The Corner

The Muckety-Muck Makes Two Mistakes

The first of which is factual: It was George H. W. Bush, and not Ronald Reagan, who spent the bulk of the many billions involved in the federal bailout of the savings and loans. (Mr. Muck really ought to consult his own fact book before attacking the rest of us for, uh, failing to consult the facts.)

And the second of which involves a matter of judgment, and, for want of a better term, of governing style: Whenever the Gipper spent big, as he did, for example, on farm programs, or restrained trade, as on the supposedly “voluntary” car import quotas, he did so very visibly against his own better judgment, and found ways, often through speeches, of letting people know, without ambiguity, that although every so often he had no choice but to sign big-spending legislation, he firmly believed that the federal government ought to be smaller, not bigger, and bent most of his domestic efforts toward achieving that end. When our current chief executive engages in a spending spree–yes, a spending spree–it is only of a piece with all five years of his domestic leglislation. Miss that fundamental difference between Reagan and Bush, and it doesn’t really matter how highly placed you may be.

Peter Robinson — Peter M. Robinson is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.

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