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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Galston on Obama and Reagan Parallels

Over at The New Republic, TDS Co-Editor William Galston has published an article pointing to Ronald Reagan’s negotiation of an economic crisis and his subsequent landslide re-election as instructive for Barack Obama today.
In Galston’s take, Reagan overcame plunging approval ratings and a very difficult midterm election by constantly reminding Americans of the opposing party’s responsibility for the economic calamity, and its apparent failure to learn from it, and by sticking to his basic policy guns despite poor short-term results.
In some ways, Obama should find it easier than Reagan did to hold his predecessor responsible for the terrible economy, since a recession was well under way in Bush’s final year as president, and the financial collapse occurred on his watch. On the other hand, Reagan’s party did not have the sort of control of Washington (the House remained Democratic throughout his tenure) that Obama’s does, and even the Republican-controlled Senate rebelled against him on occasion (most notably in forcing a tax increase in 1982).
Generally, though, the parallels between Reagan’s political situation then and Obama’s now are indeed striking. And certainly Democrats hope to be able to say in 2012 that it’s “morning in America again.”

One comment on “Galston on Obama and Reagan Parallels

  1. ducdebrabant on

    Reagan’s financial collapse occurred on his watch too. Unemployment under Carter was high (he inherited that from Nixon and Ford) but going down, and inflation was high but going down until the oil price spike at the end of his term. The Reagan recession (which was huge — the worst since before WWII) started during the Reagan administration, and unemployment went to 10.8%. That (along with a drop in OPEC’s oil price) took care of inflation. It took the rest of Reagan’s term to get unemployment back down to exactly where it was under Carter, and that was touted as an economic miracle. TNR can rewrite history if it wants to, but let’s not the rest of us be their echo chamber.


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