The Weiner Component V.2 #36 – Money & the President: Part 2

Official Portrait of President Ronald Reagan

English: US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet...

English: US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachov at the first Summit in Geneva, Switzerland. Česky: Americký prezident Ronald Reagan a sovětský generální tajemník Michail Gorbačov na prvním summitu v Ženevě. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Up until the Reagan Administration the National Debt had been below one trillion dollars.  During Reagan’s time it reached and went beyond the above figure and with succeeding presidents, particularly Republican ones, has gone far beyond that figure.  Today, in late 2017, it exceeds 19 trillion dollars and if the plans of the current President, Donald J. Trump, are carried out it will take a sudden jump of at least 3 additional trillion dollars.

 

The National Debt has been the means by which the amount of currency in circulation has been controlled.  The Federal Reserve uses the Debt to control the amount of cash in circulation.  It continually sells and cashes out long and short term bonds.  By selling less new bonds than it cashes out the FED increases the amount of money in circulation.  By selling more bonds than it cashes out it reduces the amount of money in circulation.  The amount it sells is controlled by the interest it pays on the bonds.

 

The problem, of course in controlling currency in circulation is that there are other necessary expenditures which can throw off the above process.  Today it would seem that the National Debt is completely out of control and currently getting ready to zoom even further in that direction.  Basically what this means is a redistributing of the Gross Domestic Product or National Wealth upward to those who can afford to buy the Government Bonds.  They get additional benefits upon money they invest.  This spending phenomena began on a large scale with Ronald Reagan’s Presidency.

 

Up until this time the Federal Reserve was generally able to control the amount of money in circulation but during the Reagan years the National Debt went to one trillion dollars and then passed beyond that.  The adjustment power did not work with that much debt.  Other presidents, mostly Republican, took the debt far beyond that point so that it is today over 19 trillion dollars and growing.  The current President, if he gets his way with a Republican Congress, could increase it another 3 trillion dollars with his so-called tax reform.

 

Can the country ever get out of this cycle?  That’s an interesting question.  The National Debt consists of two groupings: the public debt and the private debt.  Over the years the Treasury has taken any funds left over by any Department of the Government at the end of the fiscal year and put that money into the General Fund.  They have then credited the particular Department with those excess funds.  Technically each Department still has access to those funds which the Government has spent.  Over the years this has reached a point of at least 50% of the National Debt.  It could even be as high as 70%.  On a quarterly or by-yearly basis the Federal Reserve turns over to the Treasury Department the interest on that part of the National Debt it owes itself.

 

Interestingly Social Security holds the largest amount of the National Debt.  It is well over one trillion dollars and could be well over two trillion dollars.  During the Reagan Administration the Federal Government was facing the possibility of reaching a break-even or worse level with Social Security payouts.  The Reagan People adjusted the amounts collected so that there was a fairly large surplus from that point on.  We are now looking forward to running short of the amount needed in another 20 or 30 years.  In fact, rumor has it that many of the people today paying into Social Security will not have it in existence when they retire.  Is this true?  I doubt it.

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Ronald Reagan was born in 1911.  He became President in 1981, which put him at 70 years of age when this event occurred.  Up to that time he was the oldest man to assume the presidency.

 

Reagan apparently went to college in the late 1920s and early 1930s, the time of the Great Depression.  When he was questioned at the end of his presidency over the illegal Iran-Contra Deal, beyond stating that he had done something illegal, Reagan stated that he had majored in economics in college.  Economics, during this period was still a relatively new science.  Much was not understood.  When a similar condition occurred in 2008 and 2009 the Obama Administration was able to tone down a potentially greater depression than the one in 1929, making it into a recession.

 

President Reagan did not have the sophistication to understand what had happened in 1929.  He believed in simple answers to most problems.  To him economics functioned best under a totally Free Market system.  He did away with the laws that had been passed during the Roosevelt Administration to keep the country from the banking abuse that had brought about the Great Depression.

 

Reagan kept stating that the problem of government was the government, which we had to get out of the way for real economic growth to occur.  He did this while increasing the size of the Federal Government.  It was this action that brought about the Real Estate Bubble in 2008, and caused the government to bail out the banks which had caused the situation, and to pass laws to avoid a greater depression than that of 1929.

 

It is interesting to note that under the Republican President, Donald J. Trump, the country is again hearing the same arguments that brought about the Real Estate Crash of 2008 and the Great Depression of 1929.  It will be fascinating to find out what eventually happens.  Apparently the Republicans have no memory of the past!

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When Ronald Reagan assumed the presidency he firmly believed that the Soviet Union, which he later called the Evil Empire, was far ahead of the United States in military weaponry and men.  His military goal was to catch up and get ahead of them.

 

In point of fact the United States was far ahead militarily of the Soviet Union.  Their keeping up with us would eventually bankrupt them.

 

Reagan had been a movie actor earlier.  He seemed to believe that the weaponry used in science fiction movies could be developed by American scientists as they were needed.  His program, which was named after a Sci-Fi movie was called “Star Wars.”  Trying to do this in real life can be inordinately expensive, even if the chances of success are low to zero.  Luckily none of these hypothetical weapons were required during his presidency.

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During the Reagan years a very small number of economists came out with the theory of supply-side economics.  It began with the concept that Supply determines Demand; that is, if a good or item is manufactured people will want to buy it.  The basic economic theory has been and still is among most economists that Demand determines Supply.  The theory here is that if people want something it will be supplied.  This has been espoused by most economists in the 20th and 21st centuries.

 

The Reagan Administration coming out of the stagflation of the 70s, the combination of unemployment and large increases in the prices of all goods, came out with this theory.  It was called Supply-Side Economics or Reaganomics.  According to this macroeconomic theory economic growth can be most effectively created by lowering taxes and decreasing regulation.  This, in turn, will increase income for the general public and give the wealthy more money to invest in new production.  Everyone would benefit from a greater supply of goods and services that would cost less to produce and, at the same time, increase employment.

 

One of the so-called proofs of this was what happened during the Kennedy Presidency.  In response to a recession income taxes were lowered and people spent more with the government collecting increased taxes.  Unfortunately Reaganomics did not work during Reagan’s eight years as President.  The Nation Debt would rise to over a trillion dollars.

 

This Trickle-down Economics resulted in the wealthy taking their new additional funds and investing them in old productivity like the stock market.

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On August 5, 1981 President Ronald W. Reagan fired all striking air traffic controllers in the United States, 11,345 of them.  In doing this he would undermine the labor movement and help bring about the wage and salary inequities between labor and management.

 

Two days earlier nearly 13,000 airport air controllers walked out after talks collapsed with the Federal Aviation Administration.  7,000 flights were cancelled across the nation.

 

Technically the strike was illegal. But there had been 39 prior illegal work stoppages against the Federal Government from 1962 to 1981.  President Reagan called the strike illegal and threatened to fire any controllers who did not return to work within the next 48 hours.  Federal judges fined the union one million dollars a day.  11,345 controllers stayed out and were fired.

 

Some 3,000 supervisors joined 2,000 controllers who returned to work, with an additional 900 military controllers in manning the airport towers across the nation.

 

Reagan broke the union at considerable risk.  An air disaster might have resulted from the replacing of the striking workers.  It didn’t happen.  It would take several years and a cost of billions of dollars to return the system to a pre-strike level.  More would be spent doing this than the workers had demanded.

 

Presumably Reagan showed how tough he could be to both workers and foreign leaders.  In all probability the Soviet leader, Gorbachev, was impressed by his action or, at least, the recklessness of his action.  At the time I was daily waiting for an air accident to occur.

 

Reagan arranged that none of the striking air controllers ever be rehired.  In 1993 when Bill Clinton became President he countermanded that order.  About 800 of the former air controllers were rehired.  They joined a different union since Reagan had broken their former union.  Also American labor has not done that well since that time.

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Initially Reagan was going to be a one term president but in 1983 he was so popular that the Republican Party decided to have him run for a second term.  President Reagan easily won against the Democratic former Vice President, Walter Mondale.  Mondale received 40.1 percent of the popular vote but, since the electoral vote was on a winner take all basis, practically all of the electoral votes went to Ronald Reagan, 525 out of 538.

 

Ronald Reagan would begin his second term as President at the age of 74.  It came out at that time that occasionally he would fall asleep at times during staff meetings.

