated by America, it wants to see America as a beacon, an example, a dream of what could be.

I have to stop here because most of that same language was applied to the election of one Barack Hussein Obama.

But Barack Hussein Obama was no Ronald Wilson Reagan:

These are the thoughts that follow eight days of celebration, in Eastern Europe and London, of the leadership of Ronald Reagan. History is rarely sweet, but it was last week when they raised statues of him in his centenary year. People old and young stopped for a moment to think and speak of him, and to define what his leadership meant to them and their countries. The celebrations in Krakow, Budapest, Prague and London were a reminder that we are all travelling through history together, that you are living not only your own life but the life of your times, as Laurens van der Post once said. And your era can actually be affected, made better, by what you do.

In Krakow, the city from which Karol Wojtyla was called to Rome to become John Paul II, there was a thanksgiving mass celebrated by Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, who said in his homily: “President Reagan . . . took great pains to bring about the demise of that which he so aptly named ‘the evil empire.’ This empire of evil denied many people and nations their freedom. It did so by way of a pernicious ideology . . . the result of this experiment was the death and sufferings of millions.” “There can be no doubt,” he said, that Reagan and John Paul brought about “the collapse of communism.”

In Budapest, in a special session of the Hungarian Parliament, the Deputy prime minister, Zsolt Semjen, spoke of the end of Hungary as a captive nation and its beginnings as a democracy. Reagan, he said, “helped Hungary find itself.” Member of Parliament Janos Horvath spoke of Reagan’s style of peaceful liberation. What America did by being strong, by being serious in its focus, by speaking plain and true, not only inspired the victims of communism but weakened their oppressors. Reagan had “the imagination” to understand the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 was a historic event: “He kept quoting Harry Truman’s commitment to the liberation of the captive nations. That, for Reagan, was a more important thing than for other presidents.” Hungary knew Truman had been “infuriated” by what the Soviets did, “arresting people, including myself.” Reagan made clear he “felt the indignation.” And so, “Hungary took seriously what America meant—human rights, democracy.” It left Horvath an optimist. “I have faith that the right thing prevails. This is the Ronald Reagan mentality.”

At the unveiling of the Reagan statue in Freedom Square, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Reagan “managed change wisely and preserved peace. This is why he needs to have a statue in Budapest.” In tearing down “the distorted and sick ideologies of the 20th century,” Reagan “remade the world for us.”

Rather stunningly, the leader of Hungary’s government bluntly ended his speech with a sentiment often heard in Omaha, Tucson, Morristown and Tallahassee: “We need a Ronald Reagan. Is he there, somewhere, already?” The world misses him as much as we do. It misses grand leadership as much as we do.

So, they’re not noticing the lower tide. Or if they are, they’re not feeling it.

We can’t blame them, because the only thing President Obama has brought to the brink of collapse is the American capitalist system.

And freedom-loving people around the world look toward America with the same expression Sasha wears:

Stop! I want to get off!

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We, Too, Remember

After placing flowers, former first lady Nancy Reagan sits at the gravesite of her husband former president Ronald Reagan, on the seventh anniversary of his passing, at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California June 5, 2011 in this photograph released by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation.

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Where’d the Money Go?

This says it all:

The latest evidence is yesterday’s disappointing report of 1.8% in first quarter GDP. At this stage of recovery after a deep recession, the economy is typically growing by 4% or more as consumer confidence returns and businesses accelerate investment as their profits revive. Yet in this recovery consumers are still cautious and business investment remains weak.

The most recent recession of comparable depth and job loss was in 1981-1982, when unemployment hit 10.8%. Huge chunks of industrial America shut down and never re-opened. Yet once the recovery began in earnest in the first quarter of 1983, the economy boomed. As the nearby table shows, growth exceeded 7.1% for five consecutive quarters, and it kept growing at nearly a 4% pace for another two years. Growth didn’t dip below 2% in any quarter until the second three months of 1986. This was the Reagan boom.

