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Jeff Schweitzer Headshot

Putting Reaganomics, and McCain, Out of Our Misery

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"If you've seen one redwood, you've seen them all." This was the proclamation from the same president, Ronald Reagan, who went on to claim that trees were bigger polluters than cars and factories. He was not joking.

We need to remember Reagan and his tainted legacy because John McCain is a descendant of this surrender to fantasy. We all pay the price when a president has disdain for facts. The same man that gave us such environmental wisdom about redwoods also bestowed on us his keen understanding of economics, with the same level of deep insight. Reaganomics had then and has now as much base in reality as polluting trees.

Reagan claimed government was the problem, not the solution. He wanted to get government "off people's back." Reagan came into office leading the very government for which he had such great contempt on the basis of three ridiculous promises that only a gullible electorate could swallow. He would simultaneously cut taxes, cut the deficit and raise military spending. Well, he blew two out of three. The hero of the right proposed the largest tax increase in U.S. history at that time, expanded the size of the federal government to historically bloated levels, and created a huge debt that dwarfed all who came before him. He raised deficit spending to levels higher than at any time since World War II.

Reaganomics was based on two simple ideas, suitable to Reagan's simple mind: cutting taxes would stimulate growth and increase tax revenues through an expanding economy, and deregulated markets would work wonders of efficiency in creating new wealth. Two additional corollaries were that these actions would contain inflation and put a brake on government spending. We pay the price today for this escape from common sense as our economy collapses under the weight of wishful thinking.

The legacy of Reaganomics is a $700 billion government bailout of unregulated markets, including the now-notorious credit default swaps, and a national debt exceeding $10 trillion, a number so large the digits can no longer be tracked on the Times Square Debt Clock. We now have big government, failed markets and unearthly debts, all a present from the grave of the former B-list actor. He wanted to reduce government spending, but in fact exploded federal outlays. He wanted to reduce the marginal tax rate, but instituted the country's largest tax hike. He wanted to reduce regulation, which succeeded in creating monstrous corruption that has brought our economy to its knees. Compare this to the Clinton years in which a higher tax rate resulted in balanced budgets and stable growth for eight years. With the market meltdown before us, we must finally see that every idea Reagan proposed is a complete, utter disastrous failure.

These are the very policies that McCain wishes to continue. McDeregulator never saw a bill he would not sign when less oversight was contemplated. He never saw a tax cut worthy of close scrutiny or unworthy of support. Bush is like Reagan's special needs grandson but McCain is Reagan himself reincarnated as an older man.

Voters who believe McCain's tax program will rescue our economy are the very same who trust that he has a secret plan to capture bin Laden. Ignoring the criminality of that absurd claim, we can only hope that such gullibility is in the minority on November 4th.

Reagan failed. Reaganomics failed. Let us bury them together, forever. We have suffered enough.