The Private Sector Was Really Fine Under Reagan

The difference is even starker when you compare the results expressed in terms of post-recession workforce growth:


The private workforce shrank by a bit more than 1% during the first eight months after the most recent recession's official end. In the 27 supposedly magical months after that, it grew by less than 4%. Big whoop: During the analogous 27 months under Reagan, private-sector employment grew by 9.6% -- and the economy didn't have to lose 1.16 million jobs before any kind of recovery appeared.

Oh, and I almost forgot. Data from the BLS's Household Survey tells us that the number of part-time workers during the first 35 months of the Reagan era's post-recession boom grew by 1.6%. That's almost a rounding error compared to the same period's 10.7% growth in full-time employment. During the same number of months after the most recent recession officially ended, part-time employment has grown by 1.9%, while full-time employment is only up by an I'm-not-kidding 1.3%.

The boom years under Reagan primarily resulted from supply-side tax cuts accompanied by a healthy dose of deregulation. A President Mitt Romney would not have to go with major tax cuts to replicate a Reagan-like boom. Instead, on Day 1 he and Congress should first make the income-tax structure created in 2003 during the presidency of Bush 43 and under which we have essentially functioned for the past nine years permanent. If he wants to be more aggressive, fine, but in my view it's not as important as the next necessary step.

It is crucial that a Romney administration do the regulatory equivalent of what the Kemp-Roth tax cuts did when they pulled down rates by 25% over three years. Team Romney should carefully target the elimination and revision of regulations with the goal of reducing their overall cost to the economy by 10% each year for the next three years. After that, we can ask "Why stop there?" (Free advice to Romney insiders: Put a task force together to address this matter right now, so you can hit the ground running on January 20, 2013.)

A regulatory Kemp-Roth would free up millions of hours of private-sector time for productive tasks and would over time move hundreds of thousands of federal workers who add nothing to the country's gross domestic product into the economy-contributing private sector. A 10% annual reduction in the yearly regulatory burden, which the SBA estimated as costing the economy $1.75 trillion a few years ago and which certainly approaches or exceeds $2 trillion now, would be the rough equivalent of an annual $200 billion tax cut. You can write it down that we will see an economic boom if our government ever implements this common-sense idea.

Unlike now, the private sector was really fine under Ronald Reagan. Additionally, once inaugurated, the Gipper almost never complained about the insufferable mess predecessor Jimmy Carter had left or moaned about the high interest rates the Fed had to impose to tame inflation.

Evidence is growing that the American people have had more than their fill of our current ineffective whiner- and regulator-in-chief and those he has chosen to work for him, and that they intend to express that displeasure at the polls in November. If that's really the case, Election Day can't come soon enough.

Also read: Trust Me, Reagan Would Win the Nomination

(Thumbnail on PJM homepage assembled from multiple images.)