 

During this term Reagan concentrated more on foreign relations.  Because he had believed that the Soviet military was better equipped than that of the U.S. he continued to upgrade the American military.  The truth was that the U.S, was far ahead of Russia.  This move forced the Russians to engage in a military buildup, actually an arms race with the U.S.  This started during his first term.  Russia could not afford the race.  In America it would bump the National Debt to over one trillion dollars.  In Russia it bankrupted the U.S.S.R. and caused it to collapse.  It also created a situation where parts of the Soviet Union broke off into separate nations.

 

Reagan saw other nations as good or evil; the Libyan leader, Gaddafi, was the evil leader supporting terrorism.  Using that premise he had the American Air Force bomb the Libyan capital.  There had been earlier incidents between the Libya and the U.S. military but war had not been declared.  The immediate justification for the air raid, on April 14, 1986, was a Berlin terrorist bombing at a nightclub frequented by American military personal.  Reagan in his speech to the American people held Gaddafi personally responsible for the bombing.

 

While Reagan did not approve of the government of Nicaragua he did support the revolutionary Contras against the government.  Congress passed a law barring the use of funds for the purpose of overthrowing the government of Nicaragua.  In January 1984 the CIA mined the harbor in the capital of Nicaragua.  Suggestions from people in the Administration got countries like Saudi Arabia to contribute money to the Contras.  Obliquely, going against the will of the majority of Congress, the Contras or “Freedom Fighters” as President Reagan called them got some funding.

 

Toward the end of his second term in office President Reagan authorized what has historically been called the Iran-Contra Affair.  With the approval of the President arms were illegally sold to Iran and the money obtained bought arms and other military materials illegally for the Contras to use in overthrowing the government of Nicaragua.  While Nicaragua may not have been that friendly to the United States at that time they had a democratically elected government.

 

From what I remember the Contras were terrorists attempting to gain power.  Reagan unsuccessfully attempted to get Congress to appropriate funds for them.  Reagan was sure he was right and the Congress was wrong.  He needed the funds for a group “Freedom Fighters” so they could fight for freedom.  A group of people illegally sold arms to Iran.  The money from that transaction was used to fund the Nicaragua revolution unsuccessfully.  The Reagan people disregarded the arms embargo the U.S. had placed on Iran and used the money gotten illegally.

 

The person handling the operation was an army officer, Colonel Oliver North, whose political leanings were to the far right.  I got the impression that he saw himself in the middle of a James Bond adventure.

 

When the news of this broke, toward the end of the Reagan presidency Reagan gave a speech in which he stated that he couldn’t believe that he had done something illegal.  Reagan has been called the Teflon president, nothing unpleasant stuck to him.  Apparently the American public also couldn’t believe he was capable of doing something illegal.

 

No impeachment charges were brought against him.  After his term as President he was never charged with an illegal act.  This fact also saved most of his staff who had also been involved in the crime.  Colonel North had testified before Congress.  Nothing in his testimony could be used against him.  This made it impossible to develop a case against him.  He ended in talk-radio, ran for the Senate, lost, and returned to talk-radio.

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President Ronald Reagan changed not only the politics of the world by inadvertently ending the Cold War, he also changed the economic functionality of the United States.  The Federal Reserve would lose much of its ability to control the amount of currency in circulation from his presidency on.  Thereafter much of the money added to the National Cash Flow would be done because of the size of the debt.  It would obliquely help bring about conditions that would help the banks bring about the Real Estate Crash of 2008.  Labor and management relations would change to the detriment of labor.  The levels of wealth between the rich and those below them would change, with labor economically crawling upward while the rich became far richer.  America would begin to change with a very gradually decreasing middle class.  The distance of separation between the rich and everyone else would widen.  While Reagan cannot get credit for all of this he is still responsible for the country moving in this direction.

The Weiner Component V.2 #35 – Money & the Presidents: Part 1

English: Plaza of the Presidents, commemoratin...

English: Plaza of the Presidents, commemorating all the US presidents who served during World War II; outdoor display on the grounds of the National Museum of the Pacific War, Fredericksburg, Texas, USA. Each monument honors a US president who served during World War II (FD Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, LB Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, and GHW Bush) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Four Presidents: President Ronald Rea...

English: Four Presidents: President Ronald Reagan with his three predecessors. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Wealth of a nation is its level of productivity which is determined in terms of monetary value.  The monetary value is in terms of the currency of the nation.  The currency itself is merely the agent of exchange; it allows the goods and services of each individual to be exchanged for those produced by all other individuals.  All of this is finite in that there is a limit as to what a particular nation can produce.  This limit is set by the national level of manpower and by the available resources.  While wealth is determined by the currency value an individual controls, the currency itself is an instrument of exchange, not of value.  Money is basically the tool that allows for the creation or production of the actual wealth: the products or services produced.  The actual wealth is the productivity of the nation, all the goods and services it produces, its GDP.

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President Harry S. Truman continued the policies of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.  He presided over the end of World War II and he created the Fair Deal as his economic policy.  Truman also presided over the beginnings of the Cold War with the Soviet Union and the Korean War or police action.

 

The next president was former General Dwight David Eisenhower.  He was the 34th President, entering the political race in 1952 as a Republican.  He was President from 1953 to 1961, the first Republican elected since 1928.  Eisenhower was a moderate conservative who continued the New Deal agencies and expanded Social Security.  Economically he built the first interstate highway system in 1956.  Presumably this was done because of the Cold War: an interstate highway system would be beneficial if needed for military operations within the country and it would also be beneficial in helping to provide continued economic growth.

 

In the 1961 Race Republican Richard M. Nixon, Eisenhower’s former Vice President, ran against Democratic John F. Kennedy.  Kennedy won the election by 6/10s of 1% of the popular vote.  In the electoral vote he did better.

 

When Kennedy took office on January 20, 1961 the country was facing a mild recession.  His policy was to lower rates on the income taxes.  As a result of this the Federal Government collected more taxes than it had previously done.  People had more money and spent more and the recession ended.  Interestingly since that time many Republican Presidents like Ronald Reagan have claimed that lowering taxes would actually increase government revenue.  It hasn’t happened.

 

Despite negative incidents during his tenure like the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba and the Cuban Missile Crisis Kennedy was one of the most popular presidents that this country had.  His approval rating was 77%.  Unfortunately he was assassinated on November 22, 1963.  His Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson replaced him as President and then was elected in his own right for another four years.  President Johnson was able to get Kennedy’s Civil Rights Act of 1964 through Congress.  In fact Johnson was able to get through some of the bills Kennedy had strongly supported.  In his own right Johnson declared War on Poverty and had a measure of success on that until he extended the war in Viet Nam, bringing American troops directly into combat.  President Kennedy had used U.S. troops as advisors only; President Johnson attempted to defeat the Viet Cong.  He apparently felt that the United States was that powerful.  He was wrong.

 

President Johnson’s domestic policy was called The Great Society.  He attempted to do too much.  Attempting to fight his War on Poverty and at the same time conduct a full scale war against North Vietnam without the American Public being affected was more than the country could handle.  The cost of all this began a spiral of inflation which was not ended until the second year of the Reagan Administration in the early 1980s.  Johnson began the excess spending during the first half of the 1960s, Reagan ended the growing inflationary spiral during his second year in office during the early 1980s; growing inflation existed for about a 20 year period.  The termination of the inflation was a very economically painful process upon small business.  The inflationary spiral was broken by raising interest rates to about 20%, making money too expensive to borrow.

 

The number of American military personnel in Viet Nam was increased dramatically during the Johnson years, going from 1600 advisors to 525,000 combat troops in 1967.  American casualties soared.  In addition the sorted battles were shown nightly by the news on television throughout the United States.  There was an angry antiwar movement especially on college compasses.  Summer riots broke out in most major cities after 1965 and crime rates soared in the U.S.  With all of the above and not being able to win the Viet Nam War or police action, since it was not officially a war, broke Johnson’s spirit.  He refused to run for the presidency in 1968.

 

In that year, after a tumultuous Democratic Convention in Chicago, Hubert Humphrey, ran against and lost the election to the Republican candidate, Richard M. Nixon.  Nixon, the country’s 37th President, if he hadn’t been involved in the Watergate Break-ins, would have probably emerged as one of the outstanding Presidents of the United States.  In 1970, he created the Environment Protection Agency.  He did after a long period of time end the Viet Nam War in 1973, bringing home all the American prisoners of war.  His visit to China in 1972, the first such for an American President, led to diplomatic relations with that country.  These relations caused the Soviet Union to sign an Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with the United States later that same year.  He initiated détente.

