Feature

Obama and the end of Reaganomics

How Obama’s budget clashes with Ronald Reagan’s fiscal legacy

President Obama’s first budget is a “bold, even radical departure” from recent fiscal policy, said David Leonhardt in The New York Times. It seeks to “sharply raise taxes on the rich” and cut taxes for everyone else, to reverse 30 years of growing income inequality. In fact, Obama’s budget is “nothing less than an attempt to end a three-decade era of economic policy dominated by the ideas of Ronald Reagan.”

Obama actually “sees himself a Reagan,” with some justification, said Charles Krauthammer in The Washington Post. Both men “came to office to do something,” not “to be someone.” But whereas Reagan came to shrink government and lower taxes, “Obamaism” seeks universal health care, education, and green energy, all propped up by tax dollars. Based on this budget, Obama wants to turn America into a “European-style social democracy.”

“We won’t become France or Sweden” under Obama, said Matt Miller in The Daily Beast, but he will raise taxes, probably on everyone eventually, to end the failed “Starve the Beast” paradigm that has been de facto policy since “the Reagan ascension.” Obama’s big wager—call it “Feed the Beauty”—is that he can make government into something people want, something “worth paying for.”

We won’t know for some time if Obama’s gamble pays off, said Peggy Noonan in The Wall Street Journal. But with our nation in an emergency, “Americans want their president to succeed.” Ideology at this point is a “secondary” consideration. But if we’re looking at comparisons, “the last unalloyed, inarguable success was Reagan. We need another.”

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