The charge of ‘voodoo economics’ was made by George HW Bush against the Reagan campaign during the Republican primaries in 1980. It was a term of derision. Reagan claimed he would cut taxes, increase defense spending and balance the budget all at the same time.
Nobody took the claims seriously. After all, Reagan was always more moderate and pragmatic in practice than what his rhetoric suggested. And everybody expected that even with a narrow Reagan victory, Democrats would hang on to Congress. Didn’t happen. The GOP swiped control of the Senate and the plan, with Bush now as Reagan’s Veep, was actually enacted.
So what actually happened? The USA soon had the highest peacetime deficits in history. The Government was forced to go on a borrowing binge. The United States became a debtor nation for the first time since 1914. Reagan’s ‘Morning in America’ was done by credit card.
This continued under the first Bush who embraced Voodoo Economics as his own. There was a brief interregnum under Clinton who actually balanced the budget for a couple years and bequeathed a budget surplus to Dubya.
During the 2000 campaign, politicians of all stripes were jumping over each other trying to get their hands on the surplus. Dubya won thanks to a Republican coup by the Supreme Court.
The watchword of the new Bush-Cheney Junta came from that ‘old war hero’ himself, Dick Cheney. Cheney proclaimed that Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter. The Bush-Cheney Junta enacted Reaganomics on steroids. Deficits, indeed, didn’t matter as long as the Chinese, Saudis and other were willing to lend the moolah.
Under the Bush-Cheney Junta, the USA actually went to war for the first time in our history without actually trying to pay for it. Bush’s fabled ‘brain,’ Karl Rove knew it couldn’t last. But he was confident that the Junta could hang on until a new nominally Democratic regime took over. Then the chickens would come home to roost. In the United States of Amnesia, someone else would get the blame.
The Junta almost pulled it off but came up short by about 5 months. So it was Bush’s mess before it became Obama’s mess. A mess it is, indeed. The wreckage is all around us.
Obama has compounded the folly by enacting new programs when the country is broke. The Chinese and others are skittish about more lending.
And the Tea Party? Back to Reagan!
Everything in history occurs twice. The first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.