JMS, discussion (Was:Shame on you (was Re: ATTN: JMS: Re:

 Posted on 2/22/2000 by to

>Do you really think that a President actually has the power to *do* the
>you've said? Yes, perhaps he allowed them to be done and perhaps had an
>obligation to say something, but actually to instigate them as you make it
>sound? I don't think a President has had that kind of power for at least
>several decades.

I think that's a very good question. There are some who seem to want to have
it both ways on this question, when it comes to Reagan. Why didn't the economy
come around while he was on watch for 8 years? "Well, the president can't
really do anything in that respect," they would say...then after he was gone,
and the economy came back, they said, "Oh, well, that was Reagan who did that."
So on that count they want to definitely have it both ways.

To the meat of your question...I think the answer is in general, yes. While
there are checks and balances, Reagan was able to push through a lot of his
agenda at the very start, and there are any number of things that can be
accomplished by executive fiat. There can be no question that Reagan broke the
Air Traffic Controllers' union -- he has repeatedly taken credit for this -- a
move which vastlly accellerated the erosion of unions in this country, to the
point now where we see the result in loss of health care, pension plans falling
apart, low wages, the use of temporary employees in huge numbers because they
don't have to receive benefits (Manpower Intl, a temp service, is now the
largest single empoyer in the US, with over one million employees).

A president sets the tone, appoints the Supreme Court Justices that retire
during his administration, and has vast discretionary powers.

Does that mean I let Congress off the hook on this, on either side of the
aisle? Nope. But this sort of thing comes from the top down, and Reagan
instituted a spirit of meanness and self-interest the likes of which I'd never
seen before and hope never to see again.


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