Reaganomics is on the ropes

Michael Greiner
5 min readNov 13, 2018
“person shadow boxing grayscale” by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash

Kansas and Wisconsin sound the death knell for supply side economics

Ronald Reagan came to office promoting prosperity by cutting taxes and getting government off the back of business. A one-time New Deal Democrat, Reagan argued that government was the enemy. Where the establishment prior to Reagan had hoped to use government as a force to achieve their goals, Reagan argued that government itself was the problem. As he stated, “the most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

We now look back on Reagan, how he worked with Democrats and pushed through a tax increase, as a relative moderate to today’s Republicans. But at the time, he was a revolutionary. I remember looking at the budgets over time for one government program after another. They had seen steady increases over the years…until Reagan came into office. Then, the budgets simply fell off the cliffs.

Later on, Tip O’Neil, Democratic Speaker of the House at the time, said that his greatest regret was not fighting Reagan’s cuts to social programs. But he believed that people would be so outraged by the cuts that they would turn against Reagan. He could not have been more wrong.

The tragedy is that government was well on its way to achieving many of the goals we liberals still dream of. Government activism reached its pinnacle in the Johnson administration, when Medicaid was passed and the war on poverty was well on its way to succeeding. But that all ended in a vice-grip between the left and the right. Johnson lost the support of the left due to Vietnam — a foreign policy he inherited and knew not how to extricate himself from — and from the right due to civil rights.

After all, it was during his time in office that the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act both passed. These pieces of legislation turned the formerly Solid South Republican and pushed suburban whites to the G.O.P. These one-time Democrats, after all, lived in the Confederacy, or had fled urban diversity for lilly white suburbs. Johnson’s plans to desegregate these two regions led directly to Nixon’s southern strategy and ultimately to Trump.

Anyway, unlike Nixon, Reagan actually had an economic philosophy. His anti-government…

--

--

Michael Greiner

Mike is an Assistant Professor of Management for Legal and Ethical Studies at Oakland U. Mike combines his scholarship with practical experience in politics.