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tv   The Presidency Reagan Tax Cuts 40th Anniversary  CSPAN  November 23, 2021 4:54pm-6:24pm EST

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your portrayal of both sides of an issue. >> c-span awards $100,000 in total cash prizes and you have a shot of winning the grand prize of $5,000. entries must be received before january 20, 2022. for competition rules, tutorials or just how to get started visit our website at >> get c-span on the go on our new mobile video app. c-span now. access top highlights, listen to c-span radio and discover new podcasts all for free. discover c-span radio today. >> our weekly series, the presidency, highlights the politics, policies and legacies of u.s. presidents and first ladies. we continue our look back at the
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reagan administration with a conversation about president ronald reagan's tax cuts and economic plan. >> it's my pleasure to welcome everyone to today's event. a celebration of the 40 year anniversary of reagan tax cuts. we're very excited to be hosting this event, this celebration. the economic recovery tax act is a positive change in tax policy, yes. but it represented much more than that. it was a change in the mind-set. the 1970s were a time of high inflation, high unemployment,
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low on opportunity. our nation's leaders rejected the idea of american greatness and thought the american dream was behind us. 30 years ago the heritage foundation hosted a celebration for the 10th anniversary of the tax cuts. it was entitled the importance of america's victory over washington. think about that for a second. america's victory over washington. as the tax cuts were being debated in congress, president reagan gave voice to this sentiment in his televised address reassuring the american people, quote, all the lobbying, the organized demonstrations and the cries of protest by those whose way of life depends on governments wasteful ways were no match for your voices, which were heard loud and clear. so it's healthy and very important for our movement to celebrate our successes and
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remember the good things that were accomplished for the country. it's even more important for us to come together and consider the lessons learned. and teach the next generation how to apply those lessons to the challenges of today and to the challenges of tomorrow. a retrospective analysis of the 1981 tax cuts performed by the tax foundation found if had been allowed to be fully in place instead of being rolled back it would have incleatsed long run gdp by 8%. that's a huge number. perhaps we should have given that a try. it turns out if you lower taxes, reduce regulatory burden, allow people to keep more of their own money and allow them to make their own decisions about what to do with it, it results in more economic growth, more prosperity and higher standards of living for the american
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people. now president biden's agenda has another major threat to american prosperity and our way of life. a massive expansion of government control over the most personal aspects of your life. not to mention key provisions in the tax code under current law are soon going to be expiring. and the tax code is still too burdensome, too uncompetitive. and perhaps most importantly the size and scope of government has grown too costly. it's too harmful. it infringes on liberty and has very serious negative effects on peoples lives and their liberty. so it's vital that we all work together, rise to meet this moment and address these challenges head on just as president reagan addressed the challenges of his time.
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in his book the age of reagan steven hayward made a really interesting observation. he said one of the things that made the supply side phenomenon so remarkable is that there were so few supply siders. there weren't even enough to fill the reagan administration. but the supply siders understood the way the world works, and the american people intuitively understand as well. when they website on offense and spoke the truth boldly and unapologetically they won, we won. even democrats at the time started talking about the need to reduce tax rates in order to help fix the economy. the heritage foundation at the time called that a trim of
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supply side thought. unfortunately, too many of today's conservatives aren't willing or are unable to argue in terms of the first principles of our true north as well as president reagan did. we have truth and justice and fairness and all these great things on our side, so let's shout it and talk about it boldly and prodly and we have a very distinguished and fantastic line-up that needs little introduction. we're going to hear from steve moore, senior fellow at the
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independent institute judy shelten and sweech writer to president reagan, anthony sullivan. first i'd like to turn the stage over to my friend and head of the reagan alumni association. >> on behalf of the board we're delighted to co-host this event with the heritage foundation and the committee to unleash prosperity to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the signing of president reagan's tax cuts. we are at a surreal moment. on the one hand we're talking about the massive reagan tax cuts. and across the street and downtown we have president biden and the democrats looking to
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spend 1.9 trillion, 3.5 trillion and so on and so forth. it's terrible where we are now, but let's remember it was terrible at the end of the 1970s, and we're because of folks like reagan, folks like the people in this room and others around the country we will rebound. i'll take a couple of minutes to touch on some of the quotes of ronald reagan when he talked about his tax cuts because it helped position the argument pretty well leading up to it and then talking about it afterwards. many of you will recall one of the quotes he used often was government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases. if it moves, tax it. if it keeps moving, regulate it. and if it stops moving, subsidize it. another one was not people are
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taxed too little, the government is government spends too much. he said when john kennedy's tax program which he said was not too dissimilar from his was passed the same thing happened, more revenue at lower tax rates. he said a taxpayer is someone who works for the federal government but doesn't have to pass the civil service exam. and he said our federal tax system is ensured, federally impossible, utterly unjust, completely counter productive. it reeks with unjustice and fundamentally un-american. it spurred rebelgen and it's time we rebel again. a couple more is he said if you reduce tax rates and allow people to spend or save more of what they earn, they'll be more
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industrious. and the result he said more prosperity for all and more revenue consequently for government. lastly when he said the american taxing structure the purpose of which was to serve the people began instead to serve the insatiable appetite of government. and he said if you'll forgive me someone has likened government to a baby. it is an elementary canal with an appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other. president reagan's tax cuts certainly simulated the economy and got the country out of president carter's self-described malaise. i'll try my own attempt at
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reagan-like humor. let's imagine in 1979 that president carter was jogging around the tidal basin and he slipped and fell in and was drowning, the secret service looking the other way and two 10-year-old boys jumped off their bikes. and first kid says can i get a tour of the white house, president carter said you saved my life, i'll give you a tour myself. second kid says can i get a new bike, then i'll buy the best bike there is. the other kid says as president of the united states do you oversee arlington cemetery? that i do. as president do you have the power to arrange to get a plot there. he said yes, i do but you're only 10 years old, why are you thinking of death. the kid says when my parents
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find out they're going to kill me. >> i've got to go up the mountain where i'm going to be hosting that event and that will be fun, too. what i want to say and i don't want to overlook all the other accomplishments for the reagan administration and what the president did. for example, coming in and seeing the end of the iran hostage crisis when he took the oath of office, incredible. that shows just the power. and the answer was -- they understood the threat from reagan. i also don't want to underestimate the power of decontrolled oil.
