BR> For decades, conservative Republicans could not consistently climb out of their political minority status based on their limited government philosophy alone. That changed fundamentally for the long run in 1980, when Ronald Reagan embraced supply-side economics and the Kemp-Roth tax cuts, and campaigned on a vision for robust economic growth. The focus on economic growth and tax cuts transformed national politics into at least a 50-50 battle between liberals and conservatives, and even majorities for Republicans and conservatives by the mid-1990s.
p>Some neoconservatives are now arguing that Reagan's success was based on his support for maintaining the New Deal rather than a devotion to small government ideology. But Reagan clearly communicated to every voter over and over throughout the 1980 campaign that his “national economic recovery plan” was based on four components — tax cuts, spending cuts, removing unnecessary regulatory burdens, and sound monetary policy to stop inflation. That was all explicit, up front, and central. Reagan bowed only to pledge never to cut Social Security.
p>The economic growth component enabled Republicans to appeal consistently to a substantial majority of voters, because economic growth is the most progressive program possible. Growth is the most effective anti-poverty program in world history, shattering the whole notion of poverty over time. The Heritage Foundation publishes reports every year showing the standard of living of the poor in America today is comparable to the standard of living of the American middle class a few decades ago, and of the European middle class today.
p>Growth creates new jobs and rising wages that pull more and more of the poor out of poverty altogether, and more and more of the working class into the middle class. The poor in America today are almost all either recent low skill immigrants or those who dropped out of high school, bore out of wedlock children as teenagers, or suffer from alcohol or drug abuse. Over time, economic growth will pull these folks out of poverty as well.
p>Economic growth spreads broader and broader benefits across society. More rapid growth means more rapid development and wider use of breakthrough technologies such as the Internet. It means better health care and medical technology. It means more government revenue to help the poor enjoy these medical breakthroughs as well. It means more resources can be devoted to improving and maintaining the environment.
p>THIS PROCESS WAS was recently recognized by
editorial page editor Thomas G. Donlan in his book,
A World of Wealth: How Capitalism Turns Profit Into Progress
. Donlan writes,
Two centuries ago, even a wealthy man such as George Washington did not have central heating. A hundred years ago, the indoor toilet, the electric light, and the telephone were found in only a few homes that could afford to install them. These inconveniences became middle class necessities and now are commonplace items in virtually every American home, even the poorest.
BR>Donlan's no-nonsense book explains basic economics in terms the average person can understand. He starts by explaining,