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Even the casual observer can’t escape the constant assault on Barack Obama. His dropping in popularity is easily understood when you listen to the constant droning of false indignation, false equivalency, false outrage, misleading, out of context, and specious misrepresentations and lies that sometimes contain a kernel of truth, but often little more.    

Then there is Reagan.  

Like many who call themselves liberal or progressive, I never liked Reagan as a President.  On the good side he was charming.  Others see more than charm and consider him to be as close to a god as can be without being blasphemous, worthy of solely representing Mount Rushmore. He is the measure of presidential greatness according to Republicans.  Obama, on the other hand, is the measure of failure according to the same.  Just how does their worst compare with their best?    

This is what I found.  (Of course, you must go past the loop-de-lu-squigle-thingy)

Conservatives speak of their three legs of their conservative stool: social conservatism (best represented by Evangelicals), foreign policy conservatism (best represented by NeoCons) and economic conservatism (best represented by the TeaParty)

I'll skip the first two, as these (particularly social issues) are are almost completely ideologically and partisan driven and without measure. (Oh, and considering Iran/Contra--the most horrendous of any scandal in the history of this country--almost single-handedly disqualifies Reagan from one leg, while his anti gay/anti AIDS sentiment (and treatment of the poor*) does the same for the other.)

Which leaves us with the economic. Here, we have numbers. And we have a similarity in that both Presidents entered office at, or near, the beginning of a recession.  Of course one was inflation driven, correctable by raising interest rates, and the other (also the more devastating by GDP measures) driven by wealth devaluation, and correctable only by time.

Just how does this "horrible" Barack Obama compare to the god-like Ronald Reagan?  The following comes from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED), Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the Census Bureau, the Treasury Dept, and US Inflation Calculator.  The comparison is for the first four budget years (Oct-Sept) of each President.  

The average Dow gain per year: Reagan, 11.81%; Obama, 11.72%

The average Unemployment Rate: Reagan, 8.58%; Obama, 8.69%

The average jobs (thousands) created per year: Reagan, 1638; Obama, 1645

Poverty Rate (3 years only): Reagan, from 14% - 14.4%; Obama, from 14.3% - 15%  

By these measures, both Presidents are remarkably similar.

But then there is GDP, debt, and spending.  Combining GDP relative to debt is the most common measure for these two.

Average yearly debt to GDP increase: Reagan: 7.83%; Obama, 4.84%

Average Federal government spending increase using Total Expenditure data from BEA:

Reagan: 8.89%; Obama 1.02%  

Subtracting inflation: Reagan: 4.21%; Obama, -1.08%  

Yes, the guy noted for “small government”, had a 61.7% greater rate of increase in the debt/GDP (that is the debt increased far more relative to GDP output), and outspent the communist (rate of increase) by nearly 9 times.  

Some have remarked that Obama spent (via the early stimulus spending) $100B – $200B during Bush’s last budget year (2009).  This is true, but this only changes the results slightly and we have no way of knowing just what Bush would have done since he was also stimulus prone. Besides, every President who goes full term is responsible for four budgets years—no more, no less.  Also note, Obama is the only President since the Great Depression, besides Truman, to have a spending rate increase that is negative when inflation is factored.

So, if Obama were more Reaganesque, the debt by now would be nearly 22 trillion dollars, based on the rate of increase by Reagan, and would be 34 trillion by the end of the term.  

Since he is not Reaganesque, since the debt is not $22T, since debt and spending are far more in control, relatively, then the clear winner is Obama.  (Yes Congress is a factor, but only one person signs the budget). Obama has a better economic record (as the indicators are much the same but with less debt and spending), did not have Iran/Contra (deliberately violating law, funding murderers and rapists with money from terrorists who were provided weaponry, via Israel, essentially stolen from the US government), and did not ignore the more vulnerable.  

* I leave with this.  Everyone “knows” Reagan was a tax cutter.  Few know that this is not entirely true.  Based on CBO data (Pub 43373), the bottom quintile (fifth) paid 11% more in Federal taxes (all categories) during his two terms than the years immediately preceding.  Also, approximately half to the next quintile (the third decile) also paid more.  So, approximately 30% of Americans, due to the change in income taxes and payroll taxes, paid more due to Reagan’s “tax cuts”.  

Originally posted to ribeye on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 02:38 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Is the Reagan SS FICA Increase Included in the (7+ / 0-)

    "tax" figures?

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 02:46:46 PM PST

  •  It's cool if you saw "charm" in the eyes of a man (14+ / 0-)

    who supported Central American fascist death squads. You know what I saw in Reagan's eyes? Empty and vapid.

    Pope Francis: the Thumb of Christ in the eyes of the Pharisees.

    by commonmass on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 03:01:36 PM PST

    •  As a citizen of CA, I saw an evil man (13+ / 0-)

      who was senile at the same time. Long before anyone claimed he had been diagnosed with Alzheimers, he was senile. No one would admit it, but he should never have been in office.

