Category Archives: Commentary

Trump Is Not Ronald Reagan — Nor Should He Try To Be || Investor’s Business Daily


Trump Is Not Ronald Reagan — Nor Should He Try To Be

When Ronald Reagan won the nomination in 1980, he received over 61% of the GOP primary vote. Donald Trump has, to date, received 41%.  (Arnie Sachs - CNP/Newscom)

By Craig Shirley and John Heubusch

No president in the last 50 years is cited, invoked, or referenced more often than Ronald Reagan. His name in politics is so ubiquitous that it wouldn’t be a campaign season without candidates being compared to The Great Communicator.

In the 2016 GOP primary season, various candidates clamored over each other to channel President Reagan.  Some like Governor Scott Walker did so through a resume of fiscal disciple and conservative principles as a public servant, others like Ted Cruz often cited Reagan’s 1976 and 1980 campaigns as inspirations. Clearly some attempts were more genuine than others, but as Samuel Johnson once said, “Almost all absurdity of conduct arises from the imitation of those we cannot resemble.”

Even the opposite end of the political spectrum tries to channel President Reagan’s legacy to their own ends. A Feb. 11 issue of Time had Reagan and Obama on the cover comparing the two men and claiming they shared a “bromance.” We should note that it is our professional opinion that Reagan would never consent to being in a “bromance” with anyone on general principle.

In truth, there is very little to compare the two presidents, especially on philosophy. Reagan believed fervently in liberty and the primacy and dignity of the individual while Obama champions a central state and an activist government built on liberal mores. President Obama is the consummate American liberal and Reagan was the consummate American conservative. They were and are quite literally polar opposites.

For the record, Reagan never said he wanted to be the next FDR, or the next Calvin Coolidge. He was far too self-confident and inner directed. He did quote the Framers and Founders often, as he sometime cited Roosevelt, but he never said anything resembling “I am going to be the next John Kennedy.” He articulated his own vision for America informed by the lessons of those leaders who came before him but never sought to cloak himself in the largess of another.

 While Donald Trump adopted the slogan of Reagan on the baseball cap he wears, there was tremendous substance behind “making America great again.”

To be fair, Donald Trump has less and less compared himself to Reagan.  Trump has technically won the nomination but not yet the election. Trump also oddly claims he’s received more primary votes than any other Republican candidate in history, but that is a result of a growing population, not popularity.

When Reagan won the nomination in 1980, he received over 61% of the GOP primary vote.  Trump has, to date, received 41% of the Republican primary vote. While the numbers don’t quite match, the specter of Reagan is still floated by many.

The real culprits of false comparisons to President Reagan are some third-party activists and columnists and commentators, reaching for the easy and superficial but deeply flawed comparisons between the two men. These reports are often informed by nothing more than a few anecdotes and a light history lesson.  One true similarity of both is their names adorn many buildings and other structures. However, the honors to Reagan were done by admirers; the honors to Trump are part of his brand.

More directly, Reagan advocated a strong border, but illegal immigration was simply not the problem in 1980 that it is today. However, President Reagan  did sign the Simpson Mazzoli Act and as he wrote in his diaries that evening, it was to get control of our borders. Congress never held up its end of the bargain with the bill  —  its will to address the border problem with funds and resources proved to be weak and President Reagan and key advisors such as Ed Meese saw the deal as the worst compromise of his eight year administration.

Reagan spoke of conservatism as based upon a God-inspired individual. In 1980, he used the phrase, “Man with God.” Reagan was able to synthesize his two favorite philosophers, Solzhenitsyn and Paine, believing that if Man was at the center of the universe, it was because God put him there and, moreover, if every man is inspired by God, then God is in each man at the center of the universe.  As is inscribed on President Reagan’s tombstone, “there is purpose and worth to each and every life.”

We asked the respected polling firm of McLaughlin and Associates to add in a couple of questions to their weekly omnibus survey asking Republicans about the Trump and Reagan comparisons and the results were revealing.

When Americans were asked if Trump and Reagan were similar, 25.5% said yes, but 58% said no, Reagan and Trump were not similar. When asked if Trump would be as successful a president as Reagan, 33.2% said yes and 48% said no, with 18.7% unsure.

This is not to suggest that because most do not see Trump as Reagan or having the potential to be as successful, that they don’t want him to be either. The American people have always had a healthy skepticism of politicians. What people want is a leader who can take the lessons of President Reagan — as Reagan took the lessons of FDR, Jefferson, and Washington — and advanced the nation forward. No doubt, the challenges of globalization and new technologies present opportunities and potential hostilities in equal measure.

Trump can walk President Reagan’s path where he so chooses for now but if he wishes to truly honor it, he must advance beyond it. As George Bernard Shaw said, “Imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery; it is the sincerest form of learning.”

Obama’s Miserable Economy Needs More Scrutiny || CNS News

Obama’s Miserable Economy Needs More Scrutiny
By Frank J. Donatelli and Craig Shirley | May 18, 2016

This past week brought more discouraging news about the U.S. economy.   First quarter growth was 0.5 percent, a figure dangerously close to another recession and total job growth for April came in at 160,000, far below expectations.  A real opposition party dedicated to retaking the White House would have been all over this, criticizing the Administration’s pathetic economic record and promising major changes to get America moving again.

With the newest revelations that the millennia media rolled over and let Obama scratch their undersides, it’s for sure these leftwing sycophants will tell a tale of lollipops, milk and honey and not the truth. But the reality is this economy is $1.6 trillion behind a normal recovery, according to economist Steve Moore. And the national mood, in the phrase of the average millennial, “sucks.”

