Rand Paul Is Right: Carter Was Thriftier Than Reagan

The sooner the GOP groks this, the sooner they will support limited goverment.

Note: This story has been updated by the author at 12 noon ET.

Mother Jones does love found footage, doesn't it? The progressive mag's airing of Mitt Romney's "47 percent" comments at a fundraiser definitely hurt the former Massachusetts governor in his attempt to boot President Obama in 2012. 

Now Mojo is back with the vid above, which the mag must hope will discombobulate Republicans and help put the brakes on a libertarian-leaning senator whose anti-war and anti-NSA stances draw long looks from disaffected liberals and lefties.

"Rand Paul: Jimmy Carter was better on the budget than Ronald Reagan" is how the vid begins. It shows the Kentucky senator in a variety of settings between 2007 and 2009 slagging St. Reagan as a spendthrift.

As Mediaite's Andrew Kirell points out, all of Paul's basic statements about spending under Reagan are absolutely true. The short version: Reagan spent like a drunken sailor and skipped out on the bill.

Here's a chart by Reason columnist and Mercatus Center economist Veronique de Rugy:

Mercatus CenterMercatus Center

Paul is correct to say that Reagan was worse than Carter when it came to spending. As de Rugy does the math, Carter increased real spending 17 percent over the last budget of his predecessor, Gerald Ford. Over two terms, Reagan increased spending by 22 percent over Carter's final budget. On an annualized basis, then, Carter grew spending by 4.25 precent a year, while Reagan grew it by 2.75 percent. However, when expressed as a percentage of GDP, spending under Carter averaged 20.6 percent per year while Reagan averaged 21.6 percent. Spending typically really gears up in a second-term president's final years, so it's plausible to theorize that had Carter managed to stick around for eight years, he might have equaled or surpassed what the real-world Reagan managed. Note: The paragraph above has been edited to better reflect annual spending patterns.

When it comes to debt, there's no question that Reagan was worse. Over an eight-year reign, he tallied up $1.4 trillion in deficits, or an average of $177 billion per year. Carter—a famously cheapskate Southern Baptist—racked up just $253 billion over four years, for an average deficit of $63 billon per year. Tax revenue went up sharply under Reagan, for sure, but like a Hollywood big shot, he still managed to spend ever larger amounts, resulting in an average annual deficit of 4.1 percent of GDP. The Peanut Farmer From Plains? A relatively tiny 2.3 percent of GDP. (All this data if from the Congressional Budget Office.)

Far from being the budget hawk of lore, Dutch had no problem jacking overall spending through the roof, especially when it came to military spending. As Reagan's first budget director, David Stockman, told Reason in 2011:

reason: Reagan was famous for saying that government wasn’t the solution to the problem; government was the problem. Why wasn’t he more skeptical of Pentagon claims of what they needed and of where their financial estimates were coming from?

Stockman: That’s one of the mysteries of the time, I guess, and it’s one of the factors that led to the utter failure of spending control. He was utterly uninterested in any detail of the defense budget, of any of the claims for dollars made by the Pentagon. He gave them a blank check, without question, and that had a two-fold effect. One, it ballooned spending just as we were massively reducing the revenue. But second, it created an enormous political impasse. And that is, the spending increases were so huge in defense that it became almost impossible to get anybody to look at you with a straight face on Capitol Hill and say we’re gonna go after the food stamp program or school lunches, when you’re just showering tens of billions of dollars on ammunition accounts and spare parts replacements and a massive expansion of the Navy, which was totally uncalled for.

After trimming some programs early in his presidency, Reagan came around to pushing massive increases on just about everything, including education (a newly formed federal department he promised to kill upon taking office), Medicare (which he had denounced as "socialized medicine" in the early 1960s), and Social Security (before championing massive hikes in payroll taxes in his second term, he had once called for making Social Security voluntary).

In many ways, Reagan's late-life embrace of old-age entitlements may have been his worst spending legacy. Created to address very different times and a very different workforce, Social Security and Medicare were in dire straits by the 1980s and had Reagan tried, he might have been able to replace these fundamentally unsustainable and unfair transfer programs into more effective and lower-cost safety net programs. Instead he called saving Social Security and Medicare—a feat accomplished through massive increases in FICA rates—"the highest priority of my administration." By the end of his presidency, the combined employee-employer rate was 15 percent, up from 9.35 percent in 1981 (and more income was subjected to Social Security tax to boot).

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  • Drake||

    Sure, because Reagan was elected king and could spend whatever he wanted.

  • Marshall Gill||

    Sure, because Reagan was elected king and could spend whatever he wanted.

    Right. Spending bills must originate in the House, and Reagan and the GOP controlled the House during the entire Regan Presidency. Oh, wait.....

  • Drake||

    Don't wreck the narrative...

  • Tony||

    Veto pen. Stick with what Rand Paul said when he was being sincere.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Hog, acorn, blindness, yada yada.

  • Brandon||

    Wow, Reagan really is the GOP's Obama.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Now Mojo is back with the vid above, which the mag must hope will discombobulate Republicans and help put the brakes on a libertarian-leaning senator whose anti-war and anti-NSA stances draw long looks from disaffected liberals and lefties."

    We should always remember, the reason liberals and progressives hate libertarians isn't because we're capitalists--it's because we embarrass the hell out of them on civil rights.

    We make Barack Obama look like a joke on civil rights. We make the Democrats all look like phonies.

    Incidentally, the Republican establishment doesn't hate us for our stances on constitutional rights, either. They hate us for making them look like phonies on issues like taxes and spending.

  • Tony||

    Or maybe it's because you're flagrant narcissists.

  • Dweebston||

    I'm not sure how one disproves the other.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    IT IS THURSDAY! YEAH!

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Or maybe it's because you're flagrant narcissists."

    Tony's about to go on one of his rants, again, maybe about how Rosa Parks didn't have the right to sit in the front of a public bus because the government didn't say she did.

    Or maybe Tony's about to go on one of his rants about how Jews didn't have a right to their lives during the holocaust because the government at the time didn't say they did.

    Either way, Tony is an excellent example of what I'm talking about. The reason Tony is obsessed with libertarians is because we're so embarrassing to his whole world view. We unmask his disgusting racism towards blacks during Jim Crow. We unmask his disgusting antisemitism--in the face of the holocaust!

    And it embarrasses his whole world view! Because he's supposed to be the champion of the downtrodden! He's supposed to be the one sticking up for the little man! He's supposed to be the one sticking up for the oppressed!

    But we pull the rug right out from under that lie, and once he realizes that he's actually been arguing on the side of the oppressors his whole life, it drives him to troll and hate. I mean, seriously, is there a better explanation for someone going around on the internet trying to convince black people that their rights don't really exist--in the name of civil rights?

  • Jordan||

    Nah, he'll probably rant about how it's morally wrong to impose freedom on slaves.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I'm not making those examples up.

    Tony really has, repeatedly, argued that Jews rights didn't really exist--not during the holocaust.

    He really has argued that black people's rights don't really exist and that believing in them is like believing in magic.

    And he really does argue all of this in the name of helping the downtrodden!

    He's a sick puppy.

  • Jordan||

    Oh, I know. He's ranted about how it's morally wrong to impose freedom on people as well. He really thinks that removing coercion is the same as imposing it.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Let's not forget his admission that he thinks it's right to execute dissenters.

  • Tony||

    What the fuck molecule of difference does it make whether you claim that Jews *had* rights or not? They were being shoved into ovens. That, to me, is the very definition of not having rights. This is a semantic point as you well know, and if you don't know then you're way too dumb to be polishing your nails on your lapel over how jealous everyone is of you.

    We both agree they *should* have had rights. You say they did. I find that claim meaningless and stupid, because people being shoved into ovens clearly don't have any fucking rights.

    I believe rights mean something, and claiming that they exist somewhere "out there" regardless of whether you actually get to enjoy a single aspect of them, is to absolve yourself of any responsibility for actualizing them. If someone is being shoved into an oven, you just look on, sure of your moral righteousness stemming from the completely empty gesture of proclaiming that a right exists.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Wait. So if I take your car, and you can't stop me, you didn't have a right to that car? So now it is mine?

  • Restoras||

    In a nutshell, yes, Night Elf. It is a completely depraved and deranged trollbot.

  • Tony||

    Depends on what the law says about ownership rights. "Finders keepers" could be legit according to some codes, and in the absence of law neither of us has an especially strong right to claim.

  • steedamike||

    Tony, I disagree with you. A person can have a right not to be collected up and burned - The Nazis violated their rights, they didn't take them away. The Bill of Rights doesn't grant rights, it acknowledges they they already exist because they are God-given or natural or whatever you prefer.

  • Tony||

    This is an is/ought semantic thing and hardly worth the outrage Ken is feigning. I say people should have rights, you say people do have rights. Fine, whatever. What matters is whether people are able to exercise those rights, regardless if you believe rights come from carefully constructed institutions and laws or Santa Claus.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Tony is a lying sack of shit.

