The Instigator
1Historygenius
Pro (for)
Winning
34 Points
The Contender
DudeWithoutTheE
Con (against)
Losing
27 Points

Ronald Reagan was a Better President than FDR

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1Historygenius
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/17/2012 Category: Politics
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 13,314 times Debate No: 28291
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (63)
Votes (13)

 

1Historygenius

Pro

The Debate

I am arguing that President Ronald Reagan was a better president in terms policies than President Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR). My opponent must argue that FDR was a better president than Ronald Reagan.

Rules

Round 1 for introduction. No trolling or semantics. Shared burden of proof.

Ronald Reagan FTW!
DudeWithoutTheE

Con

I agree to your definitions regarding standard of proof (the two positions are mutually exclusive, so there should be no issue) and commend you for choosing an issue on which interesting comparative analysis can be done.
Debate Round No. 1
1Historygenius

Pro


My Case

President Ronald Reagan
Party: Republican
In Office: 1981 to 1989

Now its time to win one more for the gipper!

I. Economic Policy

The United States of America was in a terrible economic recession in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Unpopular Democratic President Jimmy Carter lost to Ronald Reagan by a landslide in the 1980 presidential election. Reagan had several problems in the economy:

Unemployment: 7.2%
Inflation: 12%
Interest Rates: 20%
Total Government Revenue: -2.8%
Real GDP Growth: 0.9%

After Reagan's Policies:

Unemployment: 5.5%
Inflation: 4.4%
Interest Rates: 9.3%
Total Government Revenue: 3.5%
Real GDP Growth: 4.8%

So as we can see, the economy recovered from President Reagan's economic policies. [1,2]

What were these policies?

Tax cuts across the board! Reagan's tax cuts dropped the highest marginal tax rates by 25% and the capital gains tax by 20%. Investment funding boomed! This was especially clear in the technology sector. As Mr. Cain and Mr. Lowrie put it:

"During this period, promising technology companies such as Apple Computer and Microsoft launched initial public offerings of stock, while others such as Cisco Systems and Compaq (later acquired by Hewlett-Packard) received expansion capital and later went public.

Mr. Cain and Mr. Lowrie goes on to discuss the government deregulation of the telecommunications sector which gave us competitive services, cable television, and advent wireless communication. So if you any of you are looking at this on an Apple or Microsoft computer remember that President Reagan played a key role the technology we have today. [1]

The term for his policies is well known: supply-side economics. The theory here is that less regulation, less taxes, and less government spending and intervention leads to a more wealthy nation. This is because the three factors I have mentioned allow a more capitalist free market which create competition between businesses and causes them to lower prices to get the most profit. They expand supply to sell their products. People would then be able to buy more items and create economic growth. If people prefer to save money, then that expands the nation's loan capacity which helps entrepreneurs. [1,2,3]

According to the Heritage Foundation:

"No matter how advocates of big government try to rewrite history, Ronald Reagan's record of fiscal responsibility continues to stand as the most successful economic policy of the 20th century. His tax reforms triggered an economic expansion that continues to this day. His investments in national security ended the Cold War and made possible the subsequent defense spending reductions that are largely responsible for the current federal surpluses. His efforts to restrain the expansion of federal government helped to limit the growth of domestic spending."
[4]

The Heritage Foundation notes that Preisdent Reagan's economic boom lasted for 92 months without a recession. This period was from November 1982 to July 1990, the longest period of sustained growth during peacetime. The growth from the President Reagan's boom lasted more than twice as long as the average period of expansions since World War 2. [4]

In the CATO study:

"On 8 of the 10 key economic variables examined, the American economy performed better during the Reagan yearsthan during the pre- and post-Reagan years." [5]

Some of these variables not discussed yet include:

1. Real median income, which grew by $4,000 under the Reagan years.
2. Economic growth average 3.2% under Reagan, 2.8% under Ford and Carter, and 2.1% under Bush Sr. and Clinton.
3. In employment, 17 million new jobs were produced.

Obviously, President Reagan's economic record is strong.

II. Cold War

Now let's move on to one of the president's greatest achievements: defeating the USSR. According to Armchair General magazine (a military history magazine that I subscribe to), in their November 2012 issue, which included a section on President Reagan's Cold War, there were three factors that led to the downfall of the USSR.

