Should Conservatives Hate Reagan?

All of the right-wing attacks on President Obama’s spending make me wonder–why don’t conservatives hate Ronald Reagan?

Reagan’s recession lasted 16 months (July 1981 until November 1982); our most recent recession lasted 21 months (December 2007 until September 2009).

During Reagan’s recession, unemployment peaked at 10.8%; during the recent recession unemployment peaked at 10.2% (but since unemployment is a lagging indicator it’s still expected to rise).

During Reagan’s recession, unemployment rose 3.6%; during the recent recession, unemployment rose 5.3%.

And Reagan’s recession did not come with a massive financial meltdown that necessitated a huge bailout in order to stave off total financial collapse.

So, by most worthwhile measures, our recent recession was both worse and longer than the Reagan recession.

With that in mind, remember that conservatives are attacking the Obama administration’s spending (even though a major cause of our deficits, the $700 bn bank bailout, was enacted under Bush) and are criticizing President Obama for allegedly doubling the debt.

But, over the course of his Presidency, Ronald Reagan tripled the debt:

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According to a recent Treasury Department study, Ronald Reagan proposed the largest peacetime tax increase in American history as part of a budget deal to get the federal deficit under control.


President Obama proposed and passed one of the largest tax cuts in American history — $282 billion over two years

What gives? A Republican President faced a major recession, raised taxes and tripled the national debt and he’s hailed by conservatives as a paragon of fiscal responsibility.

A Democratic President faced an even worse recession, cut taxes and doubled the deficit and he becomes the target of unhinged right-wing attacks.

I would have more respect for conservatives if they were at least consistent with their criticism, but their partisan double standards are just shameful. If increasing the debt is bad, than Reagan was bad. If increasing the debt to help the economy is acceptable, then what Obama is doing is acceptable.

But you can’t pretend that what Reagan did was good but what Obama is doing is bad–at least, not if you want to maintain a shred of credibility. Perhaps that’s why the GOP is the weakest it’s been since right after Watergate.


One comment

  1. thoughtbasket · November 19, 2009

    Unfortunately, credibility and consistency seem to be completely unimportant to politicians.

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