The Corner

Today’s Questions for the President

Throughout the debt ceiling debate (and prior thereto) you and members of your administration have repeatedly referred to the “mess [you] inherited” and the “economic headwinds” you faced upon taking office. You’ve also made frequent comparisons to Ronald Reagan.

Speaking of economic headwinds, Reagan “inherited” a GDP rate of -3.2 percent. You inherited a GDP rate of -4.9 percent. Two and a half years after Reagan took office, however, GDP was at 5.1 percent (and exploded to 9.3 percent the next quarter). Two and a half years after you took office GDP growth is at 1.3 percent (and as likely to implode as explode next quarter).

Reagan inherited an inflation rate of 11.8 percent. You inherited an inflation rate of 0.3 percent. Two and a half years after Reagan took office inflation shrank to 2.46 percent. Two and a half years after you took office inflation has risen to 3.56 percent.

Reagan inherited interest rates of 20.5 percent. You inherited interest rates of 3.25 percent. Two and a half years after Reagan took office interest rates dropped to 11 percent. Two and a half years after you took office interest rates remain unchanged.

Reagan inherited a national debt (adjusted for inflation) of $908 billion. You inherited a national debt of $10.1 trillion. Two and a half years after Reagan took office, $390 billion more had been added to the national debt. Two and a half years after you took office $4.4 trillion more has been added to the national debt.

Reagan inherited an unemployment rate of 7.5 percent. You inherited an unemployment rate of 7.3 percent. Two and a half years after Reagan took office the unemployment rate was 9.4 percent, but fell to 7.6 percent within a few months and declined steadily thereafter to 5.3 percent. Two and a half years after you took office the unemployment rate is 9.2 percent. To fall to 7.6 percent by the end of this year, however, more than 1,000,000 jobs per month would need to be created. Only 18,000 were created in June; 25,000 in May.

Reagan slashed tax rates, encouraged American entrepreneurship, and didn’t complain incessantly about the mess he inherited. Will you ever do the same?

Reagan beat Carter in 1980 by a 9.74 percent margin. You beat McCain in 2008 by a 7.27 percent margin. Reagan beat Mondale in 1984 by a 18.21 percent margin and the second largest popular vote differential in history. Do you think the margin will be similar in 2012? If so, in which direction?

Peter Kirsanow — Peter N. Kirsanow is an attorney and a member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

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