      He was a not-so-good actor, but he had far too many Rethugs hoodwinked into believing he was actually a good President. He also had far too many people believing that Liberal was a dirty word. We still haven't gotten over that one!

      I reject your reality and substitute my own - Adam Savage

      by woolibaar on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 03:17:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Reagan said "Teach them a lesson!" when (4+ / 0-)

        his U.N. Peacekeeper troops brushed up against the ongoing Lebanese civil war in 1982.

        That led to U.S. Navy ships firing 5-inch artillery shells into Beirut suburbs. eventually they killed 1,500 Lebanese.

        Retaliation came with truck bombs at the U.S. embassy (April 18, 1983) amd Marine BLT Barracks (October 23rd 1983) and again at the new embassy in 1984.

        Still, I liked Ronald Reagan. I met him. I met Nancy. I heard his voice talking to aides and walking around casually. Very few people would not have liked him, face-to-face.

        As Commander in Chief he was bloody, lethally incompetent. He allied with Saddam Hussein against the Iranians. His legacy in the Middle East is Hizb Allah -- nothing more, nothing less.

        "I hesitate to agree with Ted Nugent...."

        by waterstreet2013 on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 06:38:16 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  In the End, it was "Bedtime (0+ / 0-)

        for Bonzo".. and concurrently; BEDTIME for our Republic.

        "It is essential that there should be organization of Labor. Capital organizes & therefore Labor must organize" Theodore Roosevelt

        by Superpole on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 03:26:59 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Reagan passed trillions in debt to the future (10+ / 0-)

    1) He created "Too Big To Fail". In May 1984, one week before a "D DAY" Anniversary celebration, Continental Illinois Bank was going to fail. Large foreign depositors would have lost far above the then $5K limit. These losses would have have diverted attention away from the D-Day party (which as a thinly disguised re-election ad ploy).  He ordered the Treasury to cover all deposits so no one lost any money. From then on, banks knew they could act with impunity as their sins will be forgiven by the taxpayer. And we still pay for this today.

    2) He created 'RAP' accounting for the S&L industry. This allowed Savings and Loans to deduct losses immediately for tax reasons but amortize them over as long as thirty years for capital reasons. This gave an incentive for S&Ls to speculate in all forms of activity. The cost was over $1 trillion in 1989 dollars. Neil Bush alone cost the taxpayers over $1 billion.

    3) He armed, trained and provided credibility to Islamic fundamentalists. He turned a blind eye to China providing Pakistan with nuclear technology. We pay everyday for his deeds here.

  •  Reagan was very good at . . . . (8+ / 0-)

    . . . Perfecting the Republican lie.  That's why Republicans revere him.  I, for one, am sorry he died because if he were still alive, even Republicans would be denouncing him.  Ronald Wilson Reagan did more damage to this Nation than almost anybody except the Dulles brothers and Richard Nixon.  Keith Olbermann is still 100% right about Reagan.

  •  The statistics are irrelevant. (9+ / 0-)

    The rightwingnuts worship Reagan as some sort of idealized conservative god.  They ignore the statistics and focus on the idol on the pedestal.

    Even when you point out the statistics, they simply wave the statistics off, claiming that they are some sort of bastardized distortion from the "liberal media", and as such, are a total fabrication.

    The leaders of the conservative movement have set it up so no matter the amount of evidence showing they're wrong on just about anything - there is always an excuse to use to dismiss that evidence.  Reagans actual record versus his idealized record is no different.

    "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

    by Darth Stateworker on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 04:34:53 PM PST

    •  DS - they just focus on two things (6+ / 0-)

      The first is the rhetoric, Reagan constantly used soundbites to attack "big government" regardless of what his administration did in actual practice. The second was that he led a bipartisan tax overhaul, the Tax Reform Act of 1986, that closed loopholes and dropped the top marginal rate to 28% the lowest rate since 1931. That's all those who idolize him remember.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 05:15:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  As I said (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VClib, waterstreet2013

        the "idealized version" of Reagan.  Not the actual Reagan.

        You just said it with more words.  :)

        "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

        by Darth Stateworker on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 05:22:28 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Bingo !! (4+ / 0-)

      Republicans have been taught a system for Straight Line persuasion. This includes techniques borrowed over from the interview work of the Neuro-Linguistic Programming psychologists.

      One key is "anchoring" which is applied to connect the sales pitch to familiar, emotionally safe imagery. For GOP voters there are three universal "anchor" assets:

      -- Abortion. This includes lovely fetus-in-womb images, the "Libruls are baby-killers" line, "Thou shalt not kill," "A Child Is Not A Choice," and such as Tom DeLay preaching that his criminal prosecution was aimed to stop his anti-abortion efforts in the House.