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the limit of how long a gas line would be how long it took to drive through with one full tank of gas. and then of course the air-traffic controllers, i don't want to underestimate that. that was really powerful as well. some of you may know i think it was the air-traffic controllers, correct me if i'm wrong on this, i think they were the only union that supported the republican primary in 1980. i think they were the only union that supported us in the general election. even with all that goodwill, you know, you can't strike against the american people. and ronald reagan gave them a firm seating without the consideration of the favors they did for us and literally fired the air-traffic controllers. that's really a powerful thing as well, but i want to focus on the taxes here. and what you want to look at, and i look at it being the first installment of a two installment
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policy. the next one was the '86 tax act. those two together response was intended. i was shocked at some of the details of the response to incentives that occurred with the supply side economics and also with the tax cuts. to get the bill through the house and senate president reagan agreed to phase-in the tax cuts. the tax cuts actually began in full january 1, 1983. it is amazing to me how tax cuts don't work until they take effect. when the tax cuts took effect out of literally one minute in 1983 and the boom hit from january 1, 1983 through june of 1984, an 18-month period the u.s. economy grew by 12% in real terms. 12% and we dpru an average rate
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for a little less than 8% for a year and a half. that's a chinese rate so it's amazing. i want to go from we had tax cuts. paul deserves an enormous amount of credit for the type of policies he put in this administration even though he was appointed by jimmy carter, he did the greatest job effort. you have money, tax cuts, free trade, and deregulation and you'll get the prosperity we had. that prosperity was wonderful. i don't understand why walter heller the architect of it kennedy tax cuts or so he said would be against it with the exact same thing with ronald reagan, but he was. he said we'll have hyperinflation. how does supplying more goods to the marketplace cause prices to rise? if you have a bumper crop in apples, the price goes down,
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duh. this was a beautiful period. it was simple. as larry gatlen now says and now i'm going to turn over to ed in one second, dear friend. and i'm going to quote larry here. nashville and tennessee are the lowest taxed states. but larry gatlen says it ain't rocket surgery and a core person and jack kennedy put it so beautifully the best form of defense spending is always wasted. whenever you find yourself in a situation where you need your military hardware and prowess, it's a clear sign you did not spend enough. reagan understood all these policies, all together they created the greatest prosperity together. and i was so proud i was able to work with him. i just loved it. it was terrific, and now i want to give you the dean of all deans of the reagan period, my
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dear friend and a man i wish would be up there with me tomorrow, ed. but ed is the heroes hero. ed, the show is yours. >> great job as usual, art. i wanted to let you know how happy i am here to be with you and my friends on this program. this was a very important day for the country when the tax cuts was announced and the legislation signed in 1981. and an important date for the presidency for ronald reagan as you related. that was really the crux of getting things started and getting the country back again. but there's one person who's not here today with us, unfortunately. he was very instrumental back in
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1979, 1980. he'd been with ronald reagan during his campaigns of the presidency of both 1976 and 1980. and it was at that time as you point out our country was in deep trouble. we were in the greatest economic crisis since the great depression of the 1980s. and in transition he asked him to come up with a strategy for how we could get the country back on track. so mark went to work. i think that's somewhat significant. because you were able to explain
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a fairly complex subject in a very, very simple and very illustrative way. he went to work. it was a four-point strategy which he relayed to him by the end of december, start of january 1981. and there were four points some of which you already talked about today. one, of course was the tax cut. the second was regulatory reform. the third was maintaining stable monetary policy, and the fourth was slowing the growth of federal spending. each of those was important, but the tax cut was absolutely significant because this was the one that mainly showed the american people how they
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individually and through their families would be able to benefit from new policies of this administration. and so these tax cuts was put into effect when ronald reagan signed the legislation on the 12th of august, 1981. there in the porch of the branch house, and this was a day which i'm glad that today we're able to sell braille 48 years showing actually as you point out the conservative ideas and particularly conservative economic ideas where i'm sure the panel who will be speaking later on today will describe this in more detail. but the challenge, of course, was once the plan was enacted was to get it passed by the
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legislature, and that's why this day itself was so important. but the challenge then after that was to make sure these tax cuts could be continued. it was a big moment in 1982 because as you point out the whole program had not yet taken effect, so the impact and we still had major economic problems and many people talked about the tax cuts. i can remember being with him in the oval office when he told those who would try to do away with the tax cuts that he was going to stand firm and there was no way they were going to be able to change or modify or destroy this significant budget foundation for the economic recovery that then began. as you point out, that was start
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it finally took effect. that was the start of the longest period of peacetime economic growth in the history of the country. and that's why it's appropriate that we commemorate that day with the it was signed. it's important actually we remind people of the benefits the country derived from that economic strategy. and it's important to rely on legislatures today and the national leaders for the future, that tax cuts and low taxes is a keynote of a successful economic program and economic success for our nation. so it's a pleasure to be with you all today i see a lot of good friends who will be speaking later on after remembering what ronald reagan did and also to remember martin anderson who was instrumental for all those here today in making this happen.
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thanks. i appreciate the privilege to be with all of you have to help you celebrate an important day. thank you. [ applause ] >> it's wonderful to hear your voice. thank you for what you just said. i don't know who else is out there. everybody knows tony who was a reagan speechwriter -- key
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speechwriter -- kennedy speechwriter, excuse me. i insisted that he come here. i don't think he knows anything about the economy but he has great stories to tell about other things. the head of foeshz media, long time leader in the supply side and man of great principal generally we've been in the middle of just about every insurrection you can imagine in washington and elsewhere. anne, she's been married to steve all these years and deserves a hand just for that alone. i'm sorry.
