Larry Kudlow: President Ronald Reagan taught me optimism

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Breaking news: today is Ronald Reagan’s 113th birthday. He was born on February 6, 1911. Thereby, making 1911 one of the greatest all-time years in American history because Reagan was one of our greatest presidents.

He reversed America’s declining economy and stature around the world. He restored the idea of freedom. You could say he was the first “Make America Great” president in nearly a century. Take a listen: 

RONALD REAGAN: “Freedom is a fragile thing and it’s never more than one generation away from extinction.” 

There’s way too much you can write praising Ronald Reagan, but let me throw out a few historic snippets in honor of his birthday. Reagan’s foreign policy was aimed squarely at defeating Soviet communism and he succeeded. Peace through strength. We win, they lose. Tear down this wall. 

DOZENS OF NEW YORK CITY EMPLOYEES ARRESTED IN BRIBERY CASE THAT COST US TAXPAYERS MILLIONS: PROSECUTORS 

Reagan wouldn’t even talk to Soviet leaders in his first term, because of their bad behavior and because many of them were dying off anyway. In a second term, he did meet with Mikhail Gorbachev and basically said he’d never give up so-called “Star Wars” technology that protected us against Soviet or other enemy missiles. 

The liberal media laughed at it, but today it’s an absolute cornerstone of our national security policy. On a live radio program, he once warmed up by saying we will bomb Moscow in fifteen seconds. Then he, of course, said “just kidding.” Was he? Communists were afraid of him. Reagan understood the integration of economic and national security. 

Regan slashed taxes and deregulated the economy, while working with Paul Volcker to slay double-digit inflation. He re-awakened the supply side of the economy, rescued the faltering dollar and showed how strong growth and a stable currency were able to bring down sky-rocketing prices and boost middle-class wages. 

While Reagan’s rejuvenated economy was growing better than 5% during the 80’s, at one point the recovery from Jimmy Carter’s recession was running about 12%. The Soviet Union’s Gorbachev realized that he could never match America’s production of defense and civilian goods and, if Gorbachev tried to bluff, Reagan wouldn’t let him. 

So, the Soviets folded. Essentially not a shot was fired. Strong at home, strong abroad, a big Reagan lesson. Reagan tried to drain the Washington, D.C. swamp. He wasn’t always successful, but the East Coast establishment and the elites didn’t like him, one bit. Listen to this: 

RONALD REAGAN: “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’” 

Sound familiar? Working folks flocked into the Reagan-led GOP. Here’s a guy who not only whipped the Soviets, but filled their lunch pails to overflowing. I was an associate director in Reagan’s Office of Management and Budget during his first term and loved it. 

There was some limited face time with a couple of Cabinet presentations, sitting along the back wall at some other cabinet meetings and The Gipper gave me a little medal when I said “goodbye” to him in the Oval Office. 

One thing above all he taught me: optimism. America is the greatest country in the history of history and, even when it occasionally seems broken, it can be fixed very fast, with the right principles and policies. 

Happy Birthday, Mr. President. 

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