1. Military Strategy - When President Reagan entered office, military morale was low and so was the pay. President Carter had cut a lot of programs in them military. Under the Reagan Administration, military spending skyrocketed in the crusade against communism. This included the famous SDI (Strategic Defense Initiative) programs and several over and covert missions to aid anti-communists guerrilla forces in Central America, South America, Africa, and Afghanistan.

2. Economic Strategy - Yes, Reaganomics helped win the Cold War. The recovering economy helped President Reagan's military buildup. The free market capitalist United States was too much for the USSR which had an its inefficient command-directed communist economic system.

3. Political Strategy - Politics played a role to in defeating the reds. With a strong ally in British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, President Reagan launched a global political form of blitzkrieg on the USSR and other communist political leaders. The reds had seriously underestimated the American president and saw him as a "warmonger".

Together, these strategies defeated the USSR and January 1989 when President Reagan left office the USSR was in great trouble. In 1991, the USSR would collapse. Soviet Head of State Mikhail Gorbachev's policies of perestroika (re-structuring) and glasnost (openness) proved too little, too late. Gorbachev told the History Channel in 2002, "I don't know what would have happened had [Reagan] not been there." [2,6]

President: Franklin D. Roosevelt
Party: Democrat
Presidency: 1933 to 1945

I. All Aboard the Fail Deal!: FDR's Economic Policy

President Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected in 1933 in hope of ending the Great Depression. His policies would not just fail, but actually prolong the Depression. FDR put in place the New Deal (it really is the Fail Deal and we will find out later). Unlike Reagan's supply-side strategy, Roosevelt took a demand-side strategy. This meant maintaining or raising the tax rates (usually on the wealthy) to pay for programs that would help the poor and increase demand which would mean more people would buy stuff to help businesses and the economy would recover. That might be true in a magical liberal fairy tale, but this is real life.

Mr. Higgs argues:

"There's no doubt that Roosevelt changed the character of the American government--for the worse. Many of the reforms of the 1930s remain embedded in policy today: acreage allotments, price supports and marketing controls in agriculture, extensive regulation of private securities, federal intrusion into union-management relations, government lending and insurance activities, the minimum wage, national unemployment insurance, Social Security and welfare payments, production and sale of electrical power by the federal government, fiat money--the list goes on."

So FDR, made it worse in the country for the future as well. [7]

Watch the video. Out of characters.

II. Packing the Supreme Court and Locking Up the Japanese

Do I even have to go into this? Everyone has to know these two infamous stories. The first is that FDR got tired of the Supreme Court stopping some of his legislation that he wanted to add new justices to them ($10 says they would have been liberals). The second is during WW2 when he locked up Japanese civlians in the US fearing they may help the enemy.

Sources

1. Cain, Herman and Rich Lowrie. 9-9-9 An Army of Davids. 2012.
2. Gaffney, Dennis and Peter Gaffney. The Seven Day-Scholar: The Presidents. 2012.
3. http://en.wikipedia.org...
4. http://www.heritage.org...
5. Niskanen, William and Stephen Moore.
Cato Institute Policy Analysis No. 261:Supply-Side Tax Cuts and the Truth about the Reagan Economic Record. 1996.
6. Morelock, Jerry D. "Ronald Reagan's Cold War." Armchair General IX.5 (2012): 18-19.
7. Higgs, Robert. "How FDR Made the Depression Worse." The Free Market XIII.2 (1995)

DudeWithoutTheE

Con

1. ECONOMICS

Pro's case today is based on the notion that Reagan's policies grew the economy. No argument here. However, the crucial issue here is that FDR's did so as well, and more successfully.

GDP grew consistently over the course of the Roosevelt Presidency (with a small dip in 1937), and at the end of the President's second term, stood at $126.7 billion, more than twice what it had been when he took office.[1] This, by anyone's yardstick, is a spectacular economic success. By contrast, the economy in Q1 of 1989 when Reagan left office was just under 30% larger than in Q1 of 1981 when he took office. Not unimpressive, but it is clear which President's economy generated more growth.

Pro supplies us with a quote that lists a number of government interventions in the economy introduced under FDR which are still in place, without giving us any reason why these policies are be bad things in general, let alone in the specific context of FDR's administration. Pro asserts that FDR's policies only create growth in a 'Magical liberal fairytale -' I have shown how, in the real world, more growth occurred under FDR than Reagan.