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great monetary expert, great friend of ours, advisor to both the reagan people and trump people and many in between and also a steadfast person of great principle. so i want to begin with one of the thoughts steve forbes mentioned on our shea few moments ago, which i think is so very important, and that is the relationship between economic strengthen at home and security and military strength abroad. sometimes it's characterized as weakness at home, weakness abroad, but i think it's more properly characterized as strength at home and strength abroad. the one links to the other. to some extent it's perhaps less understood and underrated as a factor. but, steve, you mentioned it on our show as you always do. and i wanted you to talk a bit about that because america was
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on the defensive in the 1970s, maybe long before that. but certainly in the 70s we forget the strength of soviet communism. they're infiltrated our own hemisphere not just in cuba but also in places, you know, south, littered throughout south america. and that all changed during the reagan years. and why don't you take it from there because i think in some respects in the grand sweep of history that may be the most important impact of ronald reagan. >> well, that's right. not only did his programs, two big tax bills which aren't mentioned which setoff an extraordinary boom, we mentioned on the show but between 1983 and 1990, the sheer growth, the real growth of the u.s. economy, the growth alone exceeded the entire size of the german economy, then
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the third largest in the world. we grew germany in seven years, an amazing achievement. silicon valley became a bi-word for cutting edge technology. so the u.s. went from the malaise of the 1970s when it looked like our best days were behind us, that we couldn't compete again, that we're going to fall behind and we had to keep temperatures down at 55 during wintertime to a nation that was really and the amazing thing after those tax cuts 50 nations around the world imitated those cuts. and so you had a global boom. but related to what larry said in the 1970s especially in the demoralized aftermath of the vietnam war, after the hubris of the late '60s. and by the way the book on the great society chronicles that terrible time in the late '60s
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when we lost our way. but in the '70s we faced the aftermath of it. and as larry pointed out in central america nicaragua fell, and looked like other countries are going to go the soviet way in africa and angola and mozambique. and europe itself the soviets put in short range missiles to really destroy nato, which was an alliance that enabled us to win the cold war ulttimately. nobody remembers it today, larry, so important because the soviets figured if they had short-term missiles aimed at europe, the europeans would no longer trust the u.s. to defend them if there was a nuclear attack because we wouldn't risk the utter destruction of the united states. it's kiwi get a short-term missile station in germany.
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they ginned up opposition in germany and elsewhere. but thanks to the strength, the evident strength of the united states in the early '80s became apparent we were on the march again. we are the nation of innovation and confidence we had been in the '50s and '60s. that enabled to believe the u.s. was going to be there. and the missiles got in and the great soviet gambit to wen the cold war ended. a strong economy means a strong economy. doesn't mean we don't make mistakes but the world wants a civil leader. they fear the u.s. not being strong in the world. and in asia whoever would have thought the vietnamese would be
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begging us to have air carriers visit as a counter to the pressure. and so we play that unique role, and all you have to do is look at the 1930s when the u.s. was weak, wracked by the great depression and we nearly lost civilization. the 1970s where if these bad policies had continued, we had soldiers on food stamps for crying out loud. we couldn't even keep our ships in repair, and so it looked like the u.s. was washed up. and suddenly overnight confidence returns. by golly, it was a better, richer world. and that's what's so dangerous today. so dangerous today, the same bloody mistakes again, and i use the word "bloody" advisedly if the u.s. is seen as weak and by golly if biden has his way with those entitlements and everything else, a weak dollar
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we're going to have troubling period once again. and hopefully this panel can turn it around. let's turn it around and not repeat the same mistakes again. it's not just gdp. it's about the safety and morale of society. >> that's great. >> steve moore, one of the thoughts here is that when reagan started to meet and negotiate with gorbachev, i mean the issues were disarmament, missiles. but of course gorbachev wanted to give up star wars in effect, today by the way is the bastion of our defense provided we keep it up. but, steve, when those guys met it just occurs to me and i think many others that gorbachev was
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facing a guy who along with his country had literally delivered the goods to the citizens whereas in the soviet union they couldn't deliver the goods. the system had in effect self-destructed as reagan himself predicted, and it was happening in the mid-80s. our recovery was off to a flying start. reagan had in effect unleashed capitalism, unleashed free frrt prize, took the cuffs off, lowered taxes, minimized regulation, deregulated oil which as i recall dropped to 10 or $12 a barrel at one point by the mid-80s. gorbachev couldn't match that because his economic system didn't work and ours did. so you and i penned this op-ed that will be in the paper tomorrow, the journal, about the growth rates and so forth.
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today -- today i think we're in danger of rehandcuffing free enterprise and capitalism. as dan clifton has noted in a recent piece, these are the first tax hikes on capital, right, the geese that laid the golden eggs -- on capital in 50 years. i find that to be foreboding, certainly move us in the wrong direction and damaging in the eyes of the world. what do you think? >> so let me just shout out a couple of -- so there's so many great people in this room. i just wanted to say the reagan tax cuts would not have happened without richard ron. richard, you are a superstar. you were at that time an
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aconomist at the chamber of commerce. and thank you for what you did because you were a driving force behind that. i don't know, grover, if you had the tax pledge back then, but i think reagan certainly gave birth to that movement and helped reagan from being succumbed into agreeing to tax increases, and so that was incredibly important. and by the way, you should be a chairman of the federal reserve board. >> by the way, i tried. >> it's such a great, great day. the great robert bartly, and i don't think it would happen without for those of you who don't remember bob bartly was the editorial page editor of "the wall street journal." and i think every day they'd have editorials explaining and teaching the american people why this was so important.
