The extreme right wing that clearly controls the Republican Party, depends on the fact that you don’t know the facts. The less you know, the more they win. They have been so successful at rewriting history that they really believe that Ronald Reagan is the paragon of conservative fiscal policy. They have created a mythology to support the ideology that has paralyzed Congress in a partisan stand-off. The mantle of fiscal conservatism proudly worn by the Republicans is nonsense and is not supported by the facts of history.
Ronald Reagan and his political cronies claimed falsely that the Soviets were spending far more than the US on arms, therefore dangerously placing us behind them in all areas of military readiness. The facts belied these claims, but facts never got in the way of Reagan. The “Present Danger” group, Reagan’s version of the NeoCons, so dominant during the George W. Bush Administration, painted a stark black and white picture of us against them. This led to a doubling of the Pentagon budget from $150 billion to $300 billion growing to 30% of the total budget during the Reagan Administration. The budget deficit grew from $50 billion to $220 billion during his presidency. I should also mention that this “paragon of fiscal conservatism” raised taxes several times during his administration as the unemployment rate continued to grow. His successor, George H.W. Bush, lost a bid for a second term because he did not live up to his promise of “No New Taxes”. So, under Republican “conservative fiscal policy ” from 1980 to 1992, the deficit increased, unemployment increased and taxes increased.
In 1992, when Bill Clinton came into office, he inherited a difficult economic situation. While there was plenty of partisanship to go around, there was still an understanding that there was a need to work together in Congress to solve the Nation’s problems. Consider the fact that it was Newt Gingrich that Clinton had to deal with, and he still succeeded. While there was plenty of anti-Clinton sentiment around, there was an understanding that Congress has first and foremost a responsibility to serve the people who elected them. At the end of the second term of the Clinton administration there was a budget surplus and unemployment was low. The economy was booming and the nation was at peace.
The arrival of George W. Bush was a return to the irresponsible fiscal policies of the Reagan years. During his administration he grew government at a staggering rate, got us into two wars, created a drug program for seniors, as well as across the board tax cuts. All of this while he created an atmosphere in the banking industry and Wall Street akin to the wild west. These policies established an anything goes freedom that ultimately led to a disastrous deficit and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
How can the Republicans look America in the eye and tell us that they know how to bring our economy back to prosperity? Do they think that we don’t know the facts? They certainly hope so.