    His primary motivation for going around on the internet trying to convince people that they're rights don't exist is because he doesn't want them to resist when his heroes in the government try to take them away violate them.

    He does not want you to exercise your rights. Quite the opposite.

  • Vampire||

    (^_^)~# I made you a waffle.

    Kick ass post, and right on the money lol.

  • waffles||

    Aww shucks, have me too.

  • MJBinAL||

    looking in that mirror again Tony?

  • sarcasmic||

    Show me someone who calls Reagan a fiscal conservative, and I'll show you someone who pays their mortgage with a credit card.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    I'd have loved to have been able to pay my mortgage with a credit card.

  • robc||

    You could do it.

    Cash advance with CC then send that to bank.

    Im pretty sure you dont get the points that way though.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    I meant able to charge my mortgage just like my other bills. I didn't mean able to incur a 23.99% cash advance rate in order to pay a 4.25% mortgage and get no points on top of that.

  • grrizzly||

    It's called manufactured spending. Google it.

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    I suspect you are very good at it. This isn't the first time you have mentioned it

  • grrizzly||

    Hmm, I don't think I brought it up before. But, yes, I'm aware of a few tricks.

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    I think you mentioned a Barclay's card.

  • grrizzly||

    Oh, you were talking about credit cards in general. Sure, I remember that. Here I thought you meant the darker side of it: getting rewarded for paying your mortgage with credit cards. That I learnt only recently.

  • grrizzly||

    You can buy gift/debit cards with a credit card and then convert them to cash. There are some fees involved but you earn points. There are plenty of people who do this pretty seriously.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    At one point the U.S. Treasury was selling $1,000 bags of dollar coins at face value, with no charge for shipping, in an effort to be rid of them. Took them awhile to realize people were buying bags with credit cards, then hauling the coins right back to the bank and making a profit (in rebates, points or miles) on every purchase.

  • Zeb||

    Damnit, how come nobody told me about this before?

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    It beats cutting the tops off of pudding, although that guy was a genius.

  • Invisible Finger||

    I know people in the 80's who did because the interest rate was lower on the credit card.

  • ||

    Assuming no fees, seems like a great way to generate rewards points.

  • Drake||

    Yep - I would do it.

  • Shrug||

    As far as I’m concerned the more debt I have when I die the more I win. I don’t see why the same can’t apply for presidents in there last term.

  • Jordan||

    Um, because that debt isn't just theirs to pay back.

  • Brandon||

    When you die, your debt doesn't revert to other people.

  • Mike M.||

    Not true in every instance. Look up "community property".

  • rickl7069||

    Yes it does revert to other people. Your unpaid mortgage or home depot bill has to be reimbursed in some way and I would venture that home depot raises their prices to cover unpaid bills. If you don't pay, someone does.

  • Shrug||

    “If you don't pay, someone does.”

    Of course someone pays but if it’s not me I win. Also it’s a way to stick it to the evil corporations and banks that lend me money and sell me stuff.

    /sarcasm

  • Brandon||

    This is facile a load of shit. If home depot raises their prices too much, people stop buying from them. Mortgages are secured debt, so the house is collateral, the mortgage doesn't get reimbursed. This argument gets stupider the more I think about it, which seems to be more than you did. None of what you said even comes close to debt reverting to other people.

  • rickl7069||

    Let me try to explain business to you, pay attention. I promise when you buy something at Home Depot, the price of business, taxes, unpaid bills, theft and every other loss is in the total that you pay.
    The government LOVES this fable about sticking it to the corporations that Shrug spouted, corporations do NOT pay any taxes or bills, people do. Let's say you own a Mcdonalds and your profit margin is 3%, sound fair? Now, suppose your bills go up - employee theft, rising oil prices, minimum wage increases, unpaid bills, etc. Are you going to pay those new bills out of your pocket or are you going to raise the price of your food? This is one reason why raising the minimum wage is foolishness - sure, they make more but the price of everything goes up to compensate. In effect, people have no new buying power.
    As for your argument about raising prices too much. These prices go up across the board, all stores incur these bills. So, you either pay what it costs to produce a product, which includes loss from unpaid bills, or you don't get that product. McDonalds is NOT going to start selling you burgers for half price because you think it costs too much. Take an economics course, for God's sake.

  • Brandon||

    Take a logic course, for God's sake. There is such a thing as competition. If burgers at Mcdonalds cost too much for you, go to Wendy's. If all pre-made burgers cost too much, go to the grocery store and buy ground beef. If enough people think Mcdonalds costs too much, Mcdonalds will either go out of business or lower their prices. And if Home Depot is stiffed by somebody who dies with a balance left on his credit card, Lowes isn't going to raise their prices in solidarity. You spout the most basic economics in one paragraph, and then completely disregard what you just said in the next. Try thinking instead of resorting to ridiculous ad hominems when you are called out for saying something stupid.

  • rickl7069||

    All right, I'll try again - don't know if you're not understanding or what. We are talking about price raises in general. Of course Home Depot can't raise their prices much over Lowes, that is inherent, a second grader could say that. However, ALL businesses suffer loss from theft, taxes, UNPAID BILLS, etc. - therefore, ALL businesses have these expenses built into their prices.
    Your one unpaid bill is NOT going to raise prices, neither is one theft. One cigarette is NOT going to harm your body. In practice, though, people don't smoke just one cigarette and there is NOT just one person dying without paying their bills - there are millions doing it and if you can't understand that these unpaid bills are in the prices of everything you buy, then I don't know how to help you understand - it is pretty basic economics.
    I had a thief bragging to me once about their thefts and it made me angry because I know, from basic economics, that I pay more to feed my family because of thieves. Do I believe that this one thief made me pay more? Don't be ridiculous, which is what you were doing in your arguments. The one thief makes no difference, buy thieves, in general, do. And, so do people dying with unpaid bills.

  • Invisible Finger||

    I would venture that home depot raises their prices to cover unpaid bills.

    You're a fucking idiot.

    The bank that extended the credit pays home depot. If you don't pay the bank, the bank raises your interest rate. They already charged home depot a transaction fee as insurance to getting paid. The bank assumes a certain percentage of uncollectable loans - if they under-estimate that percentage they go bankrupt (as ask Uncle Sam to steal the funds from taxpayers for them).

  • Brandon||

    Actually, Home Depot funds their own credit program, but he's still a fucking idiot. A repetitive idiot.

  • rickl7069||

    If my statements make me an idiot, I am in good company, among some of the best economists in the world. I don't usually mention it, but I will for you two - My iq, professionally tested, ranks within the top 2% in the country - technically, I'm considered a genius. In my college economic classes I was at the top and relatively hated because my grades absolutely destroyed the curve. You might not agree with my analysis, but it is an extremely well educated analysis and well written about. Further, It's fine to call me a fucking idiot - that hurts my feelings about as much as telling Elton John that he has no musical talent.

  • PaulW||

    Bwahahahaha

    Phew. Thanks.

    I've seriously not read a more idiotic post here at reason that wasn't by Tony or Palin's Buttplug.

    You realize where you are, don't you? 2%ers are a dime a dozen here.

    Sorry, bro, but you're not the most intelligent person in the room. In fact, judging by your "economic genius" you are in one of the lower percentiles.

    Stealing doesn't raise costs... bwahahaha... and then he tells everyone how smart he is... bahaha

  • PaulW||

    Holy shit *hides in a hole*.

    WHERE IS THE GODDAMNED DELETE BUTTON?

    Got the wrong guy in the post. My apologies Rick. I will not show my face here for days.

  • rickl7069||

    Good, was trying to figure out how to respond. You are right, though, this is, for the most part, an intellectual crowd, which is why I like it here. I like having to think about what to say, I like a challenge. Some do, however, lower the bar a little. I mean, how do you argue with someone that tells you that theft doesn't raise costs? So, I did resort to the "I'm smarter than you" argument - it made me feel dirty. I'll try not to do that in the future and thanks for the correction.

  • John||

    Regardless of your opinion of Bush or Reagan, Nick do you really think the way to win elections is to spend your campaign telling the voters how horrible your party was in the past?

    Carter was a pretty horrible President too. Yet, I don't recall Bill Clinton spending much time in 1992 telling America how awful Carter was. Clinton didn't mention Carter or try to run as his ideological heir, but he didn't waste his time self flagellating and apologizing for she he personally had nothing to do with either.

    If Nick's idea of a winning campaign for Rand Paul is to spend the next two years or really any part of that attacking his own party for shit that happened ten years ago, I think Rand would do well to steer clear of Reason.

    How about this Nick, how about Rand come by Reason and spend a couple of hours kissing your ass and telling you how wonderful and right you are. That should make you feel better and then allow him to actually run a campaign that explains why he should be President instead of re fighting ten year old debates.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Fuck Reagan. That is all.

  • Jordan||

    AH HA! More evidence that everyone here is just a GOP shill!

