Media Reality Check
  Notable Quotables
  Press Releases
  Media Bias Videos
  30-Day Archive
  The Watchdog
  About the MRC
  MRC in the News
  Support the MRC
  Planned Giving
  What Others Say
  Take Action
  Gala and DisHonors
  Best of NQ Archive
MRC Resources
  Site Search
  Media Addresses
  Contact MRC
  Comic Commentary
  MRC Bookstore
  Job Openings
  News Division
  NewsBusters Blog
  Business & Media Institute
  Culture and Media Institute

Support the MRC


What The Media Tell Americans About Free Enterprise

Tell a friend about this site

Friday, February 18, 2000

Volume 8, Number 3

The 1980s, According to Mort

In this weekís issue, U.S. News and World Report owner and editor-in-chief Mort Zuckerman advises Republicans to drop their advocacy of tax cuts and embrace Clintonomics. He says the recent New Hampshire primary showed that "people may like tax cuts, but by 2 to 1, they tell pollsters, they prefer [Sen. John] McCainís approach, and, for that matter, President Clintonís."

Thatís not an argument likely to persuade GOP tax-cutters to change their minds, nor is Zuckermanís assertion that the Republican Partyís problem is its "convenient mythology." The party, says Zuckerman, "is still hooked on nostalgia for Ronald Reagan and the sense that he won in 1980 by promising tax cuts...But it wasnít quite like that."

"He won because the country was fed up with Jimmy Carter," Zuckerman explains. "Nor were Reaganís cuts good economics. They didnít trigger an economic recovery. In 1982 and 1983, recall, we were sunk in the deepest recession since 1929, weighed down by the Federal Reserveís sky-high interest rates. They were necessary to crush the inflation Reagan inherited from Carter.... His marginal rate cuts had some good effects. But what Reagan deserves lasting credit for is not tax cuts but the way he stood by Fed Chairman Paul Volcker when everyone was hurting. Indeed, the tax cuts cannot be mentioned without looking at the effect of the consequent disastrous budget deficit. The federal government took a huge proportion of national net savings and competed with private business for the available pool of capital."

Part of that is true -- President Reagan deserves great credit for supporting Volckerís war on inflation. But Reaganís tax cuts rid the nation of cripplingly high rates (itís easy to forget today that the top federal income tax rate was 70% when Reagan took office in 1980) and set the stage for the robust non-inflationary economic growth of the 1980s and 1990s. For more, see the Cato Instituteís Policy Analysis, "Supply-Side Tax Cuts and the Truth About the Reagan Economic Record."

Itís also hard to say that Reaganís tax cuts werenít a source of political strength. Reagan made those cuts a centerpiece of his 1980 campaign, and their popularity forced Jimmy Carter to counter with a smaller tax-cut package of his own. The difference between 1980 and 2000 is that Ronald Reagan ardently advocated tax reductions as good economic policy, while some of the current Republican candidates seem to prefer targeted tax cuts that could be interpreted as a form of constituency politics.

ó Rich Noyes


Home | News Division | Bozell Columns | CyberAlerts 
Media Reality Check | Notable Quotables | Contact the MRC | Subscribe

Founded in 1987, the MRC is a 501(c) (3) non-profit research and education foundation
 that does not support or oppose any political party or candidate for office.

Privacy Statement

Media Research Center
325 S. Patrick Street
Alexandria, VA 22314