It’s good to see Ron Reagan together with Bill Buckley. As far as I’m concern two of the fathers of the modern classical conservative movement. Who both had a role in making that movement national starting in the mid 1960s. With Barry Goldwater’s 1964 presidential campaign that went a long way in putting classical conservatism on the map in American politics, because of the states that Senator Goldwater was able to reached. Winning Southern states that up until 1964, the Democratic Party had owned and Senator Goldwater was able to win a few of them. And of course Richard Nixon was able to win a lot of Southern states in 1968 as he was elected president.
And the Republican Party was able to pick up a bunch of seats in Congress. Not only in this period but were also able to build on it to the point that they won back the Senate in 1980. The first time since 1952 that Senate Republicans won or held control of the Senate and would hold their majority for two more elections. And Ron Reagan was elected President in 1980 in a landslide and reelected in a landslide in 1984. George HW Bush President Reagan’s Vice President was elected President in 1988 in another landslide.
The Republican Party wins control of the House for the first time since 1952 in 1994. And win control of the Senate for the first time since 1984 in 1993. And a lot of this success came in the South. And Ron Reagan and Bill Buckley, as well as Barry Goldwater and other Classical Conservatives had a lot to do with their Republican Party’s success. By building the classical conservative movement and using the Republican Party as it’s vehicle.
They were talking about what’s been dubbed ‘Reaganomics’ which is supply side economics. Deep across the board tax cuts, deep cuts in regulations, but you don’t cut government spending. No matter how supply siders say otherwise, that’s how it was done in 1981. And the years after the 1981 Economic Recovery Act and they of course had President Reagan and a Republican Senate. But what did they do ten times after the ERA was passed in 1981, along with a Democratic House, raise taxes and increase the Federal budget in defense and in several other areas. Part of President Reagan’s ‘peace through strength’ foreign policy.
But the country paid a heavy price in debt and deficit.s Because those promised budget cuts that President Reagan promised in 1981, never came. But what came instead was a hell of a lot of spending. Dwarfing anything that President Carter or President Clinton could come up both Democratic president’s. Richard Darman one of the President Reagan’s budget directors, also a Conservative Republican, said that President Reagan didn’t like debt and deficits. What Howard Dean dubbed, ‘borrow and spend Economics’. But if it was a choice between a balanced budget or peace through strength, he would live with the debt and deficit.
Ron Reagan did a lot to build the modern classical conservative movement, as well as the Republican Party. And President Reagan does deserve credit for turning the economy around in the 1980s. And the Economic Recovery Act did play a role in that, as well as the defense spending especially with defense contractors and military jobs. But it didn’t pay for itself. The economic recovery did not pay for the Tax Cuts. And President Reagan and his allies have said well they had a Democratic House and later a complete Democratic Congress to deal with. Well that’s true but they had President Reagan and a Republican Senate for six years and he signed those bills into law.