On Balance, Ronald Reagan was a bad president.
My Standard Boilerplate
Round 1- Acceptance, Historical Background, and Definitions only.
Round 2- Constructive Arguments only.
Round 3- Free choice.
Round 4- Rebuttals/Defences only.
Round 5- Closing Remarks. No new rebuttals/defences/responses/arguments may be made in this round. You may, however, make fresh cross examinations of points, using your own points.
Any rule violation constitutes an immediate loss of conduct points.
Forfeiting more than 1 round constitutes a full 7 point loss.
The BOP is shared.
Please, do not accept this challenge if you merely plan to challenge the premise of this debate.
For the debate, I will argue that overall, Ronald Reagan was a bad president. I will prove this by addressing the various actions he took resulted in net drawbacks higher than that of the average president. This could be re-phrased as "the net benefits we're lower than the average president."
Con must argue that the Net drawbacks were lower than the average president.
Ultimate, Pro will argue why Ronald Reagan was not a good president (for the US and the world in general) and Con will argue that Reagan was a good president (for the US and the world in general).
I thank my opponent for initiating this debate and wish him good luck.
I. Domestic Policy
Reaganomics (AKA "Voodoo Economics") has been nothing but detrimental to the people of the United States.
1. GDP growth restriction via increased disparity.
Reagan slashed taxes on the wealthy drastically. Reagan cut taxes from a rate near over 70%, to under 30%. The most immediate result of this was a distinct increase in wealth disparity in America. Why is this bad?
In economics, the most common method of gauging the relative disparity present in a country is measured with a system of standardizations known as GINI Coefficients. A GINI coefficient of 0 represents perfect equality (socialism) and a GINI coefficient of 100 represents perfect inequality (totalitarianism). Obviously, both ends of the scale ought to be avoided. Both ends of that scale represent economies where workers cannot thrive, and there is no incentive to work hard or to innovate. The GINI coefficient of the US is just under 50 (1) (2). This may seem like an optimal zone at first glance, but this is not the case. A coefficient of 50 is too high, and restricts economic growth. Empirical evidence shows that countries achieve optimal economic growth when their GINI coefficient lies between 25 and 40 (3). If a country has its disparity in this "Goldilocks" zone (because it is just right) they experience optimal GDP growth. Examine the following chart (4).
As you can see here, there is a distince downward trend in GDP growth as the GINI coefficient approaches 50. (To clarify, the chart uses the 0-1 scale for coefficients. To change to the 1-100 scale, simply multiply the coefficient by 100.)
Raising taxes on the top 1% of America significantly reduces the wealth disparity between the rich and the poor. We know this, because the GINI coefficient of the US has been on the rise since Reagan era tax cuts were implemented. This is demonstrated in the following chart.
Up until the election of Reagan in '81, the GINI coefficient remained at a relatively stable level that was just inside the goldilocks zone. With taxes on the welathiest americans slashed, the GINI coefficient has risen rapidly, and will continue to rise, unless taxes are raised on the rich.
Ultimately, everyone benefits from moving the disparity to the "golidlocks zone", as maximum GDP growth results in maximum wealth for the nation as a whole.
2. Opressing the Lower Classes
With regulation at an all time low, businesses had the freedom to abuse their customers (as we still cling to reaganomics, they stil have this power). CEO Pay rates skyrocket while pay for the working man didn't really change. Not only did this increase the wealth disparity, it also gave much more power to the top 1% of Americans. Minimum wage aws were fought off, as well as workers rights.
3. Corruption of Government.
With the spending power in the hands of the few, rather than the many, the government has become moreso corrupted. Spending power deals primarily with the concentration of wealth. With low taxes on the wealthy, Disparity rises. A result of this is a shift in the spending power from the middle class, to the upper class. The problem here, is that this results in the centralization of power. Shifting the spending power from the middle class to the rich creates a top-heacy economy, that lends itsself to abuse. The wealthy are able to abuse the system more and more as they become wealthier and wealthier. Their voices are much louder in politics than the voices of everyday Americans. They have the funds to keep the government in their pockets. The United States ranks 19th on the national corruption index (5). That is simply unacceptable. We as American citizens should always do everything in our power to minimize government corruption. America should be number 1 on that index.