 

When he first took office he imposed wage and price controls in 1969 in an attempt to stop the inflation spiral that had reached 4.7%.  It didn’t work because of all the exceptions that had to be applied.  Fighting the Viet Nam War and attempting to maintain peacetime conditions in the nation which would continue well past his time in office brought on the continued rise in inflation.  Not Nixon nor anyone else as President would have been able to stop it.  It would take extreme action by the Federal Reserve to do so.

 

For his second term in 1972 Nixon wanted a massive victory.  This required assorted actions, some of which were illegal.  Nixon and the Republican leaders secretly supported the far left Democratic candidate that would be unacceptable to the majority of the American people.  They chose South Dakota Senator George McGovern, who had unsuccessfully attempted to replace Robert Kennedy after his assassination in 1968.  McGovern was generally considered a far-left liberal.  He was the hero of the radical college groups.  The Nixon campaign contributed heavily to the McGovern candidate.  That action may have been immoral but it was not illegal.

 

In addition to this Nixon had a group in Washington called the “plumbers.”  They broke into Democratic headquarters at the Watergate Hotel a number of times and were finally caught and arrested.  From that point on a cover-up ensued until it finally came apart two years into Nixon’s second term.

 

Nixon was informed by Senator Barry Goldwater, probably the leading Republican in the U.S. at the time, that he had to resign or proceedings to impeach him would be begun the next day.  On August 9, 1974, Richard M. Nixon became the first President to resign from the presidency.

 

Ironically he was replaced by the Vice President he had himself appointed, Gerald Ford.  The original Vice President, Spiro Agnew, had earlier resigned from office rather than face a lengthy corruption trial which would have found him guilty.  Ford, shortly after assuming the Presidency, pardoned Nixon for any crimes he had or might have committed.  Nixon accepted the pardon, thus admitting his guilt by accepting the pardon.

 

Gerald R. Ford had been appointed to the Vice Presidency by then President Richard M. Nixon.  He was also earlier appointed to the Senate by the governor of Michigan.  At that time he was Minority Leader at the House of Representatives.  He had served there for 25 years in the House of Representatives.  As President he appointed Nelson Rockefeller as his Vice President.

 

President Ford signed the Helsinki Accords, which officially marked an end to the Cold War and brought about détente.  He presided over the end of the Viet Nam War nine months into his presidency.  Domestically, he served as President over the worst economy since the Great Depression, dealing with growing inflation and a recession.  His foreign policy was characterized by the increased role Congress began to play.  He served as Chief Executive of the United States for 895 days, the shortest term for a president who did not die in office.  In 1976 Gerald Ford lost the presidency to the Democratic candidate, former Georgia governor James Earl (Jimmy) Carter.

 

Jimmy Carter had been elected Governor of Georgia from January 12, 1971 through January 14, 1975.  Despite the fact that he was little known outside of Georgia Democratic candidate Jimmy Carter defeated Republican President Gerald Ford in 1976.  He assumed office on January 20, 1977 as the 39th President of the United States.

 

On his second day as President, Carter pardoned all Viet Nam draft evaders of the Viet Nam War.  He was able to get the first signed agreement between the Palestinians and Israel, the Camp David Accords.  He signed the Panama Canal Treaties that gave Panama control of the Canal and the second round of Arms limitation Talks (SALT II).

 

Economically the country was going through stagflation during his tenure, both high inflation and high unemployment.  Carter had his Federal Reserve chairman, Paul Volcker, attempt to break the inflation spiral which had reached about 15%.  Volcker did this by raising the interest rate to about 20%, making money too expensive to borrow.  This, in turn, would drive many small businesses into bankruptcy as they could not afford those rates during their economic dry seasons.  Many complained to the President and he had Volcker end the policy.  The next President would enforce it and end the inflation spiral while driving numerous small businesses into bankruptcy.

 

Gasoline and fuel prices rose in 1980 to about $2.16 a gallon for gasoline and went considerably higher for heating fuel also.  President Carter recommended that people keep their thermostats set at 65 degrees and wear sweaters.  He did this at the White House.

In 1979 to 1981 there was the Iranian hostage crisis which ended shortly after the next President took office.  Because the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan Carter ended détente and resumed the Cold War.

 

In the 1980 Presidential Election the Republicans chose Ronald Reagan to run against President Jimmy Carter.  Reagan won an overwhelming victory.

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Up to this point in our history the National Debt, which had almost always been with us was under one trillion dollars.  The Federal Government had spent money but it had always been on a limited basis.  Roosevelt, perhaps the greatest of the spending presidents, while he doubled the money supply that had been available in the country, did so without raising the National Debt significantly.  Even with World War II, the immediate post war spending, and the Cold War the country’s spending did not reach this point.  All of this would change after 1981 with the election of Ronald Reagan to the Presidency.

 

The Weiner Component V.2 #35 – Money & the Presidents: Part 1

 

The Wealth of a nation is its level of productivity which is determined in terms of monetary value.  The monetary value is in terms of the currency of the nation.  The currency itself is merely the agent of exchange; it allows the goods and services of each individual to be exchanged for those produced by all other individuals.  All of this is finite in that there is a limit as to what a particular nation can produce.  This limit is set by the national level of manpower and by the available resources.  While wealth is determined by the currency value an individual controls, the currency itself is an instrument of exchange, not of value.  Money is basically the tool that allows for the creation or production of the actual wealth: the products or services produced.  The actual wealth is the productivity of the nation, all the goods and services it produces, its GDP.

********************************

President Harry S. Truman continued the policies of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.  He presided over the end of World War II and he created the Fair Deal as his economic policy.  Truman also presided over the beginnings of the Cold War with the Soviet Union and the Korean War or police action.

 

The next president was former General Dwight David Eisenhower.  He was the 34th President, entering the political race in 1952 as a Republican.  He was President from 1953 to 1961, the first Republican elected since 1928.  Eisenhower was a moderate conservative who continued the New Deal agencies and expanded Social Security.  Economically he built the first interstate highway system in 1956.  Presumably this was done because of the Cold War: an interstate highway system would be beneficial if needed for military operations within the country and it would also be beneficial in helping to provide continued economic growth.

 

In the 1961 Race Republican Richard M. Nixon, Eisenhower’s former Vice President, ran against Democratic John F. Kennedy.  Kennedy won the election by 6/10s of 1% of the popular vote.  In the electoral vote he did better.

 

When Kennedy took office on January 20, 1961 the country was facing a mild recession.  His policy was to lower rates on the income taxes.  As a result of this the Federal Government collected more taxes than it had previously done.  People had more money and spent more and the recession ended.  Interestingly since that time many Republican Presidents like Ronald Reagan have claimed that lowering taxes would actually increase government revenue.  It hasn’t happened.

 

Despite negative incidents during his tenure like the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba and the Cuban Missile Crisis Kennedy was one of the most popular presidents that this country had.  His approval rating was 77%.  Unfortunately he was assassinated on November 22, 1963.  His Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson replaced him as President and then was elected in his own right for another four years.  President Johnson was able to get Kennedy’s Civil Rights Act of 1964 through Congress.  In fact Johnson was able to get through some of the bills Kennedy had strongly supported.  In his own right Johnson declared War on Poverty and had a measure of success on that until he extended the war in Viet Nam, bringing American troops directly into combat.  President Kennedy had used U.S. troops as advisors only; President Johnson attempted to defeat the Viet Cong.  He apparently felt that the United States was that powerful.  He was wrong.

 

President Johnson’s domestic policy was called The Great Society.  He attempted to do too much.  Attempting to fight his War on Poverty and at the same time conduct a full scale war against North Vietnam without the American Public being affected was more than the country could handle.  The cost of all this began a spiral of inflation which was not ended until the second year of the Reagan Administration in the early 1980s.  Johnson began the excess spending during the first half of the 1960s, Reagan ended the growing inflationary spiral during his second year in office during the early 1980s; growing inflation existed for about a 20 year period.  The termination of the inflation was a very economically painful process upon small business.  The inflationary spiral was broken by raising interest rates to about 20%, making money too expensive to borrow.

