Reagan was the Gipper. Trump is the grifter.

tags: Ronald Reagan, Trump

Max Boot, a Post columnist, is the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick senior fellow for national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is the author of “The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam.” Follow @MaxBoot

During the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump acolytes claimed that he was the second coming of Ronald Reagan — the similarity being that both men were elderly Republicans scorned by the bien pensant. Now, more than a year into the Trump presidency, some of his fans are getting cheekier. They insist that President Trump is actually better than Reagan.

The Heritage Foundation claimed that 64 percent of its ideas were implemented by Trump during his first year — better than the 49 percent for Reagan. Roger Kimball, editor of the New Criterion, agreed . As did Cesar Conda, a former aide to both Vice President Dick Cheney and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who gushed that Trump “has more big conservative wins in one year than Reagan ever did (Gorsuch, 12 circuit court judges, HUGE tax & reg cuts, 4% unemployment, Jerusalem Embassy, ISIS destroyed, etc.).” 

A perfectly plausible proposition, if you know nothing about Reagan or Trump.

Reagan took office during a low point in modern U.S. history: Fifty-two Americans had just been held hostage in Iran. The Soviet Union had invaded Afghanistan. Nicaragua, Angola and Ethiopia had fallen to Marxists. The U.S. military had been hollowed out following the Vietnam War. The economy was being devastated by double-digit inflation (11.8 percent in January 1981) and interest rates (14.9 percent ), stagnant growth (minus-0.2 percent in 1980), and high unemployment (7.5 percent ). Oil prices had just spiked again (a gallon of gas cost $3.51 in today’s dollars), leading to long lines at the pump. Spirits were sagging. And Reagan had to confront all these problems with his party controlling only one house of Congress.

By contrast, Trump took office amid a long period of growth that began under President Barack Obama. In January 2017, inflation (2.5 percent ), interest rates (3.7 percent ) and unemployment (4.8 percent ) were all low. The economy in 2016 grew at 1.5 percent, after 2.9 percent growth in 2015; Trump’s first year saw 2.3 percent growth. Trump was also fortunate to have Republicans in control of both houses of Congress. And lucky, too, not to have faced a major crisis during his first year — apart from the hurricane that devastated Puerto Rico, which he mishandled. ...

Read entire article at The Washington Post

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