Furthermore, shifting the spending power to the middle class not only decentralizes power, but it also helps boost the economy. GDP is directly affected by consumer spending. Which class supplies the greatest amound of consumer spending? The middle class. What class is strengthened by higher taxes on the wealthy? The middle class. (6) (7)
4. Capitalism in Decline
With business regulations lowered drastically by Reaganomics, corporate trusts are beginning to conquer the market. Companies such as comcast and monsanto move closer and closer to monopolization of their respective industries. Monopolization is simply anti-capitalist. Capitalism requires government intervention to maximize competition, and ensure that the market truly is free and fair. Reagan thought otherwise. Reaganomics have allowed big business to run rampant, and reduce competition.
It does nothing but hurt.
(B) The AIDS crisis
When the AIDS epidemic initially began, not only did Reagan NOT try to help the infected, he was openly hostile towards them(8). Human beings were dying of a lethal disease, and the only thing the Reagan Administration responded with was, "AIDS is the wrath of God upon homosexuals," and that AIDS was "nature's revenge on gay men."
II. Foreign Policy
(A) The Iran-Contra Scandal
Simply put, Reagan comitted treason.
From '85 to '87
"The Iran–Contra affair, also referred to as Irangate, Contragate or the Iran–Contra scandal, was a political scandal in the United States that came to light in November 1986. During the Reagan administration, senior administration officials secretly facilitated the sale of arms to Iran, the subject of an arms embargo. Some U.S. officials also hoped that the arms sales would secure the release of several hostages and allow U.S. intelligence agencies to fund the Nicaraguan Contras. Under the Boland Amendment, further funding of the Contras by the government had been prohibited by Congress.
The scandal began as an operation to free the seven American hostages being held in Lebanon by a group with Iranian ties connected to the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution. It was planned that Israel would ship weapons to Iran, and then the United States would resupply Israel and receive the Israeli payment. The Iranian recipients promised to do everything in their power to achieve the release of the U.S. hostages. The plan deteriorated into an arms-for-hostages scheme, in which members of the executive branch sold weapons to Iran in exchange for the release of the American hostages" (9)
40th President of the United States (1981-1989)
Ronald Reagan was one of the most influential and beloved presidents and leaders of the 20th century. He is most greatly known as the man who ended the Cold War and boosted the U.S. economy. He lifted the U.S. out of a terrible recession that was in place when he took office, and ended his term with a prosperous American economy. His actions led to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of communism for 20 countries around the world. The majority of Americans agree that Reagan was a great president for the U.S., and in the following debate and will show exactly why this is true.
The U.S. encountered the biggest economic expansion in the history of U.S. presidents. The 1980's was a decade of huge economic growth for America. When Reagan took office, double-digit inflation and a high inflation percentage racked the country. He managed to bring the misery index from a record high to a record low number. Allow me to further illustrate the effect of Reagan's economic policies on the U.S.:
The unemployment rate sunk to 5.4% by the end of Reagan's term.
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Inflation dropped from 13.5% in 1980 to 4.1% by 1988.
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Per capita GDP from 1981-1989 grew 23.4% 
Oil prices dropped, and gasoline lines and fuel shortages decreased in the 1980s.
Reagan cut taxes 25% nationwide throughout his term. Tax cuts encouraged the economic expansion and was a relief for the U.S. Because of this, the government's revenue increased at a lower tax rate.
"He mandated large tax cuts in order to boost the economy. Reagan believed that if marginal taxes were sufficiently low, this would stimulate investment that would, in turn, cause the economy to grow and prosper. Later, this should also result in higher salaries for employees as well as increased employment rates."
The Cold War
Reagan's actions during the Cold War led to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of totalitarianism all around the world. He gave financial assistance to anti-communist rebels in Afghanistan, Central America, and other regions. This forced the Soviets to spend 40% of their budget on the military, leaving their economy really weak. By the time Reagan left office, the U.S.S.R. was disintegrating at a rapid rate and fully collapsed not long into George H. W. Bush's term. Their were other actions that Reagan took that weakened the Soviets' economy, such as competing with their high technology, increasing and empowering the U.S. military, and expanding the nation's defense. He created the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) that made nuclear war virtually impossible.
My opponent attempts to show correlation. He spouts, Reagan was in office, and the economy did well. Therefore, Reagan had a good economic policy. This is a non-sequiter. To prove this point, my opponent will need to prove a cause-effect relationship between the Reagan Administration Economic Policy, and the brief prosperity experienced during his presidential term.
