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The Reagan Era is Officially Over

[reprinted from the Washington Post, by Tom Toles]

Da Doo Ron Ron

Okay, I’m calling it. On the same authority that the Wizard of Oz cited, the Universitatus Committeeatum e pluribus unum, I’m officially declaring the Reagan Era at a close. I think we can all agree on the name. Republicans never tire of naming any stationary object after Mr. Morning, and the rest of us can acknowledge that his shadow fell across the period that began with empty smiles and ended in genuine tears. The 60’s were the 60’s, and the 70’s were the 70’s. Decades with a clear character or lack of one. The 80’s were decidedly the 80’s. But the 90’s were really just more 80’s, and the 00’s were still more 80’s.

The proximate marker that caused me to bracket this period and make this declaration was this graph that appeared in The Post showing Americans’ savings rates. It shows a pretty straight-line decline from the early Reagan years until the Great W Recession. Yes, I’m naming that, too. The savings rate has now started going back up. It’s just one indicator, but representative enough to seal the deal.

What was the defining characteristic of the Reagan Era? MAKE BELIEVE. Deficits described as Discipline. Recklessness dressed up as Rectitude. Ideology substituting for Information. Optimism as a cover for Opportunism. It seemed too good to be true, and it was. What comes next? Don’t ask me just now. I’ve done enough here for one day. –Tom Toles

© Tom Toles



  1. PatriotSGT wrote:

    I was trying to sort out in my mind what as wrong with this post. It finally dawned on me that the cartoon and the editorial have little if nothing to do with each other. I’ll comment on the cartoon and budget developments.
    The cartoon is exactly correct in that both houses of congress have waited for the President’s budget proposal, as they should. It always flows from the top down. In the military we wait on the Sr. Commanders yearly guidance, before making our final decisions. We cannot go forward without it. Republicans are also exactly corret in that the Presdent punted on the big 4 elephants (SS, Medicare, Medicaid, Defense)in the room. He looked more like the republicans going after the most vunerable. In my experience most all politicians play the fear factor and go for cuts in police, fire fighters, education and programs for the most vulnerable. Then after the uproar they say then I guess we MUST raise revenue (taxes). They present it as an either or, but it’s just not so. Here’s my ten points of fiscal sanity.
    1. Why can’t we cut defense, end the war(s), bring our sons and daughters home?
    2. Why can’t we eliminate or drastically reduce foreign aid and give it to teachers, cops and fuel for the poor?
    3. Why can’t we raise the retirement age for SS?
    4.Why can’t we eliminate SS for anyone earning 100k plus in retirement money?
    5. Why can’t we ditch this trillion $ HCR, and plus up states Medicaid budgets by 1/2 trill, an eliminate all the fed overhead? Keep the regs, but let the states take care of their citizens. It would be competitive like it is with retirement.
    6. Why can’t we put back the 1/2 trillion taken from Medicare and then properly fund it for our seniors?
    7. Why can’t we get rid of TSA and let airports provide security per Federal guidelines/regulations?
    8. Why can’t everybody pay at least $10 in Fed Tax. Or why can’t we enact a national sales tax, so even drug dealers and criminals pay tax?
    9. Why can’t we eliminate corporate welfare?

    10. Why would the President propose a budget estimating a national debt of 23 trillion dollars in ten years and people seem to think thats OK? Does anyone realize whta the interest payment on that much money would be? A hint: more then we take in in revenue, which means we could fund nothing. No SS, no healthcare, no pensions, no presidents salary, nada, zip, zilch!

    Thursday, February 17, 2011 at 7:15 pm | Permalink
  2. Iron Knee wrote:

    The answer to your “why can’t we” questions is the whole point of the editorial. Because of “Make believe”.

    Thursday, February 17, 2011 at 7:30 pm | Permalink
  3. ebdoug wrote:

    Another topic: Texas has added 4 million Latin Americans to its population. Texas will therefore be entitled to more Representatives in the House who will vote Republican. Texas being a Red State will cast more electoral votes for the Republican nominee who will be voting against the wishes of the Latin Americans. To me that is Ironic.

    Thursday, February 17, 2011 at 7:50 pm | Permalink
  4. PatriotSGT wrote:

    Agreed IK, and it exists regardless of political party. I think the only real and reasonable way to actually get “change we can believe in” is through term limits for our 2 houses of congress. The next rally to restore sanity should be to demand that lawmakers create term limits. Our legislative positions were never intended to be career until death takes you positions where a blinded and hypnotized voting block keeps pushing the same button. Either that or our elected reps should earn no money while in office. On second thought then only the rich would run changing nothing. Term limits is the only way. Where are you Jon Stewart?

    Thursday, February 17, 2011 at 10:01 pm | Permalink
  5. Tim Firch wrote:

    The 60’s started in 63 (Beatles), the 70’s in 73 (I will cite Hunter S. Thompson for that), so would it not be prudent to wait for November 2012 to decide this?

    Friday, February 18, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Permalink
  6. Dan wrote:

    So does this mean “Voodoo/Supply side economics” is finished?
    Progressive taxes are reinstated, regressive taxes a thing of the past? We we back tracked on the unraveling of the “New Deal?”
    People are taking to the streets in protest. On PBS’ News Hour last night some kid argued that public employee benefits were “out of line with the private sector” OK, so the private sector should be brought into line with having a middle class. I still think Medicare for all paid for with a national sales tax is the way to go. But what do I know? I’m retired military with TriCare and the VA system, and loving it.

    Saturday, February 19, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Permalink