Steve Lunetta: Thankful for Reagan on Thanksgiving

By Steve Lunetta

Last update: Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

Every year I try to write a column about what I’m thankful for. Of course, I am always thankful for my faith, my wife, my kids, my church, my friends, and my family.

Well, not all of my family. There are a couple of them who could be omitted from the list.

Having recently toured the Reagan Library down in Simi Valley, I thought about what the world would look like had President Reagan not been in charge, and I am very thankful.

It is disheartening that young people really do not understand the 40th president of the United States. They only know what their left-wing UC professors told them and what they read on social media.

Let’s journey back, back, back to 1979. Spurred on by failed programs of both Republican (Ford) and Democratic (Carter) administrations, inflation was soaring. Remember those dumb “WIN” (whip inflation now) buttons?

We were waiting hours in lines at gas stations because oil was being controlled by OPEC. Hostages were being held at the US embassy in Tehran.

We had not built a single nuclear-powdered submarine in 20 years. Our military capability was a mere shadow of its former self.

An aggressive Soviet Union was rolling tanks into neighboring states. Daniel Ortega was having a party in Central America. Libya and Syria were exporting terrorism around the world.

A discouraged but hopeful America elected Ronald Reagan president in 1980. And things began to change.

Reagan realized that the economy had to be fixed – and fast. He allowed Fed Chairman Paul Volcker to raise Fed funds interest rates to unheard-of levels (20 percent). This had the effect of chocking off borrowing, which killed inflation.

Effectively, it was the first time that a president had used pure monetary policy to control inflation. Reagan also created a highly successful conservative approach to economics called Reaganomics that created an average growth in the GDP of about 22 percent per year, up 2 percent from average.

President Reagan faced a powerful and threatening opponent in the Soviet Union. Communism is something that kids today don’t understand.

Nikita Khrushchev once famously said, “We will spoon-feed you socialism until you become communists and you won’t even know it.” Wonder why old people like me don’t like Bernie Sanders?

Reagan did not back down from a fight and remained resolute without great risk to American service folks. But Reagan realized we had a tremendous weakness, and so did the Soviets: U.S. military power had dwindled. Our technology was outmoded.

So, Reagan embarked upon expanding military programs in one of the greatest peacetime buildups ever seen. He doubled defense spending from about $300 billion in 1979 to $550 billion in 1987.

He resurrected the B1 bomber and F15/16 fighter programs. Stealth technology, in large part, is attributable to the Reagan initiatives in military aviation. He built a nearly 600-ship navy.

There was another result, however. To keep pace with our program, the Soviets greatly expanded their spending. Reagan rightly guessed that the Soviet economy was already teetering. While our military spending was about 7 percent of our GDP, it represented about 27 percent to the Soviets.

This was not sustainable. The collapse of the Soviet Union, the only other super power on earth, was hastened by the policies of Ronald Reagan.

Instead of gloating, Reagan reached out to his Soviet counterpart, Mikhail Gorbachev, and began working with him to create a post-Soviet world. Instead of plunging into chaos, the Soviet Union’s disintegration was fairly orderly and bloodless.

Aside: in 1992, Reagan presented Gorbachev the first Reagan Freedom Award. Think about that: Awarding an adversary for advancements in freedom is amazing.

Reagan is widely known for breaking the air traffic controller’s strike that threatened civilian air safety. What many do not know is that Reagan was also the first president to be a lifetime AFL-CIO member. While an actor he was also famous for negotiating labor contracts for the Screen Actors Guild.

That makes liberals squirm. Reagan was a union member with deep union ties. Trump has also voiced support for union folks, who contributed to his stunning victory.

Finally, anyone notice how Melania Trump is being criticized for her expensive clothing? Nancy Reagan had the same problem.

At the 1982 Washington Gridiron press dinner, Nancy showed up in a Hawaiian skirt, red print top, feather boa, and yellow galoshes. She then charmed the audience with a song called “Second Hand Clothes” (sung to the tune of “Second Hand Rose”) poking fun at herself. The comments about her clothing stopped.

Were the Reagans perfect? Heavens, no. Mistakes were made.

