The Dish: Opinion: Andrew Sullivan: Why Rand Paul Matters: Senator Paul’s Critique of President Reagan’s Fiscal Policy

U.S. Senator Rand Paul

The Dish: Opinion: Andrew Sullivan: Why Rand Paul Matters

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This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger

For me, though, these clips make Paul’s candidacy more appealing, not less. What the GOP needs is an honest, stringent account of how it has ended up where it is – a party that has piled on more debt than was once thought imaginable and until recently, has done nothing much to curtail federal spending. Reagan was a great president in many ways, as Paul says explicitly in these clips.

But Reagan introduced something truly poisonous into American conservatism.

It was the notion that you can eat your cake and have it too, that tax cuts pay for themselves and that deficits don’t matter. This isn’t and wasn’t conservatism; it was a loopy utopian denial of math. And the damage it has done to this country’s fiscal standing has been deep and permanent. It is one of modern conservatism’s cardinal sins. And Paul is addressing it forthrightly – just as he is addressing the terrible, devastating consequences of neo-conservatism for America and the world in the 21st Century.

What we desperately need from the right is this kind of accounting. It’s what reformers on the left did in the 1990s – confronting the failures of their past in charting a new future. Taking on Reagan on fiscal matters may be short-term political death, as Corn suspects and maybe hopes, but it is vital if the GOP is to regain some long-term credibility on the core question of government solvency. Compared with the ideological bromides and slogans of so many others, Rand Paul is a tonic. And a courageous one at that.
The New Democrat
I really respect Senator Rand Paul and love Andrew Sullivan (you know platonically) because of their damned straight honesty and forthrightness.  Andrew, on his blog, The Dish, today compared the supply side economics of the Reagan and G.W. Bush administrations with the overreach of the Democratic Party at the time of the emergence of the New Left in America. The base of that party became so radical in the late 1960s and 1970s that it gave liberalism and Liberals a bad name.  It took Bill Clinton ,in the early 1990s, to bring the Democratic Party back to Earth, so to speak, and make it a center-left party again.
Senator Rand Paul was speaking the plain truth when he said that President Jimmy Carter had a better, more responsible and conservative fiscal record than President Ronald Reagan.  President Carter had a balanced budget as one of his goals and he pushed that throughout his presidency. He had a very rough economy and never got there but it wasn’t because of the overspending of his administration or the Congress.  It was because of the bad economy of the late 1970s and early 1980s.
President Reagan abandoned the goal of a balanced Federal budget by 1984 in late 1981 or early 1982 when his Economic Recovery Act became law.  He was getting intelligence reports about the U.S.S.R. and the mess its economy was in.  Perhaps he got the idea that this would be the time to end the Cold War and put the Soviet Union out of business.  That meant building up the Defense Department in an attempt to bring the Russians to their knees so that they had to negotiate with the U.S. in order to survive economically.
The fact is that our last fiscally conservative president was George H.W. Bush who was no radical,  right or left.  He had a pretty conservative fiscal policy and a tight monetary policy.  Without the 1990 Deficit Reduction Act that he negotiated with a Democratic Congress we wouldn’t have reached the balanced budget in 1998 that we did. President Gerald Ford is probably the most fiscally conservative president we’ve ever had as far limiting what the Federal Government would do and spend.  It is not Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush.  They were both supply side borrowers and spenders.

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