    /shriek

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Don't forget me.

    /Bo

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    You and Bo are friends now?

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Not unless he's grown into a man in the last week.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    He's just trying to clear the way for libertarian hopes like Jindal and Christie.

  • Drake||

    Paul's stupid comments and Nick's stupid article achieve nothing.

    No actual facts about the government of the time - or blame for people like Tip O'Neil.

    No benefit realized for Paul's current aspirations - just annoying to everyone.

  • Dweebston||

    Let's say Paul wins the presidency, but Dems retain control of the Senate and Republicans the House. Will you hold Paul blameless for signing into law anything that crosses his desk, however egregious its effects on budget or markets or the weight of bureaucracy, simply because he doesn't control Congress?

  • Drake||

    Would you expect him to veto every bill and never sign a budget?

    Or, maybe he would prioritize his agenda and negotiate with Congress.

  • robc||

    Would you expect him to veto every bill and never sign a budget?

    Expect? No.

    Is it what I would do? Yes.

    Well, not technically every bill. Im sure 1 or 2 percent are fine.

    I absolutely would spend early January getting a dandy industrial strength veto stamp made.

  • Drake||

  • robc||

    He was no Grover Cleveland.

    Or FDR, but I was trying to look on the positive side. Also, FDR had 4 terms, so Cleveland wins per term.

  • robc||

    If I did my math right, Cleveland averaged just under 1 veto per week.

    I would take 1 per week from Paul.

  • Jordan||

    I think I'd expect more, given that the volume of bills is likely to be larger.

  • Ann N||

    this would likely diminish the number of bills sent.

    what you would see is a radical reshaping of post-partisanship as both sides of the aisle worked together to pass veto-proof graft.

  • John||

    I am pretty sure the House set spending in the 80s just like the rest of US history post 1789.

    Nick never mentions the multiple government shut downs that Reagan engaged in trying to get Congress to cut spending. I would love to hear exactly what Nick thinks Reagan should have done as President. I guess if Reagan had just worn a leather jacket and been cool enough, the Democratic House would have given him everything he wanted.

    Beyond that, only Reason could be stupid enough to think that arguing about shit that happened 30 years ago is in any way a productive political strategy. I really wonder if Nick is just pissed the wrong side won the Cold War.

  • R C Dean||

    I would love to hear exactly what Nick thinks Reagan should have done as President.

    Mandate the licensing of gay marriages?

  • Cytotoxic||

    ITT, lots a very defensive Team Red captain.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    lol...stay off 4chan cyto, bad for your brain.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Nick do you really think the way to win elections is to spend your campaign telling the voters how horrible your party was in the past?"

    The way to get a libertarian into the White House isn't to let revelations about Paul's "heresy" on Reagan's spending go unanswered either.

    Incidentally, if Reagan's spending led to the Cold War ending as it did, then I think it was money well spent. That being said, criticizing Reagan for not keeping the lid on spending shouldn't be a deal breaker for any Republican establishment supporters who were thinking about writing checks for and supporting Rand Paul.

    Actually, talking about how Reagan was a big spender is kind of a game changer. Everything you hear from the left about Reagan was about how he cut everything out of the budget.

    He closed the mental hospitals and thew them all out into the street! That created the homeless! He refused to spend money on AIDS because he hated teh gay, and that's why AIDS became an epidemic!

    Listening to the left, you'd think a) slashing spending is worse than kicking babies and b) that Reagan was the biggest spending slasher of them all.

    Debunking that crap in both camps. The right needs to see that criticizing Reagan for his spending shouldn't make you ineligible for the presidency and the left needs to hear that the Reagan in their nightmares and hiding under their beds at night is mostly a figment of their imagination.

  • Restoras||

    Debunking that crap in both camps. The right needs to see that criticizing Reagan for his spending shouldn't make you ineligible for the presidency and the left needs to hear that the Reagan in their nightmares and hiding under their beds at night is mostly a figment of their imagination.

    Yes, this. More of this, please.

  • John||

    Of course Reagan or any other President didn't spend shit. The Congress spends.

    The better debate would be stop obsessing over Presidents and have a real discussion about who actually is responsible for the spending.

    If you want to engage in paybacks against Republicans, forget Reagan, he is dead or Bush, he can't run for office anymore. Lets talk about the various people in both parties who have been running Congress for the last 12 years. Those people are still around. If there is a past to repudiate, it isn't Reagan. It is the 02 to 11 Congress.

  • Dances-with-Trolls||

    Of course Reagan or any other President didn't spend shit.

    I didn't realize that all those budgets were passed with 2/3 majorities.

  • John||

    Yeah, just forever shutting down the government is a realistic political option.

    You people are as bad as Obama. You can't just tell the Congress and the entire country to go fuck themselves. Reagan got the best he could out of the Congress he had. He shut down the government several times trying to get more.

    Funny how you people all claim to be such "constitutionalists" and then act like the President is some kind of fucking dictator and that the real power and responsibility, especially over the budget isn't with Congress.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    So any criticism of Obama about budgetary matters would also be unfounded. Huh. I did not know that.

  • John||

    To some degree yes. Pelosi and Reid and now Boehner sure as hell deserve some blame for what has gone on over the last five years. Obama can't sign shit that isn't passed by Congress.

    The question is where is the President in all of this. Is he trying to get Congress to spend less or tying to get them to spend more? If it is the former, then I don't see how you can hold anyone but the Congress responsible. It if it is the latter, then it is both he and the Congress who are responsible.

  • robc||

    I have read the constitution. The veto power is fucking listed in it.

    And the 2/3rds rule is right there. Make them use it sometimes.

  • John||

    Reagen vetoed a lot of things. But again, you can only veto so much. Basically what you are saying is Reagan is at fault because he didn't shut down the government for however long it took to get what he wanted. That is just retarded and fantasy. No President could do that. His own party and the country would turn on him and it accomplish nothing.,

    Thinking like that is why Libertarians manage to be such political losers even though they are right on most issues.

  • robc||

    Cleveland vetoed 414 bills. Reagan vetoed 78. The congress overrode 2, TWO, of Cleveland's vetoes.

    I dont remember the history of the government being shutdown for 3 years during his terms.

  • Restoras||

    It is or at least has become a horribly symbiotic relationship.

  • Dances-with-Trolls||

    You people are as bad as Obama.

    Pointing out that Reagan did, in fact, possess a veto pen makes me as bad as Obama, probably as bad as Hitler.

    By the (low) standards we measure presidents Reagan wasn't too bad, but holding him up as the patron saint of small government is pathetic. He's the FDR of team Red. Any realistic appraisal of his administration's fiscal record runs right into the same cult of personality. It's very.. unhelpful for people actually interested in cutting the scope of government spending and power.

  • Swiss Servator, Käse, Käse!||

    "He's the FDR of team Red."

    In terms of spending, wouldn't that be Boooosh?

  • Ken Shultz||

    "You people are as bad as Obama."

    What do you mean "you people"?

  • ~Knarf Yenrab~||

    The USSR was already bankrupt because of its inane economic system. Reagan may have hastened its demise by a year or two, but he also may have hastened our demise by a decade or two by empowering the neocons in deed if not in word.

  • John||

    The USSR didn't collapse because of bankruptcy. It collapsed because the people there lost faith in the system. A big part of that was the fact that Reagan and Thatcher and surprisingly the Pope confidently put forth the values of freedom and the west and in the case of Reagan and Thatcher stood up to the Soviets. Had that not happened, the Soviets would have claimed victory and kept the loyalty of a lot of their people and kept the system going a lot longer.

  • robc||

    The thing is, Reagan could have done that for free. Reagan did confidently put forward those values, but he did it in word, not via spending.

    There were some deeds, such as wrt negotiations of arms treaties and refusal to back down on some things, but those were still basically free actions.

  • John||

    No he couldn't have done it for free. If he could, Carter would have won the cold war. His words only meant something because he was also willing to build the military to back it up and take the efforts necessary to fight communism.

  • Cytotoxic||

    The cheap investments like arming the Contras made sense and was highly effective. I see no reason to believe that plowing oodles of cash into Star Wars and the like helped end the USSR. Also, the reason the Soviet citizenry lost faith in their system was largely because of America's newfound '80s prosperity. That you CAN credit to Reagan-just like his excessive military spending is a discredit to him.

  • robc||

    That you CAN credit to Reagan-just like his excessive military spending is a discredit to him.

    This is the key thing.

    People are mixes of positive and negative. Some more of one, some more of the other.

    TEAM players fail to acknowledge both.

    I thought FDR took a reasonable approach to WW2, mostly.

    See, I can find the positives.

  • Calidissident||

    Arming Central American thugs was necessary to defeat the USSR?

  • AlexInCT||

    I see no reason to believe that plowing oodles of cash into Star Wars and the like helped end the USSR

    Even if people from the old USSR have themselves admitted that Star Wars and other such military spending played a key role in helping them go over the cliff?

