Here are my predicted similarities between Barack Obama and George W. Bush from this past Inauguration Day, about half which have already been fulfilled. I suppose, via transitivity, that Bush and Reagan were very different executives, as much as the former tried to link himself to the latter.
But most significant is the mirror image of how they appealed to the middle class. Reagan painted a bright picture for the middle class with the idea that if the government adopted policies that favored the wealthy - primarily capitalists and investors - their increased prosperity would cause prosperity to “trickle down” to all others. Thus, the keystones of Reagan’s economic agenda as he assumed the White House were:
- Reduce the growth of government spending,
- Reduce income and capital gains marginal tax rates,
- Reduce government regulation of the economy,
- Control the money supply to reduce inflation.
Among the most significant results of this approach was that the marginal tax rates under Reagan fell from 70 percent to 28 percent. Capitalism, wealth, investing and finance were glorified. The American Dream of success as measured by wealth and materialism was restored.
Look into the political mirror and you’ll see Obama reflected in reverse. Reagan told the middle they could dream of living like the wealthy; Obama told the middle that Reagan’s dream was fake. In his nomination acceptance speech, Obama laid out the case this way:
“Tonight, more Americans are out of work and more are working harder for less. More of you have lost your homes and even more are watching your home values plummet. More of you have cars you can’t afford to drive, credit cards, bills you can’t afford to pay, and tuition that’s beyond your reach.”
Who and what were to blame, according to Obama?
“For over two decades — for over two decades, [McCain has] subscribed to that old, discredited Republican philosophy: Give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else…. Well, it’s time for them to own their failure. It’s time for us to change America.“[Emphasis added]
And here’s how Obama’s mirror image of Reagan is being executed:
- Increase the growth of government spending,
- Increase taxes on those who benefitted most under Reagan policies; give tax breaks for the middle/working class,
- Increase government regulation of the economy and engage directly in corporate strategic decisions such as who should be the CEO of General Motors,
- Pump massive cash into the economy, even if it means increasing the risk of inflation for the sake of solving short-term needs.
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
Doug Poretz says Obama and Reagan are polar opposites