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and of course jude who was at the editorial page at that time. and was he the one who came up with the term supply side economics? i don't remember but -- so that was all cool. i would just say one quick thing that i think we are in a danger zone right now because none of the lessons that we should have learned over the last 40 years seem to have been learned by the left, and that's troubling to me. one thing you said on the show today, larry, you said it was a reagan revolution. >> i'd say it was a 40-year revolution. obviously trump followed a lot of those ideas from reagan as well. and i'm going to give you one statistic in our wall street journal op-ed tomorrow, but it's just incredible when you think about this -- that 40 years ago
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today give or take the dow jones industrial average was at 1,000. 1,000. today 40 years later the dow is at not 3,500, 35,000. this is the greatest period of wealth creation in the history of civilization. we've never seen anything anywhere in the history of the world that comes close. it was the deregulation, the policy clearly, the march toward free trade and limiting government. and now we are seeing, you know, biden -- and not just joe biden but the left in america has not learned any of the lessons from these things and that troubles me because i do worry if we start turning these dials back where they were in the '70s i mean elizabeth warren talks about it all the time that's
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what we should go back to. they want to deregulate the airlines and the railroads. how stupid is that? if there's any other success it was deregulating the airlines and the energy markets and the railroads, and they want to go back to the policies they have. one of the reasons we put this whole thing together, and by the way thank you to heritage for doing a great job. and thank you all for being here. i think it's really important that this lesson be taught in schools, at universities. and what reagan did for our country, and how if we keep these rates low we can have another 40 years like the previous 40 years. i really believe that. and we will be an unrivalled super power. china is only going to catch us if we allow -- if we do it to ourselves, right? if we reverse our own policies because china will not whip us
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if we keep our tax rates low and let america succeed as it has for the past 40 years. >> we talk a lot about the mix, the policy mix of low tax rates and a strong dollar. or low tax rates and tight money. so we don't have that now. we sure don't have but in your judgment did reagan work well with voker? what was called the laffer mondel hypothesis in play at that point either unconsciously or not? >> first, let me also express my thanks for being with you all. i feel very grateful to be on this panel with my heroes.
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i didn't serve in the reagan administration, but my first job as a newly minted doctoral person was to be a research assistant to martin anderson. >> wow. >> so i feel like i brought props with me today. and my first project with martin is he had this pamphlet called the economic bill of rights. martin wrote the memorandum that laid out the 4 points. and in his pamphlet he was reflecting on that. and so he had just left the white house having served as the chief domestic economic policy add visor. so he was saying what do we do
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next, and he decided i think to get to reinvigorated out at the hoover institution. here he said in the summer of '79 reagan's approach was spelled out that became the basis of his policies in the 1980 campaign and economic recovery program. they were the four basic parts. the first control the rate of increase of governments spanning to reasonable prudent levels. the second was to reduce personal income tax rates and to accelerate and simplify business depreciationation schedules in an orderly, systematic way to save, invest and produce. people respond to incentives. the thirdtuse to inform, reduce and regulate economic sanctions so as to encourage economic
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growth and sounded a lot like the trump administration pro-growth agenda. the fourth was to establish a stable and sound monetary policy. that was the part that to me was visionary and radical in a sense. and you're right, larry, as you asked me at the outset did that work, he decided he would try this experiment targeting monetary aggregates and let the interest rate go wherever it had to go. at the same time you had the pro-growth tax policies. and that was mandel's magic formula, and it did work. it worked tremendously. it was brutal. it hurt a lot of the economy, but wrenching out the inflation was vital. and i think we went from over
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13% in '81 to, what, three or four two years later. it was astonishing. jack kemp, the american idea, what a promoter he was. here was a guy who would sit on the bus going from one football game to another reading -- and understanding it. but then i remember and my thanks to jimmy who gave me the books from his dad's library which i treasured. but jack said the monetary issue is anything but remote from peoples experience. and in my experience honest, stable money is a popular blue collar bread and butter winning political issue, and we see how people are so distressed over this rising and have a sound
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monetary platform so they can plan and invest and make good decisions dictated by premarket mechanisms. another one, the perfect prop, paul bartly, and he's the one who can i say popularized in the best sense, helped everybody understand. for me having studied international monetary systems mon. del was my personal guru in all of that. but i remember in his acceptance speech in '99 for his nobel here's what he said, and i think this sums it up. the '70s was a disaster in terms of economic stability, but we learned a valuable lesson. the lesson was gnat inflation, budget deficits, big debts and big government are all
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detrimental to public well-being and that the cost of correcting them is so high that no democratic government wants to repeat the experience. so i'm very afraid we might be about to but he warned us. >> so in some on this one it did work and they did collaborate, question mark? >> i think that ronald reagan honored the independent judgment. he was there until august '87, but we had the 1981 goal commission, and i think that voker understood that people were so concerned about the lax policies of his predecessor and arthur burns and whether there was some kind of acquiescence to what the white house might want that president reagan was very respectful. but it turned out that what paul
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voker had to do to wrench out inflation had to be exactly in compliance with what mondel said we ought to be doing in order to have the pro growth tax policies to expand economic output. >> and the combination of low tax rates that to me is -- i was a young kid then in omb. i did sit on one of those voker meetings. reagan and voker had something in common. voker was the last guy. voker was defeated when nixon went through what he went through in the early '70s. and voker was the youngest secretary the traegsy at that time. he wanted to make some minor
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price adjustments to the gold link but not to end it. i don't know about burns. and i think reagan like those guys saw things similarly. the rest of reagan's staff didn't like voker, tried to push him out and eventually succeeded in 1987. whether that was a mistake or not, i don't know. but i always thought those guys were simpatico, i really did. reagan was like leave the politics to me. he used to always say that about a lot of debates. you do what you have to do and i'll take the plateical heat. i want to bring my pal into that.