 

The number of American military personnel in Viet Nam was increased dramatically during the Johnson years, going from 1600 advisors to 525,000 combat troops in 1967.  American casualties soared.  In addition the sorted battles were shown nightly by the news on television throughout the United States.  There was an angry antiwar movement especially on college compasses.  Summer riots broke out in most major cities after 1965 and crime rates soared in the U.S.  With all of the above and not being able to win the Viet Nam War or police action, since it was not officially a war, broke Johnson’s spirit.  He refused to run for the presidency in 1968.

 

In that year, after a tumultuous Democratic Convention in Chicago, Hubert Humphrey, ran against and lost the election to the Republican candidate, Richard M. Nixon.  Nixon, the country’s 37th President, if he hadn’t been involved in the Watergate Break-ins, would have probably emerged as one of the outstanding Presidents of the United States.  In 1970, he created the Environment Protection Agency.  He did after a long period of time end the Viet Nam War in 1973, bringing home all the American prisoners of war.  His visit to China in 1972, the first such for an American President, led to diplomatic relations with that country.  These relations caused the Soviet Union to sign an Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with the United States later that same year.  He initiated détente.

 

When he first took office he imposed wage and price controls in 1969 in an attempt to stop the inflation spiral that had reached 4.7%.  It didn’t work because of all the exceptions that had to be applied.  Fighting the Viet Nam War and attempting to maintain peacetime conditions in the nation which would continue well past his time in office brought on the continued rise in inflation.  Not Nixon nor anyone else as President would have been able to stop it.  It would take extreme action by the Federal Reserve to do so.

 

For his second term in 1972 Nixon wanted a massive victory.  This required assorted actions, some of which were illegal.  Nixon and the Republican leaders secretly supported the far left Democratic candidate that would be unacceptable to the majority of the American people.  They chose South Dakota Senator George McGovern, who had unsuccessfully attempted to replace Robert Kennedy after his assassination in 1968.  McGovern was generally considered a far-left liberal.  He was the hero of the radical college groups.  The Nixon campaign contributed heavily to the McGovern candidate.  That action may have been immoral but it was not illegal.

 

In addition to this Nixon had a group in Washington called the “plumbers.”  They broke into Democratic headquarters at the Watergate Hotel a number of times and were finally caught and arrested.  From that point on a cover-up ensued until it finally came apart two years into Nixon’s second term.

 

Nixon was informed by Senator Barry Goldwater, probably the leading Republican in the U.S. at the time, that he had to resign or proceedings to impeach him would be begun the next day.  On August 9, 1974, Richard M. Nixon became the first President to resign from the presidency.

 

Ironically he was replaced by the Vice President he had himself appointed, Gerald Ford.  The original Vice President, Spiro Agnew, had earlier resigned from office rather than face a lengthy corruption trial which would have found him guilty.  Ford, shortly after assuming the Presidency, pardoned Nixon for any crimes he had or might have committed.  Nixon accepted the pardon, thus admitting his guilt by accepting the pardon.

 

Gerald R. Ford had been appointed to the Vice Presidency by then President Richard M. Nixon.  He was also earlier appointed to the Senate by the governor of Michigan.  At that time he was Minority Leader at the House of Representatives.  He had served there for 25 years in the House of Representatives.  As President he appointed Nelson Rockefeller as his Vice President.

 

President Ford signed the Helsinki Accords, which officially marked an end to the Cold War and brought about détente.  He presided over the end of the Viet Nam War nine months into his presidency.  Domestically, he served as President over the worst economy since the Great Depression, dealing with growing inflation and a recession.  His foreign policy was characterized by the increased role Congress began to play.  He served as Chief Executive of the United States for 895 days, the shortest term for a president who did not die in office.  In 1976 Gerald Ford lost the presidency to the Democratic candidate, former Georgia governor James Earl (Jimmy) Carter.

 

Jimmy Carter had been elected Governor of Georgia from January 12, 1971 through January 14, 1975.  Despite the fact that he was little known outside of Georgia Democratic candidate Jimmy Carter defeated Republican President Gerald Ford in 1976.  He assumed office on January 20, 1977 as the 39th President of the United States.

 

On his second day as President, Carter pardoned all Viet Nam draft evaders of the Viet Nam War.  He was able to get the first signed agreement between the Palestinians and Israel, the Camp David Accords.  He signed the Panama Canal Treaties that gave Panama control of the Canal and the second round of Arms limitation Talks (SALT II).

 

Economically the country was going through stagflation during his tenure, both high inflation and high unemployment.  Carter had his Federal Reserve chairman, Paul Volcker, attempt to break the inflation spiral which had reached about 15%.  Volcker did this by raising the interest rate to about 20%, making money too expensive to borrow.  This, in turn, would drive many small businesses into bankruptcy as they could not afford those rates during their economic dry seasons.  Many complained to the President and he had Volcker end the policy.  The next President would enforce it and end the inflation spiral while driving numerous small businesses into bankruptcy.

 

Gasoline and fuel prices rose in 1980 to about $2.16 a gallon for gasoline and went considerably higher for heating fuel also.  President Carter recommended that people keep their thermostats set at 65 degrees and wear sweaters.  He did this at the White House.

In 1979 to 1981 there was the Iranian hostage crisis which ended shortly after the next President took office.  Because the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan Carter ended détente and resumed the Cold War.

 

In the 1980 Presidential Election the Republicans chose Ronald Reagan to run against President Jimmy Carter.  Reagan won an overwhelming victory.

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Up to this point in our history the National Debt, which had almost always been with us was under one trillion dollars.  The Federal Government had spent money but it had always been on a limited basis.  Roosevelt, perhaps the greatest of the spending presidents, while he doubled the money supply that had been available in the country, did so without raising the National Debt significantly.  Even with World War II, the immediate post war spending, and the Cold War the country’s spending did not reach this point.  All of this would change after 1981 with the election of Ronald Reagan to the Presidency.

The Weiner Component #169 – Part 2: The Presidencies & Political Parties in the United States

English: Partisan makeup of the Senate at the ...

English: Partisan makeup of the Senate at the beginning of the 107th United States Congress, January 3, 2001. Democratic Party – 50 Republican Party – 50 Tie broken by the Vice President of the United States (Al Gore to 2001-01-20, Dick Cheney thereafter) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Seal of the President of the United S...

English: Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth Presid...

If you draw a horizontal line across a sheet of paper and put a mark in the center then the right side proceeding to the end of the line tends to be conservative getting more reactionary as you move farther toward the right end and the left side tends to be liberal, getting more radical as it moves to the left end.  Today the left side represents the Democratic Party and the right side is the Republican Party.

 

This model of right and left was initially created by the way the Chamber of Deputies placed themselves in the hall during the period of the French Revolution in late 18th Century.   The difference then was that the legislative body was divided into three groups, the right were the reactionaries who wanted to bring back the king and his form of government; the left were the radicals who wanted to get rid of the king and brought about the “Reign of Terror.”  They wanted a representative government, essentially led by a dictator.  The majority of the Chamber was called the Mountain.  It was the center which contained the majority of delegates.  They were the moderates.  France would eventually become a Representative Democracy.

 

Today in the United States legislature there is no center.  We have a right, the Republicans and a left side, the Democrats.  And between the two major groups, in the center, there is an empty space, which, in turn, makes it difficult for any type of compromise to be reached or even for any real communication to occur.  As far as the far right is concerned compromise is giving in to their position.

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In 1797, when the Constitution was written, there were no thoughts of political parties.  By 1789, when it took effect, Alexander Hamilton, the First Secretary of the Treasury, had organized the Federalist Party, which basically supported the tidewater mercantilist groups rather than inland yeoman farmers.  Thomas Jefferson, who supported the latter group at the very tail end of the 18th Century organized the Republican Party as a solution to the Federalists and ran as its first candidate for the presidency in the year 1800.  The Federalists, as an insult, rechristened it as the Democratic-Republican Party.  This first name has stuck through the years and is still used today.  The Presidential campaign in the year 1800 was a very raucous one with Jefferson being denounced, among other things, as an atheist.

 

Jefferson won the election and the Federalists were never again able to win a Presidential Election.  They ceased to exist as a political party after the War of 1812.  In that war with England they had refused to support the government against Great Britain.

 

President Thomas Jefferson, following his philosophy of leading a country of small yeoman farmers, in 1803 bought the Louisiana Territory from France for $11,250,000, adding 828,000 square miles to the new United States and doubling its size.  He calculated that he had added enough land to allow it to freely grow with small farms for at least one hundred years.

 

The Federalist position had been favoring a strong central government, close ties with Great Britain, a centralized banking system and close links between the government and men of wealth.

