Washington – President Ronald Reagan remains a venerated figure in American politics, even as folks on the left have been taking a more critical look at his economic legacy in recent years.
So perhaps it’s not a surprise that Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders would not think well of the Gipper. But when Sanders took to the Senate floor Thursday evening to offer a broad vision for how to do something to help the declining middle class, he offered a stunning chart that showed just how poorly most Americans have fared during economic recoveries since the advent of Reaganomics.
The chart starts by showing that in the decades after World War II, the bottom 90 percent of the country captured most of the growth in income during rebounds from tough times. But then came the Reagan era, and what George H. W. Bush once dubbed “voodoo economics.” After Reagan implemented his policies, the top 10 percent grabbed nearly 80 percent of the growth in incomes coming out of the oil crises of the late ‘70s.
“Whoa! What happens in 1982?” Sanders said, noting the dramatic reversal in his diagram. “Well, Ronald Reagan is president, and the good news is we are into trickle-down economics.”
The socialist Democrat is certainly aware that other factors such as technology, the waning of the union movement and globalization all played their roles, but his data makes for an awfully stark portrait.
“Frankly, this is a metaphor,” Sanders said. “This is an example of exactly what trickle-down economics is all about.”