Well, aren’t we partying like it’s 1988?
I have spent a good part of the day talking about the Reagan Revolution in the context of the têtê-â-têtê between Rick Perry and Ron Paul and where both men were politically that year. I suppose it’s only fitting that Jim Antle should make reference to a Tracy Chapman song (although I must admit I preferred “Fast Car” over “Talkin’ ’bout a Revolution.”) But in all seriousness let me answer Jim’s question. Specifically, did Reagan preside over too much spending or not enough?
Well, I think an argument can certainly be made that Reagan presided over too much spending. But bear in mind that the Democrats controlled the House of Representatives during Reagan’s entire Presidency and regained control of the Senate his last two years in office. Congress overrode nine of Reagan’s vetoes. One of those overridden vetoes brought us Boston’s Central Artery Tunnel Project otherwise known as The Big Dig. It was the costliest public works project in American history. Indeed, the Big Dig was projected to cost $2.5 billion. Well, it took twenty years to complete and it ended up costing $14.7 billion.
The President of the United States simply does not have dictatorial powers. He alone does not have a say in how public monies are spent. So in the unlikely event that all the other GOP candidates mysteriously vanished leaving Paul the GOP nominee by default and he somehow found a way to beat Obama, he would still be faced with the same problems which confronted Reagan. Paul, like Reagan, would have to make the best of the political situation before him and making the best of things will always anger somebody. Invariably, some of his supporters would accuse Paul of falling short, if not betraying his own revolution. Perhaps then Paul would have an appreciation of the constraints inherent in the Office of the President of the United States both constitutional and political.
Simply put, it’s far easier to talk about a revolution than to implement one.