 

What followed after the War of 1812 was the Era of Good Feelings which ended in 1824 when John Quincy Adams was appointed to the Presidency by the House of Representatives after an election in which none of the four regional candidates achieved enough of a majority to win the election.

 

In 1828 the Democratic-Republican Party split into Jacksonian Democrats and the Whig Party.  The Jacksonian Democratic Party became the modern Democratic Party.  They supported the primacy of the President over the other branches of government.  The Whig Party advocated the primacy of Congress over the executive branch.  In the 1850s the Whig Party declined.  Its leaders had died out and it split over the issue of slavery.  The Democratic Party also split into two section, Northern and Southern, anti-slave and pro-slave.

 

In the Election of 1860 the remnants of the Whig Party and remnants of other third parties like the Abolitionists and other dissatisfied groups coalesced into the new Republican Party while the Democrats split into two separate political parties, one Northern and Western and one Southern.  The Northern Democrats ran Stephen A. Douglas while the Southern Democrats put forth John C. Breckenridge.

 

Douglas and Breckenridge had over 50% of the vote together but neither one had as much as Lincoln.  Lincoln won the election with under 50% of the popular vote.  No one Southern State had his name on their ballot.  It was as though two totally separate elections had occurred.  In point of fact one can easily say that the Civil War actually began with this election.

 

At the end of the Civil War Radical Republicans dominated both Houses of Congress.  The President of the United States was a former Southern Democrat, Andrew Johnson.  He had been a senator from Tennessee who remained in Washington and refused to join in the Secession from the Union.  Johnson ran with Lincoln during his second term as the Vice-presidential candidate under the slogan of the National Unity Ticket.

 

Lincoln was assassinated early during his second term and Andrew Johnson became president from 1864 to 1867.  The Radical Republicans had a super majority in both Houses of Congress; consequently they were able to do whatever they wanted.  Johnson was unsuccessfully impeached toward the end of his term.  In 1868, the Republican, former General Ulysses S. Grant, became the 18th President of the United States.

 

In the election of 1876 the Republican Rutherford B. Hayes ran against the Democrat, Samuel J. Tilden.  The Republicans desperately wanted to retain the presidency.  Tilden had the greater number of popular votes.  Several states ended up electing two sets of electors, both Democratic and Republican.  The crisis was not resolved until the night before the new President was to take office.  A back-door deal was made by which the Republicans got the presidency and the Southern States had the Northern armies of occupation removed and became independent states again, ending all the remnants of the Civil War.  The United States reemerged as a two party nation.  At this time the Blacks systematically lost their rights as freedmen, although they kept that title.

 

The Republican Party adopted many of the economic policies of the Whigs: national banks, railroad expansion, and high tariffs.  They were the businessman’s political party.  Their anti-slave policy and the Civil War had brought the Black population, the freedmen, into their party and kept them dominant in Congress until this time.  The Southern States returned to the Democratic Party which maintained its traditional values.  The Republicans also attracted shop owners, skilled craftsmen, clerks, and professionals who were attracted to the party’s modernization policies.  These political coalitions lasted almost to the end of the 19th Century.

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The Civil War expedited economic change in America.  From its end through the 1920s there was a rush of new immigration into the United States, mainly from Eastern Europe and Ireland.  The Industrial Revolution in all forms of rapid economic growth took hold of the country at this time generating a rapid settlement of the entire continental United States.  The late 19th Century was the period of the Gilded Age, rapid industrial growth, the confluence of money into the hands of a few brought about the rise of the “robber barons,” monopoly and oligopoly; phenomenal affluence for a small number and sweat-shops and twelve to fifteen hour shifts for large groups of children, women, and men in factories.  The country went from a rural nation to an urban one during this period.

 

Small towns became cities virtually overnight with almost no understanding or regulations about supplying clean water to large populations and housing or sewerage or food regulation laws.  The government performed no social services.  Political machines developed by both political parties in the urban areas.  Epidemics became common, particularly in warmer weather.  Death tolls, particularly in slum areas were inordinately high, especially among infants and young children.

 

Among this environment, within the urban areas, individual states, and the Federal Government the Progressive Movement developed and grew.  It would continue until the United States got involved in the Great War (World War I).  Both major political parties would at different times lead this movement, which, to a large extent, would be fed by magazine articles and books demonstrating the horrific conditions that existed in the factories, slums, and cities.

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All the presidents from Lincoln’s death until Teddy Roosevelt’s accession were decent men but weak presidents.  They and Cabinet members were continually hounded by jobseekers and political machine operators looking to collect on campaign promises.

 

The major issues of this period were the protective tariff, currency reform, and civil service reform.  President James A. Garfield was shot by a dissatisfied job seeker.  Even with this civil service reform came slowly over the course of the late 19th Century.

 

Tariff and currency reform lasted throughout this period and led to the Progressive Movement.  Business interests supported protective tariffs and tight or hard money (gold).  They lobbied and spent freely to achieve these goals, which the Republicans tended to support.  The Democrats largely backed a loose money policy, using both gold and silver.

 

From 1876 through 1900, Congress was known for being rowdy and inefficient and the Presidents as more or less capable of doing their jobs but not much more.  The two major political parties tended to be similar in their outlook with the exception that the Republicans favored business and the Democrats vied slightly toward farmers.  And the government was considered highly corrupt.

 

With one exception, and that was Grover Cleveland, the Democratic candidate, who was twice elected to a four year term in 1884 and in 1892, all the other presidents had been Republicans.  All of them, from both political parties had served in the Civil War.

 

In addition, among the farmers, at this time, the Granger Movement gradually developed and it in turn become part of the Populist Movement, which pushed for Agrarian Reform in the United States.  The Populist Movement and urban conditions and corruption throughout the country gave birth to the Progressive Reform Movement which existed on the both the state levels and on the national level.

 

The early Progressive Movement rose on a grass root level.  It was supported by the farmers who wanted a loose money policy.  This would allow them to pay back their debts with less expensive currency.  The businessmen and bankers preferred a tight money policy.  They wanted the debts paid back with more expensive money than they had initially spent or loaned out.  Into this mix came magazine and book writers, the muckrakers, who tended to expose the corruption that existed on all levels of society.  Also at this time the giant industrial cities came into existence with no initial rules or regulations on how they had to be governed or function, in areas like hygiene, sanitation, and city government and social services to the newly arrived immigrants.

 

All this gradually ended with the accession of Theodore Roosevelt to the presidency after the assassination of William McKinley by an anarchist in 1901.  Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican, would be the first of the Progressive Presidents.  He would be followed by William Howard Taft, another Republican.  The third Progressive President would be Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat.  This period would end with the First World War

 

During this period corruption was exposed in numerous aspects of the nation and a certain amount of regulation was promulgated throughout the various levels of the society: local, state, and national.  The Senate up to 1913 had been appointed by the different state legislatures and had become, usually by bribery, largely an extension of large corporations like Standard Oil’s attorneys.  It thereafter, through the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, was directly elected by the people within the individual states.  Oregon introduced in 1902 the initiative and the referendum process, which, in turn, was copied by numerous other states.  The recall election was also introduced whereby an elected official could be unelected from his office.  In addition Women Suffrage (the vote) came about at this period.  The tide of reforms ended with the World War.

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At the end of the war Woodrow Wilson went to Europe to develop the Treaty of Versailles.  He brought the treaty to Washington where it was rejected by the Republicans in the Senate.  There was a struggle to pass the Treaty, and, during that time, President Wilson suffered a heart attack from which he never totally recovered.

 

The Treaty could have been modified to satisfy the Republicans but Wilson refused to compromise.  The United States never signed it.  Instead they eventually signed a separate treaty with Germany.  The major item in the Treaty was the establishment of a League of Nations, which the United States never joined.

 

At the end of his term the invalid, Woodrow Wilson, was replaced by the Republican, Warren Harding, who died in office after a number of corruption scandals emerged.  He was replaced by his Vice President, Calvin Coolidge, who later ran on his own and won.  He, in turn, was replaced by Herbert Hoover.  These three Republican presidents fully believed Adam Smith’s theory that the market-place would make all the proper economic decisions for how the country should be run.

 

The motivating force according to Adam Smith was the “invisible hand,” the profit motive.  This brought the country in 1929 to the Great Depression.  Neither Hoover nor his staff knew how to really deal with this situation.  The United States and numerous other industrial nations went through periods of unbelievable misery with the governments trying to function in periods of massive unemployment and chaos.