    The fact of the matter is that one of the main reasons the USSR's leadership decided to quit was that they could not keep up with military build up and the technological advantage that the West was getting. Defense spending did make a difference, because it made it clear to the USSR that we meant business.

  • ||

    Captain John,
    Remind me how the Pope built up his military to back his "freedom" agenda.
    No wonder the Left laughs at Reagan ball-slurpers. You're blind.

  • Ken Shultz||

    The idea that communism would have fallen anyway is dubious.

    The USSR could have perpetuated itself in two ways. It could have kept expanding--but it was unable to, in part, because of Reagan's spending. The fight against communist expansion was a global thing--we were spending everywhere from Central America and South America to and through Africa, the Middle East, and Afghanistan. And, please, the idea that Reagan shouldn't have tried to block off Soviet expansionism because twenty years later some terrorists might strike the U.S. is silly--looking from the perspective of 1980.

    The other way the USSR could have perpetuated itself is using the North Korean model (or you could say that North Korea is using the Stalinist model). You just starve people to death by the millions at a time or send them to death camps--when they become superfluous.

    Indeed, do you imagine that North Korea is about to implode because of its economy? Or do you agree that they can perpetuate themselves with their present model indefinitely?

    Oh, the way the Cold War ended wasn't entirely unrelated to Reagan's spending either. The deployment of missiles into Western Europe and elsewhere put significant pressure on the USSR at critical times, and that pressure paid off twice at critical times. Once when Reagan turned his back on the Russians, and once when Reagan turned his back on his own advisers and cut a deal with the Russians.

  • Ken Shultz||

    So, anyway, there may have been a lot of waste in Reagan's spending, but a lot of that pork was what was necessary to get the effective spending approved through a Democrat Congress, too.

    And some of that spending was definitely effective.

  • Jordan||

    The USSR was flat broke and doomed, no matter what.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "The USSR was flat broke and doomed, no matter what."

    So is North Korea.

    They close off parts of the country and let 10% of their population starve to death periodically.

    Thousands more die in their prison camps every year.

    Why can't they perpetuate that indefinitely?

    Why couldn't the Soviet Union?

    Stalin starved millions of Ukrainians to death in 1932-1933. The Soviet Union persisted for almost five decades after that. Why couldn't it have persisted for five decades more using the same tactics?

    They tried expansionism! Reagan wouldn't let that happen. He made friends with all sorts of vicious dictators throughout the word--did terrible things to frustrate Soviet expansion. Bogged the Soviets down in Afghanistan even!

    So they could have starved millions of people off like they had done before. Why didn't they?

    The Cold War ended the way it did because of the decisions the people involved made. It was because of Reagan, but it was also because of Gorbachev. It was because of Thatcher, Kohl, and everyone else who ran against their domestic opposition and supported missile deployment in Western Europe--including Mitterand, a real, live Socialist!

    http://www.nytimes.com/1983/07.....siles.html

  • Calidissident||

    Can you not see the fundamental differences between the USSR and North Korea? "Reagan did X, and the USSR collapsed a few years after he left office, therefore Reagan caused the USSR to collapse" is not a valid argument. Crediting him with hastening the fall of the USSR by 50 years is an extraordinary claim, and one that requires justifying evidence.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Reagan did X, and the USSR collapsed a few years after he left office, therefore Reagan caused the USSR to collapse" is not a valid argument."

    No, it really isn't by itself. But then the things I said he did actually did lead to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

    They could not expand because of what Reagan did.

    He turned his back on them when they offered the status quo, and he turned his back on his advisers and embraced the Soviets when the Soviets capitulated.

    I went through a list of things he did that contributed to us winning the Cold War--as we did. It could have gone badly. The future isn't inevitable now, and it wasn't back then either. But it didn't end badly. And there are reasons why things happen and don't happen.

    The reason we won the Cold War the way we did was because of the choices the people involved made, and if you bothered to read what I wrote, you'd notice that I also gave Gorbachev, Thatcher, Kohl and freakin' Mitterand their due.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Crediting him with hastening the fall of the USSR by 50 years is an extraordinary claim, and one that requires justifying evidence."

    I didn't say that, exactly.

    I asked was why we should believe that the USSR would have collapsed the way it did--regardless of whether the decision makers at the time made the choices they made. Would we have won the Cold War the same way we did with Carter?

    The correct answer is no.

    What was it about the Soviet system that made it so untenable in 1985--no matter what Reagan did--that wasn't just as bad or worse in 1943?

    Do you not see that?

    The difference between those times was--in part--that 1) Reagan wasn't going to treat the USSR like FDR treated Stalin, and 2) the leadership of the USSR wasn't willing to put its people through what Stalin did, Mao did, Pol Pot did, and all the other vicious totalitarian communist dictators did--including present day North Korea.

    There is nothing about unsustainable about starving the superfluous part of your population to death periodically in a totalitarian system--or having regular purges and sending people off to die by the millions in the gulags. That isn't unsustainable. There's always room for more!

    The USSR wasn't a democracy, and it survived a lot worse than the circumstances it was in circa 1989. Jesus, do you know what life was like in the Soviet Union during World War II?

    It survived that perfectly in tact.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Like I said, spending money on the Contra and Afghan Mujahadeen was a wise investment. More toys for the military boys not so much.

  • robc||

    North Korea is going to implode.

    If they make it thru a 4th Kim I will be surprised.

    I would bet against making it thru #3, but I might lose that bet.

    All this is assuming I counted them correctly.

  • Swiss Servator, Käse, Käse!||

    Counting Kims

    They are due to release their next album "Juche Blues", right?

  • ~Knarf Yenrab~||

    Reagan didn't cause the change in the Soviet culture that, combined with corruption and socialism-induced poverty, knocked the communist train off the tracks. Perestroika, glasnost, and Gorbachev were internal Soviet developments that contributed to the collapse, and while Reagan was surely a consideration, it's not as though the USSR wasn't proceeding on its own cultural vector. The collapse of the USSR was a long time coming in every conceivable way. NK is a different animal for obvious reasons--culturally distinct from the USSR, dynastic rather than political, and a tiny, homogeneous population that is much more culturally susceptible to collectivism. Even with all that said, it's difficult to see how North Korea will exist in its present form a generation from now, and not because of the threat of invasion or war.

    We're too drawn to this personality-centric view of history, when it's the cultural and economic system that determines wealth and institutional stability.

  • Cytotoxic||

    In the real world John, Bush is a toxic brand and any association with him even indirect is negative, so criticizing him will help Rand Paul aplenty.

  • Zeb||

    Is Nick saying that Rand Paul should spend the next two years bashing Reagan and other republicans? Or just writing an article about a subject that Paul has mentioned recently?

    I'm not sure why you think that Reason should consider electoral strategies when writing about things like this.

  • steedamike||

    Zeb - What I got out of this is that Nick is saying that Mother Jones believes that they have some sort of ammo about either Rand Paul or the GOP. What Nick is saying (I guess) is that it's OK to speak about the things that Reagan did wrong and that Rand is not blindly loyal to all things Reagan or the GOP. We only wish that Democrats would speak out more on Obama, rather than some having a false front when they don't really believe their own stance. I guess Nick is trying to give evidence that Mr. Paul doesn't give in to a conflict of interest over trying to tow the GOP party line when he thinks he's doing or saying what he feels is right.

  • rickl7069||

    Don't elections make you just feel all warm and fuzzy inside - the false belief that somehow you have a voice and that who you vote for is going to make a difference? Gee, who should I elect to rule me based on the premise that they have some kind of legal claim on my life because of the square of land that I just happened to be born on?
    Both sides are Hamiltonians. Personally, I'm a Jeffersonian - the Constitution did NOT create a central government over the people, but a compact between free, independent states for mutual defense. The idea that the states were EVER giving up their autonomy to form some central ruling government is laughable, no state would ever have signed such an agreement - they had just fought a war to get away from just such a government. Voting is NOT going to help, this government, dangerous to our natural rights, needs to be abolished.

  • Zeb||

    How do you figure the states' claim on your life is any more legitimate than the Fed's?

    The idea that the states were EVER giving up their autonomy to form some central ruling government is laughable, no state would ever have signed such an agreement - they had just fought a war to get away from just such a government.

    I think you might not be quite as clever as you imagine.

  • rickl7069||

    Sorry Zeb, you are not going to present an argument that I haven't thought about and studied. I don't believe that there should be any government ruling my life or anybody else. What claim does any man have that they have authority over me? Somebody said so, some piece of paper says so? That is no more absurd than if I claim authority over you because I say so.
    No matter what I believe, at the moment I feel the larger battle is against a centralized state, which was NEVER formed by our founders and was a lie by centralists such as Hamilton, who wanted a government just like the one we had just fought.
    If we can get enough people to understand that we are not supposed to have this federal government and abolish it, then I might turn my attention to the local dictators.

