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Attacks On ‘Trussonomics’ Remind Me Of Attacks On Reaganomics — We Know How Well That Worked Out


Recently, the United Kingdom’s new prime minister, Liz Truss, released her “Growth Plan,” calling for income-tax rate cuts and the cancellation of a planned increase in the corporate tax rate.

The British Main Stream Media responded, “We are not amused.”

The headline in The Observer: “Liz Truss’s disastrous ‘fiscal event.’” Reuters’ header was more dire: “Britain’s new vision leaves onlookers with nightmares.” Here in the U.S., liberal economist Paul Krugman, writing for The New York Times, ripped the plan as “a policy zombie apocalypse.”

Indeed, the onslaught on both sides of the Atlantic was so fierce that Jason Furman, an economic adviser to Barack Obama, tweeted, “I can’t remember a more uniformly negative reaction to any policy announcement.”

On the remembering of the liberal media’s negative judgements, here’s what I remember. Back in August 1981, I was a junior domestic policy staffer in the Reagan White House when the 40th president signed into law his big “supply side” tax-rate cut.

Back then, the MSM reaction was ferocious. Here are a few — a tiny few — of the greatest hits on “Reaganomics.”

Within days of the legislation, The Washington Post slugged “The Big Mistake in Reaganomics.”

The MSM kept it up; the following year, CBS News’ Bill Moyers (yes, the man who served as press secretary to a Democratic president, funny how the MSM keeps hiring them) narrated a documentary which inspired another MSMer to chortle, “this program is a killer,” adding the hope that the program would “alter one’s image of President Reagan from that of well-meaning boob to something more along the lines of callous cad.”

In early 1983, the New York Times ran an editorial headlined, “The Failing Presidency.” Grumped the newspaper, “The stench of failure hangs over Ronald Reagan’s White House. The people know it … Corporate titans know it … Washington knows it.”

Well, maybe everyone didn’t know it. Even as the Times was running its doomy edit, the economy was taking off, just as former President Ronald Reagan had predicted it would. (It helped, too, that Reagan made other positive moves, such as deregulating energy production.) In 1983, real GDP rose 4.6% and in 1984, it rose 7.2%.

And in 1984, the Gipper won re-election, in a 49-state landslide. Whereupon the critics of Reagan economic policies — well entrenched in the MSM — didn’t exactly fall silent, but they were a little bit chastened. For his part, Reagan, caught the shift, saying in 1988, “They named an economic policy after me … they were making fun of it.” He continued, “Then it became clear that the program was working … they stopped calling it ‘Reaganomics.’”

So now today: Same as Reagan, Truss is cutting tax rates and liberating energy. (In other words, she is reversing the Germany-ish economicsuicide policies of her confused Tory predecessor, Boris Johnson.)

Will Trussonomics work? We’ll have to wait and see — the whole world seems to be plunging into recession — although it’s hard to see how lowering tax rates in a globally competitive economy is a bad idea. If the U.K. is a welcoming place for the world’s talent and capital, is that bad for Britons? Or will it be the egos of MSM pundits that take the hardest hit?

And yes, it’s possible that adjustments will be made in the Truss plan; four decades ago, Reagan adjusted here and there. Yet the future  electoral question for Britain will be, compared to what?

For a sense of what Truss’ left-wing opponents have in mind in the next national campaign, we might look to The Financial Times, which reported, “this borrowing spree … is viewed by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer as a significant moment: Starmer wants to claim the mantle of fiscal responsibility at the next election.”

We can add that fiscal responsibility is code for a tax increase. So once again my mind goes back to the early 1980s, when Democrat Walter Mondale had the same tax-hiking idea. He was the fellow on the other side of Reagan’s 49-state landslide.

James P. Pinkerton, a former White House domestic policy aide to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, has been a Fox News contributor since 1996.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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