Never Stop Talking About Reagan

September 6th, 2011 at 1:27 pm David Frum | 29 Comments |

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Reading Mitt Romney’s op-ed in USA Today, I was saddened by a missed opportunity.

Gov. Romney commits to opening more trade talks to build a “Reagan Economic Zone”: “a partnership among countries committed to free enterprise and free trade.” Good start. But why is only the trade plan named after Ronald Reagan? Why not a “Reagan tax plan,” “Reagan regulatory relief,” a “Ronald Reagan balanced budget,” a “Reagan worker training program”?

Or go for the whole kahuna: “the Reagan Economic Reagan Reagan.”

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29 Comments so far ↓

  • Gus

    I laughed. Not enough Reagan. How about “the Reagan Reagan Reagan?”

  • Watusie

    A noun, a verb, Reagan.

    What simpletons you Republicans are.

    Here are some more Reagan opps for you:

    “the Reagan budget deficit”
    “the Reagan-model response to Hurricane Katrina”
    “the Reagan magical thinking”
    “the Reagan lack of interest in reality”

    Ronald Reagan is the source of your problems – not your solutions.

    • Smargalicious


      Reagan was the best President in the 20th Century, and he’s got this century’s one beat all to hell so far.

      • SteveT

        It’s his myth that endures Smarg, not the reality of the man or his policies.

  • chephren

    How about the “Reagan Deficit Spiral” that began in 1981, as soon as the Kemp-Roth tax cuts were passed? Anyone going to talk about that?

    From 1945 to 1981, the US consistently reduced debt as a percentage of GDP, from 120% to about 30% – in spite of a massive increase in the size and scale of government. As soon as Reagan’s big tax cuts passed, this benign trend reversed – and debt compounded at TWICE the rate of GDP growth for the next 30 years.

    It should be perfectly clear by now that the so-called “Reagan Boom” was a fraud. It was built on a foundation of debt and tax relief that favoured the richest at the expense of the middle class.

    Reagan’s fiscal record is NOT a model for the future – it’s the very thing that got the United States into the mess it’s in now.

    • Carney

      The fact that gets in the way of your myth-spinning is that revenue doubled in the 80s. Unfortunately the late-stage, increasingly out of control Dem House insisted on increasing spending even faster, preventing galloping revenue from catching up. They coined the phrase DOA (dead on arrival) in budget contexts, contemptuously dismissing Reagan’s budgets out of hand as being inadequately spend-happy, and constantly pushing for even more spending. Reagan had to veto bills, even occasionally shut down the government, to try to slow the rate of growth from insane to just out of control.

      • chephren


        It’s a convenient lie to claim Reagan’s deficits were the result of the machinations of the Democratic Congress of the day. Nice try, but it doesn’t wash. The fact is, Reagan worked well with Congress and got most of what he wanted in the way of revenue and spending cuts.

        Isn’t it hypocritical how Reaganites celebrate their hero’s supposed victory as a cutter of revenue and government spending – yet when his colossal deficits are mentioned, they cry that Reagan’s fiscal program was wrecked by the big bad Democrats. Make up your mind – was Reagan a success or a failure?

        And was the Reagan defence buildup, vigorously supported by Republicans, not a costly expansion of Big Government?

        And what of David Stockman, the OMB director who infamously admitted the Reagan administration had no clue what the outcome of its fiscal program would be? Are you going to claim he was a stealth Democrat?

        Yes, revenue roughly doubled in the 1980s – which explains less than nothing. Debt tripled under Reagan, and Bush 41 took this pile of red ink and augmented it by half again.

        It was Democrats – not the GOP – who passed the Pay-Go rules that imposed fiscal restraint on Congress and helped bring about the Clinton surpluses. The expiration of these rules – thanks to “fiscally conservative” Republicans – enabled a new deficit frenzy under Bush 43.

        How is it possible to defend Republican fiscal profligacy, when they created most of the $14 Trillion federal debt?

      • valkayec

        Actually, from what I’ve read, it was the numerous tax increases Reagan approved that caused revenues to increase and it was Reagan’s huge military build up (deficit spending) that cause the deficit and debt to rise so dramatically. Until Pres. Bush came along, Reagan had the highest deficit spending as a result of military spending of any President since WWII.

        • torourke

          And did that increased military spending contribute to any foreign policy victories? Winning the Cold War without firing a shot seems like a good outcome, no?

      • valkayec

        Romney’s Op-Ed presents quite a snow job. It’s hard to keep a straight face when faced with so many inaccuracies. But, then, that’s politics!

    • fibocycle

      absolutely correct!!!!! Laffer’s economic fallacy should actually be referred to as Laughter’s Economic Gong Show. The polarization of wealth and the evaporation of the middle class is a direct consequence of the malevolent intentions and/or the incompetent theories of Rumsfeld and Cheney’s pathetic minions.