Roosevelt also had more success in tackling unemployment than Reagan. Unemployment in 1932 (the last year of the Hoover administration) stood at 23.53%. By the end of FDR's second term, it had fallen to 9.66%, a 59% reduction. The fall under Reagan was 24%. Even if we discount the later years of the Roosevelt administration on the grounds that preparation for WWII rather than the New Deal was responsible for the growth (and we shouldn't, for the precise reason that they demonstrate conclusively that government spending can grow the economy) then the reduction in unemployment during FDR's first term alone, 1933-37, is substantially greater (40%) than during the entire eight years of Reagan. [2]

Pro also points to Reagan's success in restraining inflation, but in the economic climate FDR inherited, the problem was the opposite - not one of inflation but of deflation. Banking and currency crises in 1931 led to nations rushing to increase their gold reserves until, as Bernanke and Carey [3] argue, "Individual countries were only able to escape the deflationary vortex by unilaterally abandoning the gold standard and restoring domestic money stability." FDR therefore deliberately encouraged inflation through measures such as the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933 and the Gold Reserve Act of 1934. As a result, the change from severe deflation to consistent mild inflation under Roosevelt was a good thing. Therefore, Roosevelt increasing inflation while Reagan lowered it should not count in favor of the latter, because in both cases the change in the rate of inflation was beneficial to the US.[4]

2. FOREIGN POLICY

Pro, as with many conservatives, credits Reagan's policies for bringing about the end of the Cold War. Even if this were true, the two foreign policy records would be essentially a wash, since FDR's policies also led directly to the fall of an evil dictatorship. However, I will demonstrate that the credit Reagan receives for the role he played in the fall of the USSR is massively overblown.

As Alexander George [5] explains, "The increase in the relative power advantage enjoyed by the United States... was of quite limited and indirect value in explaining the transition in US-Soviet relations." The primary driver was the "Abysmal deterioration in the performance of the Soviet economy." Christopher Xenakis [6] notes that "Most American
Sovietologists miss[ed] the sure signs of Soviet change that were evident during the 1970s and 1980s." In other words, the inefficiencies and internal contradictions of the communist system were there all along and doomed the Soviet project to failure. Wolf [7] noted that in 1980, the costs of the 'Soviet Empire' ie the nonmilitary cost of maintaining control over its outer republics and satellites came to over 38 billion rubles (up to $35bn in 1985 dollars) and had grown at a rate of 12% over the course of the 1970s, massively outstripping Soviet GDP growth. This was clearly not sustainable, whoever was in the White House.

Reagan's foreign policy record also contains many episodes of questionable judgement. He committed American marines to a UN Peacekeeping force in the Lebanon in 1982 without, in the words of then-Congressman John McCain, "Any obtainable objectives." 241 Americans were killed when their barracks were bombed by Islamic Jihad operatives. Reagan was then forced to withdraw, meaning those American lives had been lost for no tangible gain whatsoever.

Senior members of the Reagan administration were also involved in selling guns to the Islamist regime in Iran in order to fund the supply of armaments to the Contra rebels in Nicaragua, in direct contravention of Congressional resolutions demanding that support for the Contras be cut off entirely. The Contra rebels were described by Human Rights Watch [8] as "Major and systematic violators of the most basic standards of the laws of armed conflict." The evidence is unclear as to whether President Reagan was actively aware that money was being diverted to the Contras, but he is known, in the words of his national security adviser, to have asked that the Contras be kept 'body and soul together.' Eleven members of the Administration were convicted for their part in the affair. At best, Reagan was guilty of gross negligence. At worst, of directly breaking US law in support of a group known for launching indiscriminate attacks on civilians.

3. MORAL LEADERSHIP

On this matter, I will first attempt to contextualize the examples presented by my opponent. I will in the second round supply evidence of how Roosevelt took important action on civil rights in the face of opposition from his own party, and how Reagan failed to take action to save American lives during the AIDS crisis because he was in thrall to extremist Christian elements.

On the subject of the Supreme Court, my question here is, who was actually harmed by this episode? More supreme court justices is not, in itself, a bad thing. Yes, the appointees would likely have been liberals, which again is not inherently bad (if one accepts the premise that liberals are inherently bad, there is no debate here). This is a purely procedural issue, of almost no relevance to the actual lives of Americans, which FDR clearly improved.

