As crazy as it might be to suggest, I maintain that most “Reagan conservatives” know next to nothing about the actual presidency of Ronald Reagan (I have blogged about it before here). Reality is that Ronald Reagan was far from your modern day Tea Party disciple. Reagan opposed torture, was against military action against terrorists, and actually supported amnesty for illegal aliens. But setting all of those points aside for now, I want to focus on what is arguably the most popular component of “Reagan conservatism”, that being “Reaganomics.”
If you were to ask your average Reagan disciple what “Reaganomics” or “Trickle Down” economics are all about, chances are you would hear a lot of rhetoric about cutting taxes, eliminating government oversight, creating jobs, privatizing industry, experiencing indescribably Utopian prosperity, yadda, yadda, yadda. In short, you’d get a lot of hot air with little actual history behind it, almost like a talk radio pundit. Funny thing about those political pundits, isn’t it. They really don’t like ACTUAL history, do they?!?
The truth about “Reaganomics” is that Ronald Reagan didn’t have a whole lot to do with it. Ronald Reagan’s tax plan actually had its roots in the 1970s, with economist Arthur Laffer. Laffer originally drew up his ideas on a restaurant napkin and shared them with an advisor to President Ford. His idea outlined the obvious paradoxes that exist whenever tax rates approached 0% and 100%. Laffer suggested that raising taxes too high would reduce business activity, while lowering taxes would result in dangerously low revenue (really nothing all that profound, even to the layman). Ronald Reagan liked Laffer’s basic approach to economics, and consulted with him and others on his staff regarding how best to implement it. The difference, however, was that Reagan (unlike many on his staff) pushed for a much lower tax rate initially than did his advisers. According to many member of his staff, Reagan seemed to be oblivious to the idea of needed tax revenues, and enchanted with the idea cutting them. In David Stockton’s words, it seemed as though Reagan “had only the foggiest idea of what supply side was all about.” Stockton warned Reagan repeatedly that a large tax cut would spell doom to the national deficit, unless cuts in spending could be implemented. Even during the campaign of 1980 George Bush, Reagan’s opponent for the Republican nomination and eventual vice-president, called Reagan’s economic plan “voodoo economics.” Eventually, Reagan would realize the error of keeping such low tax rates in place, and as a result, raised taxes on four different occasions during his administration. Not exactly the type of facts you hear from self-proclaimed “Reagan Conservative” Sean Hannity!
Reagan’s economic philosophy embraced the idea that by lowering taxes, the people would end up with more money in their pockets. Reagan called his plan a “new beginning” for Americans, and a sure-fire way to economic recovery. This idea was, in part, fulfilled. While the majority of Americans experienced little or no actual economic prosperity, the top 1% of Americans blossomed. The net worth of the 400 richest Americans quadrupled under Reagan’s presidency, and corporate CEO’s made, on average, 93 times as much money as did the common American.
While it is true that Reagan’s economic policy gave relief to the problems of the 70s (a fact that Republicans should be very proud of), Reagan also managed to impact the federal deficit as well, which soared from 700 billion to 2.7 trillion during his eight-year tenure. Reagan’s commitment to military buildup created a conflict with his desire to lower taxes. Many began questioning where Reagan planned to find the money. To increase revenue, Reagan signed legislation that created “sin taxes” on alcohol and tobacco (isn’t Glenn Beck against those taxes?). Reagan also increased social security taxes, and forced the burden of funding various programs onto the states, who in turn raised taxes as well to fund the programs. In essence, “Reaganomics” was hardly the tax-cutting phenomenon that so many conservatives celebrate today. In fact, President Clinton had a lower tax rate than did Reagan!
China ejects Bo from elite ranks, wife suspected of murder
China’s Communist Party has suspended former high-flying politician Bo Xilai from its top ranks and named his wife a suspect in the murder of a British businessman, a dramatic turn in a scandal shaking leadership succession plans.http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/10/us-china-politics-bo-idUSBRE8390KT20120410
Csmonitor：'Occupy' protests go global, riding wave of economic frustration
The spirit of the “Occupy Wall Street” rippled around the globe on Saturday, as protesters called for economic and political change in places spanning from Japan and New Zealand to Italy, Britain, and the United States.