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like i said tony has more reading to do on the economic side. but the benefit and the brilliance as a speechwriter and as a creative guy and an intellectual and ideas guy, what was reagan thinking? what was he thinking especially in '81 and '82? >> i mean, i don't want to offend you, but i'll begin with some numbers that should appeal to you. we were facing 22% interest rates. we were facing 8% unemployment and back-to-back double digit inflation two years in a row the first time since world war i. we also were facing 18% increases in federal spending. ronald reagan came into office said, no, we're going to stop. tip o'neal said you're in the big leagues now. he went on the air and everything changed. ronald reagan soon builds up with the perfect label for him and branding.
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media also helped similarly. that's right reagan had this video magic. and so he was a great communicator. they were quoting, larry, tip o'neil when this book came. and the reason they were doing it is he said i have a 20-vote cushion on this. and reagan did what he had done prior with the economic speeches. and by the way, marty anderson did the audit that was based on. and i'm so grateful to ed for bringing him up. but i must tell you reagan wrote those speeches. and he'd been talking about this forever. and it's the same thing. and said, pete, have you seen this, and so they did a script together and he insisted on it, and no one thought reagan was going to run for president again
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at this time. so even then his advisers said, governor, are you sure you want to be this far-out on something. >> i gave a copy of wealth and power to reagan so he could give it to bob dole when he was quickly in the hospital. but these were things -- larry, everyone told me over lunch where you and i used to commune as well at the staff table that ronald reagan knew economics as well as anyone. and i want to emphasize one that changed everything.
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and tip o'neil was laughing. all of washington was laughing. and mike said the president was very pleased with the draft. and he said, mike, he ought to be. it was all his stuff. for three months he'd been talking about this bill, and he'd been talking about it in formal situations and informal ones. ben could handle any speech, but in particular he was a supply side true believer. he did a draft that had terrific descriptions of what was going on, and again, are the conservative speechwriter reagan white house he thought we plagiarize reagan and we get to take the credit for his speeches. but it's something i'd worked on the election eve speech when he blocked the half an hour period of time on all three network. it was just the setup.
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it was, okay, folks, the break through has to come now and it's up to you. you read the speech and there was a critical moment. one of the congressmen came in, and they let me be there -- remember reagan got this through a democratic house in a very reluctant republican senate. this was going to finally do reagan in. and one of the congressmen said, you know, mr. president, i was up talking to a farmer the other day and i explained to him our tax cut bill and how it was going to do just fine and it was okay, and i went into all the involved discussions about it and so forth. and finally the farmer looked at me and said, congressman, are you for him or against him. and he said, mr. president, i'm voting for you. and he tells the story there in the speech. but think of what happened because ronald reagan had this
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vision of the economic world he did. and where did it come from? he believes as calamitous as our world is, beauty, truth and goodness still has power. and what he was saying, really, he understood paradoxes. he understood you cut taxes to raise revenue. he understood you confront a criminal regime in order to make it conciliatory. if you and i can tell a story about the rehearsal. but i'll finish with this. he understood paradox ambiguity and mystery -- the mystery of not -- the idea the oligarchs, the philosopher kings know better. it's this mysterious force and democracy works better because
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people make decisions than the oligarchs. so i have to tell you that's the reason ronald reagan, the leader of the supply side believed that if he really stood up for the truth it had power. he believed in the christian paradigm and if you just had a little trust you could change the world. and that's what i leave you with. this was a remarkable intellect as well as a remarkable communicator. >> and he actually did use numbers in his speech. >> oh, he loved numbers. >> a lot of politicians today will tell you our their advisers will tell you no one listens to numbers. >> larry, listen to the '64 speech. >> he always used numbers.
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in fact, he used on camera charts and graphs, which was very cool. >> you want the story or not? >> sure. i'm not going to be able to stop you anyways. >> but it's about the chart. i'm not kidding. >> go for the chart. >> in any case he's rehearsing. and we have the script down and it was fine. he was going through it once. and somebody -- you know white house aides, they've always got to fix stuff. and was it you? i can't remember. anyway, he said we've got to make a change. what reagan knew was in life
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anything could go wrong so you better do it right. and mark went up to him and said, mr. president, we want you to go to the chart once and back to the text and back to the chart. but we've omrehearsed it you point at the chart once. can you handle this? and the president just kind of looked at him and didn't say a thing. and i realized there was something going on here between the director. and he said mr. president, can you handle this, and finally one more time mark said, mr. president, can you do this, and i realized what was happening. he was giving reagan a chance to tell his story. so he pushed himself back, and we all laughed hystericily but
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only mark knew why we were laughing so hard. he said, listen, there was a saying in hollywood, never do a scene with dog, a little kid or wallace. it was my seen, i was the only one on camera. wallace was to my left. i was the only one with any lines. by the end of that scene, do you realize wallace was the only thing i could see and i was off camera and talking to the back end of the horse and it was supposed to be my scene. that's my point. he understood that -- and, by the way, this is exactly what happened. they were always prepared, mark at one point had to crawl across the oval office and old the pen up -- my marker is working again because the lights had tried it out. that was the point. ronald reagan was set in force. >> and he could handle anything. >> and let me finish on this. let me finish this one line.
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when he gave a speech, there were no thee yacht tricks. the great communicator let the words speak for themselves. >> steve moore? >> the benefits of reagan's optimism. there are few people who are optimists who believe as bad as things may be, they can be turned around. as big as the soviet union was and powerful, it could be brought to its knees. as awful as the u.s. economy, he inherited, it could all be changed in a year or two and he was the quintessential optimist. how important was that? >> well, it was a critical because people can be optimistic and depress people.