With regard to Japanese internment, I have no desire to defend the practice. It is a black mark against FDR's record. I ask however that voters take into account Reagan's many failings that actually cost lives at home, in Lebanon, and in Nicaragua, and to consider the importance of victory over the evil regimes in Tokyo as well as Berlin, and how that may have made it more difficult to say no to any measure which might have assisted in American success against said forces.

[1]Johnston, L, and Williamson, S (2011) "What Was the U.S. GDP Then?" MeasuringWorth. Accessed from http://www.measuringworth.com...
[2] http://www.u-s-history.com...
[3] Bernanke, B, and Carey, K, (1996) Nominal Wage Stickiness and Aggregate Supply in the Great Depression. The Quarterly Journal of Economics 111(3): 853-883.
[4] http://www.tradingeconomics.com...
[5] George, A, The Transition in U.S.-Soviet Relations, 1985-1990: An Interpretation from the Perspective of International Relations Theory and Political Psychology. Political Psychology 12(3): 469-486.
[6] Xenakis, C (2002): What Happened to the Soviet Union? How and Why American Sovietologists Were Caught by Surprise. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.
[7] Wolf, C, The Costs of the Soviet Empire. Science (New Series) 230(4729): 997-1002.
[8]http://www.hrw.org...
Debate Round No. 2
1Historygenius

Pro

How the New Deal Hurt, Rather than helped the Great Depression

I. FDR Permanently Damages the U.S. Dollar

Here is the U.S. dollar in gold:

This here shows the value of the U.S. Dollar in gold. As you can see, in the early part of our history, when the dollar was backed by gold, the U.S. dollar was strong and valuable. It only lost value a few times from wars. Then in the 1930s, President Franklin Roosevelt took the gold standard off and the dollar lost some value. He eventually put the gold back on. In the 1970s, President Richard Nixon took off the gold for good which has incredibly devalued the dollar.

In the 1930s, FDR took off the gold standard, destroying the value of dollar permanently. It never recovered from its drop and the only time the dollar dropped before that was in times of war, but it recovered after that. What FDR did was permanent. Also, note that in the 1980s, the value of the dollar went up. So rather than help, going off the gold hurt, the American economy. Eventually, the gold was resumed, but FDR had introduced a lack of clairty in the system. [1]

As Mr. Higgs stated on FDR's policy with the gold:

"Besides being theft, gold confiscation didn't work. The price of gold was increased from $20.67 to $35.00 per ounce, a 69% increase, but the domestic price level increased only 7% between 1933 and 1934, and over rest of the decade it hardly increased at all. FDR's devaluation provoked retaliation by other countries, further strangling international trade and throwing the world's economies further into depression." [2]

And on agriculture he notes:

"The objective was to raise farm commodity prices until they reached a much higher "parity" level. The millions who could hardly feed and clothe their families can be forgiven for questioning the nobility of a program designed to make food and fiber more expensive. Though this was called an "emergency" measure, no President since has seen fit to declare the emergency over."[2]


II. Roosevelt's Terrible Regulations

The National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933 virtually nationalized industry. Never has there been any larger a bill of special interest. Big business was greatly supoported in the act and received less competition and higher prices in return. Labor unionists received government support and protection. Social workers who wanted to control over working conditions. Finally, major amounts of public spending. As Mr. Higgs notes:

"The legislation allowed the President to license businesses or control imports to achieve the vaguely identified objectives of the act. Every industry had to have a code of fair competition. The codes contained provisions setting minimum wages, maximum hours, and "decent" working conditions. The policy rested on the dubious notion that what the country needed most was cartelized business, higher prices, less work, and steep labor costs."

Eventually, the Supreme Court ruled the NRA as unconstitutional, which leads to the infamous packing of the Court story.

III. Packing the Court

FDR packed the court to get what he wanted. Mr. Folsom reveals that:

"Though the 1936 elections gave the Democrats overwhelming control of Congress, this was not enough for Roosevelt. He sought to purge those who were not fully behind his program. In particular, he could not forgive those who dared to oppose his unsuccessful proposal to pack the Supreme Court. He opposed long-serving and influential Democratic congressmen, favoring instead more pliant newcomers." [3]

Basically, FDR wanted to pack the court so he could hopefully ram through unconstitutional legislation. He wanted to pass through bills that were completely illegal! The people were strongly against this action (and remember the power is with the people), so he could not pass it. Thank goodness that did not happen. [3]

IV. Real GDP Does Not Improve:



What ended the Great Depression? When can we conclude this? Late 1940s. Real GDP was all over the place in the 1930s, it went down, then up, then down again (the 1937 drop was a real drop in reaction to FDR's policies, please remember). Then World War 2 comes and real GDP rises, but remember what the professor in the video said:

"By definition, military production output is not real wealth, wars destroy wealth rather than creating it."

