Reagan Was Wrong

Ronald Reagan, on balance, was one of our better Presidents.  Although the Soviet Union would probably have collapsed anyway, he accelerated the process; he reversed the trend toward bigger government; he made us feel better about ourselves, which seems silly, but is important, as it leads us to solve problems for ourselves, instead of moaning and wailing for the government to do it.

But there was one point where Reagan was mistaken.  He believed that tax cuts were an effective way to constrain the government: it the revenue isn’t coming in, then it can’t be spent.  Of course, his own administration did otherwise, ushering in the ear of huge deficits.  He proposed that he could cut taxes, increase defense spending, and still balance the budget.  I guess two out of three isn’t bad.

But now that we have the perspective of over two decades,  it’s clear that reducing taxes does not constrain government.  On the contrary: as long as someone out there is willing to lend, the politicians are willing to borrow.  Only when there is really and truly no more money will they stop.  But even then, they will rarely shut anything down.  Instead, they reduce its budget so that it works half-assedly.

And if we can come up with a gimmick in order to keep spending, like the current ‘quantitative easing’ by the Federal Reserve, so much the better.

Anything to avoid facing reality….

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