 

In 1933, four years later, the new President, the Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt, working on almost an experimental basis saved capitalism and the country by adopting socialistic principles.  He called his policy “The New Deal,” a term taken from poker.  The Federal Government assumed responsibility for those who could not care for the mselves.  They created jobs and projects like Hoover Dam, which was originally called Boulder Dam, throughout the United States and he brought about social security.  It was a time of rapid experimentation, anything that worked and solved problems was utilized.

 

But even with all this many of the aspects of the Great Depression remained.  The country was better off but many still suffered.  What ended the last remnants of the Great Depression was World War II.  The spending required to fight and win the war and the army the U. S. raised ended the last remnants of the massive economic turndown.  In point of fact, the country entered the war in December of 1941 with the majority of the population being in the lower class and ended the war in 1945 with the majority of the population belonging to the middle class.  The economy had changed considerably.

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During the Second World War both political parties concentrated on fighting the war.  Roosevelt died during the last year of the fighting and was replaced by his Vice President, the Democrat: Harry S. Truman.

 

Truman in 1945, after the war ended, sponsored, what he called, the Fair Deal, as a continuation of the prewar New Deal.  The Republicans derided Truman and his program as a poor man’s version Roosevelt’s politics.  In 1948 they ran Thomas E. Dewey against him.  They also passed the 12th Amendment to the Constitution, which limited presidential tenure to two terms in office.  While the Amendment did not affect Truman; it would come into being with the next president; still it gave him a strong hint.  Franklin D. Roosevelt had died in office during his fourth term in office.

 

In 1948 the Republicans were positive that they would win the election.  At that time, before television, victory celebrations were held on radio.  On the night of the election there was a victory celebration for Dewey.  The Chicago Tribune headline the next morning was “Dewey Wins.”  But when the votes were counted Harry S. Truman had won and was still President of the United States.  All the polls had predicted Dewey as the winner; they all ate crow that year.

 

For the next four years there were a lot of frustrated Republicans in both Houses of Congress; but Congress still worked.  The fear after the war was that with the massive return of the military to civilian life the country would go into a deep recession with massive unemployment as it did directly after World War I.  But with intense rationing, the continual sale of war bonds, and unlimited employment during the war there was lots of money available.  All the automobile factories had been producing only for the war effort for the last four years; they now converted to civilian production, everyone wanted a new car.  A new industry, television came into being.  Other positive things happened.  There was no recession.  The returning veterans found jobs, started their own small business, returned to school: finishing high school and colleges.  The country smoothly went back to peacetime.  In fact, veterans received a government allowance if they went back to school.

 

Unfortunately, even with the new Organization, The United Nations, to which all the allied nations now belonged, peace did not come.  On June 25, 1950 until July 27, 1953 the United States and other United Nation countries were involved in the Korean War, which ended at the 38th Parallel, where it had begun.  This was the line splitting Korea into two parts: Communist in the North and non-communist in the South.  It would seem that almost every succeeding president from Truman on would have their own specific war.

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Truman was followed in the presidency in 1953 by Dwight David Eisenhower, the general who had led the war in Europe.  Eisenhower, initially had never voted in a presidential election.  He did not know which political party he belonged to.  Finally he decided he was a Republican and ran as their presidential candidate.

 

Eisenhower ended the Korean War by threatening to use atomic weapons.  It ended in a draw, which still continues to this day.

 

As a replacement for Truman the Democrats came up with Adlia Stevenson, the governor of Illinois.  Stevenson ran against Eisenhower twice and lost both times.  Eisenhower considered himself a middle-of-the-road Republican, that is, a moderate or liberal Republican.  The two parties functioned well together during his eight years in office.

 

In 1960 Richard M. Nixon, Eisenhower’s Vice President, ran against the Democrat, John F. Kennedy, who was a member of the House of Representatives from Massachusetts.  Kennedy won that election by less than one per cent of the vote.  The two parties were able to function together and more or less pass all the necessary legislation.  /there were problems with his civil rights reform attempts.  In Viet Nam There was action, but not a major crisis.  It was during Kennedy’s presidency that the Bay of Pigs debacle occurred and later the Cuban Missile Crisis came about.  The Soviet Union had installed atomic missiles in Cuba.  Kennedy, short of war, got Russia to remove them.  His frustration came about in being limited in passing civil rights legislation.

 

Kennedy, while getting ready to run for a second term in 1963, was in a motorcade in downtown Dallas, Texas, when he was shot by an assassin.  His Vice President, Lyndon B. Johnson became the next President of the United States.  President Johnson was reelected in 1964.  He ran against the arch-conservative Barry Goldwater and overwhelmingly defeated him.  Johnson attempted to force the war in Viet Nam toward an American victory by massively increasing U.S. forces there.  He was not successful.  In the United States he declared War on Poverty.  Again he was not successful.  As an essentially defeated man Johnson announced that he would not run for the presidency in 1968.

 

Where Johnson was eminently successful was in pushing through Congress both his and John F. Kennedy’s plan for civil rights reform in the nation.  Segregation was essentially legally ended throughout the South and in other parts of the country.  The statement that “all men are created equal” in the Declaration of Independence was expanded to include Blacks and Women.  It was a major achievement.

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In the 1968 Election the Republican Richard M. Nixon ran against the Democratic Vice President, Hubert Humphrey.  A third party candidate, former Alabama Governor, George Wallace, ran representing the American Independent Party, which supported separation of the races in public education.  Nixon won with 43.4% of the vote; Humphrey got 42.7%, and Wallace received 13.5%.

 

The election year was tumultuous, being marked by the assassination of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy.  The Democratic Convention had open warfare between Viet Nam protestors and the Chicago police.  Nixon won the popular vote by .07 percentage points and the Electoral College vote by 301 to 191 for Humphrey.

 

Besides economic problems Nixon faced a massive protest throughout his presidency over the Viet Nam War.  He presumably had a secret plan to end the war.  This came down to a return of American prisoners of war and withdrawing with honor.  That was making a defeat in war not look like a defeat.

 

Negotiations were begun.  The initial problem was the shape of the Negotiating Table.  There were people from North Viet Nam, from South Viet Nam, and from the United States, and there was also the National Liberation Front, who were from South Viet Nam but favored the North.  The issue was resolved by using a round table with two smaller ones nearby.

 

Nixon’s strategy was to bring increasing pressure on Communist North Viet Nam by increasing the war so they would be willing to compromise.  He expanded the war to Cambodia and bombing along the Ho Chi Minh Trail.  Supplies were being brought into North Viet Nam into the South over this route.  There was both warfare and peace negotiations that would be going on during Nixon’s term as President.

 

In 1972 Nixon ran for a second term as the Republican candidate.  The Democratic candidate was the highly liberal senator from South Dakota, George McGovern.  The Republicans were so sure he could not win that they contributed money secretly to his campaign wanting to make sure he was the Democratic candidate.

 

McGovern ran on an Anti-War Campaign against the incumbent, Richard Nixon.  McGovern was perceived by many voters as a left-wing extremist.  Nixon won in a landslide, gaining 60.7% of the popular vote.  He received 18 million more votes than McGovern, carrying 49 states.

 

Unfortunately, during the election, because of some paranoid tendencies of Nixon, a group of his employees called the plumbers  burgled Democratic Headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. several times in order to find out what the Democrats were doing and planning.  The final time they did this they were caught and arrested.

 

The question became: What did Nixon know?  And when did he know it?  It took two years for this to unravel.  And then the answer was that he knew about the burglary from the very beginning.  Nixon resigned from the presidency two years after being elected for a second term.  He resigned the day before a Bill of Impeachment was to be voted upon in the House of Representatives.

 

Interestingly his vice president, Spiro Agnew, had resigned earlier.  The government had an 80 page inditement against him for extortion, going back to when he was governor of Maryland.  Because of the Watergate controversy the Justice Department allowed him to plead, no contest, and resign from the vice-presidency.

 

The irony was that Nixon chose a new Vice-President, Senator Gerald Ford, who assumed the Presidency in 1974.  President Ford later issued a Proclamation on September 8, 1974 pardoning Richard Nixon from any crimes he may have committed.

 

President Gerald Ford ended the Viet Nam War.  This was the first war that the United States lost.  Today Viet Nam trades with the United States and is a relatively inexpensive tourist attraction.  It cost a lot less to visit Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) than to go to a city in Hawaii.