So what happens when the war ends? The Great Depression is still there. FDR did not fix it, because World War 2 hid what the economy really was and it crumbled after President Roosevelt's death.

V. The Stock Market

If Real GDP does not convince, perhaps the stock market will. When the stock market is doing well, the economy should be doing well. Here is the Dow Jones Industrial Average:



As we can see, the stock market does not recover to where it was in the 1920s until the 1950s. It seems the U.S.'s years in World War 2 did little to create a massive recovery. What was the overall growth of Dow Jones at this time? Take a look:


So despite FDR having almost a decade to fix the Depression, he is unable to and overall growth was at -50.3 at the time.

Foreign Policy


My opponent has aruged that FDR's policies led directly to the fall of the Axis Power, but is this true? Perhaps what FDR did was speed up defeat for the Axis, but that does not mean the Americans were completely 100% needed. Let's say Pearl Harbor was not bombed. The Germans were becoming vastly overstretched by the time Pearl Harbor did happen. Let's look at the whole Soviet front. The Soviets had massive numbers and firepower (coming from their population and industry) at the Battle of Stalingrad. No Americans there. The Soviets won what is widely considered the turning point of World War 2. Meanwhile, the same time the Allies were invading Northern Africa, the Germans had been defeated by the British and the Battle of El Alamein. Two key battles in the war, both won by Germany's opponents. I doubt it would be able to hold on the way it did. As for the Japanese, they were becoming stretched in a war with China and the European Powers. It captured vast amounts of territory, but could not defend it all.

I have already explained that the USSR's inefficient command-directed economic system was terrible in my previous post. When Reaganomics arrived, they helped in total defeat of the Soviet economic system by giving the Soviets even more economic competition with free market capitalism which led to the fall of the USSR.

Now we go to the Iran-Contra Affair, but do we really need to? My opponent even admitted that it is unclear if President Reagan was aware of what was happening, so we don't need to discuss this because there is not enough evidence about it the president's involvement. Now for Lebanon and we must remember that President Reagan is not responsible for the smallest of this. So when the bomb blew up, the president ordered a committee and it found that:

"
The commission's report found senior military officials responsible for security lapses and blamed the military chain of command for the disaster."

So not President Reagan's fault. [4]

Moral Leadership

Let's look at civil rights with FDR. Blacks were strongly hurt by President Roosevelt's policies. As Mr. Burton notes:

"Minimum-wage laws proved a stumbling block to efforts by blacks to secure jobs. These laws prevented employers from undercutting unions by offering lower wages to nonunion members. Since blacks faced exclusion from many of the powerful unions, they were in effect frozen out."

And:

"Roosevelt was not much concerned with the effects of his programs on blacks. Indeed, he did little to support civil rights: he would not, e.g., support antilynching legislation. To do so might antagonize important Southern congressmen. Despite his seeming indifference to blacks, Roosevelt gained support among many members of the black community, in part owing to carefully calibrated publicity gestures by members of his administration."

Not so pro-civil rights as we can see.[3]

Conclusion

I have proven FDR's policies hurt, rather than helped the economy. Real GDP, the dollar, and stock did not strongly improve under his presidency. The Depression lasted way longer. The Allies were already winning World War 2 when he entered. Blacks were hurt by his policies.

Sources

1. Cain, Herman and Rich Lowrie. 9-9-9 An Army of Davids. 2012.
2. Higgs, Robert. "How FDR Made the Depression Worse." The Free Market XIII.2 (1995)
3. Folsom, Burton, Jr. "New Deal or Raw Deal?" The Mises Review XIV.4 (2008)
4. http://en.wikipedia.org...





DudeWithoutTheE

Con

I'd like to thank my opponent for presenting his arguments, which are interesting. Before I get into my substantives, which will largely deal with a comparison of foreign policy and moral leadership, a few points of rebuttal not covered directly by said substantives.