      -- Ronald Reagan.
      The fictional version. Great speaking voice. Grounded. A delight for anyone meeting him.

      (The fictional version omits that he had no notion of the responsibilities of Commander in Chief, paid no attention whatsoever to CIA criminality, murdered civilians by the thousands for no particular reason, believed Laffer the Joke, and directly motivated the founding of Hizb Allah.)

      -- Race base self-pity among Whites. Where the factory jobs went to China and its 350,000,000 Long Distance Commuters, squeezing America's Middle Class, the GOP has built up a fantasy where Affirmative Action and illegal immigrants did that dirty work.

      Short list of "anchor" assets.

      If you hadn't noticed, the Big Republicans are simple minded. It's a good fit.

      You can fool all of the people some of the time
      And some of the people all of the time
      And them's pretty good odds!
      The way to fight back goes to emotional counterattacks. Be careful with facts. They're nice, but that's not the battleground.

      For example: 40% of unplanned pregnancies result in abortions. That's a solid CDC public health stat.

      Cite that stat, then argue that what we need to do is cutting back unplanned pregnancies. That's where you get results, not trying to make abortion illegal or making the trauma even worse for the girls.

      Go after unplanned pregnancies.

      Republicans are static and liars. Vulnerable to our attacks. Win every skirmish.

      "I hesitate to agree with Ted Nugent...."

      by waterstreet2013 on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 06:21:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  At the same time... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...Reagan almost looks sane compared to some of his party these days.  I've even seen footage of him favorably articulating the principle behind the Buffet Rule.

    He also was physically easy to listen too.  I had a hard time listening to GWB, but wondered whether that was my political bias.  When he died and the news showed footage of him speaking I realized that I could easily listen to him even when I didn't agree with a word he said.  I also remember telling a friend when he died that I would have prefered a different Prime Minister, but he actually made for a pretty decent King.

  •  that confirms it I guess (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Roadbed Guy, Superpole, Mogolori

    Obama is the best Republican since Reagan?

    •  There's tough competition in that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      category, considering that Clinton has been referred to as the best Republican ever.

      But whatever, in the larger scheme of things, this all just goes to show this country will probably never elect a real democrat again.

    •  LOL.. Yeah, it wasn't just a coincidence (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Obama was photographed during his first term carrying around an "important" book about Grandpa Reagan.

      It was a firm signal to the One Percent... "hey guys, you got nothing to fear from me"..

      "It is essential that there should be organization of Labor. Capital organizes & therefore Labor must organize" Theodore Roosevelt

      by Superpole on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 03:21:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  If Obama had increased spending four percent (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dicentra, LillithMc, OrdinaryIowan

      like Reagan did instead of negative one percent, the economy would be better off and the unemployment rate would be better.

      This does not escape the GOP braintrust, whose central project has been to filibuster his entire presidency.

      "And now we know that government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob." -- FDR

      by Mogolori on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 07:09:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Amen. Not to forget to mention (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        greenotron, Mogolori

        that Obama, had he managed to put in place a stimulus program that would have been of that size, and directed to the benefit of real voters rather than mega banks, would have potentially made Democratic voters out of millions of those who have been screwed for decades by Republican policies, but continue to vote Republican because they embrace the false patriotism and real racism of the Republican Party. If Obama is perceived as a success, it will likely be the final nail in the coffin of the Republican Party.

        Your black cards can make you money, so you hide them when you're able; in the land of milk and honey, you must put them on the table - Steely Dan

        by OrdinaryIowan on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 10:59:04 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Facts - who needs facts when you have Faux news? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Please, don't try to confuse Republicans with facts. Their minds are already made up!

    My wife, daughter and granddaughters should have more privacy in their doctor's office than I have buying another rifle or shotgun.

    by NM Ray on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 07:44:27 PM PST

  •  "false outrage, false indignation" (0+ / 0-)

    Really? What a weak load.

    Sooo millions of UNemployed and under-employed people are supposed to be happy with our President? they are supposed to be OK with our continuing crappy economy?


    People are right to be outraged.

    "It is essential that there should be organization of Labor. Capital organizes & therefore Labor must organize" Theodore Roosevelt

    by Superpole on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 03:18:48 AM PST

    •  Of course they have a right to be outraged. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      They need to look at companies off sourcing, at a tax structure that doesn't sufficiently reward hiring US workers or using US products, at the Great Recession caused by the financial industry with the concept that self regulation would control excesses, with our government for not being more aggressive with infrastructure rebuilding and at a Congress more focused on Obama's failure than on America's success.    

      Obama ultimately owns this, yes, but not without these caveats.  

      •  thanks for clarifying (0+ / 0-)

        just keep in mind-- the longer the gigantic economic problem we have goes on, the MORE outraged we the people are going to become.

