Monday, June 01, 2009

A Tale of Two Gippers

Oh boy, this oughta send Peggy Noonan, either into a keyboard-burning tizzy, or reaching for the wine bottle.

Her beloved Ronald Reagan is in the news today.

Not once, but twice!

First, there is the Ode to Reagan, in Glenallen Walken's "Dear Wingnut" column, in Salon.

Dear Wingnut, Ronald Reagan's dead. Time to move on!

This week I'm being asked to estimate when conservatives will be ready to leave Ronald Reagan behind and "move on."

Well, despite the best efforts of some of those in the op-ed industry who masquerade as genuine conservatives -- wait a second, has David Frum been submitting questions again? -- the answer, hopefully, is never.


Ronald Reagan came into office in 1980 promising to do three things: 1) Restore America's national pride; 2) Revive an economy crippled by stagflation; and 3) Win the Cold War. He did all three even though, thanks to Tip O'Neill and friends, he had one hand held behind his back.


Reagan was more than a transitional figure, sandwiched in between the Greatest Generation and Generation X; he was a transformational one. He changed the nation, and the world, for the better.
For the better?


Well, we have to flip over to Paul Krugman, and his column today, "Reagan Did It".

Krugman lays it out how The Gipper originated, and set in motion, the financial collapse we are currently buried under today;
For the more one looks into the origins of the current disaster, the clearer it becomes that the key wrong turn — the turn that made crisis inevitable — took place in the early 1980s, during the Reagan years.

Attacks on Reaganomics usually focus on rising inequality and fiscal irresponsibility. Indeed, Reagan ushered in an era in which a small minority grew vastly rich, while working families saw only meager gains. He also broke with longstanding rules of fiscal prudence.


The increase in public debt was, however, dwarfed by the rise in private debt, made possible by financial deregulation. The change in America’s financial rules was Reagan’s biggest legacy. And it’s the gift that keeps on taking.


But there was also a longer-term effect. Reagan-era legislative changes essentially ended New Deal restrictions on mortgage lending — restrictions that, in particular, limited the ability of families to buy homes without putting a significant amount of money down.

These restrictions were put in place in the 1930s by political leaders who had just experienced a terrible financial crisis, and were trying to prevent another. But by 1980 the memory of the Depression had faded. Government, declared Reagan, is the problem, not the solution; the magic of the marketplace must be set free. And so the precautionary rules were scrapped.

Together with looser lending standards for other kinds of consumer credit, this led to a radical change in American behavior.


There’s plenty of blame to go around these days. But the prime villains behind the mess we’re in were Reagan and his circle of advisers — men who forgot the lessons of America’s last great financial crisis, and condemned the rest of us to repeat it.
Better, I suppose, if you are a Wingnut.

Or, if you are Peggy Noonan.

Anything her Ronnie did was the greatest.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow, now this is what I call "SMART"! President Reagan was so bad he was elected to a SECOND TERM. Then at the end of his Presidency he was such a failure, the American People elected ANOTHER Republican. And that Republican failed when he raised taxes. HMMM? Now that makes a boat load of sense. Listen, if you are going to post your brain farts for the world to see at least make them coherent. FDR and Woodrow Wilson are both dead so maybe you Liberal Zombies should move on too. Just a thought...