Category Archives: Ronald Reagan

Five Years Without Jack Kemp

It’s hard to believe it’s been five years.

I remember hearing late in the evening on May 2, 2009 that Jack Kemp had passed away. I was out of town that weekend.

On Monday, May 4, I awoke to hear Bill Bennett Mornings playing loud and clear on my radio. I listened to guest after guest join Mr. Bennett to pay tribute to Jack Kemp as the week began. I was still somewhat groggy when Congressman Paul Ryan was on the show to remember Jack Kemp. I can remember that interview like it was yesterday. I remember Bill Bennett pointing out that Jack Kemp would note that Adam Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations, not The Poverty of Nations. Kemp wanted the focus to be on what worked, not on what failed. Solutions oriented folks operate that way.

Jack Kemp has been in my thoughts a lot lately. As I have gotten a little older and have started to realize that in politics many of the arguments never find resolution, I have been looking closely at some of the work Kemp did to improve the lives of the less fortunate.

Jack Kemp was compassionate, a bleeding heart conservative, and this may have been his greatest gift. Kemp was able to apply a humanitarian view to many of the problems that ailed society simply by showing up. Kemp spent countless hours in places modern Republicans rarely tread. Kemp believed in the American Dream, the belief that in America, every single person had the capacity to reach for the stars, and get there, if they simply wanted it and worked toward it. Kemp wanted a level playing field, rather than viewing America as red or blue and taking a “every man for himself” approach, Kemp wanted to make sure that being trapped was an option, not a predetermination.

I’ve written recently about Congressman Paul Ryan and Robert Woodson, founder of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise. I won’t rehash that work here, you can read it on your own if you like, but it’s worth noting that Bob Woodson worked closely with Kemp, and in turn some twenty years later is working with Congressman Ryan as they both look to address some of the same issues on which Kemp had begun to work. Kemp is no longer with us, but that certainly does not mean his work does not continue.

Finally, Jack Kemp wanted economic growth. Serious, unlimited, no-holds-barred, through-the-roof, economic growth. He figured cutting taxes would spur entrepreneurs and development. Sure, he wasn’t as worried about the deficit side of things, the logic of the day was, if you cut taxes and more people went to work, there would be more people paying in to the government till, and deficits would go down just by their nature. And we have to remember, Jack Kemp helped introduce tax cuts to the Republican platform, tax cuts were not always part of the Republican mantra. If you read a little history from the late 1970’s, you’ll see that Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp had some pretty fierce arguments about tax cuts. Kemp ultimately won the debate, Reagan adopted Kemponomics as Reaganomics, and the 1980’s saw a great economic recovery. The rest is history.

Anyway, on the five year anniversary of Jack Kemp’s passing, I wanted to add my two cents. It may be closer to fifteen cents, and you loyalists will get that and laugh. It’s a hodgepodge of thoughts, but that’s rather the point.

It’s hard to believe it’s been five years…

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Filed under jack kemp, Ronald Reagan

Reagan’s Vital Lesson On Reducing Gas Prices Worked

From today’s Investor’s Business Daily:

Energy: It wasn’t anything mysterious that allowed Ronald Reagan to bring gasoline prices down so far, so fast. It was something we could use a commitment to in the executive branch today: economic freedom.

Skyrocketing gas and heating oil prices were the most infuriating development associated with what was mistakenly called the “energy crisis” during the 1970s. Mighty America, it seemed, had lost grasp of world events and the global economy.

It was understandable that presidential leadership in the world would slip badly during Watergate and Vietnam, but when a new Democratic president untainted by war or massive scandal was placed in the driver’s seat in the latter half of the decade, what could explain his failure to rein in the price of oil?

Oil, which was about $20 a barrel in constant dollars at the beginning of the decade, exceeded $100 by 1980. The man the American people had elected to be leader of the free world put his incompetence in a nutshell in his May 24, 1979, diary entry:

“I had a depressing breakfast with economic advisers, who don’t know what to do about inflation or energy.”

That didn’t stop Jimmy Carter from embracing a windfall-profits tax on Big Oil. But if he and those he appointed didn’t know what to do, liberal Democrats in Congress certainly knew what wasn’t going to work. Reagan’s decontrolling the market for oil was lambasted and lampooned on the Senate and House floors.

As Steven Hayward puts it in the second volume of his epic history “The Age of Reagan”: “In the annals of public policy prognostication it is difficult to find such a wide assembly of wrongheadedness.”

Sen. Howard Metzenbaum of Ohio promised in early 1981, “we will see $1.50 gas this spring, and maybe before. And it is just a matter of time until the oil companies and their associates, the OPEC nations, will be driving gasoline pump prices up to $2 a gallon.”