  • rickl7069||

    Don't make words I didn't say, we do need some form of common defense and, as an individual you have a right to defend yourself and your property or to hire someone to do it for you, that is what a local sheriff is supposed to be. ANY powers that ANY government has only have ANY legitimacy if they are derived from the natural rights of the people.
    Any idea that the people granted this government power over them is uneducated. The Constitution originally listed every state instead of "we the people", but it was shortened due to the fact that not all states were signing on at the same time - some held out for years. It was a confederation of of independent, autonomous states - there was NO United States Citizen and NO citizen agreed to be ruled by ANY centralized government.

  • Objective||

    "he didn't waste his time self flagellating..." he didn't need to. He had Lewinsky. BOOM! Oh yeah!

  • Eric Bana||

    It's a way for Rand to show that he recognizes the hypocrisy in the GOP on government spending and that he will avoid it.

  • rogerfgay||

    Reagan is Patron Saint of the RINO movement. Most of us were fooled by him back then, and Ron Paul supported him initially. Those of us who actually look into things want the RINO movement to die and to be swept unceremoniously from the Republican Party. Every time I hear a political candidate praise Reagan and call for a return to his values or whatever, I strike that candidate from further consideration. Ron Paul understood the problem before Reagan left office. Here's a copy of his 1987 letter of resignation to the RNC.
    Ron Paul's 1987 Resignation Letter to the RNC
    http://www.libertarian-examine.....o-rnc.html

  • UnCivilServant||

    Looking at that chart, one thing comes to mind - I like Ike. He has a nice flat spending chart. While a constant drop would be better, it's still the best record I saw.

  • Drake||

    And it included a massive increase in defense spending that proved to be the final push of the Cold War.

    All with a Democrat controlled Congress for the most of the run. (Did he have a GOP Senate for 2 years?)

  • UnCivilServant||

    For Ike Eisenhower?

    He had Repubs for the first congress in office, Dems after.

  • R C Dean||

    And it included a massive increase in defense spending that proved to be the final push of the Cold War.

    That's the classic deal that Repubs strike with Dems on budgets. The Repubs want to do Repub things on defense, etc., and the price of Dems getting out of the way is big increases in welfare spending. W cut this deal, so did Reagan.

    And so, I imagine, will the next Repub President. That ratchet isn't going to crank itself.

  • Mike M.||

    Yeah, the big difference is that the democrats were still sane when Eisenhower was the president.

    Back then they were nothing at all like the "New Left" scum that arose in the late sixties, eventually took over the party, and now controls most of the major institutions in the country today.

  • Zeb||

    They were a rather different kind of scum back then.

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    1.17^(1/4) 1.22^(1/8)

    just sayin

  • Eggs Benedict Cumberbund||

    Yep higher per year increase for Carter. Roughly, 4% for carter and 2% for reagan. Maybe Rand ain't so bright after all?

  • Restoras||

    Exponents, CAGR...math! English majors don't do math!

  • Dweebston||

    Gillespie caveats that.

    It doesn't Reagan the luminary for visions of reducing government spending. I want substantial cuts, not lower increases.

  • Dweebston||

    doesn't make^

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    I don't disagree with you. That statement is still at odds with his over all thesis. It doesn't need a caveat. It is a caveat that needs explaining if he is going to bring it up at all, not depended on as if it supports what he is saying.

  • Sebs||

    Bush's immigration reform efforts were some of the worst aspects of his administration. I don't see this as being much of a libertarian position at all.

  • Restoras||

    I have always under the impression that Congress, more specifically yhe House of Representatives, is responsible for spending. Guess I have been misinformed.

    Since we seem to have an elected kingship (kinda like ancient Sparta, except we only have one and not two) perhaps it is time for a good old fashioned revolt to set things straight?

  • John||

    Exactly. And more imporantly, there are people Republicans and Democrats alike who are still in Congress today and are responsible for a lot of horrible shit. Talking about them, you know people still in office and bad things that are still going on, might make for a better strategy than rehashing debates from 30 years ago.

    Next up, Nick explains why the Republicans will never move forward until they repudiate the legacy of Lincoln. Light the Liberty Mike signal and on to victory.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Wah! Stop talking shit about my heroes!!1 /John

  • John||

    Are you just too retarded to join in the conversation?

  • Acosmist||

    He's scared of actually engaging in debate, so he snipes from the sidelines and, if called on anything, will resort to the "just trolling!" excuse.

    A lightweight not worth debating.

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    Reagan was a far better actor in the White House than he ever was in Hollywood. He is almost worshipped by millions of Americans who have formed a literal cult giving him credit for things he never did. The man is a saint in our pantheon of political heroes.

  • Jordan||

    Bush was a big-government disaster.

    Yup. In before shriek demonstrates he still doesn't understand the difference between a legitimate argument and a tu quoque and then accuses us all of being GOP shills.

  • From the Tundra||

    I always thought being a GOP shill would pay better, ya know?

  • Drake||

    You don't even have to specify which Bush. I hold a much bigger grudge against HW - he really did his best to undue everything Reagan did.

  • Jon S.||

    Silly me, I thought that spending and taxation were set by Congress, not the the president. I thought Mr. Gillespie LIKED the Constitution. Apparently he's under the impression that president's just pass budgets by fiat. Note, I am not necessarily disagreeing with that the 1980s were bad for spending and that Reagan deserves some of the blame, but I grow weary of the discussion of these matters as if Congress did not exist.

  • Restoras||

    Come now Jon S., how dare you suggest that writers and bloggers and the associated detrius of commentariat have a cleary understanding of how the government works.

    What do you want them to do, write clearly and factually with proper allocation of blame and fault? Don't you think they should just write shockingly inflammatory stories to generate controversy and page views, instead of the tedium of actual understanding and knowledge?

    You, sir, are a monster.

    Besides it is easier to blame the Chief Executive than it is those actually responsible for the mess.

  • UnCivilServant||

    Besides it is easier to blame the Chief Executive than it is those actually responsible for the mess

    That would be the voters who can't even grasp basic economics.

  • ||

    Did Reagan lose his veto pen?

  • Restoras||

    Not that I know of. It doesn't change the fact that Congress could have, and as the political body responsible for spending, should have said no, just like it remains today.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    A U.S. President is powerless, A! Powerless, I tells ya!

  • Brandon||

    A President is powerless when you criticize Saint Reagan or Chocolate Jesus. Two sides, same coin.

  • ~Knarf Yenrab~||

    Yep. Presidents also have plenty of soft power on budget issues due to their celebrity and bully pulpit and have for a long time.

    Also worth remembering that Reagan also joined Ford and Carter in supporting the AWB, openly supported the Brady Bill, and signed FOPA into law, all on top of his gc activities as gov of California. He was better than Obama, but RR was no friend to libertarians.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: John,

    Silly me, I thought that spending and taxation were set by Congress, not the the president.


    He could've vetoed the budgets. He didn't. Spending went up. He didn't live up to his small-government rhetoric, a reason why Rothbard, Paul and other pure libertarians felt betrayed by him and others felt disappointed.

  • John||

    He did vetoe them Old Mexican. They shut the government down several times. But he can only veto so long.

    You guys seem to think that by not shutting the government down until he got what he wanted, Reagan asumes responsibility for the horrible budgets.

    That is just whacked. First it is political fantasy to think he could have done that and Congress wouldn't have just overrode his veto. And second, it shows a complete misunderstanding of how government and politics actually work. Obama's biggest sin is the fact that he is incapable of doing anything but telling his opposition anything but fuck off. The President can't and shouldn't do that. Yet, you guys argue Reagan is a horrible President because he didn't do just that.

  • Cytotoxic||

    This is not fantasy at all. Grover Cleveland made it a reality. Yeah, he could have been overridden by Congress-so what? He should have asked them to bring it on. His behaviour otherwise makes him a reluctant accomplice.

  • John||

    Sure and we would have had President Mondale in 1985. How do you think that would have worked out?

    There is a reason why Libertarians always lose. You people live in a fantasy world.

  • Calidissident||

    You're giving Reagan far too much credit for even the attempts he made. Look at the budgets he submitted. Also, the Republicans controlled the Senate for most of his tenure. The Dems didn't have full control over Congress.

  • Calidissident||

    Some people seem a bit touchy about an honest assessment of Saint Ronald's record.

  • Jordan||

    No kidding. As if he was forced to sign those tax and spending increases, while vocally supporting at least some of them.

  • Ron||

    in a way he was forced into signing by a lying media and representatives. I remember how Mr. Matsui, now replaced by his wife, a representative from California went on TV and admitted they gave Reagan a budget so big that he would have to not sign it so that they, the left, could then go on TV and attack him for how evil he was for not signing the budget. after a while they did lower the budget that was still huge and Reagan finally capitulated.

  • Sudden||

    To the left's credit, they rather unintentionally gave Reagan the script he would use in arms negotiations with the Soviets.

