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Lawrence Kudlow
Lawrence Kudlow
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Reagan Praised Entrepreneurs -- Obama Trashes Them


Does anybody remember, back in the depths of the recession of 1981-82, how President Ronald Reagan kept his chin up and exhorted American businesses to work hard and produce an economic recovery?

Reagan had a program of tax cuts, limited domestic spending, deregulation and a strong defense aimed at overturning Soviet communism. He argued in speech after speech that his domestic plan would produce higher economic growth and lower unemployment, and that prosperity would generate the resources to fund a strong national security.

Cynics proliferated. But Reagan stayed with it, praising free enterprise and entrepreneurs. And eventually, sunny skies replaced gloomy clouds. "Morning in America" appeared in 1983-84.

But here's the key point: When Reagan praised our capitalist system and the businesses inside it, he provided a psychological lift to accompany his fiscal program. That was leadership.

Now contrast President Reagan's performance with President Obama's recent attack on business. Instead of exhorting entrepreneurship, Obama demonized it. Here's the money quote: "If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen."

That's a put down to business recovery, not an exhortation. Reagan praised entrepreneurs into recovery. Why must Obama trash them into recession?

Great innovators like Thomas Alva Edison, Henry Ford and Andrew Carnegie didn't rely on government. There was hardly any of it in those days. More recently, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Larry Ellison used genius to put brand-new ideas into production.

And then you've got a whole smaller class of entrepreneurs: the electricians, bakers, clothing designers and financial planners. They don't depend on government. It's always been a question of the American genius of entrepreneurship that makes the country run. And that's optimism. It's not name-calling or negativism. But it is the reliance on government under Obama that has undermined the morale of our economy.

In an interview this week with Tim Geithner, the treasury secretary said the problem with the economy is insufficient government spending. But I would argue that government spending is the problem.

A week earlier, I interviewed Alan Greenspan. I asked him about the impact of over $1 trillion in federal spending. He answered, "Well, actually, strangely as it may seem, the data are showing that it's negative." Greenspan said businesses — especially smaller businesses — are essentially on a capital strike.

They see large-scale deficits and debt and assume that prohibitive tax rates cannot be far behind.

Greenspan also said the U.S. government has borrowed so much money it has drained scarce capital from the private sector. Nobody wants to build long-term assets, like factories, buildings and houses.

Obama does not understand that his government-centered model is doing vastly more harm than good. That's why, three and a half years in, he's got slumping numbers on jobs, retail sales, manufacturing and home sales, and a gross domestic product rate that could be 1 percent or less. We may be on the front end of another recession without even going through a real recovery.

And the center of economic gravity has shifted in the wrong direction. Food stamps are soaring. Social Security disability benefits are rising faster than jobs. And roughly half of U.S. households are receiving federal-transfer-payment assistance. This is a European-style model, not an American one.

Then you have some of the dumbest fiscal ideas ever, like the new one from Sen. Patty Murray. She wants all the Bush tax cuts to expire on Dec. 31, 2012 — an event that will surely lead to recession — and then have Congress magically vote for middle-class tax cuts in 2013. This is incredibly foolish (and improbable).

But like Obama, Murray has it out for successful earners, investors and small-business owners. In order to tax them, she is more than willing to risk recession.

Raising the tax on the upper-two income brackets would slam the 3.5 percent of small-business owners who generate 53 percent of the small-business income, according to the Joint Tax Committee. And that's where the jobs are.

Ernst & Young estimates a job loss of 710,000 if those upper tax brackets are raised. And when you combine all that with scheduled new taxes from Obamacare, you're looking at substantially higher tax rates than anything Bill Clinton ever had. And of course, Clinton cut the capital gains tax. But today's Democrats want to raise it (along with taxes on dividends and estates).

This whole assault on success by left-wing politicians is a staggering reversal from the spirit of Ronald Reagan. You can even go back to FDR: His big-government, tax-the-rich policies failed, but at least he preached that happy days were coming again.

Most Democrats today don't understand or recall the history of American economic success. That's why this country desperately needs change in the White House and the Senate if we're to stop this American economic decline.