Sen. Dale Bumpers of Arkansas claimed, “without rationing, gasoline will soon go to $3 a gallon.” Sen. George Mitchell of Maine, later the Senate’s Democratic majority leader, warned that “every citizen and every family will find their living standards reduced by this decision.”

Instead, when Reagan removed price controls on oil via an executive order issued shortly after his inauguration, the price fell almost immediately and kept dropping so that by the first year of his second term average gas prices were below 90 cents a gallon.

Thanks to Reagan showing the way, it would be many years before rising gas prices would become a problem for Americans, with many gas stations still selling regular for well under 90 cents even in the late 1990s. Somehow the nation’s greedy oil companies were found to be uninterested in gouging consumers when they would have little noticed.

As Brian Domitrovic, economic historian at Sam Houston State University noted recently in Forbes, when Reagan’s energy, monetary and tax cut policies were in full swing in early 1983, “the whole energy crisis was on the cusp of vanishing from the scene.”

Domitrovic points out that somehow all the petroleum “‘supply’ crises also disappeared for good. This was so even though the world’s major economy was embarking on one of its most remarkable modern runs of multidecade growth.”

Inflation, somehow, wasn’t accompanying the Reagan boom, as economists of the left believed it must.

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Filed under crude, free market, gas prices, jimmy carter, opec, Ronald Reagan, steven hayward, the age of reagan

Ronald Reagan, Freedom And The Current President

I happened across this image this morning and I thought it was too good not to share:

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Happy 101st Birthday Ronald Reagan

I’d like to direct you to my blog post from last year on President Reagan’s 100th birthday, remembering the President when I was a kid.

Finally, out at the Reagan Libary in Simi Valley, California, the funeral condolences book from the President’s 2004 funeral is on display. In the book, Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher wrote the following:

“To Ronnie, Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

If that doesn’t touch you where it counts, check your pulse.

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Comparing Ads

Speaker Gingrich is out with a great new 1 minute ad:

After watching the new Gingrich ad, take a look at President Reagan’s 1984 ad “It’s Morning In America Again”:

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Filed under 1984, 2012, 2012 election, newt gingrich, Ronald Reagan, tv ads

Memories of Ronald Reagan at 100

So many people are documenting their thoughts about Ronald Reagan on this, his 100th birthday, so I will give in to the temptation and offer some of my memories as well.

My earliest memories of President Reagan go back to my third grade year. One of my best friends at the time (Mike M., he knows who he is) and I stood up in front of our class and each recited the 40 Presidents at the time, in order. And of course, at that time Reagan was the 40th and last President. Mike M. and I both got extra credit for doing this, and we were the only two in the entire 20-25 student class to do this.

Our third grade class wrote letters to the White House when we were studying the Presidency. Each student who mailed a letter, received a package in the mail which contained an 8×10 of President Reagan (the now infamous bust shot of Reagan with the American flag in the background), a book/magazine about the White House (a book/magazine that I still have to this day) and a letter from the President thanking us for writing and encouraging us to study further. Yes, I realize this was not a personal letter, but the 8×10 got thumb-tacked to my bedroom wall, how many third graders can say that? What can I say, I always thought President Reagan looked cool. He was the same age as my grandfather, and I thought that was cool too. My grandfather would have been 100 later this year, I’ll write about that in due time.

In 1984, my classroom did a secret ballot vote for Reagan vs. Mondale. The 22-1 defeat I suffered that day was made better when I read about the landslide victory the next morning on the front page of the San Antonio Express-News. I’ll take 49-1 across the country every time.

Finally, I remember President Reagan speaking to the country the day the space shuttle Challenger exploded. My class at the time was watching tv live when the shuttle took off, as we were studying astronomy and all the teachers in America were especially intrigued with Astronaut (and teacher) Christa McAuliffe being on that space flight. I remember President Reagan speaking to the country, and especially singling out the students of America, practically talking directly to us. Again, it was like grandpa was speaking right to me.

I was an adult when President Reagan revealed he was suffering from Alzheimers. I was living in Georgia, working on a congressional campaign, when the President died in 2004. I have been to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, three times, the first time being in 1999. I have even visited the Library there as a researcher, where I was able to look at papers from the archives. I have twice been able to stand where the President is buried, where he will forever face the sunsets in the west, when the sun drops below the mountains of Simi Valley at the end of each day.

Anyway, those are my recollections for this momentous day celebrating a momentous man.

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Filed under conservatism, republican, Ronald Reagan

Reagan Super Bowl XLV Tribute

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Filed under college republicans, conservatism, republican, republican party, Ronald Reagan, super bowl