Monday, March 02, 2009

Hope for America

Greg Mankiw:
According to a new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey, 59% of voters still agree with Ronald Reagan’s inaugural address statement that “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”. Only 28% disagree, and 14% are not sure.

1 comment:

thinking said...

Rasmussen is known for polls that tend to skew towards the right end of the political spectrum. Scott Rasmussen himself is a regular guest on conservative talk shows.

As an example of poor polling assumptions, Rasmussen openly admitted that his sampling methods during the 2008 Election were based on the same 2004 model that IBD/TIPP used - including a "likely voter" definition that all but excluded the 18-24 year demographic. As a result, he always seemed to show Obama with a 3-5 point lead - when the lead was always somewhere in the 7-8 point range.

So I don't know that Rasmussen is such a reliable poll.

But the sad thing is this: the Reagan quote is always taken out of context.

The full Reagan quote is this:
"In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem."

So Reagan contextualized his comment. Perhaps he understood that his diagnosis was not always guaranteed to be true in all situations.

I mean what doctor would prescribe the exact same treatment for all patients and during his entire career?

What's also ironic is that Reagan was not nearly as conservative in deeds as some make him out to be.
Though in speeches Reagan continued to repeat his bold pledge to "get government out of the way of the people," government stayed pretty much where it was.

Reagan also raised taxes...a lot...after he initially cut them. That's not a criticism...he was being pragmatic and recognizing fiscal reality. In fact, no peacetime president has raised taxes so much on so many people as Reagan did.

Josh Green writes:
The historic Tax Reform Act of 1986, though it achieved the supply side goal of lowering individual income tax rates, was a startlingly progressive reform. The plan imposed the largest corporate tax increase in history--an act utterly unimaginable for any conservative to support today. Just two years after declaring, "there is no justification" for taxing corporate income, Reagan raised corporate taxes by $120 billion over five years and closed corporate tax loopholes worth about $300 billion over that same period.

When Reagan's conservative acting chief economic adviser, William Niskanen, was apprised of the plan he replied, "Walter Mondale would have been proud."

Reagan also vastly expanded one of the largest federal domestic programs, Social Security. When Reagan left office, govt was considerably larger than when he delivered that famous line in 1981.

And let's not forget that under Reagan the deficit ballooned.

I note this, again, not to necessarily criticize Reagan, but to point out that there is a conservative mythology surrounding Reagan that does not square with the facts.

In fact, fiscal conservatives do have a hero if they look at the data, and that is Bill Clinton. His economic record is superb, he actually achieved budget surpluses, and while Reagan added 61,000 to the federal payroll, Clinton reduced the number of federal workers by 373,000.