To find out more about Lawrence Kudlow and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at



9 Comments | Post Comment
Sir;... Bullshet... To recognize the contribution of society and of culture to every individual success, or failure for that matter is only rational... Our Constitution makes it easy to succeed, and with success, to be certain and secure in ones wealth and prosperity... It tries to make static the process which is always some what dynamic, of the poor changing places with the rich, and the rich assuming their previous position among the poor... Those who have tried to take the sting out of poverty have done more for the protection of property and wealth than any number of constitutions... If you want your society to last, it has to work for all... The fact is that it does not work, and a perpetual class of poor and hopeless without the sense that they can work their way out of the poverty they worked their way into poverty does not add to social stability...
Part of the success of Reagan was that he knew how to blow sand up every ass in America... He believed in it himself... It was no act... Mr. Carter could see the hand writing on the wall, and he held the cup of trembling; but Reagan was of another breed entirely... But the days when society can be pumped up with nonsense so it will get going again for another cycle of exploitation and robbery is about done... Reagan did it with Borrowed money, and the Republican learned well that they could run up the debt, and force the democrats to pay the price of paying it off, until the government was drained dry, with nothing left of the commonwealth to sell, nothing to prime the pump with for all the good it would do...
High profits lead to glut, and we have had both, and the people have too little of capital left to start over... What are you people going to do??? You cannot tax the poor and middle class any more... The rich who deny their obligation to this country are busy capitalizing the world, and taking the last of our money to buy imported goods... What is your plan because no one has anything to give to government or to the rich... You might want to try to cut all the people out of their entitlements which are a drain on the commonwealth they once owned...
I think, you people on the right should have all your rich friends tell the government and the people to go to hell; that you do not need them, and never did... Then we can see who really needs who!!!
Comment: #1
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Fri Jul 20, 2012 6:43 AM
Mr. Sweeney...The article talks about an atmosphere of optimism instead polarization. There have always poor and rich. There always has been inequality. Here in the United States that inequallity has much less to do with opportunity than in most of the rest of the world. You talk about taxing the poor but do the poor really pay taxes. Do half of the citizens in this country pay taxes. I'm sorry Sir but I very critical of anyone who thinks they know what mine or anyone elses fair share is. I think a little optimism would go a very long way in speeding up the recovery. Reagan may have been blowing smoke by the whole country was inhaling.
Comment: #2
Posted by: david
Fri Jul 20, 2012 8:23 AM
We have not invented time travel (yet) so this propensity Republicans have to try to reinvent or revisit the past is ridiculous. Back "in the day", media and policy was very different and the public was protected and outright denied the truth. What we were privy to was, in fact, distilled for our easy digestion. If it were not, if our politicians had been up front or truthful about the state of the country, our finances, and the world, it is highly unlikely we would be facing the problems we face today. The simple truth is, we can't fix our problems wishing or reminiscing about the good old days because the 'good old days' are a fallacy based on ignorance.

An accumulation of the good old days spent in ignorance is how our politics and country and the entire world arrived here and now. In today's world, you actually have a choice, ignorance or information.
It's sometimes necessary to project an atmosphere of optimism when dealing with children or uninformed adults. The majority of today's voters are neither. We are deluged with information about the state of our country, our politics, and our world and mixed in somewhere between the lies and the spin is the truth. and it ain't pretty. Some astute columnists and posters here have their fingers on the pulse of the truth. Most deny it. When a politician projects optimism to voters in a dying country suffering under a failed plan from their god Reagan, he is denying his constituents the respect he demands for himself. Denying the truth and offering kool aide when in fact a stiff drink would be necessary for most thinking people. We are not children and don't need to be "protected" from the truth and we sure as hell don't need a repeat of paternalistic politics.

