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Obama Wants To Roll Back Reagan

This is a follow-on article to the Washington Post poll we posted about yesterday.

But it is interesting in what Mr. Balz discusses, once he gets past his claims about what the WP/ABC News poll had shown – and of course, the ludicrous headline.

From the Washington Post:

One year later assessing Obama: Testing the promise of pragmatism

By Dan Balz
Sunday, January 17, 2010; A01

A month before he was inaugurated, Barack Obama pinpointed one of the biggest challenges he would face as president. Could he restore confidence in government, even as he was proposing the biggest federal intervention in the domestic economy in a generation?

At the time, Obama said he did not think his victory marked an abrupt end to the skepticism ushered in by President Ronald Reagan toward top-down government and social engineering by Washington.

"What we don’t know yet is whether my administration and this next generation of leadership is going to be able to hew to a new, more pragmatic approach that is less interested in whether we have big government or small government; they’re more interested in whether we have a smart, effective government," he said on that day in December 2008.

As Obama marks the first anniversary of his inauguration on Wednesday, that question remains one of the most politically charged of his presidency — and central to the politics of this election year — and will hinge on how Americans judge Obama and his policies…

The good feelings that surrounded Obama in the months after Inauguration Day have faded. The week he was inaugurated, just 19 percent of Americans said the country was heading in the right direction; by April, that had risen to 50 percent. Today it has slipped to 37 percent.

The poll also shows how much ground Obama has lost during his first year of trying to convince the public that more government is the answer to the country’s problems. By 58 percent to 38 percent, Americans said they prefer smaller government and fewer services to larger government with more services. Since he won the Democratic nomination in June 2008, the margin between those favoring smaller over larger government has moved in Post-ABC polls from five points to 20 points.

White House advisers maintain that many of Obama’s actions are temporary and not a permanent enlargement of federal power at the expense of private industry

Around the White House these days, the president’s advisers draw analogies with Reagan to paint a hopeful portrait of Obama’s weakened standing. Reagan, they note, had approval ratings around 50 percent at the end of his first year in office and ended up winning a landslide reelection victory in 1984. What they don’t say so vocally is that Reagan’s approval dipped into the 40s in the fall of 1982, and that his party suffered substantial losses in Congress that November.

Obama has long shown an interest in Reagan’s presidency. During Obama’s campaign, he got under the skin of former president Bill Clinton when he characterized Reagan’s presidency as one that "changed the trajectory of America" in ways that neither Clinton’s nor Richard M. Nixon’s had done.

After the New Deal and the Great Society, Reagan made government the enemy and, through tax cuts and generally unsuccessful attempts to cut spending, sought to scale down the size and power of Washington. What Obama proposed — for the economy, health care and energy — amounted to an attempt to reverse much of what Reagan had done. As Reagan transformed his political era, Obama hoped to transform his.

Obama didn’t explicitly campaign on this theme. He often presented himself with the rhetoric of a centrist, though his policy priorities were those of an urban liberal Democrat, in contrast to those of, say, Clinton, a centrist from a Southern and heavily rural state. But Obama seemed keenly aware, as he outlined before his inauguration, that the public remained skeptical of Washington’s power and that he would have to overcome that skepticism to carry out his objectives.

The election of 2008 and the economic collapse that occurred that fall altered perceptions, if not the reality, of the voters’ message. The economic collapse seemed to prove that Republicans’ faith in deregulation of the economy and in free markets was misguided, or so many Democrats thought at the time.

The election results, Obama said, represented "a correction to the correction." In other words, he meant his victory was a partial rejection of Reagan and the GOP

This is perhaps the closest we have seen to an admission of Mr. Obama’s actual political goals from our media watchdogs.

(And it certainly adds fuel to the theory that the Democrats organized — or at the very least encouraged — our economic problems for their own political ends.)

And it is clearly true that reversing much of what President Reagan had done was and is a major motivating force for Mr. Obama.

As we have noted before, Mr. Obama even spelled out his reasons for getting into politics in his first autobiography, Dreams From My Father, on p. 54:


IN 1983, I DECIDED to become a community organizer.

