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Ronald Reagan

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Leftists frequently cite Reagan as a paragon of "conservativism," by which they implicitly mean small government, low taxes, and free market ideology. Being too young to remember his Presidency, what facts support or repudiate this association? All I know about him is that he is actually the one who signed EMTALA into law—some free market guy.

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He was better than his predecessors, especially economically and on foreign policy. He reduced taxes, cut back on some regulations, encouraged free trade, and acted as a strong opponent to communists and other tyrants on the world stage.

But he was the head of a bloated, over-reaching federal government (most of it not his own doing, but some of it is: in fact I know of at least one federal agency that actually bears his name), which inevitably attracted and promoted a lot of corrupt and incompetent people into positions of power.

So there were a lot of scandals and crisis, which anti-capitalists cite as evidence of capitalism's failure. But in fact those crisis and acts of corruption took place at institutions (like the EPA, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the FDIC) that wouldn't even exist in a capitalist country.

They were of course acts of corruption (and failed central planning initiatives, in the case of the savings and loans crisis) that occurred on Reagan's watch, committed by his subordinates. So he isn't blameless. But capitalism is, Reagan was never in charge of a capitalist government. He was in charge of pretty much the same government Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton were in charge of. It's stupid to blame Reagan's failures on capitalism, and Clinton's on socialism, when in fact they were in charge of almost the same government structure.

 

Government structure which is a mix of

1. capitalist institutions, like the courts, the US military, and civilian law enforcement and intelligence agencies, aimed at protecting individual rights, and

2. central planning/welfare: pretty much all the rest of the federal agencies.

It's not an equal mix, either, it's more like a 25% capitalist, 75% central planning mix - in terms of budget at least. Maybe it's more of an equal mix in terms of effect - simply because a lot of the central planning/welfare initiatives are just bureaucrats shoveling dirt from one hole in the ground into another, while the courts and military actually do a decent job of protecting the lives, freedom and property rights of Americans.

P.S. Perhaps his biggest flaw, the effects of which are still being felt today all across the Americas, but especially in Mexico and the southern US,  was his expansion of the war on drugs (the crime wave people blame on immigration is actually largely being caused by drug smuggling, not economic migrants).

Edited by Nicky

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It should be noted that the two complete terms of the presidency of Ronald Reagan, followed by the election of his vice-president to succeed him, qualifies Reagan as the most successful US president since Dwight Eisenhower. That being said, by 1988, the United States had an expanded national debt in the trillions of dollars, whereas the debt was less than three hundred billions in 1980. This put the US into "debtor nation" status. The claims made by either his admirers or detractors are often more opinion than fact, based on their own knowledge of those times, and their idea of the purpose of government of any sort. And of course, opinions are based on the personality: Reagan, the former Hollywood actor.

To be sure, Reagan was a spokesman for the reduction of government interference in matters of lawful business. Ideologically, Reagan was a "Goldwater Republican." However, Barry Goldwater held a much more secular line of rhetoric on social matters, whereas Reagan's speeches appealed to the more religiously conservative voters. Reagan openly criticized his predecessors for the overreach of governmental agencies, yet his policies often continued the trends previously established, (as Nicky correctly pointed out.) Indeed, Reagan was elected with a campaign promise to reduce the national debt.

The most noteworthy achievements of his tenure include the restoration of a general sense of national confidence, and within few years that followed his departure, the collapse of the Soviet Union. Anyone too young (or too indifferent) to remember the Cold War would not understand the significance. While Reagan was not entirely responsible for "defeating" the Soviets, his support for resistance to Communist aggression was unflagging, admirable, and some might even say, illegal. 

My general opinion of Reagan is that he offered a great message, if I could ignore the religious stuff, but, for political and/or legal reasons, he could not deliver on the promise of reducing the size of the federal government. He achieved many of his greater priorities through compromise, as most effective politicians will. His theme of reducing bureaucracy, social welfare, and unnecessary restrictions on businesses resonates with many today, but I would not expect much progress on these goals until the voting public demands it.

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I want to catch my mistake before someone else does: The national debt was much higher in1980; one source puts it at $909 billion. (I may have been thinking of the annual budget deficit.) In any case, Reagan remains a champion for Republican for his successful arrest of the runaway-inflation of the '70s. His supply-side economic policy drew heavy fire in the early years of his administration, but the results were reflected in his 1984 re-election. In part, his policies borrowed from Milton Friedman's Monetarist Theories. These sort of successes are the bragging rights of today's Republicans, in the same way that Democrats compare themselves to JFK and FDR.

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Ronald Reagan changed the U.S. from a "Manufacturing" Economy into a "Service" Economy ( do you want fries with that shake?) He touted three major agenda items. Two of these were just like George Bush's 20 years later: greatly increase defense spending and slash taxes on the wealthy (remember its called "Voodoo Economics). He did both. His greatest effort was devoted to cutting the top tax rate from 70% to 50% to 38% to 28%, giving obesely wealthy Americans gigantic new piles of money to play with. The national debt nearly tripled on Reagan's watch, from $993 billion to $2.6 trillion. George W. Bush added an extra $4.9 trillion to the national debt while he smirked his way around the Oval Office. The next thing the Republicans did was GUT REGULATIONS. And based on my research papers I'd state this is what started the fall of the housing market and allowed Wall Street to go crazy. Don't you remember the Savings & Loan Crisis during Reagan's Presidency? Republicans are notorious for this sort of thing EVERY TIME THEY GET INTO OFFICE! AND YOU GO-FOR-IT EVERYTIME!  
 
Republican President Ronald Reagan raised Taxes 11 times and then signed into law "The Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982", THE BIGGEST TAX INCREASE IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES!

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4 hours ago, oliev said:

Ronald Reagan changed the U.S. from a "Manufacturing" Economy into a "Service" Economy ( do you want fries with that shake?) He touted three major agenda items. Two of these were just like George Bush's 20 years later: greatly increase defense spending and slash taxes on the wealthy (remember its called "Voodoo Economics). He did both. His greatest effort was devoted to cutting the top tax rate from 70% to 50% to 38% to 28%, giving obesely wealthy Americans gigantic new piles of money to play with. The national debt nearly tripled on Reagan's watch, from $993 billion to $2.6 trillion. George W. Bush added an extra $4.9 trillion to the national debt while he smirked his way around the Oval Office. The next thing the Republicans did was GUT REGULATIONS. And based on my research papers I'd state this is what started the fall of the housing market and allowed Wall Street to go crazy. Don't you remember the Savings & Loan Crisis during Reagan's Presidency? Republicans are notorious for this sort of thing EVERY TIME THEY GET INTO OFFICE! AND YOU GO-FOR-IT EVERYTIME!  
 
Republican President Ronald Reagan raised Taxes 11 times and then signed into law "The Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982", THE BIGGEST TAX INCREASE IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES!

Republicans and Democrats both horrible.  Need a new party which recognizes the only proper role of government is the protection of individual rights, with a plan to gradually take us there.

Horrible, so Bad, so Bad!

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