    • torourke

      At the expense of the middle class? Wrong. The middle class benefitted from Reagan’s political cover for Volcker’s monetary policies as inflation dropped from double digits. The middle class benefitted from Reagan’s ending of the price controls on oil which reduced the price of gasoline. Liberal senators were spectacularly wrong about the effects of ending these price controls. The middle class benefitted from the explosion of economic growth and job creation that followed the the tax cuts. That’s why the middle class voted for Reagan in droves to the tune of a 500+ electoral landslide in 1984. Liberals who think Reagan was so terrible need to grapple with his popularity. It was a bit more than his ability to communicate. Americans saw their lots improve throughout the 1980′s, and they voted accordingly.

  • baw1064

    Many more possibilities open up if you make “Reagan” a verb.

    Some possibilities:

    “Scott Walker tried to Reagan Wisconsin’s public employees.”
    “After GWB Reaganed the national debt, Republicans accused Obama of doing the same thing.”
    “The Iraqi insurgents launched numerous suicide bombings and IED attacks during 2005-06 in the hopes that the U.S. would Reagan.”

  • John Q

    G.W. Bush ran on “following the policies of Ronald Reagan.”

    I read that as hugely increasing the national debt, and irresponsible adventures abroad.

    You havta admit: Bush did keep his campaign promises!

  • NRA Liberal

    Reagan? Reagan!

  • jamesj

    Hell, make it a Reagan presidency. Tell American voters that your body and soul are literally possessed by the spirit of the dead president and you have sworn a blood oath to do the bidding of this kindly spirit!

    Of course, you’d end up raising taxes quite a bit and increasing regulation where needed. No matter. Its not the actual policies that voters pay any attention to these days. They are too busy hating scapegoats with drooling intensity.

  • jjack

    Romney could never out-Reagan Black Reagan. I will guess Black Reagan will mention White Reagan at least thrice in his jobs speech. And Steve Jobs once.

    I say he won’t mention Herbert Hoover or Warren G. Harding.

  • ottovbvs

    The Republican obsession with St Ronnie of Reagan is positively necrophiliac and evidence of the deep vacuum that currently exists in the GOP. To give some points of reference can you imagine say Cameron endlessly resurrecting the achievements of Thatcher or Churchill as a justification for his policies today; or how about Merkel invoking the shades of Konrad Adenauer.

  • midcon

    It is sad that the leading figure (head) of the GOP has been out of politics for over twenty years, not to mention departed from this earth. I suppose it makes sense considering the GOP constantly pines for the good ol’ days and bemoans the fall and decline of the Roman, er…United States.

    As a side note, is it grammatically correct to capitalize “Reagan” when you use it as a verb? I would think lower case would be more appropriate.

  • fibocycle

    David,,,,, I realize that you admire RWR for many valid reason–but–really–A Reagan Balanced Budget? Be objective David, ever since the comedy team of Cheney and Rumsfeld infested the White House, the Republican Party has descended into a political party of degenerate hypocritical ideologues. It amazes me that the GOP love to point fingers at everyone except the creeps that have corrupted their party. History will show that Cheney Rumsfeld et al were destroyers of the American Dream by using the illusion of easy credit to disguise the utter failure of the fallacy of trickle down economics.

  • Smargalicious

    Odumbo did nothing but be black and he won a Nobel prize.

    Reagan won the Cold War and he didn’t get jack.

    My point: a leftist, anti-American lamestream media can win if you let it.

    The war is on. Bring it.

  • Graychin

    A noun, a verb, and Ronald Reagan.

    What more could voters ask?

  • Oldskool

    Can’t wait to hear his Reagan AIDS policy, waiting around for gays to die off.

  • jg bennet

    reagan was a protectionist that is what the facts say but not the revised GOP history.

  • Reagan Reagan Reagan | Counterpoint Minutes

    [...] Frum quips: Good start. But why is only the trade plan named after Ronald Reagan? Why not a “Reagan tax [...]

  • beowulf

    Let the record show that no one puts a higher value of Reagan than me. :o )

    “As long as the coin is made of platinum it doesn’t matter how much metal it contains, the value added is the Secretary’s signature. The Secretary has absolute discretion as to quantity and denomination. So he could change the West Point Mint’s 2011 scheduled run of 15,000 platinum coins to 14,998 of the existing 1 oz Platinum American Eagles (face value $100) plus two 1 oz Platinum Reagan Centennials (face value $1 trillion).”

  • lizerdmonk

    I loved Ronald Reagan and he was the first President I voted for twice but I have to say as much as he was a great presence in the White House and he tried to do great things but at the end in his second term he lost control and lost the country. So you can praise the man but he really was not a good President at the end so I don’t get what the current GOP sees when they talk about the man they ignore the facts of his Presidency which in turn left George Bush Sr. weak by the end of his first term which is why he lost to Clinton.