The day of coordinated action underscored that common frustrations that are being felt by ordinary people around the world, particularly by a “lost generation” of young people who face poor job prospects.
While most rallies were small and barely held up traffic, the march in Rome drew tens of thousands of people and snaked through the city center for miles. Italy is among the European nations where concerns about government debt have led to unpopular austerity measures — tax hikes and budget cuts.
IN PICTURES: Best signs of Occupy Wall Street protests
The Oct. 15 protests were designed as a peaceful show of global solidarity for economic change, but in Rome some bands of militant youths took a violent turn, donning masks and setting cars ablaze or breaking bank and shop windows. Some injuries among both police and protesters were reported.
The Occupy Wall Street movement, which formally launched on Sept. 17, itself began with inspiration from the “Arab spring” protests that spread over the past year through North Africa and the Middle East. The new wave of anger and protest is welling up in advanced democracies.
From New York to London and beyond, many of the frustrated citizens are young.
Unemployment remains high in much of the developed world, even though about three years have passed since the depth of the financial crisis, and the banking bailouts that followed. The jobless rate is above 9 percent in the US, 7.7 percent in Britain, and nearly 10 percent in the euro zone, according to data reported in August by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
Younger workers tend to face some of the toughest challenges, since many of them have yet to find jobs after leaving school. The jobless rate for US teens is about 25 percent, for example, and some 15 percent of Americans between 20 and 24 years old are unemployed.
The signs carried in other cities around the world echoed ones seen on Wall Street. “Banks got bailed out. We got sold out,” read the hand-written sign of one demonstrator in London Saturday.
Among the common themes heard Saturday were the need for jobs and the desire to get monied interests out of politics, so that governments better represent average citizens. The message “We are the 99 percent,” associated with Occupy Wall Street, was visible in other nations as well.
A stunning sign of the times was recently reported by the US Census bureau: Nearly 6 million Americans between age 25 and 34 lived in their parents’ homes last year. Many young people are delaying marriage or waiting to have children, because of the weak economy.
In the US, Saturday’s protests spanned from New York City to the West Coast.
Protesters in New York were headed for Times Square after parading earlier to a Chase bank branch. Marchers throughout the country emulated them in protests that ranged from about 50 people in Jackson, Miss., to a few thousand each in such larger cities as Denver and Pittsburgh.
The global rallies got started Saturday in the Asia-Pacific. In Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest city, 3,000 people chanted and banged drums, denouncing corporate greed.
In Sydney, Australia, about 2,000 people, including representatives of Aboriginal groups, communists and trade unionists, protested outside the central Reserve Bank of Australia.
Hundreds marched in Tokyo, including anti-nuclear protesters.
More than 100 people gathered at the Taipei stock exchange, chanting “we are Taiwan’s 99 percent” and saying economic growth had only benefited firms while middle-class salaries barely covered soaring housing, education and health care costs.
In Paris, around 1,000 protesters rallied in front of city hall, coinciding with the G20 finance chiefs’ meeting.
The Rome protesters calling themselves “the indignant ones” included unemployed, students, and retirees.
“I am here to show support for those don’t have enough money to make it to the next pay check while the ECB [European Central Bank] keeps feeding the banks,” said Danila Cucunia, a teacher from northern Italy.
In Madrid, around 2,000 people gathered for a march to the central Puerta del Sol.
In Germany, where sympathy for southern Europe’s debt troubles is not widespread, thousands gathered in Berlin, Hamburg, Leipzig and outside the ECB in Frankfurt.
In London, around 2,000 people assembled outside St Paul’s Cathedral, near the City financial district, for a rally dubbed “Occupy the London Stock Exchange”.
Joe Dawson, 31, who lost his job as a product developer at Barclays Bank, said he had taken his two children to the rally to show them people had a voice.
"I’m not passive anymore and I don’t want them to be. This is their future too," Dawson said. "I work four jobs part-time, I take whatever I can get."