Furthermore, the long term effects of Reagans economic policy, obviously have not been great. The GDP growth rate is shrinking (1)
I. Rebutting Reaganomics
One of the most influential aspects of Reaganomics, and modern economic policy, is the concept that putting low taxes on the wealthy increases eocnomic growth. This is simply false.
(A) Cutting the top tax rate does not lead to GDP growth.
In '63, taxes from the rich were cut from nearly 90%, to about 35%. With trickle down economic theory, it's dipped as low as 28%. If this policy was an effective one, we would see an obvious general upward trend of our national GDP, with a correlation coefficient close to -1. Observe the following graph. (2)
As you can see, there is no obvious trend. Yes the economy did boom initially, but almost immediately recessed. Under Clinton, taxes for the rich were raised, and the economy strengthened. When Bush Jr. stepped into office, and taxes for the rich were again slashed, the economy quickly recessed again (the 2008 recession). The correlation coefficient between Tax cuts and GDP is actually .3, meaning that it is slightly indicitave of a negative trend.
(B) Cutting the top tax rate does not lead to income growth.
So it doesn't help the GDP, and even hurts the GDP. So if you still aren't convinced, examine the effect of top tax cuts and income. (2)
"Again, we see inconclusive evidence for the power of tax cuts. We do see small peaks in median income growth, a good measure of how the average American household is doing, after top-bracket tax cuts in the mid-1960s and early 1980s, but we also actually see income decreases after the tax cuts of the late 1980s, and strong growth after the tax increase of 1993. It is true that in the year with the worst median income decrease (3.3% in 1974), the top tax rate was 70%. However, it was also 70% in the year with the highest median income growth (4.7% in 1972)!"(2)
Reaganomics does not help boost our income or our GDP, and therefore is a harmful economic policy.
(C) Cutting the top tax rate does not lead to wage growth.
The same story is told for wage growth, when one observes historical evidence.(2)
"Not surprisingly, we have mixed results yet again! Growth in average hourly wages did increase during the 1980s following the first Reagan tax cuts, albeit two years after the cuts took effect. But, just like GDP growth and median income growth, hourly wages decreased following the late 1980s tax cuts, and spiked upwards after the 1993 tax increase." (2)
Tax cuts just don't help! It can be shown with evidence through our economy. We've had this system for 40 years, and now our economy has been recessed very powerfully. The recession started before Obama was in office, so you can't just shift the blame to him. Our economy failed under Reaganomics. How can you say that it isn't the cause of modern economic strife?
(D) Cutting the top tax rate does not lead to job creation.
Another point that many Reagan fans love to harp on: Jobs. Let's see how Reaganomics affects jobs.(2)
"Here, we see the change in the unemployment rate laid against the top tax rate from 1954 to 2002. Thus, negative values signify a decrease in unemployment -- in essence, job creation. Once again, while the top tax rate trends downward over the period, the annual change in unemployment doesn't seem to trend at all! Although the largest increase (2.9%) did occur in 1975, when the top marginal tax rate was 70%, three of the four largest decreases in unemployment occurred in years when the top rate was 91%. The mixed results do not bode well for those who see tax cuts for the richest as a sparkplug to incite job growth. The correlation coefficient between the variables here is 0.11 -- meaning that there have been slightly more jobs created in years with lower top tax rates, but this pattern is negligible -- nowhere near strong enough to signify a relationship." (2)
"The Cold War"
My opponent argues that Reagan caused the collapse of the Soviet Union, and ended the cold war. He states this by saying that Reagan competed with the soviets fiercely, but was not the original cause of the cold war? My opponent fails to point directly to how Reagans diplomatic actions actually brought about the end of the cold war.
Furthermore, the collapse of the Soviet Union was largely due to internal causes, not Reagan(3). Factors such as decentralizing policy changes, Failing economy, perestroika, and the generally more democratic policies of Gorbachev that eventually led ot the downfall of the USSR. Gorbachev likely had more to do with the collapse of the USSR, than Reagan!
Conservative101 forfeited this round.
Forward all points.
If Reagan had bad economic policy, then why did the economy do so well during his term? His presidency had the biggest expansion of the economy of any U.S. president.
My opponent shows me that the GDP rate has decreased over time. However, he has not shown how this is Reagan's fault. Different policies have been implemented along with different presidents since Reagan, confirming the fact that the decreased GDP could be because of any of the presidents we've had, most likely the most recent ones.
Also, Pro's links from Round 3 are invalid. Both of them lead to "Page Not Found". This tells me my opponent doesn't have any valid sources to back up his last argument. However, I will still rebut his arguments.
