Saturday, July 16, 2011

More on Reagan and American Politics

"The idea that Reagan changed America's mind about taxes and the role of government is false

"Political scientist James Stimson, author of Public Opinion in America: Moods, Cycles, and Swings, has constructed an index of economic liberalism based on hundreds of public opinion questions asked repeatedly over the years. This index reached a low-point in 1980 and rose dramatically for the next seven years, reaching a plateau at levels not seen since Nixon's first term, as if Reagan's rhetoric were convincing more and more people of the exactly the opposite of what he was saying.

"This rise was reflected, for example, in four questions asked in the General Social Survey, the most-cited data source for social scientists after the US Census. Between 1980 and 1990, the number of people saying the government was spending "too little" nationally increased 27.4 per cent on health care, 32.9 per cent on education, 67.8 per cent on welfare and 46.7 per cent on the environment. The questions all reminded people that increased taxes might be required if more was spent.

"What's more, 20 years after Reagan's election, in 2000, federal tax receipts as a percent of GDP were up 8.4 per cent over what they had been the year Reagan was elected, indisputable proof that government's role had ultimately not decreased across that time-span."

This information on Reagan is interesting, especially the last paragraph with regard to how little has changed in the U.S. since Reagan, the paragon of "conservatives" for some, was president and allegedly conducted the "Reagan Revolution." My bet is that after whatever "budget deal" is struck in D.C. that our politics and our government will change very little. And my bet is also that whatever deal is struck will make the re-election of Obama more rather than less likely. And, finally, my bet is that the insurgents in the Republican Party will be compromised as a result of the forthcoming "deal." Hey, I know: Let's make a deal!

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