Episode 400
Mar 30, 2021

40 years later, is this the end of Reaganomics?

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Ronald Reagan had "Morning in America," Joe Biden has "Infrastructure Week." Is the era of trickle-down economics behind us?

It’s been just over 40 years since newly elected President Ronald Reagan declared, “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to the problem, government is the problem.”

We’re about 39 years and four months away from the legislative manifestation of that idea, the Economic Recovery Tax Act, which codified “Reaganomics,” supply-side economics, trickle-down economics, whatever you want to call it.

All these decades later, we’re still talking a lot about this policy because Reagan was so good at promoting it. People could understand the metaphor of government spending as a household budget in need of a cutback, said Brown University political economist Mark Blyth.

“That rather ignores the fact that I don’t get to issue my own currency, there’s no such thing as a Kai Ryssdal bond market,” Blyth said. “But because all that stuff accords with common sense, it’s an easy sell.”

Now we’re in a new financial crisis, with plenty of data on the “trickle-up” consequences of trickle-down and a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill. Reagan had “Morning in America,” Joe Biden has “Infrastructure Week.” On today’s show, we’ll talk with Blyth about how Reaganomics was supposed to work, its ripple effects on Democrats and whether the era of “The era of big government is over” is … over.

Later in the show, we’ll track more big firms getting rid of their offices, wade into crypto just a bit and learn about code breaker Elizebeth Smith Friedman. Plus, a correction from a 2-year-old listener.

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The team

Molly Wood Host
Donna Tam Interim Senior Producer
Tony Wagner Digital Producer
Marissa Cabrera Producer
Bridget Bodnar Senior producer