by Whet Moser
What Obama and the Reagan of 1982 have in common is a bad economy. Although economic data indicate the economy stopped shrinking and began growing last summer, unemployment is far higher than it was a year ago. The president's admirers think that as the recovery strengthens, Obama will bounce back, just as Reagan did.
We wouldn't bet too much on it. What Reagan had that Obama doesn't was a mandate for a clear set of policies: cutting taxes, rebuilding the military and freeing the economy from too much government, which eventually yielded good results.
Bet you know what's coming (hint: "moderate" "Republican" editorial "writing"):
[Obama's] budgets forecast an endless river of red ink.
The federal government's spending oscillated over the subsequent decades, running a surplus in the good years and a deficit in the bad ones, until the early 1980s. President Ronald Reagan's economic and foreign policies — tax cuts combined with substantial increases in Cold War—era defense spending — led to a string of deficits that averaged $206 billion a year between 1983 and 1992. The balanced-budget acts of 1990 and 1997 helped reverse this unprecedented level of peacetime spending, and in 1998 the U.S. recorded its first budget surplus in nearly 20 years.
"Reagan proved that deficits don't matter."
The fiscal shift in the Reagan years was staggering. In January 1981, when Reagan declared the federal budget to be "out of control," the deficit had reached almost $74 billion, the federal debt $930 billion. Within two years, the deficit was $208 billion. The debt by 1988 totaled $2.6 trillion. In those eight years, the United States moved from being the world's largest international creditor to the largest debtor nation.