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Contrary to Krugman’s narrative, liberals joined conservatives in pushing for dramatic changes in economic policy. In addition to his role in liberalizing immigration, Kennedy was a leader in pushing through both the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 and the Motor Carrier Act of 1980, which deregulated the trucking industry-and he was warmly supported in both efforts by the left-wing activist Ralph Nader. President Jimmy Carter signed these two pieces of legislation, as well as the Natural Gas Policy Act of 1978, which began the elimination of price controls on natural gas, and the Staggers Rail Act of 1980, which deregulated the railroad industry.

The three most recent rounds of multilateral trade talks were all concluded by Democratic presidents: the Kennedy Round in 1967 by Lyndon Johnson, the Tokyo Round in 1979 by Jimmy Carter, and the Uruguay Round in 1994 by Bill Clinton. And though it was Ronald Reagan who slashed the top income tax rate from 70 percent to 50 percent in 1981, it was two Democrats, Sen. Bill Bradley of New Jersey and Rep. Richard Gephardt of Missouri, who sponsored the Tax Reform Act of 1986, which pushed the top rate all the way down to 28 percent.

From Brink Lindsey’s piece on inequality in this month’s Reason.

2 Responses to “Were These One- or Two-Eyed Men?”

  1. Harry says:

    Talk about revisionism.

    I’ll give a few of these people credit for gestures toward free trade, and it would be a food fight to discuss their motives.

    Anybody in the oil patch during Carter’s administration of energy policy would have a different take. We had an Energy Czar, and we had a labrynthine system classifying old gas, old oil, new gas, new oil, and the local industry boomed. The wife of a Woodward, OK, accountant used to fly us from Wichita to Alva on their Beech Bonanza, and then the firm got a Cessna Centurion, which flew me to Kansas City from OKC once. Last I heard, they bought a Lear. Gas (natural) was around $8/mcf. Free entrepreneurs responded by drilling wells deeper than 5,000 feet. The accountants kept track of what gas was new and what gas was old. A black market flourished on “drip,” the liquid residue collected along the natural gas pipeline.

    In 1979, I could buy gasoline in Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, North Carolina, Florida, Missouri, Nebraska, and even in Pennsylvania, but I could only buy it on even-numbered days in Maryland if my licence plate was even-numbered, as long as you got in the gas line and waited for a while. The commisars, wittingly or not, managed to make gasoline scarce in the nation’s Capital. Around 40 cents more expensive, too.

    This is the same problem as the commisars’ Gosplan for growing wheat. I know they got bad weather every year.

  2. Michael says:

    Another thing to watch is how free trade is really not free, but managed. In this sense, Republicans and Democrats are virtually identical; they just want to protect different industries sometimes.

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