Today’s speech had less historical sweep than the past two and focused more narrowly on the point that has separated the two parties: the primacy of low taxes for the rich. Obama made a fairly simple argument. The Republican theory that low taxes (especially for high earners) is the essential ingredient in economic growth has been tested thoroughly over the last two decades. First Republicans insisted that Bill Clinton’s tax hikes on the rich would destroy growth and then that the George W. Bush tax cuts would create a boom. Both predictions utterly failed. (Obama did not mention that the Bush tax cuts remain in effect right now, and so that to whatever degree we blame policy for the meager growth since he took office, tax cuts ought to share the blame.) And yet, he noted, Republicans have shown not the slightest trace of intellectual humility, no inkling whatsoever that they ought to rethink supply-side economics.
The reason is simple: by the numbers, Reaganomics has failed. Therefore the only defense left to it is ideological; if we just double-down, hold the line, have faith, then our earnest dedication will be rewarded and it will work! Also, it will work twice as good as we said! Except for all the naysayers, doomsayers, critics, skeptics, traitors, and liberals: it won't work for them, because they don't deserve it.
If this coming national conversation sticks to facts and figures, Reaganomics (and all that goes with it, such as an unfettered faith in unfettered free markets) may finally be retired. Note that Mittens already gave a speech in which he suggested that unregulated free markets don't always yield the optimal solution.
Nothing would be better for the world than the destruction of this selfish, farcical economic fantasy. Because as America goes, so goes the world.