Can Obama really unravel Reagan?

Gone? Well, not yet

I like Robert Reich; he's one of the smartest economic thinkers in the country and can explain everything that's wrong with the economy in two minutes. And I really want to believe that he's correct in his latest essay, and that President Obama really is poised to under the Reagan Revolution (or at least, the Reagan Republican Coalition).

I get it: The GOP is a fractured collection of groups that often have little in common (although the Democratic Party has some of the same problems). And the Reich message is hopeful:

Obama’s focus in his second inaugural — and, by inference, in his second term — on equal opportunity is hardly a radical agenda. But it aggravates all the tensions inside the GOP. And it leaves the GOP without an overriding target to maintain its fragile coalition. In hammering home the need for the rich to contribute a fair share in order to ensure equal opportunity, and for anyone in America — be they poor, black, gay, immigrant, women, or average working person — to be able to make the most of themselves, Obama advances the founding ideals of America in such way that the Republican Party is incapable of opposing yet also incapable of uniting behind.

All of that may be true -- but it's hard to understate the damage that Reagan did to America -- and the amount of work and leadership it's going to take to get us back to where we were as a nation before he and his ilk declared war on social programs, cities, and non-military government spending.

Before the Reagan Era, even Republicans accepted the concept that the very rich should be taxed at high rates; the marginal rates under Richard Nixon were at 70 percent. In the 1960s and 1970s, the federal government spent huge sums of money on cities. Before Reagan, economic equality was a value in this country. Now it's not even on the agenda.

Obama's second inaugural touched all the right notes. But he needs to do more than tinker around the edges of policy if he wants to have a Reagan-style impact on the country. And I don't know if he's up for it.


The Dem's are always an uneasy coalition of people who don't necessarily have much in common with each other, e.g. blacks and gays, or wealthy people and welfare queens, or women and hispanics.

The GOP s actually fairly homogeneous (white, male, blue collar).

Anyway, how is Obama going to roll back the Reagan tax cuts as long as the GOP runs the House? You'd better hope the Dem's take it back in 2014 but it's not likely. In fact, the Dem's could lose the Senate in 2014.

Obama will increasingly look like a lame duck before the 2016 prez race, when a new class of younger GOP hopefuls will mix thigns up for sure.

Posted by anonymous on Jan. 28, 2013 @ 2:52 pm

The republicans have their fiscal conservatives who don't care about the religious non sense. What really made Reagan work for the Republicans was that Reagan was good at pretending to care about the religious idiocy and working for the money interests.

Is it tougher for the Democrats to keep a coalition of people together who are competing for handouts?

I guess a lot is based on how you look at it, and how the leadership deals with it.

Posted by matlock on Jan. 28, 2013 @ 3:53 pm

GOP? Homogenous?

The GOP is comprised of two parties with absolutely nothing in common:

1) White trailer trash.

2) Chamber of Commerce upper-middle-class and the wealthy

Karl Rove knew how to keep the coalition together. You throw a bone to the Trailer Trash round election time ("They's trying to kill Terry Schiavo!"...and then you ignore the trash until the next election.

Posted by Troll the XIV on Jan. 28, 2013 @ 6:57 pm
Posted by matlock on Jan. 28, 2013 @ 3:46 pm

"And I really want to believe that he's correct in his latest essay,..."

Isn't that the same position you took with "savior" Obama in 2008?...followed by your gushing endorsement of him for the 2012 election?....That you really want to believe.

One can "really want to believe" in Ms/Ms Tooth Fairy and get the same outcome. Get it?

As Eddie wrote on here the other day: liberals are "fucking retarded."
No offense meant to developmentally disabled people.

That's very true. To begin with, they don't have a Bull Shit Detector for politicians with a D next to their name and their "savior" Obama is full of bull shit.

Inaugural demagogy

Posted by Guest on Jan. 28, 2013 @ 4:13 pm

The actions of liberals prove correct his observation.

Posted by Eddie on Jan. 29, 2013 @ 12:02 am

"And I really want to believe..."

Fundamentalist christians say the same thing.

It's wishful-thinking, which is what Obama-bots operate on, along with denial.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 28, 2013 @ 4:27 pm

With its attendant 22% mortgage rates and long gas lines.

Oh wait - as soon as I wrote that I realized progressives LOVE high mortgage interest rates and making people wait 2-3 hours to get a tank of gas in their car - now it all makes sense!!

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jan. 28, 2013 @ 6:02 pm

the pre-Reagan America of the cold war, 70% tax rates and endless government expansion was actually a good thing.

Remember when Reagan was re-elected winning 49 of the 50 States? Tim was on the other side of that. Wrong then and wrong now.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 28, 2013 @ 6:44 pm

To blame or accolade him though is to give Reagan too much credit.

The fall of the Soviet union was a product of natural forces, the mid to late 80's expanding economy was a product of natural forces, the lack of realization of the liberal dreams of the Redmond's of the world is a product of natural forces.