But history seems to point us toward the conclusion that the world is a better place because of Ronald Reagan. And for that, I am thankful.

 

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Steve Lunetta: Thankful for Reagan on Thanksgiving

Steve Lunetta

Every year I try to write a column about what I’m thankful for. Of course, I am always thankful for my faith, my wife, my kids, my church, my friends, and my family.

Well, not all of my family. There are a couple of them who could be omitted from the list.

Having recently toured the Reagan Library down in Simi Valley, I thought about what the world would look like had President Reagan not been in charge, and I am very thankful.

It is disheartening that young people really do not understand the 40th president of the United States. They only know what their left-wing UC professors told them and what they read on social media.

Let’s journey back, back, back to 1979. Spurred on by failed programs of both Republican (Ford) and Democratic (Carter) administrations, inflation was soaring. Remember those dumb “WIN” (whip inflation now) buttons?

We were waiting hours in lines at gas stations because oil was being controlled by OPEC. Hostages were being held at the US embassy in Tehran.

We had not built a single nuclear-powdered submarine in 20 years. Our military capability was a mere shadow of its former self.

An aggressive Soviet Union was rolling tanks into neighboring states. Daniel Ortega was having a party in Central America. Libya and Syria were exporting terrorism around the world.

A discouraged but hopeful America elected Ronald Reagan president in 1980. And things began to change.

Reagan realized that the economy had to be fixed – and fast. He allowed Fed Chairman Paul Volcker to raise Fed funds interest rates to unheard-of levels (20 percent). This had the effect of chocking off borrowing, which killed inflation.

Effectively, it was the first time that a president had used pure monetary policy to control inflation. Reagan also created a highly successful conservative approach to economics called Reaganomics that created an average growth in the GDP of about 22 percent per year, up 2 percent from average.

President Reagan faced a powerful and threatening opponent in the Soviet Union. Communism is something that kids today don’t understand.

Nikita Khrushchev once famously said, “We will spoon-feed you socialism until you become communists and you won’t even know it.” Wonder why old people like me don’t like Bernie Sanders?

Reagan did not back down from a fight and remained resolute without great risk to American service folks. But Reagan realized we had a tremendous weakness, and so did the Soviets: U.S. military power had dwindled. Our technology was outmoded.

So, Reagan embarked upon expanding military programs in one of the greatest peacetime buildups ever seen. He doubled defense spending from about $300 billion in 1979 to $550 billion in 1987.

He resurrected the B1 bomber and F15/16 fighter programs. Stealth technology, in large part, is attributable to the Reagan initiatives in military aviation. He built a nearly 600-ship navy.

There was another result, however. To keep pace with our program, the Soviets greatly expanded their spending. Reagan rightly guessed that the Soviet economy was already teetering. While our military spending was about 7 percent of our GDP, it represented about 27 percent to the Soviets.

This was not sustainable. The collapse of the Soviet Union, the only other super power on earth, was hastened by the policies of Ronald Reagan.

Instead of gloating, Reagan reached out to his Soviet counterpart, Mikhail Gorbachev, and began working with him to create a post-Soviet world. Instead of plunging into chaos, the Soviet Union’s disintegration was fairly orderly and bloodless.

Aside: in 1992, Reagan presented Gorbachev the first Reagan Freedom Award. Think about that: Awarding an adversary for advancements in freedom is amazing.

Reagan is widely known for breaking the air traffic controller’s strike that threatened civilian air safety. What many do not know is that Reagan was also the first president to be a lifetime AFL-CIO member. While an actor he was also famous for negotiating labor contracts for the Screen Actors Guild.

That makes liberals squirm. Reagan was a union member with deep union ties. Trump has also voiced support for union folks, who contributed to his stunning victory.

Finally, anyone notice how Melania Trump is being criticized for her expensive clothing? Nancy Reagan had the same problem.

At the 1982 Washington Gridiron press dinner, Nancy showed up in a Hawaiian skirt, red print top, feather boa, and yellow galoshes. She then charmed the audience with a song called “Second Hand Clothes” (sung to the tune of “Second Hand Rose”) poking fun at herself. The comments about her clothing stopped.