So let’s have a look at this Administration’s sick joke-like economic performance.  We are in the seventh year of an economic “recovery” which is the worst of any recovery since World War II.  In his first two years, President Obama had overwhelming majorities in Congress and used those majorities to “transform” (he is after all a “transformative” president) the American economy through a trillion dollar stimulus plan, government directed investments in “clean energy” and new federal regulatory regimes to oversee the financial and health care industries.  What has that brought us?

Sadly, under Obama, economic growth has averaged 2.2 percent since the recession that he inherited ended in June, 2009.  For the last three quarters ending in March of 2016, the gain is a measly 1.3 percent.  This is not an arcane discussion.  Economic growth of at least 3 percent is necessary to keep unemployment steady, fund the federal government’s commitments and maintain entitlement programs that millions of Americans depend upon.  If, as Mitt Romney noted in 2012, 47 percent of the country has some claim on federal resources, shouldn’t the Administration at least implement economic policies to stabilize those programs?  No wonder a majority of Americans think we are still in a recession.

In every measurable way, from real wages to home values to America’s optimism, Reagan’s robust recovery makes Obama’s look pathetic, flaccid and meager.  No wonder Obama made some snarky comments the other day about Reagan’s economic successes, because he sure can’t argue the facts.

He surely can’t argue that new discoveries of oil and natural gas are because of him, since he’s argued against new explorations since he first took possession of the White House.

Another sad result is that job growth for the seven years of the Obama “recovery” has totaled 11 million new net jobs, roughly an 8 percent increase for all of the last seven years. While the unemployment rate has fallen to 5 percent, the labor force participation rate stood at 63 percent in March, or fully 2.5 percent LOWER than when the last recession ended.  Millions of Americans have stopped looking for work.  Perhaps the Administration believes they should be content with the record amount of food stamps the government now gives out.

President Ronald Reagan (AP Photo/Doug Mills)
Different economic policies CAN make a big difference.  Just look at the free market approach of President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s who emphasized tax cuts, lower federal expenditures, a restrictive monetary policy, and less burdensome government regulations.  Reagan also dealt with a recession early in his first term, but tracking the beginning of the Reagan Recovery in January, 1983 tells a far different story.  For the last six years of Reagan’s presidency, economic growth averaged 4.9 percent, more than double Obama’s figures.  Growth never averaged less than 3 percent in any year and exceeded 6.5 percent for the first two years of the Reagan Recovery, numbers that Obama has never approached.

Liberal economists like to sneak in the statics of 1981 and 1982 to damage Reagan’s reputation, but he and the country were still suffering the effects of the Carter Recession, brought on by his malaise of high inflation, high interest rates and high unemployment. And in the four years in which he ruined America’s economy, Carter took to the national airwaves to blame the American people, not himself.  Indeed, the U.S. government used to run television commercials blaming high inflation on “piggy people” rather than their loose money policies.

Job creation was also far stronger.  Net new jobs for Reagan’s last six years totaled an astounding 18 million, or a growth of 20.5 percent from the job base of 87.7 million in January, 1983.  In other words, the Reagan Recovery created 7 million more jobs than Obama has in an economy that was a third smaller. Reagan created far more jobs than Obama, with nearly one third less labor force.  Given the size of the labor force, it should have been easy for Obama to create more jobs, until one is reminded that Reagan’s major at Eureka was economics.  Perhaps an economics major at Eureka is worth more than a degree at Yale.

Reagan left office with an unemployment rate of 5.4 percent or 0.4 percent higher than the current level.  However, the labor force participation rate had risen to 66.5 percent, 1.6 percent higher than the 1983 recession levels and fully 3.5 percent higher than today’s rate. John Kennedy coined the phrase “A rising tide lifts all boats” but it was under Reagan that household income increased by $4,000, rather than the no growth before Reagan, according to the Cato Institute. Even after Reagan left office, his policies continued under Newt Gingrich as the GOP congress balanced the budget and produced even more remarkable job growth, thanks again to Reaganomics.

In every measurable category, then, the Reagan free market policies have run rings around Obama’s top down, corrupt government approach.  Two percent growth may be the best Obama can do.  Reagan proved that it is certainly not the best America can do.

It’s too bad we don’t have an opposition party that can tell THAT story to the American people.

Frank J. Donatelli is a former assistant to President Reagan for political and intergovernmental affairs, past deputy chairman of the Republican National Committee and past chairman of GOPAC.

Craig Shirley is the author of two bestselling books Ronald Reagan’s campaigns and is now working on several more including Last Act, about Reagan’s final years. He is also the author of the New York Times bestseller, December 1941, and is the president of Shirley & Banister Public Affairs.

Statement on media claims that Speaker Paul Ryan could be a formidable White House candidate with his “Reaganesque message”

I thought Paul Ryan wanted to be the next Kemp? Reagan was a nationally respected figure as a governor and SAG president and host of GE Theater and conservative spokesman and commentator long before he ran for president.

Ryan has a long, long, long way to go before he gets to near where Reagan was—before he was elected president in 1980.

Statement by Reagan Biographer Craig Shirley on the Passing of Nancy Reagan

Nancy Reagan, the first lady of the United States during the tenure of her husband Ronald Reagan, has died at the age of 94.

Nancy and Ronald Reagan were one of the great love stories of the American presidency.

During the 1980 campaign, Governor Reagan was asked if Nancy Reagan would have a cause if he won and he joked, ‘Probably me, mostly.’

They were utterly devoted to each other for over fifty years but she also did have the cause of the ‘Just Say No anti-drug campaign, the returning Vietnam POW’s, and bringing grace and dignity back to the White House.

Nancy Reagan was not only the First Lady; she was a Great Lady.  Nancy Davis Reagan, Rest in Peace.