Now look at the first seven quarters of the current recovery. Only briefly has growth hit 5%, in the fourth quarter of 2009 as businesses rebuilt inventories that had been pared to the bone. Growth has been mediocre ever since, sputtering to a near-stall in the middle of last year, accelerating modestly late last year, and now slowing again. This recovery is as weak as the much-maligned “jobless recovery” of the last decade, which followed a mild recession and at least gained speed after the tax cut of 2003.

Most striking is that this weak growth follows everything that the Keynesian playbook said politicians should throw at the economy. First came $168 billion in one-time tax rebates in February 2008 under George W. Bush, then $814 billion more in spending spread over 2009-2010, cash for clunkers, the $8,000 home buyer tax credit, Hamp to prevent home foreclosures, the Detroit auto bailouts, billions for green jobs, a payroll tax cut for 2011, and of course near-zero interest rates for 28 months buttressed by quantitative easing I and II. We’re probably forgetting something.

And we’re still busted flat in Baton Rouge.

How many trillion is that we’ve blown with nothing to show for it after two years of “recovery” but a deficit deeper than Hell’s Canyon? And what did Reagan do differently to promote growth at or above 8% for four straight quarters? Hint: it rhymes with yaks’ butts.

While Obama, after spending us into historic, unprecedented debt, is now talking about tax hikes.

I did a little math (so you don’t have to). For six quarters in ’03-’04, the economy grew by 44.3%. For six quarters in ’09-’10, the economy grew by 19.1%, well under half the rate of the Reagan recovery. I’ll give you a minute to pick your jaw up off the floor.

In the meantime, consider this:

The contrast in results between the current recovery and the Reagan years is instructive because the policy mix was so different. In the 1980s, the policy goals were to cut tax rates, reduce regulatory costs and uncertainty, let the private economy allocate capital free of political direction, and focus monetary policy on price stability rather than on reducing unemployment. This is the policy mix we need to rediscover if we are going to escape our current malaise and stop suffering from the Keynesian discount.

Mm-hmm. Like we’ve been saying.

PS: In regard to the debate over dimwitted or demented, I’d say this story is evidence both ways. While anyone with even half the education Obama claims to have (let’s see the transcripts!) would know this, the Reagan era was Obama’s confessed stoner period. He may have been too high to have noticed the robust economic growth. All he knew was that little baggies of Panama Red were plentiful, like manna from Heaven.

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Thinking About Ethanol And The Farm Crisis Of The 1980s

During the 1980s, American farmers lost family farms because they had borrowed money which they couldn’t repay.

The problem spanned across several Presidents, Nixon, Ford, Carter and Reagan. It was a real mess. I am writing about it because the ethanol situation is beginning to look a little similar. I think that we encouraged farmers to grow corn specifically for ethanol, and as a result, towns and small cities grew up in an ethanol driven boom. Meanwhile, people in poorer countries developed food problems. This time it was pushed by the environmentalists, who knew all along that ethanol is an inefficient source of energy. The whole thing was a fantasy, with the usual tinge of bullying that goes with anything that crowd engages in. Due to the farm crisis of the 1980s, there are not many small family farmers left, so I suppose the pain won’t be so personal this time. This is a taste of what happened:

Why did it happen?
In the early 1970s, lowered trade barriers coupled with record Soviet purchases of American grain resulted in a sharp increase in agricultural exports. Farm incomes and commodity prices soared. [FN3] The removal of restrictions on Federal Land Bank lending, coupled with increased lending by other entities for farmland purchases in the Seventies, led to rising land values. Conveniently low interest rates persuaded many farmers — and would-be farmers — to go deeply into debt on the assumption that commodity prices and land values would continue to rise. [FN4] Farm household income had been below the national average in the 1960s; in the next decade it was higher than the national average for every year except one. But it would return to the 1960s levels in the Eighties. The agricultural “boom” didn’t last long. [FN5]