 

In 1978 Republican President Gerald Ford ran against the Democratic contender, James Earl (Jimmy) Carter.  Jimmy Carter won by a margin of 57 Electoral votes.  He had a Democratic majority in both Houses of Congress during both congressional terms.  On his second day in office President Carter pardoned all evaders of the Viet Nam War.  He created the Departments of Energy and Education.  He brought about the Camp David Accords between Israel and the Palestinians.

 

The country suffered from Stagflation at this time, a combination of both high inflation and high unemployment.  Carter could not bring himself to allow the Draconian program that would solve this problem.  The next President, Ronald Reagan would do this and bring about a large homeless problem throughout the United States which still exists today.

 

President Carter signed the Panama Canal Treaties, giving the canal to Panama.  It was during his term in office that the Iranian Revolution occurred and the American Embassy personnel were held as captives by the new government of Iran.  They were returned to the U.S. shortly after the next president took office.  Carter was defeated in the 1980 Election by Ronald Reagan.

 

Ronald Reagan was elected to the presidency on January 20, 1981 and served two terms through January 20, 1989.  He was a Republican and a conservative, bringing about changes that the conservatives had wanted for years.  He was also the oldest man elected to the presidency.

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Forgetting the post-Civil-War Period when the Radical Republicans, wanting to punish the South and controlled Congress from 1865 to 1878 when Rutherford Hayes stole the presidency from the Democrat, Samuel Tilden.  At that time the Republicans had a super majority in both Houses of Congress and could and did pass any law they put forth without the President’s signature.

 

Outside of this relatively short period in the nation’s history the two major political parties essentially got along and, more or less, cooperated with one another in passing the necessary laws for the nation.  The point has been made in an earlier blog that Democratic President Jimmy Carter was more conservative that Gerald Ford’s Republican Vice President, Nelson Rockefeller.  On the political line mentioned at the beginning of this blog Rockefeller would be placed left of center and Carter would go right of center.

 

This was true of many Congressmen.  There have historically been many conservative Democrats and moderate or liberal Republicans.  There was no separate void between them in terms of political positions.  There was always a slight difference in basic philosophy but there was always open communication and the possibility of compromise.

 

This has been a fact of United States history.  There was generally cooperation between both political parties.  The Conference Committee, which met after a bill was passed in slightly different versions in the two Houses of Congress, has been able to continually come up with a compromise bill for both Houses of Congress to successfully vote upon.

 

This system has existed until Barack Obama became President of the United States.  What has occurred from that time on has essentially been the development of the Tea Party, an extreme right arm of the Republican Party that is largely uneducated in the function of government and modern economics.  In the House of Representatives they are the Freedom Coalition.  In point of fact their aim seems to be to do away with the Federal Government

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The Weiner Component #141 – Fiscal, Monetary Policy & the Republican Party

English: James Earl "Jimmy" Carter

English: James Earl “Jimmy” Carter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: United States mean duration of unempl...

English: United States mean duration of unemployment 1948-2010. Data source: FRED, Federal Reserve Economic Data, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis: Average (Mean) Duration of Unemployment [UEMPMEAN] ; U.S. Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics; accessed August 14, 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: A map of the 12 districts of the Unit...

English: A map of the 12 districts of the United States Federal Reserve system. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Historically and in the present, Fiscal and Monetary Policy are the two major tools that the Federal Government is supposed to use to continually fine-tune the American economy.   Fiscal Policy is used by the Congress passing specific economic enhancing laws signed by the President and Monetary Policy is used by the Federal Reserve continually adjusting the U.S. money supply to maintain a healthy economic national environment.

 

During the Presidency of Jimmy Carter (1977 – 1980) unemployment rose to 7%.  This was also the post Viet Nam War period.   From 1977 on the government engaged in an expansive fiscal policy; there was an expansion in Public Works strongly supported by the President.  It averaged $4.38 billion per quarter.

 

At that period I was teaching Social Science classes at a High School in Southern California.  The School District was asked by representatives of the Federal Government to make a wish list of what they would like for the District.  A list of ten items was prepared by District officials and, as an afterthought, someone suggested a second or girl’s gymnasium and it was added to the bottom of the list.  The government officials choose the girl’s or second gymnasium as the item that would create the most jobs.

 

I remember that the high school got a second gym which was gray, the color of the concrete.  The money that paid for the gym ran out at that point and it was a few years before the School District came up with the funds to have the building painted.

 

It seemed that all the tasks and labor involved in building the gymnasium, both directly and indirectly, would create the maximum employment possible for the expenditure of the funds required for the project.  I suspect that Troy High School in Southern California is one of the few secondary schools in the country that has two separate gymnasiums.

 

To understand how this expenditure works for the benefit of the overall economy we have to trace the money and see what happens to it.  Usually money spent is actually spent six to eight times; it is a volatile substance.  For example, in producing and packaging the concrete used in the building the manufacturer has to pay his employees.  They, in turn, have to pay rent or a mortgage or, for that matter, buy food.  The landlord, bank, or supermarket continues the same process, and on and on for six to eight times becomes part of the natural flow within the economy.  This occurs with everyone directly or indirectly involved in producing that building.

 

Every million dollars the government spends creates six to eight million dollars in the exchange of goods and services.  To use an analogy, a child throws a rock into a quiet lake.  There are a large number of ripples spreading out in all directions from where the stone hits the water.  They spread out and dissipate as the stone drops to the bottom of the lake, infinitesimally raising the level of the water.  Consequently the $4.38 billion that the government added quarterly to the economy of the United States was actually generating a little over 26.3 to 35 billion dollars in new productivity every three months.  This also gives us an idea of the volatility of new money added to the National Cash Flow.  Of course if the reverse were to occur for any reason, such as the 2008 Real Estate Crash, the 26.3 to 35 billion dollars would be removed from the National Cash Flow.

 

In 1977, when Jimmy Carter became President, the 95th Congress was elected.  In that Congress the Democrats had a majority in both Houses of Congress; in the House of Representatives they had 292 elected Democrats to 143 Republicans and in the Senate there were 61 Democrats to 30 Republican Senators, a super majority which made the Senate filibuster proof, as only 60 votes are needed to end a filibuster.  The Democrats could pass any legislation they felt was needed and they applied, among other things, fiscal policy to the post Viet Nam War period.  Unemployment during the Carter period was considered high, running from 6.9% to 5.8%, and ending in 1980 at 7%.

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From the beginning of President Lynden Johnson’s acceleration of the Viet Nam War inflation slowly began to increase in the country.  The country was both fighting a war and allowing the public to maintain their peacetime standard of living.  By 1980 it had reached two digits and would that year eventually rise to about 15%.  The economic situation that occurred was labeled, stagflation.  It consisted of both stagnation, high unemployment, and inflation, prices rapidly rising because of shortages brought about by having fought a major war, maintaining the military during the Cold War, and supplying all the needs of the American people at the same time.

 

Generally during a period of inflation there are not enough goods and services available to match the demand and prices rise until a new equilibrium is reached of the goods and services offered.  If anything there should be lower unemployment.  But in this case there was also stagnation; there were not enough jobs for everyone able to work and wanting employment.  This was stagflation, the concurrent existence of two economic opposites.

 

There was a way to break this economic condition by having the Federal Reserve raise interest rates far higher than they were, raising the rate of inflation until it exploded.  But this would throw a lot of small businesses and even some large companies into bankruptcy.  This action would bring about immediate adverse economic conditions for a large number of people; it would bring about a short term depression which would temporarily increase unemployment.

 

President Carter had the Federal Reserve Chairman, Paul Volker, begin this process but then after receiving innumerable complaints President Carter backed off.  The next President, Ronald Reagan, allowed Volker to carry out this policy.  It took about a year and a lot of human misery to break this economic cycle.

 

When this came about, early in the Reagan administration, the President got on national television holding a copy of the Sunday New York Times Business Section and said something to the effect of there were umpteen pages of jobs available according to the newspaper and that if there were no jobs where the people lived then they should go to where there were jobs.  This presentation exacerbated the problem because suddenly there were old jalopies crisscrossing the country, being driven by people looking for employment, following whatever rumor promised jobs somewhere else.  This so-called friendly advice or thoughtless act created the homeless problem in the United States.

 

This policy, by the Federal Reserve which was necessary that broke the inflation cycle which had been begun by President Lynden B. Johnson in the 1960s, created an instant depression but ended the stagflation.  Interest rates dropped to a low single digit where they remained until 2008, when they dropped even further almost approaching zero, where they remain today.

