10 March 2016

America’s Economy Failed Under Reagan. So, Why Do Republicans Admire Reaganomics So Much?

When Ronald Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter in November 1980, Americans hoped that they had elected a Republican president whom would save the country and “Make America Great Again”. Jimmy Carter left Reagan with an economy of an inflation rate of 12%, an unemployment rate of 6.4% and a deficit of $59billion. Reagan was elected on the grounds that he could introduce conservative policies to improve the economy. 

According to every Republican currently running for office and, the candidates who dropped out, Reagan turned the country around and was one of the best presidents to have ever lived. Donald Trump often references him (noting the similarities of them not being politicians) and has even copied his campaign slogan in homage.

The problem is, Reaganomics didn't work and Reagan was an appalling president in terms of economics. What Reagan did was enforce the rich (the 1%) by reducing the tops rates of income tax and capital gains tax and reduced the size of the state both in terms of welfare and regulation. His trickle-down economics did everything but. Before he took the position, even his VP (George H. W. Bush) slated his economic policies calling them “voodoo economics”.

The average American was hurt under the Reagan administration. Unemployment rate was an average 7.5% with it peaking at 10.8% in 1982. The number of people living under the poverty level was as high as 15.2% (1983). Reagan is the only president not to increase the minimum wage meaning that real wages were behind inflation rates after the 1970s recession, all the way until the end of Clinton’s term. The national debt rose from $712 billion to $2.052 trillion and government spending averaged 22.4% (which is higher than the average (20%) between 1970 and 2009)

Granted, by the end of Reagan’s presidency, inflation was on the decrease along with the unemployment rate and American’s under the poverty level. He also increased GDP growth, increased the number of jobs and increased the number of households earning over $75,000. 

The problem is, Reagan is seen as this real Republican hero who served two terms in office and made America great again. But unfortunately this is a myth. He made the country great for the 1% but for the average American, he made it worse. Not to mention almost trembling the national debt, increasing the deficit and being involved in one of the biggest scandals to ever rock a president.

The Republicans admire him for mythological reasons and it’s not just Donald Trump. It’s Cruz, Rubio, the RNC and Republican voters too. For some reason, after his presidency, Reagan has become a cult figure like no other president. His sins were forgotten and his record seems to be wrongly admired. It's as if his charismatic persona overrode his policies to an extent that people are now oblivious to everything he did that hurt the average American. The hollywood glamour shone so brightly that it blinds his supporters.

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