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nevel chamberlain was an optimist. what made reagan's optimism believable, a profound understanding of what made america unique. and while times and circumstances change, free people will find a way to overcome the obstacles and move ahead. because people come from the most unlikely backgrounds and do great things in commerce and elsewhere. so that profound faith deeply read, as has come out here, this was not some guy just read a line and went onto the next thing. and people sensed that, even if the elites didn't. and so they believed, yes, we can see through this thing and also what made the optimism enduring was that when he went through a very rough period from 1981 when the bill was signed, the economy crashed into recession, took beating and
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congressional elections, people thought the economy wouldn't do much in 1983 and he was going to be in jeopardy, his poll numbers went down i think about 35%. but people stuck with him even though they may have disapproved because they figured there's something there. and that's why he rebounded so quickly. the economy rebounded quickly. but he was up in the 60s by the time 1984 rolled around, carried 49 out of 50 states, as art pointed out, it would have been 56 out of 57. obama once thought there were 57 states. but he would have done that. but the thing is, he was grounded in an understanding that gave people confidence. this had a real wellspring like it did with churchill. there's a wellspring there that you can trust. that's the keyword. trust. you could trust them. >> i often thought, i often thought -- those are tough years, you're exactly right.
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we lost 25 seats in the house in november '82. the economy was in recession. we didn't get the roaring recovery in early '82 that all of us were hoping for. but i often thought as the tax debate came upon the white house, you had a faction of senior advisers who wanted to back off the tax cuts and reagan refused. very important. i was a witness to it. but i'm just saying, it occurred at the highest level. and also with respect to his tough hard line with the soviet union, there was really only one guy among the senior policy staff in the white house who believed, a, you had to throw diplomatic shackles aside and be brutally tough with the soviet union with respect to their
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flaws and their vulnerabilities. and the u.s.'s new position of strength. and then, b, there was really only one person among his senior policy people who truly believed, i mean truly believed, that the soviet union would and could be overturned and defeated. and to the ash heap of history. that was reagan. he was the only senior policy guy and i saw this -- i watched it. i can't say i participated in it. he was there. and he was unyielding. and they came very close in '82 to overturning the tax cut policy. you heard mr. meese say how central that was. if your a tax-cutter, you're not likely to be a big spender. if you're a tax-cutter, you believe in people, not government planners and
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bureaucrats. most of his senior staff, not all, many of them, wanted to change the tax policy because they sort of -- it was more than worshiping at the shine of the budget deficit, which was a -- they didn't care about growth. they didn't care about workers that tony was correctly talking about, that reagan believed in. reagan himself was a blue-collar background. they were afraid of the politics of it. the polls. reagan pushed it aside. he wanted today the right thing. that's an extraordinary leadership position, steve moore, extraordinary. >> i remember in '82 there was so much pressure, you know, to exceed to this giant tax increase and thank god, thank god that he didn't cancel the last -- one of the things that the congress wanted to do was cancel the last leg of the tax
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cut, is that right, steve? >> yes. >> that would have been disastrous. we wouldn't have gotten the full thrust of the tax debate. it took a lot of curious. he did -- they did pass a tax increase, but it was thankfully much smaller and the rate cuts stayed in place. >> and bracket -- >> and the indexing of the code. and the -- to then to do d.o. in '86 was an incredible accomplishment. to get it down to 28% -- you always talked about this. 15 and 28. how great would that be if we could go back to 15. >> i was talking to milton freeman at the time, and he said i did this column for "newsweek," i think it was the early '70s, just to start an argument on the flat tax. he said reagan's rates are only
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three points higher what i was trying to start an argument for. the man was in ecstacy, and this started the whole thing, with the economic miracle, the cold war was over, trade barriers fell down. a billion people were lifted out of poverty all because of what happened 40 years ago this day. and that was the scene -- >> some of that groundwork was laid in the patco strike. the air traffic controller's union which had endorsed reagan during the campaign. it's a -- shall we say -- upper middle class union. they went out on strike. reagan said, don't do it, i'm going to fire you. they didn't believe it. so they went out and he fired
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them. now, i always felt for domestic purposes but also international purposes, that was a shot around the world. >> i thought that was fearless and unique coming from a politician. so i guess that's the definition of leadership and you're so right. when you mentioned this optimism, believing in what he knew in his heart and having the integrity to fight for it and carry it out, that i think is so important. that faith in the future. i also look at things from a monetary point of view and i think what are we doing to savers who put money in a bank account and they get zero. how does that support the idea of you sacrifice today because it's the financial seed corn that's going to be invested productively and it's going to lead to higher standards of living and everyone benefits and
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you kind of destroy that faith in the future with the monetary policy we've been having or getting negative real rates of interest. what i loved about reagan in addition to the strong leadership was this reliance on the private sector and his respect for the individual, but it was -- it was radical in the sense that it was sophisticated. his whole program and all four elements of it were international in scope. i mean, it seemed ambitious. but even another book was -- this was co-chaired in 1983 preceding the williamsburg d-7 conference, they put together a world agenda for world growth. but they thought the american idea was so wonderful and so
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blessed, why not extend that to the world? but then they had the economic policies to make it work for america and after i worked for martin, he recommended me for the fellowship program at the hoover institution. i took what i thought would be a very dry subject. the impact of western capital on the soviet economy. as i started working on that in '85 and then i saw the impact of this just wildly turning around economy in the united states, where we went from being the losers to being -- having the right -- the right message and the right mechanisms to turn it into a growth machine, the impact on gorbachev who just came in in 1985, mr. popular, but gorbachev was the first one to recognize that the soviet economy was going the opposite
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direction, the opposite. so i could see that by using our ability to -- was the maximum leverage and gorbachev, he was saying, well, i don't want you to do research on it. but he knew that the soviet union could never match that. so my research ended up being a book that came out in january '89, the soviet coming crash. he saw that country was going bankrupt. not just economically, morally as well. >> judy, this is important, i was on the plane. it was just like the tax cut. he said no. "time" and "newsweek" was about to make him the great peacemaker and he said, no, i'm going home to nancy. the only two people on that plane who were happy, i don't know about reagan, but it was me and pat bio canon.
