Sunday, December 9, 2018
The Last Honest Republican
Well, he certainly picked a good time to die. Although nobody actually put it into words, it was inevitable that he would be compared to the current occupant of the White House — and by that standard, even William Howard Taft would have come off well. We also shouldn't forget that he had the advantage of leading in far less threatening times, when the Soviet Union was collapsing and Islamic holy warriors were our allies in Afghanistan.
I give him full credit for not invading Iraq after pushing Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, and I wish he hadn't subscribed to the parenting style of letting one's children make their own mistakes. Did he resent Dick Cheney? If not, he must have been very nearly as saintly as his eulogizers claimed. I like to remember him, though, as the last honest Republican: the man who coined the phrase, "voodoo economics."
Ever since Arthur Laffer first drew his magical curve, Republicans have espoused the fiction that tax cuts "pay for themselves" by spurring economic growth that increases government revenues. Variously called "Reaganomics," "supply-side," and "trickle-down," this big lie has justified every transfer of wealth from ordinary Americans to the ultra-rich for forty years, culminating in the recent tax travesty that will send our budget deficit over one trillion dollars next year. George H. W. Bush knew it was a lie — and when push came to shove, he violated his "Read my lips: no new taxes" pledge, and became a one-term president.
I can admire that.