I got this idea from a member of the BlogsforVictory Google Group. I’ve redacted details that would give the answer away.
WITH THE FEDERAL DEBT spiraling out of control, many Americans sense an urgent need to find a political leader who is able to say “no” to spending. Yet they fear that finding such a leader is impossible. Conservatives long for another Ronald Reagan. But is Reagan the right model? He was of course a tax cutter, reducing the top marginal rate from 70 to 28 percent. But his tax cuts—which vindicated supply-side economics by vastly increasing federal revenue—were bought partly through a bargain with Democrats who were eager to spend that revenue. Reagan was no budget cutter—indeed, the federal budget rose by over a third during his administration.
An alternative model for conservatives is [redacted]. President from [redacted], [Redacted] sustained a budget surplus and left office with a smaller budget than the one he inherited. Over the same period, America experienced a proliferation of jobs, a dramatic increase in the standard of living, higher wages, and three to four percent annual economic growth. And the key to this was [redacted] penchant for saying “no.” If Reagan was the Great Communicator, [redacted] was the Great Refrainer.
Following [redacted], the federal debt stood ten times higher than before the [redacted], and it was widely understood that the debt burden would become unbearable if interest rates rose. At the same time, the top income tax rate was over 70 percent, veterans were having trouble finding work, prices had risen while wages lagged, and workers in Seattle, New York, and Boston were talking revolution and taking to the streets. The [redacted] administration had nationalized the railroads for a time at the end of the [redacted], and had encouraged stock exchanges to shut down for a time, and Progressives were now pushing for state or even federal control of water power and electricity. The business outlook was grim, and one of the biggest underlying problems was the lack of an orderly budgeting process: Congress brought proposals to the White House willy-nilly, and they were customarily approved.
The Republican Party’s response in the [redacted] election was to campaign for smaller government and for a return to what its presidential candidate, [redacted], dubbed “normalcy”—a curtailing of government interference in the economy to create a predictable environment in which business could confidently operate. [Redacted], a Massachusetts governor who had gained a national reputation by facing down a Boston police strike—“There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time,” he had declared—was chosen to be [redacted] running mate. And following their victory, [redacted] inaugural address set a different tone from that of the outgoing [redacted] administration (and from that of the Obama administration today): “No altered system,” [redacted] said, “will work a miracle. Any wild experiment will only add to the confusion. Our best assurance lies in efficient administration of our proven system.”
One of [redacted] first steps was to shepherd through Congress the Budget and Accounting Act of [redacted], under which the executive branch gained authority over and took responsibility for the budget, even to the point of being able to impound money after it was budgeted. This legislation also gave the executive branch a special budget bureau—the forerunner to today’s Office of Management and Budget—over which [redacted] named a flamboyant Brigadier General, [redacted], as director. Together they proceeded to summon department staff and their bosses to semiannual meetings at Continental Hall, where [redacted] cajoled and shamed them into making spending cuts. In addition, [redacted] pushed through a tax cut, lowering the top rate to 58 percent; and in a move toward privatization, he proposed to sell off naval petroleum reserves in Wyoming to private companies.
Is there any doubt that history repeats itself? Read the whole piece here, and pray that another [redacted] comes along soon.