 

As a footnote it should be noted that the people who pay for this low interest are the people in the United States who deposit their money into the banks and receive an interest payment on most of their deposits of one tenth of one percent per year.  The amount of interest most people get on their bank holdings is so low it is not even taxable.

 

Fiscal Policy with other economic remedies ended this economic crisis.  The other equally important economic remedy was Monetary Policy.  This is controlled by the Federal Reserve.

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Monetary Policy is the process that the Federal Reserve uses to control the supply of money, its availability, and the cost of money or its rate of interest in the country.  Its objective is aimed at the growth and stability of the economy.

 

The Federal Reserve (FED) has twelve regional banking districts, each with a major regional bank and each with a possible auxiliary bank covering the entire United States, with the major one in Washington, D.C.  It is a private government banking system that controls all the public banks in the country.

 

The FED’s major function is to regulate the private or public banks and to help control economic growth and stability, as well as maintain low unemployment and maintain predictable exchange rates with other currencies.

 

The tools the FED uses are:

(1) Its Open Market operation, constantly buying and selling bonds to increase or decrease the amount of money available in the National Cash Flow.  Here it works from the Public or National Debt, increasing or decreasing it to fine-tune the economy.

2) Adjusting the Discount Rate, setting the interest rates in the private banks by the amount it charges them interest.  The private banks determine the interest they charge the public based upon the interest they pay the FED.  They have to make a reasonable profit above what they pay to the FED.  The higher the FED’s interest rate the more expensive the money is and the less is borrowed.  Conversely the lower the interest rate potentially the more will be borrowed and used for economic expansion.  And the more employment will occur.  Since the 2008 Real Estate Crash the interest rate has dropped to almost zero (one tenth of one percent), and expansion has very slowly occurred.  In fact we are still, seven years later, in the process of recovering from that crash.

(It should also be noted that since 2011, when the Republicans took control of the House of Representatives there has been no Fiscal Policy.  In fact the House has forced through bills increasing the unemployment level and exacerbating the recession.  They have been very good at worsening economic conditions and then blaming the Democrats for it.

3) The third method is raising the Reserve Requirements that the banks are required to observe.  The public banks have to keep a certain percentage of their deposits for every loan they make.  But regulating the amount that the bank has to keep the Federal Reserve can significantly increase or decrease the amount of money that a bank can lend.

 

Among all the dollars deposited in the banks this would also include demand deposits (checking accounts).  Most people deposit their paychecks and reserve funds in banks which pay them a token interest for these funds.  People can at any time withdraw part or all of their money.  Meanwhile the banks lend out this money.  By law they must keep a small percentage, about five percent.  The banks can then lend out or invest ninety-five percent of the money deposited.  This expands the amount of money in circulation.  If the FED were to raise the Reserve Requirement to ten percent this would lower the amount that the banks can lend out by 50%.

The actual amounts that the banks have to keep in reserve are: up to 14.5million 0%, over 14.5 million to 103.6 million, 3%, over 103.6 million, 10%.  It should also be noted that after a bank lends out all its available funds it can deposit its loan papers with the FED and lend out the money all over again under the same conditions.  It should be noted that once the money lent out is redeposited into the banks 95% of it can again be loaned out.  Interestingly the FED is now considering raising the current reserve requirement.

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Using their Reserve Requirements, up to the end of 2008, the major banking houses in the United States had created trillions of dollars in real estate value by constantly mortgaging and remortgaging individual properties at higher and higher rates throughout the 50 states.  This collapsed virtually overnight towards the end of 2008.  President George W. Bush, at the very end of his presidency bailed out the major banking houses which were then facing bankruptcy.  This process was continued by the new president in 2009, Barak Obama.  While a few banking houses went under and were absorbed by other banking houses the Federal Government had no choice but to bail out most of the banks.  For one thing all the commercial banks had all their deposits insured up to ½ million dollars each by the Federal Insurance Deposit Corporation (FDIC).  The Federal Government would be liable for all this money if most of the banks failed.  In addition most of the business transactions in this country are paid for by either checks or credit cards that are all processed through the banks.  If the major banking houses like the Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and most other bands were to suddenly disappear the movement of money throughout the United States would practically cease and the country would face a depression that would make the Great Depression of 1929 look like a weekend disruption.

 

Interestingly the potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates in their Third Debate, on November 10, 2015, mostly stated that if they were elected to the presidency one of the first things that they would do would be to get rid of the Dodd/Frank Bill that was passed to avert a possible repetition of the 2008 Crash and, if there were to be another economic crash they would not bail out the banks, that nothing is “too big to fail.”

 

What this 3d Republican Debate illustrated was that these people are blatant liars who will say anything to get elected or that they are totally ignorant of Macroeconomics or any other type of economics.  I don’t know which position is worse?  I was also shocked that the “media,” who seems very conscious of “fact checking” didn’t pick up on any of this.

 

If another Banking Crash were to occur and one of them were President of the United States at the time he/she would be forced by their own advisors to again bail out the banks.  For one thing it would probably cost the Federal Government and taxpayers directly more money to not bail them out and the following economic breakdown of the society would last for well over a decade, which is how long it took for the Great Depression to end.

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President Barak Obama’s major problem, after he assumed office in 2009 was dealing with the Real Estate Crash that he inherited from the Bush Administration.  For his first two years in office he had a Democratic majority in both Houses of Congress that cooperated with him.  The Republicans at this point at a meeting agreed to oppose everything he did and make him a one term president.

 

In 2006 Ben Bernanke was appointed Chairman of the Federal Reserve by President George W. Bush.  Bernanke replaced Alan Greenspan.  Bernanke working with President Obama utilized creative Monetary Policy to essentially pull the country out of a major depression without being able, after 2011, to get any cooperation from the House of Representatives.  Up until 2015 there was no Fiscal Policy applied.  Toward the end of 2015 both Republican dominated Houses of Congress passed a bipartisan bill to extend Federal Funding on road construction and maintenance throughout the nation which had initially been passed into law before the Republicans took control of the House and was due to end.

 

Initially after 2011 Bernanke innumerably called for Congress to enact Fiscal Policy legislation.  Obama even presented a proposal for much needed infrastructure improvements which would also create a large number of jobs.  This proposal never even reached the floor of the House.  If anything the Republican House of Representatives cut Federal Government funding to a multitude of programs and decreased, on a number of levels, government jobs actually worsening unemployment under the guise of economizing.

 

The FED then came up with a creative twist to Monetary Policy.  One additional major problem that came with the Real Estate Crash was who owned the properties/homes that then had mortgages on them of greater value than the property was worth.  The mortgages had been divided up into fractional shares, distributed to innumerable hedge funds, and the banks had reorganized record keeping on a very sloppy basis.  It was, in many cases almost impossible to discover who owned 50.1% of many if not most of the properties.  This was a dilemma that would ordinarily take two or more decades to clear up.

 

The FED’s solution to this problem and the shortage of money in the National Cash Flow that was causing the massive unemployment was to add 85 billion to the economy every month for a period of over two years.  45 billion was used to buy mortgage paper (fractional pieced of mortgages) in all fifty states and forty billion was used to buy back debt paper (government bonds).  This added one trillion twenty billion dollars to the National Cash Flow a year.  It was gradually phased down and ended in 2015.

 

Currently it looks like interest rates for the public will remain at almost zero for at least the balance of 2015.  But unemployment has dropped nationally to around 5%.  Creative Monetary Policy had turned a possible great depression into a recession and brought the country well in the direction of economic recovery.  All this has been done under the administration of President Barak Obama largely with no cooperation from the Republicans in Congress.

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Issues are never simple cause and effect actions.  There are always multitudes of variable affected in addition to the major outcome desired.  Everything consists of hard choices.  These should be made by experts who are aware of all the possible outcomes.  Or, at the very least, it will be people who will listen to experts and act accordantly.

 

In November of 2016 a major election is coming up, the next Presidential Election.  Both major political parties will be presenting a host of candidates for the Presidency and Congress.  The entire House of Representatives will be up for election and also one third of the Senate. In addition there will be major elections in all 50 states.  The people will speak by voting or not voting.  If the Republicans maintain their majorities in both Houses of Congress and in the majority of the states then very little will be done in the next four years.  The public by their action or inaction will decide what the future will hold.