Republican Debt Builders
from Peter Radford
Just to make the point, here is a chart I grabbed, back in 2012, from Atlantic magazine:
It shows the increase in the national debt as a percentage of GDP during various presidential regimes.
Reagan – he of small government and endless anti big-government tirades – added more mightily than anyone else. Second place? George W. Bush. Third place goes to Obama who gets an asterisk for his performance because the deficit is now coming down rapidly which could reduce his score on the chart by the time he is done.
I point this out to you in an effort at injecting a little fact into our election. I realize my effort will be in vain, but I have to try.
A simple look at history suggests that the Republicans do not actually mean what they say about balancing budgets or about the debt. The current group of candidates is not better. They would all – with the possible exception of Rand Paul – make the problems they rant about so much a great deal worse.
The reason for this perversity is simple: the policy prescriptions that the Republicans offer are all totally wrongheaded. They have been shown to be massively erroneous. They never accomplish what they are aimed at achieving. They fail dismally time after time. Yet, such is the Reagan worship and the attachment to the magic of supposedly free markets, that the Republicans are trapped vice-like within the error.
This would be amusing were it not that the error infects our discussions about policy. Those of us who see a robust role for government, and fiscal policy, have to leap an extra hurdle before we can even begin to discuss reality. We have to establish what reality is beforehand. Since that takes time and consumes so much political ammunition we never really drive at a sensible starting place.
It is practically impossible to have a discussion about the proper role of government if the shrillest in the discussion are shouting that there is none.
Worse: those shrill voices are also advocating tax and economic policies that then compound the very issue they are shrill about.
We cannot escape this trap and improve our economy until we move decisively beyond the Reagan era. Let’s all face it: he was mediocre at best in his stewardship of the economy. Facts matter.
Well, I wish they would.