The left and right and their obsession with Regan is bizarre. Both sides give credit to a dunce for their success and failure.

William Safire single handedly made dullard right wingers give credit to Reagan for the fall of the USSR, the Chomsky/Zinn left whine that their decades of failure around the welfare state is the fault of Reagan.

Reagan is the flash point of the "Paranoid Style of American Politics" of todays politics.

Posted by matlock on Jan. 28, 2013 @ 7:08 pm

And everything to do with Tim's longing for a return to the days of stagflation, massive property tax increases (75% per year in California) which drove people to sell their homes to pay their property tax bills and massive gas lines. Tim thinks these things were a sign of a healthy society - he abhors people who drive cars and who own property. Why wouldn't he desire a return to a time where people had 22% interest mortgages? Confiscatory tax rates are basically Tim's wet dream.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jan. 28, 2013 @ 7:32 pm

The sense of entitlement that people like Tim have is amazing.

Reagan is just a marker, like a day on the calendar. Reagan's real influence is probably mild, he came to power articulating through the speech writing of Safire, Buchanan... what many people were feeling at the time.

I think Reagan was a dimwitted lame figurehead and empty suit, but he reflected the history of "social justice" failed policies. He played off somewhat status, racialist(probably unwittingly) and foreign policy feelings to get elected.

Reagan continued many Carter policies, if not for Iran Reagan would have lost. Unhappily for the democrat left Carter already had started the ridiculous military build up and the support of the Contras, with a second term Carter would have been little different than Reagan.

Reagan just happened to be there at the time to anger and or soothe the nuts.

Posted by matlock on Jan. 28, 2013 @ 8:16 pm

The repugs will always deal with terrorists and give them what they want while pretending to be principled and patriotic.

Whole lot o' matlocky tonight!

Posted by lillipublicans on Jan. 28, 2013 @ 9:01 pm

What does it matter now anyway?

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jan. 28, 2013 @ 10:02 pm

Be the conspiracy theories true or not, one has to deal with the Reagan presidency as an adult. Like all things Lillipublican refuses to deal with things as an adult. The idea of Reagan for the left and right is more powerful than the actuality. It's also odd that Lilli surrenders to both the right and left Reagan's position. He can't even give into Redmond's position on Reagan because of his own immediate position, oddly interesting that he has taken himself out of having an opinion, typical though of his know nothing status.

Likely little would have changed with Carter as president instead of Reagan, Carter's projected spending was a future of massive defense spending deficits. Not that it matters around the deep understandings of Lilli.

Posted by matlock on Jan. 29, 2013 @ 2:16 am

is only surpassed by his -- awesome! -- inability to describe the thinking of others.

Is it all just a cruel joke then? Well, cruel jokes lose their sting once their purpose becomes understood.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jan. 29, 2013 @ 6:15 am

You seem old enough to remember the cold war well enough.

I don't want to take part in leftish revisionism so much, Reagan in his dottering state rambled on about the USSR and the welfare state.

At the time the new left was still full of 70's revolutionaries who looked at the USSR as a bit of a savior, mass murder and gulags. Todays left learned at the feet of the 70's new left, who are aging out academia.

Reagan is a figurehead for both sides. He is at once an enemy of the left and a hero of the right, for all the wrong reasons. Clinton did more to damage the welfare state than Reagan ever did while the right hates him and the left sorta loves him.

I don't think its the Carter/Ford/Nixon policies that are the problem here, its the mythos around Reagan. Reagan only changed the game around defense spending and budget busting, something that both sides ignore or blame on the other.


I had hopes that with the election of republican Bush Jr punk rock would be good again, no such luck.

Posted by matlock on Jan. 28, 2013 @ 7:59 pm

"moderated" political views: Zero.

As a false moderate" you gamely try to mimick that which as a rabid right winger you heartily despise for the sole purpose of attempting to disprove and discredit it.

Oh yeah: TLDNR. Stopped at your mention of punk rock.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jan. 28, 2013 @ 8:26 pm

So you read the whole thing.

Good for you.


Posted by matlock on Jan. 28, 2013 @ 8:44 pm

That's all.

This site is polluted enough with matlocky without actually having to read it.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jan. 28, 2013 @ 8:54 pm

Matlocky=pollution. Best to read only the first or the last line of his posts and them reply with something truly dimwitty.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 28, 2013 @ 9:54 pm

Obama is looking good with the market up 125% from it's 2009 low.

Gotta be doin' something right, yo?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 01, 2013 @ 1:04 pm

You may not have a job, but Wall Street is doing great!

Hope and change!

Posted by Demented, Yet Terribly, Terribly, Persistent on Feb. 01, 2013 @ 1:15 pm

The US has about 5% of the world's population. Large US companies - who operate all over the globe - are not that dependent on US employment since they can both produce and manage their operations from just about anywhere. The US economy is important for its highly regarded technology wonks and its dominance in financial and legal expertise, but as far as producing goods and services within US borders, US labor costs are not very competitive with most other locations, especially in places around the globe where future demand is being created.