There wasn’t much detail to the idea; I didn’t know anyone making a living that way. When classmates in college asked me just what it was that a community organizer did, I couldn’t answer them directly. Instead, I’d pronounce on the need for change. Change in the White House, where Reagan and his minions were carrying on their dirty deeds. Change in the Congress, compliant and corrupt. Change in the mood of the country, manic and self-absorbed. Change won’t come from the top, I would say. Change will come from a mobilized grass roots.

That’s what I’ll do, I’ll organize black folks. At the grass roots. For change.

And that indeed has been his goal ever since — to roll back the ‘Reagan Revolution.’

But the media has hid this fact from the American voter, which is a powerful tribute to how popular the ‘Reagan Revolution’ was and still is.

As is shown by yesterday’s WP/ABC News poll.

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, January 18th, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

6 Responses to “Obama Wants To Roll Back Reagan”

  1. proreason says:

    Things were going great for the Marxist revolutionaries before Reagan.

    They had managed to paint a huge military victory in Viet Nam as a defeat (thanks to Walter Cronkite who risked his entire legacy on a monumental lie. And got away with it.), and turned that into a humiliating and catastrophic (for Southest Asia) withdrawl.

    At the same time they turned the country’s greatest foreign policy president into a crook, for offenses that Obama pulls off before breakfast on a slow day.

    Then they were 98% of the way toward turning the country’s economy into a banana republic. 14% inflation. 20% interest rates. 12% mortgage rates. 8.5% unemployment. All portrayed as “systemtic” of capitalism. They had convinced many in the country that we simply could not compete with a statist economy like Japan with half the population of the US.

    Then they humiliated the country in the Iran hostage crisis by letting a small, feeble, insane country imprison dozens of Americans for more than a year.

    They had an potential army of unemployed / frightened / anti-capitalist / angry / former demonstators and disgruntled veterans ready to be organized.

    Everything was going beautifully.

    The country was a few months from being ripe for takeover. The situation in the USA in 1979 was similar in many ways to Germany in the late 1920’s. It was not as extreme as Germany’s situation had been, but all of the same elements were present (unemployment, inflation, recession, frustrated veterans, hopelessness, out-of-control events, feeble and confused leadership, a feeling of sinking prospects, yet still an intense national pride).

    Except that Reagan got elected.

    By 1983, GNP was shooting through the roof. Unemployment was declining, Interest rates and mortgage rates were falling of the cliff. The country was embarking on one of the greatest economic expansions in world history. So great, that frat-boy Clinton surfed to a reputation as an economic genius 15 years later.

    So of course Obama in 1983 was distraught. He hated everything that Reagan was accomplishing. For Obama, he knew that the Marxist takeover had been postponed by 25 years.

  2. BillK says:

    Anyone around at the time distinctly remembers the Carter “malaise” speech in which Carter told us that as bad as we felt about America then, that was as good as it was going to get.

    Compare to the way people felt about the country in 1984 or 1988.

    Then Bush I got elected and he threw away Reagan’s legacy, something his son continued.

    While it shows how much reversal of damage one good President can do, unfortunately I don’t think we have the electoral base that would get a Reagan elected ever again; too many people believing too many goodies are their birthright and that Government is the source of all things rather than the whirlpool into which all things are sucked.

    Today, quite frankly, feels worse than 1979.

  3. Reality Bytes says:

    Obama couldn’t carry Reagan’s jock strap! No matter how much he’d enjoy trying.

  4. Rip Cord says:

    Roll back Reagan?? This Marxist bastard wants to roll back AMERICA!

  5. tranquil.night says:


    If this is his next battle, then it should be a welcome one for us. The crux of this: supply-side verse Keynesian economics.

    These new regulations sound like a very profound and direct challenge to the past 25 years. Sounds like it’s full steam ahead with agenda. Continue to demonize and isolate bankers, the insurance industry – all the while cutting deals with their lobbyists and wrestling control over the whole system.

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