    I think they're still mostly pissed about that.

  • John||

    The choice was sign it or shut the government down. You guys think that just shutting the government down until the other side folded was an option. It wasn't. The Republicans in Congress would have just folded and overrode his veto. Shutting down forever would have accomplished nothing.

    We have a Democratic Republic. That means the President doesn't get to dictate everything. The people controlling Congress get a vote and really the biggest vote too. Why Reagan is responsible for their vote is beyond me.

  • Cytotoxic||

    You guys think that just shutting the government down until the other side folded was an option. It wasn't.

    Yes it was. You clearly don't understand how the USG works.

    The Republicans in Congress would have just folded and overrode his veto.

    Okay.

    Shutting down forever would have accomplished nothing.

    We have to spend more money or WE'LL ACCOMPLISH NOTHING.

  • John||

    Yes it was. You clearly don't understand how the USG works.

    I understand perfectly how it actually works. You are an expert at how it works in Libertarian fantasy land.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Nick, when I say this I am called a "troll".

    That GOP plantation sure is comfy to the Peanuts!

  • Jordan||

    Jordan|4.24.14 @ 11:08AM|#

    Bush was a big-government disaster.
    Yup. In before shriek demonstrates he still doesn't understand the difference between a legitimate argument and a tu quoque and then accuses us all of being GOP shills.

    Goddamn I'm good.

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    Shhhh! He thinks Nick is listening. Nobody else is.

  • Dances-with-Trolls||

    Predictable as a sunrise and yet still amusing.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Admit that Obama is better than Bush the Lesser. Just admit it. Look at the chart above. Give the GOP House partial credit if you need to.

    You know it is right.

    You're not John, are you?

  • Jordan||

    I have no problem admitting that Obama is better on spending. Now fuck off until you learn how to read and apply logic.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Obama is hands down better on spending/deficits - I give you credit for that.

    And in turn I will admit that Rand Paul would be better than Hillary Clinton on the same. Which is what I care most about.

    So is this an endorsement for Rand Paul over Hillary? Damn right it is.

    However, if it is Jeb Bush or the Huckster in 2016 we have a big problem.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Hog. Acorn. Blindness. Damn, this is becoming a trend.

  • Jordan||

    Still ruined by the fact that he still can't read or apply logic.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    I don't give a damn about your tu quoque claims. I made an A in informal logic.

    Bush/Cheney and the GOP-led Congress 0f 2002-2007 is the best indicator of what the GOP would look like today if they regain power. The Lincoln GOP is the worst indicator. I am comparing the modern Dems against the best indicator of what the GOP would look like.

    Now, Rand Paul would change that if the slim chance he were nominated occurs.

  • Jordan||

    I don't give a damn about your tu quoque claims. I made an A in informal logic.

    Fat lot of good that did, huh? You see, when people are discussing how awful Obama is, saying Bush was worse is not a defense. So, let's see you actually apply some logic next time.

  • ||

    You are fucking retarded and obviously can't read a fucking graph so let me break it down for you:

    The little blue lines that reach to the 10k mark are Obama's spending. The little red lines that start off below the 8k and don't pass the 9k mark until 2009 (something happened then, but I can't remember what it was...) are Bushmchitler's spending.

  • R C Dean||

    Obama is better than Bush the Lesser

    In what way? I'm pretty sure Obama throws better parties, because those fuckers look epic.

    Spending, though? Hard to say Obama is better than Bush when Obama has added more to the debt than all his predecessors combined. You can even throw out 2009, and by the time he finally hits the road, he'll still be responsible for more than half the national debt.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Don't feign ignorance. You know better.

  • R C Dean||

    Correct me with linkagination, sock.

    I'm leaving out the overlap years, where a President takes office during a fiscal year, because of the pointless arguments over who is responsible.

    Starting 10/1/2001 (not including the Clinton/Bush overlap year), the debt was $5.8TT. On 09/30/2008 (not including the Bush/Obama overlap year), the debt was $10TT, for an increase of $4.6TT.

    On 10/01/2009, the debt was $11.9TT. On 04/22/2014, the debt was $17.5TT, for an increase of $6.6TT in less time.

    These are the total debt numbers from debt to the penny, which combine intra-governmental and publicly held debt. For some reason, they aren't breaking it out. I prefer to look at debt held by the public, where the number was $7.5TT on 10/01/2009, and $12.5TT on 04/22/2014, for an increase of a nice round $5TT. I see no reason why it won't be up to @$13TT by the end of the fiscal year, which would mean that Obama need only add another $2.5TT by the end of his term, which is a two and a half years away. I have little reason to believe that he won't continue to post deficits at that level.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Debt is a direct result of policies passed.

    The DEBT created in 2010-2014 caused by Medicare Part D is on Bush - not Obama.

    Same way with the wars, NCLB, TSA, Homeland Security, and so on. And tx policy is a big factor. Bush created the enormous deficits - not Obama.

  • ||

    You mean all those things Obama and the democrats could have dismantled when they took the majorities but instead focused on an asinine healthcare law they they don't even really want to enforce?

  • ||

    Oh, and never mind the fact that the current spending levels use 2009 as a base line instead of 2007. Isn't that convenient to just gloss over.

  • Mike M.||

    The deficit had come down to almost nothing before the market decided to crap out in late 2008.

    So I'm thinking that economic performance might be a pretty significant factor. Certainly a much bigger factor than the relatively minor tax policy tinkering that has happened in the last few years.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

  • Brandon||

    He's actually right about a few of the commenters in this thread.

  • Jordan||

    The key words being "a few". Shriek sees GOP shills under his bed.

  • Swiss Servator, Käse, Käse!||

    You can spray for those, right?

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Peter Caca,

    Nick, when I say this I am called a "troll".


    No. When you come in saying that we're all closet Republicans in drag or something, then everybody calls you a "troll".

    Or when you say things like this:

    "Admit that Obama is better than Bush the Lesser."

    Better at killing Americans without so much as fair trial? Better at abusing the power of government to stamp out his adversaries? Better at using race-baiting or economically-ignorant rhetoric to stir his base? Better at increasing spending?

    There are many things he is better than George Bush fis, but better as in less evil - nope, no. They're both equally evil.

  • Jordan||

    I think your mistake is in assuming that shriek gives a shit about liberty.

  • From the Tundra||

    I am Emperor Ronald Reagan
    Born again with fascist cravings
    Still, you made me president

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btPuTlCYiSo

    Maybe it was the music we listened to back then, but I don't remember Reagan being particularly popular in the 80s.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Well, except for, like, voters and stuff.

  • R C Dean||

    But nobody who mattered knew anybody who voted for Reagan.

  • Brandon||

    That was Nixon.

  • R C Dean||

    You think it changed?

  • From the Tundra||

    Lol. Except for them.

  • Ron||

    As I recall Reagan did increase spending and taxes after Congress promised him they would cut budgets later, something they never did and Congress made the same promises to the first Bush and the present republican idiot Boehner. Of course Republicans keep falling for that lie.

  • UnCivilServant||

    The proper response to a congressional 'promice' is "No, Fuck you, cut spending."

  • Restoras||

    In the end, for all we stand around saying "Your guys sucks and my guy is awesome!", we are still going to end up bankrupt if we aren't already.

    Maybe it's time to start digging deeper into Cogressional spending. All the little pet projects that those assholes use to go back to their constituents and say "Look what I brought back for you! Vote for me yet again!". Start shining the light on where the problem really lies and watch the little cockroaches run for cover.

    Then explain to everyone how governmetn doesn't have any money to spend that it doesn't take from someone else first. And how the $50 trillion in national debt is therefore not going to be repaid by the government, but by the people the government actually takes money from.

  • Brandon||

    Of course Republicans keep falling for that lie.

    Really, that's what you believe? Republicans are just honest idiots who really want to cut government but the evil democrats keep breaking their promises?

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    Actually, at the beginning of his term, ya I believe that about Reagan. Not about most of the people around him ... they had a combination of war boners and "defecits don't matter" syndrome. And I think by year 2 or 3 they had infected Reagan with that too. But for year 1 and maybe year 2, ya I think he thought he was just being practical but still saw him self as pretty libertarian.

  • Dweebston||

    Conservative-libertarian audiences like peeing on campus radicals and FDR

    Liberals pee, Gillespie. Libertarians piss.

  • Brandon||

    Best comment of the thread.

  • Jackand Ace||

    Rand Paul was right, and now it remains to be seen his response...walking it back (which would be a shame) or defending what he said.

    Regardless, mojo was only doing what politics demands these days. The President had to respond to things he did not say, but a Pastor in his church said...as if he was responsible for those words said by another. And those words were played ad nauseum on TV. In fact, Nick, you yourself used David Haranyi's own words in one of your columns here about Obama and Wright:

    "...whether he (Obama)likes it or not, supporting the man for 20 years is relevant. Obama claims he had no knowledge of the nastier Wright tidbits. If true, that would make him the most naïve candidate ever or the most willfully ignorant."