My opponent only points out the how tax rates affected the economy. He does not present any of Reagan's other policies during his term. Since I can only rebut in this round, I will address the tax rate argument Pro has put up.
(A) Top Tax Rate vs GDP Growth Rate
First off, allow me to point out that the GDP growth rate rolls up and down over time. The graph shows that the GDP growth rate peaks about every four years, regardless of the president (with Bush and Clinton as an exception). Also, as a result of the major tax cut during Reagan's term, the GDP peaked at its highest in 30 years, and did not hit a low until after Reagan left office. My opponent also attempts to put the 2008 global recession as George W. Bush's fault, when really the recession occurred as an international housing bust.
(B) Top Tax Rate Income Growth Rate
Same thing here. As Reagan implemented tax cuts, the income growth grew. I believe the point my opponent is trying to make is that the long-term effect of tax cuts had a poor effect on the economy. However, these poor effects occurred after Reagan's term, when his economic policies were no longer being implemented. There are many factors that go into economy other than tax cuts. Since my opponent is only focused on tax cuts and its long term effect, without any valid sources to back up his charts, I have hardly any reason to take his arguments seriously.
(C) Top Tax Rate vs. Hourly Wage Growth Rate
As far as I'm concerned, hourly wage growth rate grew and peaked at the end of Reagan's term. He supported and called for higher salaries for employees.
(D) Top Tax Rate vs Unemployment
"Productivity declines as the tax rate increases, as people choose to work less. The higher the tax rate, the more time people spend evading taxes and the less time they spend on more productive activity. So the lower the tax rate, the higher the value of all the goods and services produced."
Allow me to provide a better unemployment rate chart from a more reliable source: The Bureau of Labor Statistics.
As we see here, unemployment peaked in 1983, near the beginning of Reagan's term, and sunk to a low in 1989, at the end of his term. Now I ask you, did tax cuts work or not?
How Tax Cuts Helped the Economy
Because of Reagan's tax cuts:
"-20 million new jobs were created
-Inflation dropped from 13.5% in 1980 to 4.1% by 1988
-Unemployment fell from 7.6% to 5.5%
-Net worth of families earning between $20,000 and $50,000 annually grew by 27%
-Real gross national product rose 26%
-The prime interest rate was slashed by more than half, from an unprecedented 21.5% in January 1981 to 10% in August 1988"
"Government tax revenue does not necessarily increase as the tax rate increases. The government will earn more tax income at 1% rate than at 0%, but they will not earn more at 100% than they will at 10%, due to the disincentives high tax rates cause. Thus there is a peak tax rate where government revenue is highest. The relationship between income tax rates and government revenue can be graphed on something called a Laffer Curve."
As I said earlier, higher taxes are not the solution. Who wants to pay more taxes? Certainly not the employed. There are many examples throughout U.S. history that show the correlating effect between tax cuts and the economy, but since this debate is about Reagan, I'll move to talking about him.
The Cold War
My opponent states that I have not provided a link between Reagan and the collapse of the Soviet Union. As I recall, I said that "He gave financial assistance to anti-communist rebels in Afghanistan, Central America, and other regions. This forced the Soviets to spend 40% of their budget on the military, leaving their economy really weak." Is this not a direct cause? Also, Reagan proposed nuclear disarmament treaties with Gorbachev, putting the Soviets out of their threatening state against the U.S., resulting in the end of the Cold War.
2. Ronald Reagan: A Very Brief History by Mark Black
tylergraham95 forfeited this round.
As president, Reagan managed to pull the U.S. out of a terrible recession and end the Cold War. During his presidency, unemployment and inflation dropped, and job creation soared. He did this by reducing taxes, regulation, and the growth of government spending, and controlling the to supply to reduce inflation. The misery index (unemployment rate added to inflation rate) decreased from 19.33 at the beginning of his term to 9.72 when he left office.
Also, Reagan's cunning tactics during the Cold War led not only to the collapse of the Soviets, but of twenty communist countries around the world! The cause of this was the USSR's releasing grasp and effect on the smaller communist
states, which ultimately, led to Reagan. The below maps show his influence of the totalarianism decline around the world.
Communist Countries (1979-1983)
Communist Countries Today
As we see above, communism around the world has steeply declined since the Cold War. Along with the decline of communism our world's countries, on average, have more human rights and more free democracy. Since my opponent has asked that I show how Reagan affected the world for the better, and I have met his requirements.
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