GOLD STANDARD:

Yes, the value of the dollar dropped. Despite using emotive language like 'killed' my opponent has presented no evidence at all why a weaker currency is necessarily a bad thing. The gold standard was part of the problem that led to the depression. No country in the world is still on the gold standard today, and there's a reason for that - it's insane. As Robert Samuelson explains, "It's hard to imagine a more sure-fire way of creating uncertainty and destroying confidence."[1] Why is this? Because, as Andrew Leonard puts it, "Adhering to the gold standard severely limits government flexibility in responding to what"s actually happening, economically, in the world." [2] Floating currency is better than fixed, gold-backed currency, therefore his argument falls.

MINIMUM WAGE:

My opponent again asserts that this was bad without providing any evidence. The research on the link between minimum wages and unemployment is fiercely contested (and probably worthy of a debate in itself) but suffice to say, there is plenty of reason to believe the link between minimum wage rises and unemployment is a myth [3] and the consensus among experts so far as there can be considered to be one is that if an employment effect exists, it is extremely small. Therefore, any small rise in unemployment would be more than counterbalanced by the extra money in low-skilled workers' pockets. But more than this, my opponent has not contested the evidence I provided to show that unemployment fell by 59% during FDR's first two terms (because it's empirical fact). Therefore any attempt to suggest that FDR's record on unemployment counterbalances his civil rights record fails the smell test.

GDP:

my opponent asserts that GDP was 'all over the place' during the 1930s. This is untrue. It was going down pre-FDR, and under FDR it grew every year but one, in many of those years by huge amounts. [4] To quote Richard Freeman, [5] "Roosevelt"s approach was a total success. It absolutely defeated the Depression, and went far beyond." In the one year the economy contracted, it was precisely because FDR slashed New Deal programs in an attempt to balance the budget.

IRAN-CONTRA:

Yes, it cannot conclusively be proven Reagan knew about it. But I have proven that Reagan was personally hugely supportive of the Contras, despite their terrible human rights record. Plus, the idea that the President was unaware that his own National Security Council had turned into an arms-trafficking ring requires a degree of frankly criminal negligence on his part that is only barely preferable to the alternative of deliberate lawlessness. On Beirut, Pro tries to claim that because members of the army screwed up to cause the deaths, it wasn't the President's fault. Literally any time someone in the military dies, someone else has screwed up, and it's not usually the President directly doing it. Reagan took the decision to put those troops in a theater where people would obviously try to kill them with no clear goal. That's on him. That's what being 'Commander-in-Chief' means. Are we supposed to believe that Reagan had no way of knowing that while in a war zone, people might try to kill these Americans?

COURT-PACKING

Pro claims that the Court struck down 'illegal laws.' Hogwash. It took narrow, partisan majorities to disallow many of the New Deal programs, and seven of nine judges at the time of the affair were Republican appointees. They struck down a national minimum-wage law on the grounds it was the States' business, then struck down a New York State law doing exactly the same thing, giving the lie to their early reasoning. The Hughes Court in Roosevelt's first term pursued a ridiculously narrow interpretation of the Commerce Clause which Justice Stone called a "Tortured construction of the Constitution.", [6] which prevented the government from regulating industries even as large and nationally important as coal mining.

SUBSTANTIVE 1: MORAL LEADERSHIP

This is an area where the contrast between the two men could not be starker. One of the major issues of the 1930s was Civil Rights. FDR was in a difficult position here, because he relied on the votes of segregationist Southern Democrats to get his agenda through Congress. Despite opposition from his own party, FDR issued executive order 8802 [7] the first Presidential directive on Civil Rights since reconstruction. He also appointed the first black Federal judge in American history, and his WPA "Employed a percentage of blacks higher than their numbers in the national population and paid wages two times more than what many had been earning." [8]

Now contrast this with Reagan's record on AIDS, one of the most important issues of the 80s. AIDS first came to national attention in 1981. Reagan did not even utter the word 'AIDS' until 1987, eighteen months after even his ideological running-mates, the Thatcher government in the UK, had authorized a national TV ad campaign to raise awareness. By this time, 27,909 Americans had died from the disease. His administration denied requests from the Center for Disease Control and National Institutes of Health for more funding into the disease. "Between June 1981 and May 1982 the CDC spent less than $1 million on AIDS and $9 million on Legionnaire's Disease. At that point more than 1,000 of the 2,000 reported AIDS cases resulted in death; there were fewer than 50 deaths from Legionnaire's Disease." [9] Reagan's failure was due to his indebtedness to radical right-wing Christians in the Republican Party. Note how FDR, while far from perfect, took action to improve people's lives which upset his own party, while Reagan put keeping on the right side of his party above American lives. For these reasons, he is rightly a hate figure in the gay community.