    In the Paul case, its even more compelling because they are words that Paul himself uttered, not the words of someone else. I hope he sticks by them.

  • Mark22||

    I think the question is: what does someone believe now, what do they stand for now, and are they honest? For that, it is neither necessary nor sufficient to be consistent.

    Obama's response on Wright doesn't satisfy me; it seems like political weasel words intended to minimize political fallout across demographic groups. That's what doing "what politics demands these days" amounts to; you're mistaken in thinking that this is new or necessary. It's sleazy and dishonest, and we should demand better.

    Whether Paul sticks by what he said 20 years ago or whether he says he changed his mind, as long as he states his position clearly and his justification is rational, that would be OK.

  • Jackand Ace||

    No, what I meant by what politics demands these days is what mojo did...make public the actual words of Rand Paul, which Nick alluded to in the beginning of his piece.

  • R C Dean||

    The President had to respond to things he did not say, but a Pastor in his church said...as if he was responsible for those words said by another.

    He was funding that pastor, you know. You don't sit in one a Church of Christ year after year without coughing up a tithe.

    And I seem to recall much chin-stroking about how funding speech makes you responsible for that speech from proggy precincts in recent weeks. You remember the guy who got fired from Mozilla, right?

    What I don't recall is anyone saying he was "responsible" for Wright's ravings. What I do recall is concern about why Obama sat through those ravings year after year, unless he found them unobjectionable.

  • ~Knarf Yenrab~||

    Apropos of nothing, really, but Wright's United Church of Christ, which is your standard mainline, social-club bs that in some cases gives useless assholes like Wright a chance to rant about their various grievances. Church of Christ is a fundamentalist, young-earth loony bin.

    Which denomination would produce the better president or theology has yet to be determined.

  • robc||

    Quaker produced Nixon.

    I thought they would have done better.

  • Mark22||

    "That's very nice, Mr. Nixon. Now, why don't you go off, try to run for president, and stop bothering us, alright?"

  • ~Knarf Yenrab~||

    May also have been history's most vulgar Quaker. Hoover was a Quaker as well, so I'll go on record as opposing all Quakers who run for office.

  • Ann N||

    black liberation theology is not a "standard mainline social club".

    it's a racist pro-black congregation where politically connected assemble to network.

    this is the milieu from which rod blagojovich, jesse jackson jr, barrack obama, and oprah winfrey incubated.

    rev wrights church was a hub in the chicago political machine. it likely still is.

    its theology is secondary to the social aspect, but the theology is anything but mainline. its strictly racism.

  • R C Dean||

    Wright's United Church of Christ, which is your standard mainline, social-club bs

    You still don't get to fill a pew without paying the tithe.

  • Jackand Ace||

    All I am saying is that if it is relevant for a candidate to be made to respond to words spoken by his Pastor, then its also relevant for a candidate to be made to respond to words he himself spoke.

    And as I said, I am more interested Paul's response.

  • rickl7069||

    Not to mention that Reagan expanded the drug war more than any other President, costing taxpayers incalculable sums, destroying rights, families and millions of lives. Unless you believe that over half our children should be locked up and given a criminal record, then you are a hypocrite if you believe in the drug war. If you believe in these drug laws, then you have to believe that they should be enforced and, according to any statistic I've seen, at least half of our children will try drugs. Thank you Reagan.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    And he locked up guys my age for speaking out against the draft. Fuck Reagan.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Yeah, MDMA was legal until 1985 when it was whimsically added to the list of illegal drugs.

    I quit doing it about 1990 when you couldn't get it anymore without risking some additive that could kill you.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    I suspect you waited a few months too long.

  • John||

    Now that is a legitimate criticism. If you want to rip on Regean for expanding the drug war, it is still a pointless debate over shit that happened 20 years ago, but it is at least a valid criticism. It is also one that can be leveled at every President since Nixon.

  • rickl7069||

    And our current President is one of the worst - a hypocrite that smoked more ganga than Bob Marley.

  • gaoxiaen||

    All that WOD stuff while the CIA was hauling in tons of cocaine and selling jet fighter parts to Iran.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    My imperfect recollection, based largely on Stockman's book:

    A deal was cut to lower taxes in exchange for cuts in spending. Once the tax bill passed, the spending cuts were abandoned.

    We've still got checks, though.

  • Mark22||

    Pure strategy and calculation on the part of progressives. Their reasoning is that by portraying Paul as anti-Reagan, they can split Republican voters and cause right-wing ideologues who worship Reagan to stay at home. I dunno, maybe it even works. But I want a candidate who candidly talks about what's going on, instead of the constant dissembling we have been getting from Obama.

    I would also tell both Paul and the progressives that wrecking the budget is a joint project between the president and Congress. Furthermore, there is a built-in delay, so that decisions made by one president often carry over into the next presidency.

    Finally, presidents simply get it wrong. Reagan argued that by cutting taxes, spending would soon be cut as well; obviously that didn't work. Obama argued that with a big Keynesian stimulus, the economy would pick up and soon the debt would be irrelevant; obviously, that didn't work either. It's like dieters or alcoholics finding excuses for their addiction.

    Obviously, the only thing to do is first to cut spending massively, and then cut taxes down the road. No president is powerful enough to do that. What we need for that is for Congress to pass a balanced budget amendment (like the nations in Europe that US progressives like to point to when talking about spending), a supermajority requirement for tax increases, and possibly a line item veto.

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    It's weird though that they are basically criticizing Paul for agreeing with them.

    I think the right way for Paul to play this is to talk it back some but pick out 2-3 criticisms and say "Although Reagan was an over all benefit to the country, I think in these areas, with 20/20 hindsight, he was wrong. Thank you for your service. Bla bla bla."

  • Ron||

    What you said is what should be taken from all this. Cut spending first then latter cut taxes. That is the only way to decrease the debt and the unbounded growth without hurting a lot of people.

  • ~Knarf Yenrab~||

    Might be useful to look at federal spending as a percentage of GDP.

    http://research.stlouisfed.org.....YONGDA188S

    Gingrich is a detestable human being, but for a continued Tea Party revolution, looks like the Clinton/Gingrich years will be the salad days of the next generation. Maybe if Hillary does somehow win the presidency and the TP kicks Boehner to the curb and maintains the house, things wouldn't be so bad.

  • R C Dean||

    Since federal spending is included in GDP, it is on both the numerator and denominator side of the percentage. Doing that can get you sent to jail in some circles. Try reporting your an ROI that includes capital investment in both the numerator and the denominator, and see what the SEC thinks.

    I'd love to see a chart with a real number: federal spending as a percentage of GDP ex federal spending. Take 15% out of the denominator, and just like that the percentage increases to 17.6%.

  • ~Knarf Yenrab~||

    Agree on the Austrian arguments re: GDP, but this does provide a rough map of the economic territory. The quick search just didn't turn up any graphs for federal outlays as a percentage of non-state GDP.

  • KDN||

    You will see it spike in FY2008 and stay. Averaged 2.8% from FY 1946 - 2011 Projected.

    By the same metric, excluding bridge years (ex: 2009), average deficits are as follows:

    Postwar Truman (FY 46-52) - 0.57%
    Eisenhower - 0.58%
    JFK/LBJ - 1.70%
    Nixon/Ford - 2.79%
    Carter - 3.29%
    Reagan - 6.06%
    Bush I - 5.80%
    Clinton - 0.44%
    Bush II - 3.04%
    Obama - 11.32% (through FY 2011)

    Numbers in 2005 chained dollars from OMB / BLS, quickly manipulated in Excel.

  • KDN||

    Correction: spike in FY2009.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    No president is powerful enough to do that.

    Nobody with the backbone to veto EVERYTHING until Congress gets the message will ever get elected, that is for certain.

    I have this dream, in which President Brooks stamps tl;dr on every single bill put on his desk for the first two years of his term, to raucous popular accolade. Then I have to get up and change the sheets.

  • R C Dean||

    Maybe if Hillary does somehow win the presidency and the TP kicks Boehner to the curb and maintains the house, things wouldn't be so bad.

    Nah. The fuse is lit. Between debt service and entitlements, there is no way out without massive social and economic disruption.

    Its a question of when, not whether.

  • ~Knarf Yenrab~||

    Taking the relative collapse of federal social services, the continued slow-mo collapse of the dollar, and the Fed's response of inflating the currency to service the national debt for granted, I'm thinking about how much of the GDP future president/house combos will eat up.

    So long as the republicans keep the house and the TP is around to put on pressure, it's hard to see it spiking up to the levels of late Bush/early Obama again.

