Politics & Policy

Reagan’s Third Term Has Arrived

The New York Times was right!

President Bush’s State of the Union address was confirmation that the Left must now face their worst fears. This past Sunday the New York Times pouted that George W. Bush’s presidency suspiciously resembles a Reagan redux: The third term that the Gipper never had. And the comparison, of course, is not meant to be the least bit flattering. On domestic and foreign policy, George W. Bush’s aims, the Times surmised are disturbingly indistinguishable from Reagan’s.

To that charge, President Bush Tuesday night seemed to respond: Damn right.

In his speech Bush punctuated policy priorities that are unapologetically conservative — a powerful defense to protect freedom and security, a tax cut to promote growth and balance the budget, and free-market-based reforms in health care and Social Security.

Oh, I can already hear my fellow libertarians grousing that Bush wants to solve lots of society’s problems — here and abroad — with more government money, agencies, and bureaucracies. And sure, too many parts of Bush’s speech were more reminiscent of Bill Clinton than Reagan. We all remember those Clintonian speeches that droned on for 90 minutes and required a cash register to keep up with the mounting price tag. I too cringed when Bush touted out his multimillion-dollar cockamamie proposal for hydrogen-fueled cars. George: Let the private sector do it. Yes, during that part of his speech W. was temporarily and eerily transformed into Al Gore.

One gets the sense that W. is a long way from ever uttering the famous Reagan maxim that “government is the problem not the solution.” Few of the Bushies believe that anti-big-government piece of the Reaganomics puzzle. A four percent spending increase is about two percent too much. The spendaholic tendencies of this White House could be its undoing.

But the nation’s priorities now are to cut taxes to grow the economy and win the war against terrorism at all costs. Bush laid out the case cogently and persuasively daring Hillary and Daschle, to say nothing of Saddam Hussein and the dovish French — to oppose him.

The Democrats sat on their hands for much of Bush’s speech signaling their intention to oppose Bush and his goals. That is a fight that they fight at their own — and, regrettably, the nation’s — peril.

Bush is lke Reagan in one other way. They both relish being misunderstimated — as W. would put it — by their political adversaries.

— Stephen Moore is president of the Club for Growth.


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