They didn’t call Ronald Reagan “The Great Communicator” just because he knew how to deliver a speech. The fact is, he—more than any president in recent memory—knew how to bring a complex idea to life in ways the public wouldn’t just understand but would embrace.
Sometimes this required some simplifications the media—which continually tried to prove Reagan a dunce—used to distort what he was saying. That’s not to say he didn’t get a few things wrong; every president does. On the big things, however, like the importance of economic growth and how to get it, he was very, very right.
Growth matters. The Republicans who followed Reagan into the White House either didn’t get it or couldn’t explain it. That left the door open for the media and progressives to slander and then dismiss pro-growth measures as deficit-enhancing tax cuts for the wealthy that produced greater income inequality.
The Republicans who tried but failed to follow Reagan into the White House—Bob Dole, John McCain, Mitt Romney—didn’t make it in part because they didn’t understand the need to explain how growth happens. They never communicated how the right kinds of tax cuts and deregulatory measures would cause economic expansion, leading to rising wages, more jobs and new businesses, making everyone better off while eventually bringing into the U.S. treasury as much revenue or more as the liberals claimed the tax cuts “cost.”
Reagan honed his ability to explain the politics and economics of growth to working Americans over years. As a spokesman for General Electric, he went around the country to the company’s various plants and facilities to talk to employees about the virtues of the free market system. More recent Republicans’ comparative inarticulateness may in part explain why the country appears to be embracing the soft socialism Joe Biden and his congressional colleagues are offering.
Pollster Scott Rasmussen just released a national survey of 1,200 registered voters that found 35 percent of them saying economic fairness was more important than economic growth. The fact that just over a third of the country thinks equality of outcomes deserves more focus than equality of opportunity—a key component of any pro-growth policy—should alarm Republican leaders and growth hawks.
Even when the numbers are broken down by party, the results are disheartening. According to Rasmussen, a third of Republicans now believe fairness is more important than growth. In the Reagan years and throughout the Gingrich era, which saw the first balanced budget in decades alongside a period of continued growth, a number that high would have been inconceivable.
It’s not that the GOP doesn’t believe in fairness. The free market is the fairest system ever conceived for the exchange of goods and services between willing sellers and willing buyers. It’s that they reject—or ought to, anyway—the idea that no matter where anyone starts, we all need to end up in the same place.
It’s really that kind of outcome that’s the most unfair. It presumes that no matter how creative a person is, how hard they work, how good their innovation might be or even how lucky they are, no one should do any better than their neighbor. Identical per capita income for every family—that’s the ticket.
Except it’s not. The progressive politicians’ response to the COVID crisis—shutting down the marketplace state by state while the federal government borrows trillions, inflating the debt while doing nothing to stimulate the economy—leads to disaster. It won’t take too much more of this before the United States starts to resemble Greece, and not in a good way. We’ll be comparatively lucky if it stops there, without the U.S. sliding all the way down into the same space as Venezuela.
There is a bright spot in Rasmussen’s data. “Those respondents who believe focusing on economic growth is the most important rated cutting spending and taxes as the best prescriptions” for doing so, as did those “who would rather focus on economic fairness.” Both sides agree on what needs to be done and, at least by implication, reject the Biden White House’s tax-and-spend plans. This means the growth wing of the GOP has a chance to carry the day—if it’s smart and can find leaders who can explain what is going on in ways the public can understand, even through the filter of the elite media and the opposition’s critique.
Three weeks ago, Barack Obama launched a cross-country speaking tour to boost his economic policies, a campaign that included an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. The President hoped to build momentum for the fall session and the upcoming budget fight by going over the heads of Congress during their summer recess. Instead, Gallup finds that Obama’s approval ratings on the economy — and practically everything else — sinks the more he campaigns:
Despite President Barack Obama’s renewed focus on the nation’s economy this summer, crisscrossing the country to talk about job creation, he scores worse with Americans on the economy than he did in June. His approval rating on the issue, now 35%, is down seven percentage points, and his ratings on taxes and the federal budget deficit are each down five points. During the same period, his overall approval rating is down three points. Continue reading
Health Overhaul: Republicans are fighting over a government shutdown when they should be telling a receptive public that if ObamaCare takes effect, the result will be massive taxpayer fraud and privacy violations.
News accounts have focused on GOP threats to block any ObamaCare implementation funds in next year’s spending bills, even if that risks a presidential veto and a government shutdown.
That, naturally, has sparked a public debate among Republicans not over the merits of stopping ObamaCare, but over the political fallout of such a high-stakes face-off. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., called it “the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard.” Continue reading
It’s been one year since the Supreme Court decision that allowed Obama administration officials to begin implementing the Affordable Care Act, and the frequency and volume of reports about the challenges facing those reforms—and the difficulties they are visiting on those who were supposed to benefit from them—are increasing dramatically.
Jeff Vernon, an employee of Scrambler Marie’s restaurant in Toledo, Ohio, told a local reporter that the owners were cutting his hours to avoid penalties under Obamacare. Businesses with more than 49 employees have to offer insurance to all “full-time” workers—defined as those who put in 30 hours or more each week. The result, for Vernon: $400 less in take-home pay every month. “That leaves me $27.50 for two weeks to live off of,” he explained. Vernon said the owners tried to avoid the cuts but didn’t have any other recourse. “They were real good about that,” he added. “The last thing they wanted to do was cut people. They don’t want to fire anybody.” Continue reading
It is not surprising that there are liberals in Washington proposing new stealth carbon taxes. What is surprising is that a few “conservatives” support the idea. Even more inexplicable is the fact that some have called the carbon tax a “once in a generation opportunity.”
