Type to search

Republicans Lost The Economy, Democrats Lost The Narrative

Memo Pad

Republicans Lost The Economy, Democrats Lost The Narrative


Look at it this way: If the Wall Street banking crisis had taken place in 2007 instead of 2008, George W. Bush wouldn’t be able to leave home without being jeered. (As it is, he rarely leaves Texas.) Hardly anybody would buy the brand of tycoonomics GOP presidential candidates are selling. People would understand that save-the-millionaires tax cuts and deregulation had dramatically failed. President Obama would get more credit for pulling the economy out of a nosedive.

Alas, people have short attention spans and a weak understanding of abstract economic issues. You have to tell them a story. The failure of policy makers to do that has been driving progressive MVP Paul Krugman crazy. How can it be, he asks, that governments foreign and domestic are repeating the mistakes of the early 1930s—slashing government spending to reduce budget deficits, putting more people out of work, reducing demand, and inadvertently increasing deficits? Rinse and repeat.

Gene Lyons

Gene Lyons is a political columnist and author. Lyons writes a column for the Arkansas Times that is nationally syndicated by United Media. He was previously a general editor at Newsweek as wells an associate editor at Texas Monthly where he won a National Magazine Award in 1980. He contributes to Salon.com and has written for such magazines as Harper's, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Review of Books, Entertainment Weekly, Washington Monthly, The Nation, Esquire, and Slate.

A graduate of Rutgers University with a Ph.D. in English from the University of Virginia, Lyons taught at the Universities of Massachusetts, Arkansas and Texas before becoming a full-time writer in 1976. A native of New Jersey, Lyons has lived in Arkansas with his wife Diane since 1972. The Lyons live on a cattle farm near Houston, Ark., with a half-dozen dogs, several cats, three horses, and a growing herd of Fleckvieh Simmental cows.

Lyons has written several books including The Higher Illiteracy (University of Arkansas, 1988), Widow's Web (Simon & Schuster, 1993), Fools for Scandal (Franklin Square, 1996) as well as The Hunting Of The President: The 10 Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton, which he co-authored with National Memo Editor-in-Chief Joe Conason.

  • 1


  1. CharlesN March 7, 2012

    Gene: Long time no. . . . Your column could not possibly be more prescient. The NDC has failed to take Krugman’s message–translate it into how and why government $$$$ are so vital–and destroy the GOP insistence on “deficit reduction first.” Good words. Chuck.

  2. concernedusa7 March 7, 2012

    Thank you for a very informative article.
    I Pray the Democratic Party will get this message to ALL people.
    Democracy = Democrats
    Autocracy = Republican
    The Electorate needs to be AWARE that the DEPRESSION and the GREAT RECESSION were both brought about by Republican malfeaseance.
    The Electorate needs to recognize that the periods of Economic Prosperity, ALL came about under Democratic Administrations, this is a proven, documented FACT!

  3. dardyl March 7, 2012

    I’ve never denied that Republicans have spent their share of money, but the Dems have out spent them. The Republicans had us treading water, barely, but the Dems have grabbed our ankles and held us under. Investing in infrastructure and improvements after the war was a good thing, but the people were working side by side the government to achieve those things. Now we are spending for everything out the wazoo, and more are on aid from the government than ever before, and 40% don’t pay taxes. What goes for one SHOULD go for all. The entitlement programs are smothering us, the bailouts laughable, and still we have trippled our debt into the multiple trillions. Economic prosperity is in the eye of the beholder. Sure for those who draw a government check it is prosperity, but for those who open their wallets to supply that check it is not. Roosevelt started the hand outs and they have gotten out of hand so drastically it is hard to wrap one’s mind around it. I am for rebuilding our infrastructure and making improvements, but cut the excess from the bloated programs and think what can be done. People were desperate back then and were all basically in the same boat. They did tighten their belts and worked together to solve their problems. Today we are in a bad situation, except no one wants a solution where we have to tighten our belts. We want to depend on the government to solve our problems, but our government is broke now. Just because we print more money doesn’t mean we have money. Both sides are to blame and now the PEOPLE must dictitate the solution. Tell the government to butt out and let the people do what they must. My friend who is small business, said he is up to 38% in taxes and if it keeps going the way it is, he will go broke in the next four years. The rich provide jobs. A poor man has never offered me a job, yet I have never felt entitled to a rich man’s money and I don’t feel anyone is deserving of mine. I worked for it and it is mine to do what I will. America is notorious for financing things through the private sector, but there will be no private sector if we keep siphoning it off those who have the money.

  4. ebonycapamerica March 7, 2012

    The basic approach to economic governance that the right sell’s and believes in is fundamentally self-destructing over several generations, to manipulate te economic structure so as to accumulate the majority of the wealth into an elite group Romeny (and the rest ) call…”the investor class / “the jobs creators”=the 1% we all have become awaken to ) can not sustain it’s self and even marginally support the masses, this is the consequence of major parts of their economic model requiring the establishment and perpetuation of a “permanent underclass” who generate 70% of the desired wealth.Commonsense should have caused the framers as well as the modern day participants to see if the people who generate he bulk of the wealth being gathered do not SHARE in that wealth , yet the cost of living continues to increase, at some definate point the system will collapse upon itself !

