Reagan 'Neglected Minorities'?

  • How about the unemployment rate? From October 1982 through June 1990, it dropped as follows: whites, from 9.2% to 4.5%; blacks, from 20.1% to 10.5%; Hispanics, from 15.0% to 7.7%. Oh, and for good measure, and because I can't resist addressing the female element of Donaldson's diss: during the same period, the overall male unemployment rate plunged from 10.9% to 5.3%, while the female rate went from 9.8% to a still-lower 5.2%.

  • Census information tells us that inflation-adjusted median black household income grew by 18.7% from 1983 to 1989. For Hispanics, that figure jumped by 12.5%. White median household income increased 9.3% from 1984 to 1989 (1983 data isn't available).

  • Looking at average household income during the same years, the results were: blacks, +18.4%; Hispanics, +17.9%; whites (again, 1984-1989), +13.3%.

It's obvious that not only did supposedly "neglected" minorities benefit significantly from Reagan's policies; they also benefited disproportionately.

By contrast, through December 2010 under Barack Obama:

  • During calendar 2010, the median weekly earnings of wage and salary workers went up by 0.5%. Unfortunately, prices increased by 1.3%. On the whole, average Americans fell behind. It's virtually certain that blacks and Hispanics were not spared.

Obamanomics has hurt millions of Americans and their families. Minorities have not escaped the pain. Everyone would welcome a bit of Reaganesque "neglect" at this point.

What really bothers Reagan's detractors isn't that he didn't pander to minorities. It's that he was conservative and a Republican. In the naysayers' world, "everybody knows" that neglecting and oppressing minorities is in the right's DNA; facts don't matter. In the real world, however, it's as clear as can be that Ronald Reagan's policies did more to improve the plight of America's minorities than anything Barack Obama's administration has done or is on track to do.

Exit question setup for Sam Donaldson: Ronald Reagan's economic policies led to impressive progress for Americans of all races, creeds, and colors. Reagan was also staunchly pro-life. Jesse Jackson believed that we need more, not less, of the economic statism that hasn't worked and isn't working. More crucially, Jackson's early-1980s repudiation of his previously courageous pro-life views effectively ended the black civil-rights movement's involvement in attempts to curb abortions. Largely as a result of that horrible shift, "black women (today) are more than 3 times as likely as white women to have an abortion, and Hispanic women are roughly 2 times as likely."

Exit question: who "neglected minorities" more, Sam?