GW in better shape than Reagan was at this point

The following is data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:


You’ll notice that last month’s unemployment (5.6% in green for 2004) is the lowest in two years going back to 5.6% in January of 2002. This, of course, is welcome news but not all that much to cheer about.


Unless you look at the January numbers for the final year of Reagan’s first term. First of all, the number was 8.0% (green in 1984). Two years earlier, the number was lower than any month in between, but it was still higher (8.6% in gray for 1982) than that January. To get as low as the January 84 numbers you have to go back three more months to October of 1981 (yellow.)

Let’s see. Reagan took office and the budget skyrocketed. Taxes were cut and military spending increased despite this fact. “Reaganomics” was a term of derision. There were 2.3 million more people out of work than when he took office. Terrorists had struck US interests and the President had dispatched the military to deal with international threats, some of which turned out to have been not so dangerous as claimed. US military personnel were killed, in part because planners didn’t plan as well as they should have. French citizens protested American military might.

Reagan certainly was vulnerable, right? Right?

Now, I’m not really comparing George W. Bush to Ronald Reagan, especially on Mr. Reagan’s birthday. I might be crazy, but I’m not nuts.

Still, let’s not get all worked up about how bad things are. Sure, they could be better. They could be a lot better. By all rights, they should be better.

But I’m thinking that they could much more easily be far worse.

Happy Birthday, President Reagan.


  1. Unemployment is a funny thing. I was in high school in the early 80’s and I remember teachers telling me that in all business schools, including the top-notch ones like Harvard and Wharton, that 5% unemployment was considered full employment! BTW: my personal theory on why the unemployment rate dipped below 5 in the last years of the Clinton administration was purely due to the Internet Bubble. I can just picture all these 18-25 year old nose-picking slackers sitting around in their parents basement and saying things like, ‘Hey I know what a motherboard is; I’m going to be the next Bill Gates!’ Many of these clowns would have been unemployed or underemployed (delivering pizzas part time to afford to buy dope)in any economy but the one brought about by the internet

  2. >Reagan was a conservative Really? How many government programs did he eliminate? How did he do at slowing the growth of government? Economic conservative? ok, maybe social. What did he do about abortion? what religious programs did he support? What did he do about the divorce epidemic(other than contribute to it), the single parent problem? Social conservative? No. So what did he do? He cut taxes, and rebuilt the military, and involved us in military adventures overseas – Beirut, Afghanistan, and Libya spring to mind. Some of it was important work. He was a great president. But… Those are EXACTLY the same things George W. Bush has done. If Bush is re-elected, his and Reagan’s legacies are going to be mirror images of each other. And neither legacy will be particularly conservative domestically.