  5. Howz 1 March 7, 2012

    To understand economic theory you have to have some smarts which the Tea party is in short suppply of. A Canadian study found them to be not as smart as the rest of us. They get all their news from Fox, Glen Beck and Rush Limbugh, so what do we expect. They got people riled up about the deficit, health care reform and gutting the environmental protection agency. Now the Tea party is working against it’s own self intrest, and the intrest of every middle class person in America. The rich made the TP act in it’s interest by rebranding themselves as job creators. Even though under BushII 2.9 million jobs were shipped out of the country by this same group. I lived across the street from a TP guy flag and all. He watched Glen Beck everyday, and even though I was envolved in health care I couldn’t get him to understand, what the Afforable HC act was about. One fox watcher aked me about the chip that the government was going to plant in everyones head under health care reform. If they think like that, how are they going to understand a Nobel Prize winner?

  6. freethinker March 7, 2012

    I believe we could all question anything about a ‘Nobel Prize Winner’ when he didn’t do a single thing to win it, nor has he produced any grades, papers, etc. from his college days. Nor do we know how he got into his very expensive schools or how he got to be editor of the Harvard Law Review. A neighborhood in my town did a ‘study’ of Democrats that showed they were all moochers and parasites and watched MSNBC. Now, what was your point? P.S. If you don’t believe in trickle down economics, you have probably never had a job.

  7. rustacus21 March 7, 2012

    … is we’re even having this debate at all! It took Conservatives 40 years to get a House majority & they squandered it w/bickering & pitting Americans against each other. Til Reagan, there were only 2 Republican prez’s, post-FDR, in all of 36 years. The Depression was the primary reason. So, in the age of ‘image management’, a racist, fiscal incompetent war mongerer like Reagan is ‘transformed’ into among the ‘perceived’ greats of presidential history!? Still, between he, Nixon & the Bush gangs, the combined damage to the economy, executive institution, not to mention Congress, is becoming less ‘correctable’. & so here we are, in another election year, debating if a Republican has the qualifications necessary for the executive & the short answer is NO!!! As it looks to be Romney, he can’t figure out who he is – moderate or fundamentalist; elitist, or common ‘every man’; versatile diplomat or war-mongerer – but 1 thing Americans should NOT doubt – is all the qualities of Bush(s), Reagan, Nixon & Hoover, will be consolidated into, as they have been to date, the Conservative choice. America & the world have lost – BIG, w/each Republican who entered the Oval Office, since 1969. What is bewildering, is why Eisenhower is not the Conservative model, instead of Nixon, Reagan or… Hoover…?…

  8. dardyl March 8, 2012

    I hear you.

  9. Theodora30 March 8, 2012

    They let Reagan get away with implying that tax cuts were a magic elixir that would grow the economy without adding to our debt. This seductive tale has never been seriously challenged even though the evidence is overwhelming that it is blatantly false. For example, Bush’s tax cuts were accompanied by ballooning debt and weak growth. Bush’s top economic adviser, Greg Mankiw estimated that at best government might recoup only 20% of the cost of a tax cut. That such an important, damaging lie is allowed to stand for 30 plus years is beyond belief. Where has the so-called liberal media been all these years?

  10. dardyl March 9, 2012

    You can say what you will, but never ever have such HUGE, DRASTIC,UNBELIEVABLE changes taken place over such a short time (3 years). Obama changed the complexion of America. She is no longer recognizable. We can’t afford to have another four years of the enlightened ruler that we have now. I say take me back to the dark ages and forget enlightenment. Maybe Reagan didn’t lie; maybe it is the truth. You’re right, the liberal press would have jumped all over it but has remained strangely silent. Maybe there is nothing to jump all over.

  11. StephenToher March 10, 2012

    I’ve been looking for this “Liberal Press” thing for many years. The only liberal press I’ve ever been able to find is “The Nation”. ABC,NBC,CBS,CNN,MSNBC,FOX are all small parts of huge ENTERTAINMENT corporations. Even the “liberal” NY Times is owned by a larger media corporation. These corporations provide us with the circus part, while we are supposed to supply the bread part, of our modern Bread & Circus world. All ideas are not equal in facts, yet every time we turn around we are presented with 2 talking heads discussing an idea that has no basis in reality, or facts, as if it was relevant to anything happening in the REAL world. Real issues are buried under a barrage of celebrity “news” & we won/they won horse races about the issues, without ever actually dissecting the issues. This is because “news” has become just more ENTERTAINMENT for the functionally illiterate.There are very few journalists left, there are just newslike personalities. There is no “Liberal Press”. There hasn’t been any REAL press since the advent of cable news.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.