Re: David. You may be critical of those who think they know what your or anyone else's 'fair share' is or should be. I'm just as critical of those who think they know what the "fair share" is or should be for the poor or the police or teachers, etc. Frankly, the rich have more to lose and own more of the country and the world than you or I ever will. They should pay more to protect it and keep it solvent. They can afford private security, because they don't need police but we do, they support cutting back on police and that's just a tear drop in the ocean of how little regard they have for me or for you, our families, and the little we do have.
Comment: #3
Posted by: morgan
Sun Jul 22, 2012 8:43 AM
Re: david... Sir... Your notion that there have always been poor and rich is false and wrong... For most of the life mankind, pre historically, there was no money, and very little materially that would make one person other than equal to another...
In fact, what made the great great was a moral form we call honor...Understand that every group found its limits in every other group, and that ones community was his life, it source and his protection, and to it he gave his life and his protection... We can see this clearly in Socrates who refused to go as a stranger to some place where he had no honor, and prefered the honor of an execution to exile...We do not understand it...
Where money is dear, honor is cheap... But in recent times not miles from where I called home, the Ojibway, whose full name means those who roast them till they pucker up (like the toe of a Mocassin), took capitives to kill with torture, slow burning and cutting...
The remarkable thing is that so few raised an objection... They would not cry out, but offer their skin, and do all that any person could do to show themselves brave in the face of ultimate pain and death... Why??? It was for honor... It was misfortune that made them prisoners of their enemy, but in that position, it was essential for the welfare of those left behind to show they, and so their people were brave... To humiliate themselves with tears and pleadings would have made their entire people seem weak, and would have invited attack...
Ethics is character, and we use the word ethnic and understand the individual as representative of his kind... People knew their communities... As with all forms, the matter of recognition is essential, so that people have always had their marks and flags, and uni-forms... But it was the recognition of a person's honor in relation to his community which is something dreadfully lacking in our rich... The people love their country... What choice have they??? But the rich will as soon export our capital as spill our blood in pointless wars... They have money, and their money has no honor; but the presumption is that people with money have honor... Where is the proof???
In a time when starvation was a real possibility, that man who fed great numbers at his table was an honorable man, and the competition to be honorable was great... But what choice did they have??? There were no refrigerators... That man who killed a beast would see the greater part of it rot if it were not shared, and the sharing of it indebted everyone to him so that in the end, all were fed, all were protected, and all rights were defended...
The rich who can see themselves as individuals owing nothing to their societies are blind to their connection and to their obligation... All rights are limited by rights, but they are each and every one balanced by obligations which the rich have so far avoided in this society... Shame on them...They have no honor... They should not be our masters, but are not fit to be our servants...
Comment: #4
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Tue Jul 24, 2012 5:25 PM
Re: morgan

"They (the rich) can afford private security, because they don't need police but we do, they support cutting back on police and that's just a tear drop in the ocean of how little regard they have for me or for you, our families, and the little we do have."

Could you point out where, exactly, any of these so-called "rich" you so obviously despise have called for "cutting back on police"? I, for one, have never heard anyone (aside from a few libertrians and anarchists) make such a demand.

The only people who ever talk about cutting police, firefighters, military personnel, or any of the other things that are actual legitimate functions of government are those on the left, in response to calls for limiting the explosive growth of government spending.

