Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The man who told Reagan to speed it up

For the last few days, I've had this video playing in my mind from time to time. Here, we see Ronald Reagan giving a speech to Wall Street at the New York Stock Exchange. During the video, we see Reagan fumbling for words. While he's gathering himself up, Donald Regan is telling the president to "speed it up".

Seeing that video also reminded me of the storyline in Doonesbury called "Reagan's Brain". The point of the strips by Garry Trudeau are to show that Reagan is really just a front man for someone else. Donald Regan was one of those other people.

Who was Donald Regan? Donald Regan was appointed Secretary of the Treasury and later served as Chief of Staff under Reagan. Most notably, he was CEO of Merrill Lynch for 11 years prior to his public service in the White House and the Treasury. He was also one of the chief engineers of "Reaganomics". The results of Reaganomics have been a disaster for the American middle class, and when Donald Regan asked the President to speed it up, this was part of the plan.

We can learn more about the plan from this video from Moyer's and Company where two economists explain just what happened. From 1980 to now, at least 40% of all the economic gains from growth in the economy went to the top 1%. Regan was one of the chief architects of the inequality we see now in our economy. Reagan probably wasn't smart enough to see all of this coming.

In my view, the colossal failure of Reaganomics should be self-evident to anyone viewing the empirical data and literature on the subject. But it has apparently been lost on the Republican Party. Two governors server as prime examples: Governor Brownback of Kansas and Christie of New Jersey. Both have cut taxes for the very wealthy and cut social services and education to pay for it.

It is important to notice not just the results of the promoters of Reaganomics in public policy. It is also important to notice the results in private businesses. There is Eddie Lambert who is working hard to impose his libertarian fantasy upon Sears, trying over and over again to make it work. Sears will probably declare bankruptcy in the not too distant future as a result of terrible stewardship.

As noted previously, Donald Regan was CEO of Merrill Lynch. You might remember them as the company that helped Orange County slip into bankruptcy. They also received a giant dollop of welfare from the federal government when they revealed that they too, had gulped the credit fault swap kool-aid that led up to the collapse of the housing bubble.

The same people who started Reaganonics and the slide of the middle class into oblivion, apparently feel they haven't finished the job. Sure, some of them are dead, but there are fervent believers still wanting in to give the middle class one last shove off the cliff. One of them would be Jeb Bush. The Bush family wants back in a 3rd time, waving a flag of deficit reduction and war, two policy objectives that have proven incredibly difficult to reconcile, even without tax breaks to the wealthy.

Most of us know Jeb Bush as the former governor of Florida. But few of us are old enough to remember the Savings and Loan Scandal of the 1980s under Reagan's watchful eye. Sure, many executives were prosecuted and sent to prison, the opposite of what we did after the collapse of the housing bubble. Some, however, escaped prosecution. Jeb was one the lucky few that went untouched.

Jeb would like us all not to remember his part in the Savings and Loan Scandal. It would be nice if we could just forget the role all of the Bush men played in that scandal, but as for Jeb, check this out:
"Jeb Bush defaulted on a $4.56 million loan from Broward Federal Savings in Sunrise, Florida. After federal regulators closed the S&L, the office building that Jeb used the $4.56 million to finance was reappraised by the regulators at  $500,000, which Bush and his partners paid. The taxpayers had to pay back the remaining 4 million plus dollars."
That is probably what Donald Regan meant when he said "speed it up". We did the same thing again for the biggest banks in the nation after the housing bubble collapsed. Before the GOP decides to nominate a Bush to be the front man for the presidency again (a very likely prospect), the rest of us should take a more careful review of history to see who it is they have selected and what kind of mindset he promotes.

Apparently, accountability is not part of that mindset.
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