Summary via Wil Wheaton:
Great article by Thom Hartmann (whose articles are always worth reading). Hartmann argues that Reagan’s deregulatory, uber-free market, pro-corporate, anti-labor, anti-higher education, and/or low taxation for the rich policies ultimately contributed to:
- Greater generational income inequality. “Boomers in their 30s [in 1990] owned 21.3 [%] of the nation’s wealth,” whereas “Millennials in their 30s today own 4.6% of the nation’s wealth.”
- Wage stagnation. This occurred because of “right to work” anti-union laws enacted in Republican controlled states. Of the 27 states that have passed these laws, 23 are below the mean U.S. household income, 8 are in the poorest national quintile (state rankings of 41-50), 6 are in the second poorest national quintile (state rankings of 31-40), and 9 are in the third poorest national quintile (state rankings of 21-30).
- Increased student loan debt and inability to wipe out debt via bankruptcy. Reagan led the way as governor of California in cutting aid to public higher education and in putting an end to “free tuition” at the University of California. “As president, [Reagan] began the methodical process of eliminating federal and state support for [college] tuition.” Furthermore, in a massive GOP “gift” to banking, people can no longer “discharge student loans through bankruptcy.”
- Price gouging (which contributes to inflation). “In 1983, President Reagan ordered the federal government to stop enforcing the anti-trust laws,” resulting in “merger mania,” which allowed for the growth of huge monopolies that “crushed” small businesses, including startups, and allowed for price gouging with impunity.
- Increased individual medical debt (and bankruptcies), increased spending on healthcare, and lower life expectancy in the U.S. compared with other developed nations. This all occurred because the “Reagan Revolution” encouraged the end of state “nonprofit requirements” for “health insurance companies and hospitals,” to be replaced by “free market principles.”
- Excessive pharmaceutical prices. Because of the “Reagan Revolution,” drug companies were allowed to become “monopolistic monoliths” that could charge whatever they wanted for drugs.
- Excessive housing costs. The GOP Congress under New Gingrich “’deregulated’ the financial industry.” That’s why today “trillion-dollar hedge funds and investment groups are purchasing as many as half…of the available-for-sale housing, so they can turn them into rentals and then, when they’ve cornered the market, jack up the prices.”
- A large “transfer of real wealth” to the “top 1%.” “Reagan dropped the top income tax rate on the morbidly rich from 74% down to 27%, and cut corporate tax rates from 50% to functionally nothing […] This 42-year-long process, with Reagan’s original massive tax cuts amplified by trillions more in tax cuts for the morbidly rich from the George W. Bush and Donald Trump administrations, has produced a $50 trillion transfer of real wealth from the middle class to the top 1%.”
Hartmann also describes other ways that Republicans since Reagan have continued to destroy our nation (and in terms of climate change, potentially the planet):
- Climate change denial. “Republicans, right across-the-board, continue to deny [climate change], in deference to the fossil fuel industry and its billionaires that funds their elections. They’ve put money and power above the fate and future of your and your children’s planet.”
- Politicians for sale. Through the “Citizens United” decision, the Republican appointed conservative Supreme Court justices have allowed “billionaires and corporations” to virtually buy politicians–making it hard for anyone in Congress (especially Democrats) to pass any laws not approved by the oligarchs who “own” members of Congress [mostly Republican but some Democrats too].
- Promoting autocracy, trying to overturn legal elections, and trying to rig future elections. Trump and his Republican cronies “tried to end our 240-year experiment in democratic self governance, and are now actively embracing neofascist autocracy, openly trying to emulate the rightwing strongman governments that have taken over Russia and Hungary.” Republicans are also attempting “to rig our elections by purging millions of minority, Boomer, and Millennial voters from the rolls.”
- Limiting reproductive rights. [Republicans, through the appointment of conservative Supreme Court justices have]
“succeeded in overturning the right to abortion.” [Some Republicans, including Justice Thomas, are also threatening to go after birth control.]
- “Openly embracing homophobia and misogyny.” [Hartmann didn’t elaborate on this but some ”Don’t Say Gay” laws and anti-trans laws have passed or are being considered in red states. Some in the GOP want to overturn
Obergefell and Lawrence so they can do away with same sex marriage and can re-criminalize homosexual behavior. Not only are the challenges to reproductive rights misogynistic but many of the educational gag order bills/guidelines in red states prevent the discussion of sexism in public education.]
- Gun culture run amok. [Thanks to the efforts of the gun lobby and the conservative Supreme Court Heller and Bruen decisions, pandora’s box has been opened and we are stuck with the] “400 million guns drenching our country [in] blood, and… Republicans [being] unified across-the-board to prevent any further action to stop gun violence in America.”
- White supremacy, racism, and a “whitewashed” American history. “And now, these Republicans are trying to marinate your children in their white supremacy and racism by forcing teachers to push a false narrative about American history.”
Still, Hartmann tried to end this depressing narrative of the “Reagan Revolution” legacy on a positive note.
The good news, however, is that, increasingly, [Boomers and Millennials] are working together to throw Republicans out of office and elect progressive Democrats who understand these issues and know how to do something about it.
From the 80-year-old Senator Bernie Sanders to 19-year-old progressive candidate for the Ohio House Sam Lawrence… progressives are growing in political power at the same time America is waking up from the fog of bullshit Republicans have been crop-dusting over us since 1981.
All is not lost; change is in the air.
Get out there. Get active. Tag, we’re it!
[My only objection to this article is that Hartmann doesn’t tell the full story about Boomers and Reagan. He neglects to point out that a large percentage of Boomers (like myself) never voted for Reagan in 1980 or in 1984. Reagan was more popular in 1980 with the older Silent and Greatest generations. In fact, in the 1980 election, most Boomers (unlike the two older generations) were evenly divided between Carter and Reagan. Furthermore, the youngest Boomers weren’t yet old enough to vote in 1980. However, that changed in the 1984 election, when a majority of Boomers voted for Reagan. Still, about 41% of us (including myself) voted for Mondale. Many of us Boomers realized that Reagan was bad news. So please don’t blame all the Boomers for Reagan’s awful legacy.