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October 16, 2012

NEWS AND TRIBUNE LETTERS — For Oct. 16

Reader compares Obama, Reagan

This is a comparison of President Obama’s first term in office compared to President Reagan’s first term. Right-wing Republicans have been hammering Obama on the unemployment rate even though it was caused by the same right-wing Republicans who are hammering him.

The unemployment stood at 7.8 percent when President Obama took office in January 2009. It increased to 8.3 percent in his first full month as President (February 2009). It peaked at 10 percent in October 2009 and was at that level for just one month before declining.

Ronald Reagan inherited an unemployment rate of 7.5 percent in January 1981. Unemployment, which peaked at 10.8 percent in 1982, was at 10 percent or higher for 10 straight months.

Note that the unemployment right now is 7.8 percent, lower than the 8.3 percent in February 2009, the first full month of Obama’s first term. Obama has lowered the unemployment rate in just four years after taking office during the greatest recession in American history.

Now note this. The unemployment rate under Reagan was 7.5 percent when he took office and was 7.5 percent at the end of his first term. The rate is identical. Reagan did not decrease the unemployment rate from the day he took office.

So why are Republicans criticizing Obama’s record and saying Reagan did a better job on unemployment in his first term, when his record was nearly identical to Obama’s? In fact Reagan’s unemployment averaged 7.5 percent over his eight years of presidency.

The reason is right-wing conservative media, mainly Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, have been distorting the facts. The same as Romney distorted the facts in the first debate. The number of unemployed Americans is now 12.1 million, the fewest since January 2009. It is not the 23 million Romney misquoted in the debate.

Unemployment was nearly 9.5 percent for most of Reagan’s first term and the National Debt had nearly doubled from $900 billion to more than $1.5 trillion. Reagan nearly tripled the National Debt before he left office.

Yes, it tripled.

The Reagan recovery in his second term was powered by a large increase in government spending and the Federal Reserve lowering interest rates; the latter solution is not available for Obama with rates almost at zero.

The Republican right-wing talking heads are now asking why Obama isn’t more like Reagan, who heroically lowered the unemployment before seeking re-election, which is inaccurate, a lie and/or distorted. The reason is again, right-wing conservative media, mainly Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, have been distorting the facts.

The truth is, Obama’s track record looks a lot like Reagan’s, and in some ways, given the immediate jobs crisis Obama had to deal with, Obama’s first term is much more impressive than Reagan’s first term.

— Ray Beaufait, Charlestown

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