By the early 1980s, tight money and high interest rates had burst agriculture’s speculative bubble. The federal government estimated that farmland value dropped by nearly 60% in some parts of the Midwest between 1981 and 1985. Many farm operators found it impossible to retire their debts as fast as their asset values declined. [FN6] Record harvests led to overproduction which in turn resulted in a glut of farm commodities, forcing prices down. In addition, the decision by President Jimmy Carter to enforce a grain embargo as a means of punishing the Soviet Union for its invasion of Afghanistan cost the American farmer a crucial overseas market. Subsequently, the Soviets diversified their agricultural suppliers in order to limit the effects of a future embargo. And though prices fell, American farm products were still costlier than those of competitors on the international market; federal price supports kept prices artifically high enough so that farmers in Argentina, Australia, Canada and Europe were able to seize more of the market than ever before. [FN7] The strong dollar of the Eighties combined with the economic stagnation and financial straits of purchasing nations also hurt American agricultural exports, which declined by more than 20% between 1981 and 1983, while real commodity prices plummeted 21% during the same period. [FN8]
In the high times of the 1970s, the number of “middle level” farmers — those whose income ranged from $40,000 to $500,000 a year — had increased by an astonishing 250%. Numbering 675,000 by 1985, they were the hardest hit by the debt crisis. [FN9] The small farmers (grossing under $40,000 a year and deriving much of their income from non-farm employment) had not incurred large debts, while the large farmers (those who grossed in excess of $500,000 a year) were financially able to weather hard times. [FN10] As he watched profits decline by 36% between 1980 and 1988, the middle level farmer who had aggressively indebted himself in the Seventies faced grave financial peril during the next decade. [FN11] By early 1984, in the depths of the crisis, farm indebtedness had risen to $215 billion, double what it had been in 1978, and fifteen times the 1950 level. According to Emmanuel Melicher, Federal Reserve senior economist, more than one-third of America’s commercial farmers were in serious trouble. For the first time in history, the total of interest payments on farm loans exceeded total net farm income. [FN12] Farm foreclosures rose dramatically, and the crisis had a ripple effect, negatively impacting the manufacture and sale of farm machinery, seed and fertilizer. Rural banks went into receivership. Rural communities suffered in other ways; as more and more farmers were forced out of business, small town enterprises saw their profits plummet. In 1986, the Minnesota Agriculture Department calculated that every farm loss wiped out three non-farm jobs. [FN13] Many described the farm crisis of the Eighties as the worst since the Great Depression.

I witnessed a lot of that pain. And you can say: Aggie, why did they borrow money that they couldn’t repay? It was a combination of government encouragement, the booming economy, and the peer pressure that goes on beneath the surface: The Jones just bought another hundred acres. They were encouraged to enlarge their farms and then, due to various policies, they lost everything.

I suppose it can’t happen again because they aren’t there any more. Large corporations bought the land cheap, and our food prices came down. Food costs as a percentage of the family budget dropped, something most of us can’t remember. That’s the positive part of the story, I guess. But those poor farmers really suffered.

- Aggie

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How’s That Poppy Seed Bagel Taste, Libs?

I hope you choke on it:

Former President Ronald Reagan’s history-making float at the Rose Bowl Parade Saturday has been awarded a trophy for best depiction of life in the United States, past, present or future, the Tournament of Roses announced.

The float was designed to kick off a celebration events to commemorate the centennial of Reagan’s birth. He would have been 100 years old on February 6, 2011.

The unique float was 55 feet long and 26 feet high. It featured 11 black and white photos of “iconic moments” in Reagan’s life, a statue of the president modeled after his statue in the US Capitol Rotunda, a sculpture of a bald eagle, and 65,000 red roses.

The photos were made of poppy seeds and rice and were selected with the help of former first lady Nancy Reagan.

I don’t really want liberals to choke. A strong gag would do. Or maybe just a seed awkwardly caught between the teeth.

Let’s just watch how the MSM handle Reagan’s centenary. I’m guessing they’ll “forget” to mention it.