Historical narratives matter. That’s why conservatives are still writing books denouncing F.D.R. and the New Deal; they understand that the way Americans perceive bygone eras, even eras from the seemingly distant past, affects politics today.Reagonomics not only failed it's still failing which is why we are in a recession now. Of course the only reason it is a recession is because the stock market is tanking so the investor class is taking the hits most Americans have been taking for seven years. Krugman continues:
And it’s also why the furor over Barack Obama’s praise for Ronald Reagan is not, as some think, overblown. The fact is that how we talk about the Reagan era still matters immensely for American politics.
Bill Clinton knew that in 1991, when he began his presidential campaign. “The Reagan-Bush years,” he declared, “have exalted private gain over public obligation, special interests over the common good, wealth and fame over work and family. The 1980s ushered in a Gilded Age of greed and selfishness, of irresponsibility and excess, and of neglect.”
Contrast that with Mr. Obama’s recent statement, in an interview with a Nevada newspaper, that Reagan offered a “sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing.”
Maybe Mr. Obama was, as his supporters insist, simply praising Reagan’s political skills. (I think he was trying to curry favor with a conservative editorial board, which did in fact endorse him.) But where in his remarks was the clear declaration that Reaganomics failed?
For it did fail. The Reagan economy was a one-hit wonder. Yes, there was a boom in the mid-1980s, as the economy recovered from a severe recession. But while the rich got much richer, there was little sustained economic improvement for most Americans. By the late 1980s, middle-class incomes were barely higher than they had been a decade before — and the poverty rate had actually risen.Everyone talks about how Hillary Clinton is a triangulating politician, which she is. But are you going to try to tell me Barack Obama is not worse? And Krugman concludes with why Obamas comments were ever so wrong:
When the inevitable recession arrived, people felt betrayed — a sense of betrayal that Mr. Clinton was able to ride into the White House.
Given that reality, what was Mr. Obama talking about? Some good things did eventually happen to the U.S. economy — but not on Reagan’s watch.
For example, I’m not sure what “dynamism” means, but if it means productivity growth, there wasn’t any resurgence in the Reagan years. Eventually productivity did take off — but even the Bush administration’s own Council of Economic Advisers dates the beginning of that takeoff to 1995.
Now progressives have been granted a second chance to argue that Reaganism is fundamentally wrong: once again, the vast majority of Americans think that the country is on the wrong track. But they won’t be able to make that argument if their political leaders, whatever they meant to convey, seem to be saying that Reagan had it right.