Were the Reagans perfect? Heavens, no. Mistakes were made.

But history seems to point us toward the conclusion that the world is a better place because of Ronald Reagan. And for that, I am thankful.

 

About the author

Steve Lunetta

Steve Lunetta

Raging, far-centrist conservative moderate with a slightly tongue-in-cheek humorist approach.

  • nohatejustdebate

    Just took my 8 year old grandson to visit the Reagan Library this week. He loved it and asked me about that big concrete wall outside near the Rose Garden. It was my joy to share with him about Reagan’s famous speech when he said “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Compare that to Obama’s empty threats about crossing a red line.

    Though the wall did not come down on Reagan’s watch, it was his bold moves that led to the fall of the Soviet Union which created freedom for tens of millions of people around the world and brought about unprecedented peace to our planet.
    Still amazes me that neither Reagan or Bush were awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for this accomplishment, especially when they gave one to Obama six weeks after he became president just for breathing.

    Trump is no Reagan but I am thankful that our nation voted to break from the tyranny of government control to pursue more freedom for it’s citizens and once again, pride to be Americans.

    • indy

      I would suggest this responder to the Op-ed to grasp that the success of President Reagan was his ability to move beyond conservative ideology positions that didn’t work and implement policy that did.

      Reagan realized that cutting taxes for the wealthy only increased wealth concentration and deficits . . . remember the national debt almost tripled during his 8 years until he raised taxes multiple times to step back from even greater deficits.

      Reagan’s foreign policy accepted the premise of ‘negotiation’ that was practiced by Obama with Iran and now with Trump with Russia.

      It’s important for Trump to grasp that military spending doesn’t address the driver of global unrest . . . that being unsustainable population growth leading to economic stagnation and religious fundamentalist (see Lester Thurow’s book: The Future of Capitalism for a completed discussion).

      It’s of note that the US spends more than 3 times that of China and about 7 times that of Russia on military spending ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures ) that does nothing to make us safer by asserting that perpetual war leads to peace.

      I do agree with the Op-ed writer that Trump did indeed get votes from union members as the democratic party run by the DNC with close ties to financial lobbyist (think Hillary’s ‘hundred thousand’ dollar speeches to Goldman Sachs) lost the idea of progressivism and did little to attract many Obama voters . . . even if Hillary did win the popular vote by about 2 million votes.

      Finally, the responder can’t seem to grasp that the ‘religious freedom’ slogan being trumpeted by religious conservatives is really the motivation to put even more religion into government and use government to ‘enforce’ their ‘beliefs’ violating the separation of church and state . . . so we must be watchful for any such attack on the Constitution in this area.

      In closing, Trump made so many promises during his campaign to become a ‘super politician’. Neither he or Hillary grasp the economic globalization mechanics creating off shoring and wage stagnation. I can only hope Trump learns on the job as did Reagan and we can move beyond the ‘it’s the other party’s fault’ nonsense and deal with the realty before us.

      That would be something to be truly grateful for . . .

  • James de Bree

    Great column. I had the honor and privilege of working with President Reagan during his transition from office. He was a terrific leader who made many difficult decisions. He is not popular, even vilified, by the left, but history will view him as a great leader.

    • tech

      Remember everyday citizens lining up along the roadways and freeway overpasses for President Reagan’s Funeral Motorcade to his Presidential Library for the burial service? He had already achieved greatness in the heart of Americans.

  • Nishka

    LOVE BERNIE SANDERS !!!!!!

    • tech

      So does his family and fans of Leftish ideology.

      However, he’s been in government forever and has an undistinguished record.

  • tech

    Nice column, Steve.

    As a young man, I remember distinctly the flailing and “malaise” after Nixon resigned in disgrace. The economy was foundering and America seemingly had lost it’s way at home and abroad. We were told to get used to lowered expectations and America must retreat to a new norm, wearing sweaters.

    President Ronald Reagan was a breath of fresh air and reminded us that the idea of America was evergreen and that our best days were ahead. He was right then and now.

    He rests now in honored peace with Nancy at his side in the state he served and loved.