After traveling to Africa, S. America, Asia, central Europe and other places that combined have many times the population of the US, it's fairly easy to see the huge pent-up demand in the rest of the world for goods and services that are taken for granted in the US. Many of these goods and services will be supplied by US companies.

The US economy (separate from US companies) has many traits similar to Greece - large, unsustainable public and private debts that will restrict the US economy from purchasing new goods and services as these debts are eventually paid off over the next 10-30 years. This will hurt US company earnings, but reduced earnings in the US will be more than offset by rapidly growing economies overseas.

The US government has done a good job devaluing the US dollar to make the terms of trade more competitive, and US exports have increased accordingly, but for most of the bottom 2/3 of labor market whose wage increases have not kept up with the US dollar devaluation, their standard of living has been decreasing.

The U6 and U9 unemployment ratios have been around 15-20% over the past few years and things have worked out just fine for US company stock prices. Obvioulsy social unrest becomes a problem when the unemployment rate gets too high, but even then US companies are significantly building up their presence overseas and can fairly easily move even more of their operations overseas if either taxes or social unrest become significant risk factors. And it's likely the US population response from those most affected by the changing economic enviornment will be much like Greece too - many fiery speeches, some violent demonstations, and lots of empty political rhetoric - while the rest of the world marches on.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 01, 2013 @ 2:39 pm

so US inevstors can make hay even while the domestic economy isn't doing so well.

Prudent investors don't look at purely US indicators any more and, as long as places like China grow at 8% per annum, we can make some nice gains and dividends, while only getting taxed 15% on them.

So thanks for Obama for keeping the Bush tax cuts too.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 01, 2013 @ 2:52 pm

Wages at the high end have remained flat if not fallen over 20-30 years in relative terms as well leading to an erosion of standard of living.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 01, 2013 @ 3:12 pm

same in relative terms. 20-30 years ago nobody had cell or smart phones, the internet, Skype, email, IM and all the things that make modern life richer and easier.

You cannot compare life now with life in 1983.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 01, 2013 @ 3:22 pm

Standard of living is no doubt defined differently by everyone depending on their life priorities, but a few new techno gadgets, or a new avocado colored refridgerator, or that cool new orange shag carpet in the living room are clearly not very high on the list.

Since life itself is limited, for most people a high standard of living is the amount of free time they have, coupled with relatively few stresses about economic stability. By this measure, the majority of the US population has done very poorly over the past 40 years since housing and tax costs are far higher as a percent of incomes, leaving less free time and far less economic stabilty in all other aspects of their life.

Only 60 years ago we paid $60 max for social security taxes; now we pay over $16,000 a year for anyone making $100,000. Thirty years ago housing costs were closer to 15-25% of family income (with often only 1 person working in the household), now it's closer to 35-50%, with many household incomes containing 2 working adults.

A few technological baubles may be nice diversions for some people, but they hardly add much to our increased free time or increased economic stability.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 01, 2013 @ 4:04 pm

So if, for instance, a car costs the same next year but has more features, comfort and performance, then that is an increase in the standard and quality of living even though the car costs the same in terms of how many hours you have to work to buy it.

Or, if it may still take one day to earn enough to buy a cell phone as 20 years ago, but the ones now are infinitely better.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 01, 2013 @ 4:32 pm

equal standard of living. Many of these things are just another way to convince someone to buy something she doesn't need or even really wants in order to make money for the masters of the economy.

Unemployment--up, now steady
Real wages--flat to down
Equity markets--up

The owners don't need all of us employed to make their profits, especially with the Fed goosing the system.

Posted by Eddie on Feb. 01, 2013 @ 4:05 pm

Quantitative easing is throwing synthetic gasoline on the market; once the low interest rates and MBS subsidies go away, so will equity prices.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 01, 2013 @ 1:17 pm

Help, help, I'm agreeing with Marcos!

Posted by Demented, Yet Terribly, Terribly, Persistent on Feb. 01, 2013 @ 1:27 pm

Better to have a unrealized profit than not have one.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 01, 2013 @ 2:00 pm

Quantatative Easing.

Posted by Eddie on Feb. 01, 2013 @ 1:19 pm

LOL ! The GOP is doing a FINE job of unraveling itself, thanks very much.
It was just a matter of time that the co-alition that Nixon put together back in the early 70's got long in the tooth and went to the elephant graveyard.
All those racist former Dems who ended up in the GOP via GEORGE WALLACE are now either in the assisted living center or the graveyard.
The 'politics' the GOP has depended on since 1972 is ever-shrinking and it is just a matter of time until the younger GOPer's push the rest of the wheelchair set over the stern.

Posted by The Dude Abides on Mar. 12, 2013 @ 12:07 pm

off has rarely worked out. Heck, the GOP was written off as recently as 2008 only to come roaring back to take the House in 2010, thereby neutralizing everything Obama wanted to do.

So yeah, write them odd again. But my money is on the next Prez being a Republican.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 12, 2013 @ 12:28 pm