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we knew what had happened. and i gave him -- >> i think for different reasons you were happy. >> no, no. i gave him a note. i said, mr. president, everybody wanted a treaty. he read it and his eyes were filled with tears. i couldn't believe it. you've done what the american people have always wanted an american president to do. you stood up to the russians. it was the same courage you put out about the tax cut. >> the reason i talked about patco -- >> the sovieted that. >> it happened early. >> they wrote about it. >> you think i'm not going to lower tax rates? you think i'm not going to slam down the soviet union like i said? you think we're not going to go ahead with our defense buildup. watch me and this patco thing comes in. it was a wonderful opportunity. it was a good-given blessing and
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he just hit the bit. he fired them. like that has never been done before. in fact, no president has stood up to a labor union like that. and all the cable shows -- the soviets were reacting. >> they went crazy. they said, who is this guy. >> the shot heard round the world. >> in terms of inside these administrations, you know, us, the rank-and-file, it was the greatest thing. it was like, wow, wow, he did that. it was like, remember years later you called me when trump pulled out of the paris climate accord. >> greatest moment. it was the greatest moment. >> wow, he actually did that. he said he was going to do it and he actually did it. >> and, by the way, contrast to what biden is doing now. he's going to the g-7, you can have this, we'll give you this. we're going to decapitate our industry -- >> he's begging saudi arabia to produce all. >> how can he -- he doesn't know
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that we have a lot of oil here. oh, wait a minute, he does know. >> one of the most embarrassing moments. >> increase their oil protection? we have more oil than any other country in the world. >> we do this all the time. that's the way our phone calls go. >> that's why i thought it was so incredibly important. >> can i ask tony one quick question. he's on a roll right now. is it true that reagan -- that the speech writers didn't want to let reagan say, gorbachev, tear down this wall? >> i'll be quick, larry, i promise. [ laughter ] >> it's a hard break. >> it was early, i said to him, mr. president, you know, it's really early in berlin. right at the end of the meeting, people were staring with daggers. i said, do you have any thoughts at all about what you might want to say in berlin.
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he went, well, yes. tear down the wall. and that's how it happened, folks. and i'll tell you, everybody in the foreign policy community tried to get that line out. peter robinson did a brilliant draft. we fought like hell for it and we went through a lot of revisions and it came out a bunch of times and we got it back in. >> best moments. >> well, there's an ugly memo about me in the files too saying we have had, what, five em passioned conversations. but the wonderful part about it, it was a superb draft from larry and reagan worked it over as he would and it was very much him. but in the final analysis, that was the nature of ronald reagan. everybody wanted it out. and he said, no. i wrote this in "the wall street
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journal." four little words, it tells the story of the morning of the speech. we got a cable from the state department. tom gave it to me. he was director of communications. i said, tom, is that what i think it is? he said, yes. don't pay any attention to it. it was a another last-minute plea. everyone brought it to reagan. as much as we prided ourselves to keep the line in, they took it to reagan ultimately and as you point out -- >> it was like a verbal patco. at key moments, he towed the line. >> exactly. >> different presidents, we're going to draw a red line through that. you cross that red line and, of course, it always gets crossed now. that's a lot of reason we've lost respect for the institution. reagan upheld his red line. >> and he thought, well, i'm
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just going to do the best i can. >> but to come back to where we began with steve forbes idea, strength at home, strength abroad, all of these decisions sent unbelievable messages to the rest of the world about american strength and persistence in defense of its ideals. i want to adjust a little bit of history here. i'll go to steve forbes. steve, ronald reagan was five times the president of the screen actor's guilt, a big union, important union. how do you think that informed his actions, communications and political activities down the road? >> well, he learned one about leadership, about -- you just don't do things on your own. he learned about the communist threat which soon became taboo. you can't be -- it was
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anti-anti-communist. but he learned that, and he learned, too, that he made decisions, he did make decisions that he felt his life might be at stake, the forces readied against him. he was a new dealer. democrat. union guy. but he never forgot, he was there to serve his people, not some other political cause. fortunately, that was reflected in much of the labor movement. they wanted more, wanted to organize, all that sort of thing. but they were also very patriotic, unlike the left today. that has been lost. but reagan, while he was a big thinker, i just do want to remind you, he's also very practical, i have to share this story, even though it's not really relevant. and that is, we had the office
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once he gave a speech, a dinner speech, and he said if you're the dinner speaker or luncheon speaker, and the dessert is on the table, eat it first because they always ask you to speak when people are having the dessert and they never save it. eat it first. [ laughter ] >> okay. >> another thing in the actor's union, he said what he learned, never sit down at a table unless you're willing to get back up. >> he was five-term president of sac. he did one thing that had never been done before. he called a strike. >> against the studio -- >> he did it in college too. he did that. that's the only strike they've ever had and in those days, hollywood was a very closed
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oligarchical place. he was kind of moving away from it. and he called a strike. in that strike, he got a lot of concessions, not only for actors, but also, you know, for the screeners and the people behind the camera whose pensions were at stake. he just did that. it was like patco way before there was a patco. the years he was at ge, he learned about handling unions from the other side. he learned how to be a very tough messenger of free enterprise and free markets and capitalism. he went to all of these factories, all around the country. who was it -- there's a fabulous book -- i'll never remember the author because i'm way too old. about this experience and what bull war taught reagan.
