Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Reagan Part II: The Trickle-Down, Voodoo, Supply-Side Effect

"It's kind of hard to sell 'trickle down,' so the supply-side formula was the only way to get a tax policy that was really 'trickle down.' Supply-side is 'trickle-down' theory."
-Reagan administration budget director David Stockman, 1981

"Voodoo economics."
-then-presidential candidate George H.W. Bush, 1980

A frequent reader of my blog took exception to my rather unflattering portrait of Ronald Reagan the other day. He responded by sending me a link to National Review's fawning, obsequious 1992 examination of Reagan's economic legacy. I'm sure you wouldn't be surprised to learn that the folks at National Review believe Reagan's economic legacy was a tour de force for America, and that we're all better off as a result. If you think otherwise, that's just an illusion created by the liberals, or so we're to believe. You can NR's read their brown-nosing revisionism here.

I've read most of it now, and it sure sounds impressive. Essentially, these guys dedicated an entire issue of their magazine that is so large and all-encompassing, I would never be able to refute it point-by-point. So instead, I'll make some points of my own. Do I purport to have the last word on Reagan's economic legacy? Are my figures infallable? Absolutely not, but at least I'll admit that. Instead, let's just call this some balance to the Right's spin on trickle-down economics.

Poverty Rate
11.9% - Carter
14.1% - Reagan
Yes, the poor got poorer and the middle class shrunk.

Hourly wages
in 2005 dollars
$16.95 - Carter
$15.72 - Reagan
I think it's very important to examine income in some measure besides household income, a favorite yardstick of the Right, which conveniently overlooks the fact that during the Reagan-Bush years, the number of two-income households grew by about 40 percent. That so many women were forced to enter the workforce itself constitutes a true indictment of the Reagan legacy and a betrayal of the Right's pro-family rhetoric.

Unemployment Rates
7.5% - Carter
6.5% - Reagan
Not a very impressive drop, is it?

Government expenditures
as percentage of national income
27.9% - Carter
28.7% - Reagan
We've known for years that Reagan's talk of shrinking the government was nothing but talk.

National Debt
1981 - $930 billion
1988 - $2.6 trillion

Average Incomes
in 1997 dollars
Bottom Quintile - $15,000 (dropped to $13,700 in 1983)
Middle Quintile - $48,700 (dropped to $47,700 in 1983)
Top Quintile - $129,000 (rose to $138,500 in 1983)
Top 1 Percent - $540,100 (rose to $585,900 in 1983)

Bottom Quintile - $15,800 (5% increase over 1981)
Middle Quintile - $54,600 (12% increase)
Top Quintile - $174,100 (35% increase)
Top 1 Percent - $836,900 (55% increase)

Let me interpret your comments for you "Someone sent me an unrefutable collection of evidence that Reagan was a great President, and that just can't be so, so I'm just going to say that it's all wrong because conservatives brought forward the evidence. And, please, don't read it for yourself, just trust me that conservatives brought forward the evidence and it doesn't jive with what we liberals are saying, so it HAS to be wrong - we just can let it be right, or everything we believe in (what do we beleive in?) is wrong. Now, if you're idiotic enough to want to check out evidence that proves us liberals wrong, then here's the link."

This is why I hesitate to spend much time debating any more. Wisdom has taught me that people will believe what they WANT to believe, regardless of the evidence. Oh, and that's right, you libs don't believe in evidence, because "every thing is relative." Except, of course, evolution and people as the cause of global warming, where you must believe the evidence of scientist - our scientist.
Oh, and in your figures, did you forget to mention that Reagan had to build back up the national defense that Carter destroyed? How about the fact that Reagan ended the cold war by spending the Soviet Union into bankruptcy?

Also, you forgot to mention that when taxes went DOWN, government income (tax revenues) went UP, way up.

Every time a Dem. gets into office they act terribly irresponsible and then the following Republican has to clean up their mess and Dems. complain about how much money the Republicans are spending to clean up the Democrats mess.

Clinton reminded me of the Corporations which you Democrats say you hate. He did everything for short term gain and show - Carter did the same with defense - he essentially borrowed against military spending to reduce the deficit knowing that later administrations would have to pay for it.
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