When Character Was King a Story of Ronal Peggy Noonan

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When Character Was King a Story of Ronal  by  Peggy Noonan

When Character Was King a Story of Ronal by Peggy Noonan
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I finished reading Peggy Noonan’s book about Ronald Reagan last night. It’s a great book about a great man that ends on a sad note (just like Reagan’s life will end after his long battle with Alzheimers).There was one part of the book that really stood out and impressed me — so much so that I felt I needed to excerpt it here.---------------beginning-of-excerpt-----Once, in the mid 1990s, I was asked by the University of Texas at Austin to take part in a lecture series in which various historians and authors were asked to speak about the personal character of a specific modern president.

I was honored to be included with Doris Kearns Goodwin, who spoke on Franklin Roosevelt, and David McCullough, who spoke on Harry Truman, and Hentrik Hertzberg on Jimmy Carton, for whom he had been a speechwriter, and Michael Beschloss on George Bush the elder. I would speak on Reagan.I reasoned, as I began my work, that one way to judge the character of a president is to see if he came through on the things he said he’d do when he ran for office.

My impression was that Reagan had, on all the big issues. But as I researched it, comparing what he promised in 1980 with what he’d done by 1988, the sheer mounting of fact upon fact left me not only pleased but, in a way, moved.In 1980, on the campaign trail he promised he would cut the inflation rate. It ws running at 12.8 percent then, the last year of the Carter administration. It had reached its peak of 14.8 percent in March of that year. By 1983, Reagan had taken the actions—tough, politically damaging actions such as backing a tighter monetary supply and taking a recession in turn—that produced an inflation rate of less than 4 percent.

Most important, inflation remained at 3 to 4 percent throughout the Reagan presidency. So he’d cut inflation by more than half almost since the beginning, and by the end it was less than a third of what it had been.He said he would cut taxes. The day he walked into office the top rax rate for individuals was 78 percent. The day he walked out, he’d cut it down to 35 percent. Stephen Moore of the Cato Institute has said that no act in the past quarter centure had a more profound impact on the economy of the eighties and nineties than the Reagan tax cut of 1981.

“The nation was in quite a deep hole of economic collapse when Reagan was elected. We were in the midst of the worst economic depression in 1980-81 than at any time since the Great Depression of the 1930s....Reagan’s tax cuts—combined with his emphasis on sound money, deregulation and free trade—created a mighty economic expansion....This expansion carried through the 1990s as well—creating America’s greated sustained wave of prosperity ever.” How high a wave? The economy grew by more than one third in size- it produced a $15 trillion increase in America’s wealth.

And from 1981 to 1989—which is to say, from the beginning of the Reagan era to the end—every income group in the country from the richest to the poorest saw its income increase.Reagan said he’d get the economy going again.

See above. And see this: The Dow Jones, which was at less than 800 at the beginning of his first administration, was at more than 2400 by the end of his second administration.He said he would decontrol oil prices. He did, and they began to plummet.He said he would reduce unemployment. It was high when he went into office, 7.4 percent. When he left it was down more than 30 percent, to 5.4 percent. As important, or more so, the number of new jobs began to rise.He said he would lower interest rates—and he did, cutting them to less than half what they were when he began his presidency.

He said he’d reduce federal regulation, and he did. The Federal Register, which had eighty-seven thousand pages of rules and regulations under his predecessor, was cut back to a low of forty-seven thousand pages by 1986. He said he would cut the federal bureaucracy and he did.He said he would cut the budget and he did. He didn’t get nearly the cuts he hoped for, but in the words of the historian Michael Barone, “The budget cuts by themselves did not reduce government spending drastically, but they signalled that it would no longer be allowed to grow faster than the economy. The annual rates of growtth in federal outlays would turn out to be slowed down frm 17% and 15% over the period 1979-81 to 10%, 8%, and 5% during 1981-84.”He said he’d name a woman to the Supreme Court- he said he’d oppose racial quotas- he said he’d oppose abortion- said he would try to create a defense system against incoming missiles- said he would rebuild the armed forces- said he would move toward a six-hundred ship navy.

Done, done, done, done, done, done and done. Every bit of it.He said he would not bow to the Soviet Communist state, and vowed to speak truthfully both of it and to it.This he did most dazzingly, most movingly of all.— Peggy Noonan, When Character Was King---------------end-of-excerpt-----Wow.



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