It's called the "Washington Monument strategy," and it's becoming rather tiresome to those of us who are actually interested in saving the country from fiscal disaster.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Jeff Gunn
Thu Jul 26, 2012 1:49 AM
Re: Jeff Gunn;... Twenty years ago I read there where more private police than public police even though the rich make a greater demand on and recieve much of public police support... I have not ever seen that statistic questioned or contradicted in all the time since... But look at them demanding less taxation while costs are going up... They recieve the most from government, but they want the poor to bear the cost... What will they want next??? Will they have prisoners provide their own guards??? The society is reaching the point where those who pay for it are not getting a part of what they pay for between the poor who take and are in no position to give, and those rich who simply take because they believe rank has its privilages, one of which is the avoidance of taxation...
If you can believe people like De tocqueville, this used to be a place of easy communication between rich and poor...There was no great gulf between king and commoner because there were no kings... Nothing like Nietzche may have called the pathos of distance... We were all one working together in what we thought was the same cause... Nothing so well illustrates the distance between rich and poor as the wooden informality of the rich presidential candidate... When they say cut the cost of government -that has fewer people working for less than ever before; what would they save from the cuts???
They need their military to defend our capital they shipped abroad...Of course, they can use their military to put down bread riots and restore order here, too; but what about traffic control??? What about conservation of the peace... What about all the proper and natural functions of government that are more and more going untended because government cannot find revenue??? If we only could get rid of state governments, or local, or best for the rich: Our national government; then they could spank us at will...
Our society is beginning to remind me of a saying I once read that monarchs rule, but they do not govern... What can we do??? We cannot correct the situation, and the rich who rule the government will not allow us what we need until it is what they want... They made us promises of a social safety net, of social justice really; but when they have sucked all the money out of society and relocated with it, then the social safety net can be thrown over board with all the little fish tangled in it..That is their ultimate short term goal, and do not worry about the morals of it, the wide spread suffering and death likely to grow out of it..
If the choice is everyone buying a new security system on credit, or paying cash to trash all these redundant and useless governments and starting over; guess what I am paying for...
Comment: #6
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Thu Jul 26, 2012 4:55 AM
Re: James A, Sweeney

"If the choice is everyone buying a new security system on credit, or paying cash to trash all these redundant and useless governments and starting over; guess what I am paying for... "

And if you look up the definition of a strawman argument, you'll find that comment.
Comment: #7
Posted by: Jeff Gunn
Thu Jul 26, 2012 11:44 PM
Re: Jeff, don't need to look it up, you might want to. Seems you have labels for everything and everyone that doesn't fit neatly into your understanding. Got a little OCD going on there? You mention the WM strategy, well it would be tiresome to you, the right has been using it for years. Unfortunately the chickens have come home to roost with our police, firemen, and other necessary govt. services already reduced, services cut and military next on the chopping board. Put there by the right.
I suspect anything that requires you to examine your own argument would be tiresome and I'm sure your comrades in Kuwait don't challenge you. Your other label, the strawman argument, is a false accusation against Sweeneys argument. The flaw seems more in your comprehension than his reasoning. But a cynic, when faced with what they don't comprehend or don't like searches for a box they do understand and don't like such as WM strategy and SM argument. I get it's easier to marginalize than understand, but if you haven't yet, you will one day realize you don't have the right answers anymore than anyone else and those who disagree with you or present an argument or points you don't understand can and many times are, right.
As for your final slam, damn boy... you didn't comprehend anything Sweeney or I or others have said. You think you're the only one concerned about our fiscal future? You think your way is the only way? Look back bro. What you want is more of the same. I'm not talking about capitalism, I'm talking about corporate warriors that have taken that system and fucked us all with it. That's what brought the whole house of cards down. Thieves and greed with the rich getting richer the poor getting poorer. They turned around the traditional relationship between capital and labor and inverted it. The original capitalists is why this country became great.They built great buildings and contributed to the social welfare. They gave back their fortune, became philanthropists and did great things with their wealth that profited mankind allowing researchers to develop vaccines they gave away to the world. Salk didn't charge outrageous dollars for his vaccine, he put it out there for the world. When's the last time that happened? What we have in America today is capitalism in name only.
Re: Sweeney, sorry bud, not answering for you, not defending you.
Comment: #8
Posted by: morgan
Fri Jul 27, 2012 1:53 PM
Re: morgan

"Unfortunately the chickens have come home to roost with our police, firemen, and other necessary govt. services already reduced, services cut and military next on the chopping board. Put there by the right."

You don't like my "labels"? Maybe something simpler would work, then: Bullshit.

Take a look at a graph showing what federal spending goes to sometime. The vast majority of it goes to entitlements, which Democrats absolutely refuse to address. Don't take my word for it. What did your hero do with the report put out by the vaunted Simpson-Bowles comission? He tossed them into the shredder, that's what.

Rail against capitalism all you like. Good luck paying for your entitlements by taxing people's government salaries and unemployment checks.
Comment: #9
Posted by: Jeff Gunn
Sat Jul 28, 2012 7:42 AM
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