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judy was talking about sound money helps the blue-collar worker which is something that jack kemp taught all of us. we talk about how the gop now has been -- become a worker's party. and that's a lot of trump's own messaging and so forth. reagan was right there. he was doing the best to fight the establishment and he learned a lot of that during the ge days because in those days they had 100 factories around the country. it's not like today. he would go and talk to the blue-collar people, argue with them back and forth, and i believe -- reagan was a democrat, as steve said, he was a new deal democrat before a republican. the other guy i worked for more recently was a democrat who then became a republican. i was a democrat and became a republican. and i still to this day believe the best republicans are former democrats. >> larry, could i just mention
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that the battle for -- against the soviet union in all of its -- all of its attacks on the human soul and materially as well as in the heart, was facilitated because reagan's ability to work with the union movement, with labor. and labor solidarity. and -- but lane kirkland was extremely helpful. i think the fact that reagan had such credibility, that workers knew he was on their side and he understood how american principles really helped give opportunity to the little guy and what a message that would be to communism. >> and kirkland -- i actually got to know a bit. i was staffing for the social
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security commission in the early '80s. those guys are anti-communist. those old union guys were anti-communist. and that's what -- somebody said, that game has changed. the left is just so awful now. the left hates america. in those days the union guys loved america. they just wanted to stand up for their members and they didn't collect dues in order to, you know, provide critical race theory in junior high school. they loved this country. and they didn't go around talking about systemic racism and america is always wrong. it was a very big, a very big difference. i want to -- >> by the way, larry, in terms of ge in the book great society, great, great writing's on reagan education. as humor, when he became a ge spokesman, they turned his house into a laboratory of electricity. everything was electrified, stove, heating, everything else. but he said, i drew the line
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when they wanted to do chairs. [ laughter ] >> is that in your book? >> the best of the best. i just want to make a point. what we have now with the biden administration is an attempt to overturn, overthrow and reverse every single one of the principals we've been talking about this evening. every single one. whether it's taxes or regulations or free enterprise or patriotism or love of america. and as steve moore said, perhaps the most pathetic thing and a long line of pathetic things i've seen, which is killing biden's polls because the american people are way smarter
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than folks thing, this thing about pleading with saudi arabia to produce more oil -- they had discovered new technologies of fracking and horizontal drilling and the natural gas revolution, which has brought down our emissions by 25% since 2005, we're five years ahead of the paris climate accord, that had no government assistance. there was no government planning. it was just a bunch of guys who put an old technology to work, which is the brilliance of the private sector. we have to get every intellectual activism communications writing, money, whatever it takes to defeat the reconciliation bill that will come up for a vote not immediately, but in a couple months. because embodied in this bill, they are using it as the vehicle
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to transform america. to transform its values, its culture, its history and its economy. they have no interest in economic growth, they know damn well that you're not going to tax your way into prosperity. they know damn well that the inflation is rising because of too much spending and the fed is monetizing and that's always going to be the big risk. he's already now put it on jay powell's head. yesterday he said that. he said, well, they'll do it when they think it's appropriate. this is the monetary equivalent of sending kamala harris to the southern border on immigration. [ laughter ] and i just want to make a personal plea to everybody here, there's nothing more important than defeating reconciliation. that's all there is to it. [ applause ] . . >> literally, our way of life is
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at stake and our economy is at stake. every great principal we're talking about from optimism to taxes to money to free enterprise to actually upholding promises, to abiding by red lines in the sand will be defeated by the bidens. and they're actually rather brash about it. and i don't care who is in charge, whether it's aoc or bernie sanders or nancy pelosi or my suspicion is joe biden, make no mistake, they want to overturn everything we hold dear. everything we hold dear. and so i'm making a plea. i'll let my panelists get one last word on whatever topic they want. but that's my thought for the day. believe me, trust me. the stakes are incredibly high. >> last word, tony. the clock is ticking. >> i referred to larry as larry
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the golden hearted. he's wonderful, warm, great person who is busy getting people medals of freedom and thanking others all the time. that's a dark secret that i will only share with all of you. reagan was the author of his own success and he was a troublemaker. he embraced controversy just like margaret thatcher. he knew that's how you moved the ball. >> reagan understood america in a way that few presidents have. lincoln did and full of others, coolidge did, amazingly, nobody realizes it. but reagan did. and that's why he was successful. that's why he had what my grandfather called stick-to-itness through and led to his triumph even when he had
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those setbacks. sadly, we have an establishment today, unfortunately, that has the exactly opposite view that this country is a disgrace. that's what we're fighting. the battle for the soul of america. >> steve moore? >> you mentioned a tv show that i worked in 1987 under jim miller. he was a great reagan-ite. we tried to privatize amtrak. it's an example of the kind of thing reagan wanted to do. think how much better transportation if we privatized amtrak.
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and so i'm very -- i'm actually very proud of that that i worked more reagan and i think, you know, that the -- it's just -- you know, my kids, i tell my kids, you worked for ronald reagan, that is so cool. but his stature keeps going up. have you noticed that? over time, reagan's stature keeps going up and i think that -- the last thing i'll say, i went to -- i went up to south dakota three weeks ago, rapids city. i went to mount rushmore and there is room for one more -- there's room. and wouldn't it be amazing if we put ronald reagan on that. [ applause ] >> judy? last word. >> i think he proved you really can change the world. you can change the destiny of the world and -- for the good. for me, the '80s started with the privilege of getting to hear about the reagan program from
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martin anderson, from the people who created it. seeing that, the consequences of that juxtaposed against the internal monetary system of the soviet union who still has the capacity for a nuclear exchange to destroy everything. and what you saw was that combination of vision and fortitude was able to bring down that nation. i remember when i see john sitting there, i don't know if he remembers, but you once came to visit gill and he at our home. and you know what you brought us as a house warming gift? a piece of the berlin wall. so that's what -- >> i wonder what it is worth now? >> i'm keeping it. it was -- it just shows that ideas are powerful, for good or
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ill. and if you combine that with the leadership and the integrity and the principals to see it through, it's extremely powerful. >> president george washington gave his farewell address. there's a discussion hosted by mount vernon. watch at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span3. c-span offers a variety of podcasts. weekdays, washington today gives you the latest from the nation's capital. every week, "booknotes+" has in-depth interviews with writers about their latest works. while the weekly uses audio from our archive to look at how issues of the day developed over years. and our series talking with features extensive conversations wi


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