Yesterday I had the opportunity of at the Reagan Ranch to
commemorate the 33rd anniversary of the signing of the Economic Recovery Tax
Act of 1981.
Today, conservatives tend to think of that moment as the
beginning of Reagan�s � and the country�s - triumphant era, which
would eventually usher in the longest peacetime recovery in American
history, victory in the Cold War abroad, and the restoration of the
American Dream at home.
Twenty million new jobs. A forty-nine-state
landslide. �Tear down this wall.� �Shining city on a hill.� Cadence
That�s the Reagan conservatives all remember and revere.
But I submit that is not the only Reagan conservatives need to
study and emulate most today.
The obvious achievements following August 1981
provide a showcase of what we can learn from our 40th
president. But some of the most important lessons we can take are from
Reagan�s hard and heroic work leading up to his electoral victory in
The four-year stretch between 1976 and 1980 was a time similar to
our own. The unemployment rate was coming down, but still too high.
The economy was recovering, but not enough to restore broad prosperity.
Energy dysfunction, rising prices and an unfair tax system were
eating up what gains working families did see in their take-home
it wasn�t just about statistics. Humiliating failures of leadership at
home and abroad throughout the previous decade had taken their toll as
well. A psychological pall was descending on the country, leaving
Americans uncharacteristically anxious and pessimistic. When grinding
stagflation steered us toward yet another recession, many Americans began
to wonder if our best days had come and gone.
It was in that time, in
my view, that Reagan did perhaps the most important work of his
Coincidentally, the similarities between the late 1970s and today seem to
grow by the hour.
Now, as then, our economy is struggling. The great
American middle class is beset with anxiety. Stagnant wages don�t keep
up with the rising cost of living. For too many Americans,
opportunities seem to be narrowing, and the American Dream seems to be slipping
out of reach.
Meanwhile, a chasm of distrust is opening between the American
people and their government. Both parties are seen as incapable of
producing innovative solutions to growing problems, or uninterested in even
trying. Reagan�s �forgotten Americans� are once again being left
believe this is the challenge of our time, and I addressed how we can
meet this challenge in my speech. I invite you to
to answer Reagan's challenge.
I also invite you to come to one of the to share your thoughts and feedback with me.
Reagan's agenda was designed to give ordinary Americans even more
power to make decisions. He respected them and trusted them,
and thought the government should simply get out of the way. He
knew the answer was not to get America to trust Washington; it was to
get Washington to trust America.
Today, some see it as ironic that as
Reagan decentralized power to a diverse, divided
nation... we came back together. But it�s not ironic at
all. It�s the tried-and-true genius of the American way of life that has
sustained our exceptional republic for more than two
forward to a vibrant dialogue as we explore a new agenda of solutions to
answer Reagan's challenge and once again remember America's forgotten