        "It is essential that there should be organization of Labor. Capital organizes & therefore Labor must organize" Theodore Roosevelt

        by Superpole on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 04:10:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  You set a very low bar. The last time I looked at (0+ / 0-)

    the stats 9.9 million more fell into poverty over the last 5 years. We have seen a net job loss of a couple million on the officially unemployed  and upwards of 10 million on the actual unemployed. We have added over $7 trillion to the national debt.We are cutting billions in food stamps, telling a million or more of unemployed no more benefits

    This growth of the GDP is benefitting the Vultures picking the meat off our bones. Workers wages as a share of the GDP are in the toilet. Yet Wall Street has seen consecutive years of record profits. That us scratching the surface.

    Reagan would be envious.l

  •  Cruelty (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    T Maysle

    Reagan, the B actor, attracted the attention of the king-makers in CA by being extra cruel to the students in Berkeley.  That was the qualifying factor.  The Civil Rights movement shook up whites, evangelicals, fat cats.  They needed an actor to play the part.  Not only was the alliance with Saudia Arabia in place funding their fascism in South America when the Democratic Congress shut off their money, they laid the groundwork for what Bush/Cheney put in cement.  Perhaps we can equate drone attacks with Reagan's little war on Grenada.  There is a Taliban, but no one in Grenada required an American invasion beyond the need for press before the FOX news capture.  The hatred of Obama is similar to the hatred of browns/blacks many elderly whites thought could never be changed.  It is not about numbers regardless of pretense.  It is about emotions.

  •  Hello? (0+ / 0-)

    1978.................... 70.0
    1979.................... 70.0
    1980.................... 70.0
    1981.................... 70.0
    1982.................... 65.0
    1983.................... 60.0
    1984.................... 55.0
    1985.................... 55.0
    1986.................... 55.0
    1987-1997 [3]......  55.0
    1998.................... 55.0
    1999.................... 55.0
    2000-2001...........  55.0  
    2002.................... 50.0
    2003.................... 49.0
    2004.................... 48.0
    2005.................... 47.0
    2006.................... 46.0
    2007.................... 45.0
    2008.................... 45.0
    2009.................... 45.0
    2010.................... 35.0 or 0
    2011.................... 35.0
    2012.................... 35.0
    2013.................... 40.0
    2014.................... 40.0

  •  If you really wanted to examine the economics (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Check out this diary I did a few years back.

    None are so hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free. The truth has been kept from the depth of their minds by masters who rule them with lies. -Johann von Goethe

    by gjohnsit on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 09:25:33 AM PST

    •  Good work. This was the true begining of class (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:


      Clinton, Obama (and even Bush) were just returning salvos.

      Ronald Reagan is the only President in the history of our country to raise taxes on the poor while lowering them on the rich.    

      Your data  looks very similar to the data I used.  I averaged the 3 budget years prior to Reagan (when the  CBO began such dissection of data) with the 8 years of Reagan.  

      It is amazing so few people are aware that he effectively raised taxes on approximately 30% of our workers, and that this information is not discussed with greater gusto.  

  •  It's As Simple As B v W (0+ / 0-)

    What color was Raygun?
    Does Barry look anything like him?

    That's all you need for the cretins who call themselves 'Murcans.

  •  Good breakdown (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OrdinaryIowan, ekgrulez1

    but there are so many other areas where Obama is crushing Reagan and most modern presidents. Childhood obesity rates, rate of increase in exports, rate of expansion of the auto sector, high school dropout rate decreasing and more. In fact Latino drop out rates have been cut in half in the last several years. And he is only one of four President's to win more than 50% of the vote in two elections. And he is the only President who had to compete against billionaires literally dropping $100M into a single candidates campaign machine at a time.

    Allow provisional acceptance of things that go against your deepest convictions in the face of a preponderance of evidence.

    by ConservativeBrainTrust on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 10:33:47 AM PST

  •  reagans legacy (0+ / 0-)

    i don't personally care about statistics but i get the picture. reagan doesn't hold a candle to obama.  we are living the proof of reagans legacy-an economy held up by a crutch, the looting of america's middle class wealth, weaker unions, high unemployment, increased poverty, and a broken health care system just to list a few of his many accomplishments.  he did this by appealing to southern conservative racists who are now more empowered than ever.  reagans economy which relied on credit has resulted in income inequaltiy and has nearly bankrupted america who continues to dig a deeper hole by futher indebting itself to the vulture capitalistic system we have today.

  •  Don't confuse wingnuts with the facts. (0+ / 0-)

    Their minds are already made up.

    All that is necessary for the triumph of the Right is that progressives do nothing.

    by Mystic Michael on Wed Feb 05, 2014 at 02:59:50 PM PST

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