Comparing Reagan with Bush & Kerry

Tyler Cowen and Virginia Postrel both have posts up on how Reagan affected the size of government. Tyler links to this AEI report that lists the number of department and agency budgets that each president tried to cut during their term: Johnson, 4 out 15 Nixon, 3 out 15 Carter, 5 out 15 Reagan 1, ...

By , a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast.

Tyler Cowen and Virginia Postrel both have posts up on how Reagan affected the size of government. Tyler links to this AEI report that lists the number of department and agency budgets that each president tried to cut during their term:

Tyler Cowen and Virginia Postrel both have posts up on how Reagan affected the size of government. Tyler links to this AEI report that lists the number of department and agency budgets that each president tried to cut during their term:

Johnson, 4 out 15 Nixon, 3 out 15 Carter, 5 out 15 Reagan 1, 8 out 15 Reagan 2, 10 out 15 Bush 41, 2 out 15 Clinton 1, 9 out 15 Clinton 2, 0 out 15 Bush 43, 0 out 15

Sigh. Be sure to check out Postrel’s post as well. [So this is the last straw, right? Now you’re ready to jump on the Kerry bandwagon, right?–ed. It’s not like Kerry is closer to inheriting Reagan’s mantle. Henry Farrell’s observations at a Kerry fundraiser don’t fill me with a lot of confidence:

[Bill] Clinton tried to sell Kerry as a caring Democrat, by talking about Kerry’s commitment to helping deprived youth during Clinton’s Presidency. This wasn’t very convincing – there wasn’t any specific information, or even anecdotes, about what exactly Kerry had done. All in all, it served to confirm my overall impression that the Democrats are still having difficulty in selling Kerry as a positive quantity, rather than as an alternative to the (undoubtedly execrable) incumbent. Some of this could be my bias as a non-US lefty who has no emotional commitment to the Democrats, but it seemed to me that Kerry still has a lot of work to do if he’s going to maintain his narrow lead, let alone extend it.

Steven Pearlstein is not exactly thrilled with Kerry’s rhetoric in the pages of the Washington Post:

Kerry’s campaign has dredged up the old “middle-class squeeze,” which emphasizes rising costs for energy, health care and college tuition. This analysis conveniently ignores falling prices for other basics like food, clothing, airfare or phone service, or lower monthly payments for homes and cars. It also suggests that the president is largely responsible for price increases largely outside his control. For Kerry, the danger in playing this economic blame game is that voters will come to see him as no different than a president who has used exaggeration and selective use of facts to justify a war against Iraq. Rather than offering a contrast to the Republicans’ highly partisan, attack-dog approach to political discourse, Kerry mimics it — potentially turning off moderate, independent voters. (emphasis added)

Not exactly a replica of Regan’s opimism, eh?]

Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast. Twitter: @dandrezner

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