How Ronald Reagan saved Bill Clinton’s presidency
Longtime Democrat William Galston, Bill Clinton’s deputy assistant for domestic politics, wrote to recent column for the Wall Street Journal on the performance of the economy during Bill Clinton’s eight years in office. According to Galston, pretty much everything Clinton did was a success.
Real annual growth of gross domestic product? It averages a “robust 3.8%”. Inflation? A “withheld … 2.6%”. Payrolls increased nearly 236,000 per month, “the fastest ever recorded for a two-term presidency.” Unemployment “dropped from 7.3% in January 1993 to 3.8% in April 2000 before rising slightly to 4.2%” at the end of his second term. Adjusted for inflation, “the average real family income increased by 13.9%”.
“And the poor?” Galston asks, and then exults: “The poverty rate fell during the Clinton administration by nearly a quarter, from 15.1% to 11.3%, close to an all-time low. And it has declined even faster among minorities ”.
It’s hard to argue with Galston’s stats. When Hillary Clinton ran for president in 2016, she promised to put her husband in charge of the economy because Democrats and most Americans knew she was flourishing when she was in the White House. This columnist recognized the point The Washington Times. But voters, I warned, “must be constantly reminded” that prosperity materialized because Bill Clinton capitulated to Republicans who politically pushed him to accept the policies that led Ronald Reagan’s successful presidency.
The first two years of Clinton in office, Galston does not tell his readers, ended in an electoral disaster for the Democrats. Determined to binge on high taxes and big spending after winning the Oval Office in 1992, Clinton narrowly won a major income tax hike in Democrat-controlled Congress. But congressional Republicans have blocked her other major initiatives, including a large-budget “stimulation” program, a major energy tax, and Hillary Clinton’s national health plan.
When 1994 came and with Newt Gingrich leading the Republican election year out of the House with his reorganized “Contract with America” proposal, the GOP wiped out both houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years. .
The consequence: Bill Clinton performed a political somersault worthy of the Flying Wallendas. He quickly abandoned many of his first term proposals, including his wife’s health plan, informing us that “the era of big government is over.” He is now in favor of balanced budgets and apologizes for having “raised [taxes] too. “With Republicans calling the shots, he enacted significant tax breaks for businesses and the middle class, including a 30% cut in capital gains tax for individuals.
He also signed the Welfare Reform Act, which included the popular labor requirements that Reagan put into his own welfare reform law when he was governor of California. Clinton even used Reagan’s rhetoric to sell the bill he signed.
The measure proved to be a tremendous success, reducing the workload by 50% and halving child poverty. Robert Rector, a welfare expert with the Heritage Foundation, wrote much of the 1996 bill that Clinton eventually passed. Overall, the nation, as Galston notes, was clearly enjoying themselves.
But let me put in the numbers included in the 2016 column, just as bright as Galston’s, but a little different in emphasis.
The unemployment rate had dropped to 4% by the end of the Clinton presidency, the lowest level in over 30 years. Unemployment for blacks and Hispanics had been halved, dropping to 7% and 5% respectively. The stock market more than doubled between 1998 and 2000. And a miracle happened. We began to pay off the national debt in colossal chunks, largely due to the nearly $ 1 trillion cut by the military because Reagan won the Cold War.
The Democrats don’t want to admit it, but the truth is that Reagan’s conservative policies have dominated the two decades that began with his victory over President Jimmy Carter in 1980.
Reagan’s first two mandates resulted in substantially lower tax rates for individuals and corporations, containment of domestic (non-defensive) spending, and deregulation, which led to the end of those gas lines that had so plagued Carter’s presidency.
Reagan’s first executive order did away with the price controls Carter imposed on oil and natural gas, which turned out to be a disaster since, as Gingrich noted, “it restricted us to buying gasoline every other day depending on the last number of plates. From shortage of gasoline to abundance in six months: this was one of Reagan’s first noticeable results. ”And the results kept coming.
Reagan’s first two terms produced lower tax rates for individuals and corporations, containment of domestic (non-military) spending and deregulation, a burst of employment growth, and a boom period that lasted 92 months without a recession. (from November 1982 to July 1990). At the time, this proved to be the longest peacetime period of sustained economic growth in US history.
The late and great economics writer Warren Brookes noted that under the Gipper, the percentage of low-income households was decreasing. These people were moving up the wage ladder and securing major tax relief through higher deductibles and a tripling of the income tax credit. Six million of America’s poorest workers, Brookes pointed out, have been completely purged from income tax registers, sparking praise even from anti-Republican liberals. Black families made the most impressive earnings.
And Reagan achieved something even more extraordinary, which also had a profound economic and monetary impact. He overthrew the Soviet Empire without dragging this country into war.
He achieved this astonishing victory by rejuvenating our economy, rebuilding our army and engaging in cunning diplomacy. He squeezed Russia economically, placed deadly missiles in Europe that threatened Moscow itself, and armed Afghans with Stinger missiles, forcing the Russians out of the country they had so brutally invaded.
When Reagan refused to give up his Strategic Defense Initiative in 1986 in Reykjavik, Iceland, Mikhail Gorbachev, eager to end hostilities with the United States, decided to end the Cold War, realizing that his country, although if he wanted to, he could no longer compete with America either militarily or economically. (Gorbachev knew that Reagan’s dependence on the supply-side economy and his main military strategy, both of which were so harshly mocked by the Democrats, were working all too well in putting his country on the defensive.)
Democrats love to take credit for the good things that happened in the last two decades of the 20th century. But since his election in 1980, Reagan has provided this country with the conservative policies that dramatically overturned Clinton’s disastrous first two years of liberal rule. He also made the Clinton presidency much more comfortable with his cunning strategy that forced Gorbachev to surrender to the Empire of Evil.
Reagan, in short, what was the key to Clinton’s success, an indisputable fact that the Clintonites still fail to recognize.
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