  • kenezen||

    Reagan did spend! On updating a military that had fallen into dangerous disrepair and economically to pull America out of the dangerous recession threatening Depression caused by a befuddled but well meaning President Carter. For four years of the Reagan presidency it was spend. By the second year the economy began to recover and grow incredibly productive. It continued through a Bush presidency that was not as directed. President Clinton followed with leadership that complimented the economy and deserves great credit. In our history John Kennedy, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan all produced great economies and strides forward. Unfortunately the presidency of George Bush failed to address the Nation's needs and resulted in Disaster. President Obama inherited a mess! Unfortunately he to decided to use terrible socialistic methodology to attempt correction. The question now becomes: Who can turn this worst damage in our nation's history? Or, will we have a continuing of this president? The one lesson Democrat and Republican must learn is to carefully judge the individual!

  • JohnZeus||

    Deficits always suck, but at least a plausible argument can be made that Reagan's achieved something worthy (Cold War victory). I've seen the endless debates about whether his massive military spending was a primary cause, not at all a cause, or somewhere in between. But there's no question it caused the Soviets to try to match the spending, which further stressed an already shaky system. Perhaps they'd have gone down even without Reagan's deficit spending, but we'll never know. Even if it's mistakenly assigning cause in a case of correlation, you have to factor in how much money we saved on military spending in the ensuing years after the Cold War ended. Does that savings come off Reagan's tab? It's an interesting idea.

  • Jackand Ace||

    I have one problem with Reagan. Its not anything he did when he initially took office. Tax cuts, increased spending, etc.

    Its his ignoring the deficit once the country was back on firm footing. He had plenty of opportunities to bring down the deficit, but instead let it balloon.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Reagan did spend! On updating a military that had fallen into dangerous disrepair and economically to pull America out of the dangerous recession threatening

    "Keynesians, through that door."

    *pulls lever, chute to pits of hell opens*

  • Brett L||

    Keynesianism isn't the worst of systems. It is the neo-Keynesian insistence that valve of government spending be controlled with a ratchet that only allows "more" or "the same" spending, with the same being the wrong choice that annoys me. They discarded the only redeeming features of a simplistic model.

  • Zeb||

    It's not really fair to Keynes to call all today's stimulus fans Keynesians when they only ever do one half of what he said.

  • Invisible Finger||

    Keynes KNEW they would only do one half because "in the end we're all dead".

    He knew exactly what he was selling so it is absolutely fair.

  • JohnZeus||

    Reagan's spending was not designed to spur economic growth. He was a Laffer disciple. Supply-side, not Keynesian. In fact, the recession got worse before it finally abated late in his 1st term. That's after his tax cuts, which would seem logically to be a drain on govt revenues. But that's shallow thinking and Leftists always assume we're too stupid to know better. Cutting tax rates does not automatically mean less revenue. If the economy expands sufficiently, lower rates can and do result in higher revenues. I'm pretty sure that happened under Reagan, in fact. The problem was that he and the Dem House spent like drunken sailors in excess of the revenue increases. And, of course, it's not as clean on the tax side. He later raised taxes in other areas. As with most presidents, his is a fuzzy legacy.

  • Calidissident||

    I wonder how some of the people in this thread who were pimping Romney before the election would have responded had people made the same argument they're making now with regards to Reagan ("It doesn't matter if Romney's better than Obama on spending, that's Congress's job")

  • Mike M.||

    The last time I checked, Reagan was in office for eight years and Carter for only four.

    So, this is an apple-to-orange comparison, since there's no way we can ever know what Carter would have ending up doing had he served through those particularly rough economic years of the early '80s.

  • Smopecakes||

    And Carter increased spending faster, although not the deficit if I'm getting it right. So the basic lesson may relying on tax cuts to increase revenue over time won't balance your budget. It seems quite likely as well that the peace dividend of post USSR life was partly due to Reagan's military spending and the pressure it put on the Soviets.

  • Smopecakes||

    Another unReagan thing Reagan once did was saying that it wouldn't be a bad thing if poorer states got more from the fed. gov than their equal share. I think this could actually be made into an extremely effective anti-pork system:

    -Take a look at the current outlays and see whether and how much poorer states get more from Washington than they pay

    -Create an end-run law that mandates a tax rebate to residents or the state gov to the degree they didn't get their share at the end of a year or over 5 years. With a reasonable adjustment based on state wealth as a possibility. (ie: to make it politically possible especially if they already do get more)

    This would mean a senator who didn't score pork barrel spending for their state out of principle or otherwise would automatically be scoring a tax rebate instead. And a successful Bridge to Nowhere type pol would ultimately be taking that cash right out of the pockets of his voters. It could basically nuke pork to death in one go.

  • Rand is not libertarian||

    Why do people keep saying Rand is libertarian anything. It's a lie that came straight out of his mouth hoping to get libertarians to vote for his side in the illusion of choice. Just because he said he is librarian leaning does not make it true, and there is no reason to keep repeating the out right lie.

  • Response||

    Economically the only difference between a Democrat politician and a Republican politician is that the Republican politician will feel bad when he raises your taxes.

  • MSD62581||

    Being willing to criticize Reagan also points out the hypocrisy of the left though. If a conservative admires Reagan, then they are called out on being inconsistent on fiscal conservatism since the deficit increased so much under his administration. However, if you then think that we can aspire to be more fiscally restrained than Reagan was, then the left accuses you of being "more extreme then Ronald Reagan." In fact, during the Tea Party's rise to power, one of the critical refrains uttered by its opposition was "these people are so extreme, even Ronald Reagan wouldn't be conservative enough for them!" Well, if Reagan's great flaw was his rampant increase in spending, then being more conservative than Reagan (at least fiscally) isn't exactly a bad thing, is it? But of course, the left has already painted you into a box. Admire Reagan and you're a hypocrite. Be willing to criticize Reagan and you deserve to be locked in a padded room somewhere and be fed all of your meals through a small hole in your door. Classic "heads I win, tails you lose" philosophy.

  • toolkien||

    If this is supposed to be a dividing wedge, all Rand has to say is - under the Reagan years - there simply wasn't ENOUGH fiscal conservatism in play. He might even say that Reagan TRIED, as a little bit of a back-pedal to what he said. But it stands that the answer to Tax and Spend of the Democrats was Borrow and Spend by the Republicans. I remember a Republican dope about 12-13 years ago just giddy over the notion of "money you NEVER have to pay back" excusing our ever deepening debt. The collectivist nature of co-signing everyone into an indentured status - to a Bonded Class in perpetuity - was as bad, of not worse, than the Democrats' methodology. That, and the implementation of Medicare Part D, screamed that Republicans were in no way fiscally conservative anymore.

  • toolkien||

    cont-

    In the end, Reagan simply was a conservative Democrat. HE didn't really shift away from the Dems, the post WWII Republicans simply migrated into Democratic Party, leaving the Old Right behind. When they kicked Old Uncle Barry Goldwater upstairs to keep him quiet, that was pretty much the final stage of the migration. They didn't want any of his Old Right nonsense getting in the way of the narrative. And when the credit cards to borrow were hot with overuse, and Medicare Part D was passed (adding $11,000,000,000,000 to the accrual basis debt), the Republicans killed off any vestigial connection to fiscal conservatism by systematically disposing of the libertarians - circa 2003. Now anyone with Old Right sensibilities are kooks to both parties. In the long view, the Dems have succeeded in taking over the apparatus of State with subdivisions known as the current Democrats and Republicans. Both are fiscally liberal, with socially conservative and liberal branches. I can't abide a Republican party that is fiscally liberal and socially conservative. It's pretty much the exact opposite of where I stand. They are useless.

  • gaoxiaen||

    Yep.

  • Neoconwatch||

    Reagan is the one who first brought the neocons into his administration. They are undoubtedly the ones responsible for convincing him to save the entitlement programs and increase spending. They have their ways.

  • ADM64||

    There's truth in this article. It is also true that the Democrats controlled the Congress and it is Congress that passes the budget. A review of Reagan's diaries, for his first term anyway, show he was concerned about the deficits and spending and tried to do something about them. He was stymied repeatedly. Moreover, the one tax increase he did agree to was predicated on spending cuts of $3 for every $ 1 of tax increase, and Congress reneged on that.

    Stockman is correct that Reagan was uncritical of the military. He overlooks the fact that many systems were in need of modernization at the time and that Carter had actually started on some of this. Furthermore, it is not remotely as foregone a conclusion that the Cold War could have been won, or that the Soviet strategic position was as weak and vulnerable as it might appear 20+ years after the USSR collapsed. Reagan had to select priorities and he chose fighting the Cold War. Yes, it would have been better to have also tackled entitlements and spending, and yes deficits grew on his watch, but a lot of good things happened too. Likely none of the latter would have happened had JC been re-elected, and the deficits would still have grown, albeit perhaps more slowly.

  • REMant||

    Reagan did vote for FDR 4x. Or so he said. FDR infamously talked about going to the poor house in his campaign and never abandoning gold. And like that party's founder, Andrew Jackson, he also said one thing and did another. Govt patronage grew quite a lot in Jackson's admin, too.

  • REMant||

    "Progressive's," BTW, think Obama's as bad as "W."

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