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Riding In To Fix Failure: Four Rs Of Reaganism 2.0

Investor's Business Daily
June 8, 2012
By Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins

Four Republican Pillars: Do Mitt Romney, Sen. Rob Portman, Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Marco Rubio herald a second coming for the small-government . . .

"God moves in mysterious ways" - and so too does the remarkably self-correcting course of U.S. history. The sometimes balky Republican Party has been given an urgent assignment: It must lead a second Reagan Revolution that replaces government-induced failure with private-sector success.

The vital ingredients of Reaganism 2.0 are individual achievement and community common sense -- a formula with a proven track record in both the private and public sectors. Government does not have to be clumsy and wasteful, but it does need to be small and on a short leash.

The gloomy alternative is the failed big-government formula embraced by President Obama. First, it creates failure with high taxes and excessive spending. Then, it subsidizes failure with more spending and even higher taxes in a self-perpetuating downward spiral.

We are already in the fourth year of trillion-dollar annual deficits, likely headed for a fifth, and, at the president's insistence, next January the economy will be hit with a gigantic tax increase. No wonder jobs are scarce.

Mr. Obama is on course to push tax rates back up to 70%, the top rate in 1981 before Ronald Reagan came to the rescue and reduced it first to 50% and then to 28%.

Reagan was the ultimate non-Obama -- a happy and successful president who helped Americans help themselves. There was nothing mean-spirited or bitter about him. Unlike Obama, he would never pit American against American or sneer at those who cling stubbornly to religion and the Constitution. Reagan was himself devoted to God and freedom.

He was proud of America and America was proud of him. He took office at a bad time, when the economy was sinking into a recession. He quickly cut taxes and launched a successful economic recovery that in the third year (1983) had already pushed the GDP growth rate up to 4.5%. For the remaining five years of his presidency, GDP averaged a robust 4.1%.

Obama took office near the end of a recession. He increased deficits and debt and never produced an adequate economic recovery. From the second quarter of 2009 through the last quarter of 2010, the average growth rate was only 2.5% - which is not even sufficient to keep up with new entrants in the job market due to population growth, much less to provide jobs for the pre-existing unemployed.

In Obama's third year (2011), the GDP growth rate was only 1.7% (compared to Reagan's 4.5%). In the first quarter of 2012, it was only 1.9%. Further decline seems likely.

The four Rs of the much-needed second Reagan Revolution are Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio and Rob Portman. Together they can get Washington's boot off the economy's neck and let Americans be Americans. Jobs and prosperity can then return in abundance.

Romney is the skilled chief executive ready to take on history's largest "turnaround" job - restructuring the federal government into an efficient, financially sound enterprise that uplifts (instead of downgrades) the American people. If he succeeds, America will succeed.

Ryan is both the thought leader of the emerging new 21st century Republican Party and the natural inheritor of Reaganism. He is a happy warrior who accentuates the positive and inspires others. People understand and agree when Ryan explains in flawlessly accurate but simple terms the inevitably adverse consequences of excessive federal taxes and spending: the two things that lie at the heart of the failed Obama administration and that have cost the Americans so dearly for many decades.

The goal of Reaganism 2.0 is to make people exponentially better off - first, by making government smaller and the job-creating private economy larger; second, by using free-market principles to make government and needed government programs work better at less cost to the taxpayers.

Success means that no one is harmed, all are benefited. Washington must stop playing favorites, hurting some Americans, rewarding others, and, in the end, making everyone worse off.

Ryan, Portman and Rubio all have the intellectual and other capacities to be ideal running mates for Romney - and on their own - to be outstanding presidents. A half-dozen Republican governors are also more than capable of ascending to the White House. And the Reagan-oriented talent pool in Congress is growing.

Extraordinary progress can quickly be made by a skilled chief executive assisted by Cabinet officers and others who are themselves capable of being good presidents - but only if they all remain true to the spirit of Reagan, cheerfully putting America's interests first and their own last.

Christian is a lawyer and former Treasury tax official who served on President Reagan's transition team in 1980 and helped draft the original Reagan tax reforms enacted in 1981. Robbins is an economist who served at the Treasury Department under Reagan.


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