Let me see if I’ve got this right. A huge, gargantuan tax increase — one that would make everything cost more — is a “once in a generation opportunity?”
Every single day for the last 30 years and every single day for the next 30 years, liberals will crawl over top of each other to be the first one to sign-on to a new energy tax. This is a deal that liberals will always be willing to give. Continue reading
The economy is not some theoretical concept or ivory tower idea. A strong economy means that Americans have jobs and growing incomes. It means that families can provide their children with the care and opportunities that will provide for a bright future. Conversely a weak economy means fewer jobs and less opportunity. It means lower incomes and it means that families have to do without.
Too often big government slows the economy by taxing and spending too much. Those who support more and more government taxes and spending always argue that government can do something good with the money. But the problem with that argument is that families and businesses also can do a lot of good with that money if government doesn’t take it away from them. Continue reading
“Nothing was more typical of Ronald Reagan than that large-hearted magnanimity, and nothing was more American.”
by Margaret Thatcher
We have lost a great president, a great American, and a great man, and I have lost a dear friend.
CHEERFUL, FRESHNESS, OPTIMISM
In his lifetime, Ronald Reagan was such a cheerful and invigorating presence that it was easy to forget what daunting historic tasks he set himself. He sought to mend America’s wounded spirit, to restore the strength of the free world, and to free the slaves of communism. These were causes hard to accomplish and heavy with risk, yet they were pursued with almost a lightness of spirit, Continue reading
“Suffocating supranationalism of the European Union marches on . . . . Washington is already on the path to Brussels, Paris and Athens, but it still has an opportunity to reverse course.”
Book review by Nile Gardiner
BECOMING EUROPE: ECONOMIC DECLINE, CULTURE, AND HOW AMERICA CAN AVOID A EUROPEAN FUTURE, by Samuel Gregg, Encounter Books, $25.99, 384 pages.
“Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess,” declared Margaret Thatcher in a television interview before she became Britain’s prime minister. “They always run out of others people’s money. It’s quite a characteristic of them.” Continue reading
“You cannot create a desert, hand a person a cup of water, and call that compassion. . . . And you cannot build up years of dependence on government and dare call that hope.”
by Scott L. Vanatter
Before his first term was complete President Reagan restored the American economy and revived the American spirit. The power and focus of his words and his policies returned America to its true identity and destiny.
Soaring rhetoric must be supported by real accomplishment. Otherwise the words are empty, the sentiment is trite. Too often national leaders only give lip service to the lofty principles which Reagan carefully and continually taught. Worse, when some leaders overtly deprecate the Founding principles, America fails to preserve and advance our precious freedoms. Tyranny is never more than a generation away from falling on us. Americans need to continually self-inoculate against a creeping tyranny. Continue reading
With the budget and fiscal crisis facing the United States and difficult economic times surely ahead for the foreseeable future, President Barack Obama has vociferously argued that Republicans must agree to tax increases. He argues for what he terms are modest tax increases on the wealthiest Americans that are equal to the tax rates during President Bill Clinton’s time in office. Why is Obama only interested in Clinton era tax rates, but not Clinton era federal spending rates? Continue reading
by George Landrith
President Barack Obama repeatedly chided Mitt Romney’s budget plan during the presidential campaign on at least two grounds: (1) it lacked detail, and (2) the math didn’t add up. Perhaps, we should use these two standards to see how Barack Obama’s plan stacks up. There is more than a little irony in Barack Obama criticizing others for not providing details or for their math not adding up. Obama has always been short on details and his math has almost never passed even the straight face test, much less actually adding up.
Nonetheless, let’s apply these two standards — (1) are there sufficient details? and (2) does the math add up? — to evaluate Barack Obama’s proposals for solving the so-called fiscal cliff. Continue reading
After a long, tough campaign, Barack Obama won reelection by a slim 51% to 49%. Now Obama is claiming a broad mandate to increasing taxes and demands that Congress yield to his view that there must be a higher tax burden for the wealthiest Americans.
Obama is correct that he made tax increases an issue during his reelection campaign. But so did the Congressmen who comprise the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. GOP Congressmen won reelection opposing tax rate increases on any Americans. Continue reading
by Andrew Stiles
President Barack Obama appears to be doubling down on his policies of using taxpayer money to finance green energy investments despite an increasingly spotty track record.
“We’ve got to control our own energy, you know, not only oil and natural gas, which we’ve been investing in, but also, we’ve got to make sure we’re building the energy source of the future, not just thinking about next year, but 10 years from now, 20 years from now,” he said during Tuesday night’s presidential debate. “That’s why we’ve invested in solar and wind and biofuels, energy-efficient cars.” Continue reading
Every American voter is approaching a critical decision. Of the two presidential candidates before us, who is best suited to lead our nation through the next four years?
The answer to that question is a simple test: can they ignite economic growth? The economic crisis we face is our greatest threat, affecting every American. For investors – and today over half of Americans are investors in some form – this issue is particularly pressing as it impacts not just their financial situation today, but also their retirement and other long-term goals. Economic growth is the only ingredient that will help pull the country out of its present funk and allow us to solve our pressing issues. Continue reading
by Peter Morici
This election should be about the economy — the recovery is too slow and Americans are hurting. The performances of President Obama and Vice President Biden in the debates on the campaign trail tell us why. Both say endlessly that they inherited a huge mess, but Americans have seen challenges like these before — and with better leaders, they licked those more quickly.
When Mr. Obama took office, financial markets were in turmoil. Unemployment peaked at 10% in October 2009. Continue reading