SUBSTANTIVE 2: FOREIGN POLICY

My opponent is trying to sell ridiculous notion that giving the Soviet system, which he himself admits was horribly inefficient, 'More economic competition' led directly to its collapse, while actively fighting a war against the Nazis (along with instituting the lend-lease program to support Britain in doing so) merely expedited victory at best. This is clearly ridiculous. He notes victories of the Soviet and British forces, without considering the that having to engage on both fronts made it more difficult for Germany to win on either. Even if it were entirely true, there are still two major problems with this. One is that given that the German regime was engaged in a campaign of systematic genocide, even delaying this defeat would have brought the genocide closer to completion. Second is the fact that the very force he is saying could have defeated Germany on its own is PRECISELY the barbarous regime he gives Reagan credit for helping to bring down! If we are to accept that the USSR was evil, why would we accept the premise that letting it defeat Germany on its own, therefore giving it a stronger position within Europe that it actually attained is a good thing? That makes absolutely no sense.

[1]http://www.ocregister.com...
[2]http://www.salon.com...
[3]http://clinton4.nara.gov...
[4]http://ourfuture.org...
[5]http://www.larouchepub.com...
[6]http://www.smithsonianmag.com...
[7]http://www.ourdocuments.gov...
[8]http://suite101.com...
[9]http://www.actupny.org...
Debate Round No. 3
1Historygenius

Pro

Gold Standard

When the dollar devalued, its value was lowered against gold and other currencies. Luckily we went back on it, but it had a lasting effect because we did not rise back to that high point before the Depression. My opponent has said that the gold standard caused the Great Depression, this is incorrect.

What we now know as the Great Depression started as a recession, similar to the recession in 1919. In both cases we were on a gold standard and the Fed mismanaged it. What turned the recession of the early 1930s into the Depression was a series of additional policy errors that intensified the severity and duration of the downturn.

As Mr. Cain wrote:

"By 1928, the Fed was so 'embarrased' by a stock market on fire that it began a five-year program where it would starve the economy of money. Then, in 1929, the stock market crashed the day after some final hurdles were cleared in Congress that made passage of the Smoot-Hawley tariffs likely....The economy, along with the stock market, started to go into free fall...The Fed raised interest rates, stood by while banks failed by thousands, and hoarded its gold." [1]

By 1933 we had a Great Depression, not caused by the gold standard, but by Fed mismanagement and the tariffs. We had the gold standard in the 1919-1920 recession, but there was no big Depression. This is because were remained under our commitment to gold and along with lower tax rates and more free market policies, we had a quick recovery. In the 1930s, we wavered from the gold standard and increased regulations and spending leading to a much longer recession that did not end until after the late 1940s. [1]

In the 1930s during the Great Depression, there was high deflation. FDR went off the gold standard, leading to hyperinflation during World War 2. Eventually inflation went down in the late 1940s. During the 1980s, Reagan had to deal with high inflation, but his policies reduced it unlike FDR's.

As we can see here, we go during FDR's presidency from deflation to inflation, but that declines to deflation again, proving his policies did not work. We then go to hyperinflation during WW2, that only ends until after the war. This because the Depression did not end until after WW2.

Looking at the value of the dollar:

The value of the dollar has rapidly decline since the Great Depression. FDR's policies had a massive effect here.

A dollar today will only buy what 6 cents did during the 1930s. This proves the more problems we have with devaluation makes our currency weaker and less valuable around world. This causes raised prices.

Minimum Wage

Its simple to understand why minimum wage hurt people during the Great Depression. He then gives the bogus excuse that I brought no evidence, but I indeed did. Should I repreat it? Here:

"Minimum-wage laws proved a stumbling block to efforts by blacks to secure jobs. These laws prevented employers from undercutting unions by offering lower wages to nonunion members. Since blacks faced exclusion from many of the powerful unions, they were in effect frozen out." [2]

When the NIRA was passed under FDR, wages were forced to dramatically increase, production did not improve at all. Higher wages restricted output and reduced productive capacity. As Mr. Cole and Mr. Ohanian note:

"We have calculated that manufacturing wages were as much as 25% above the level that would have prevailed without the New Deal. And while the artificially high wages created by the NIRA benefited the few that were fortunate to have a job in those industries, they significantly depressed production and employment, as the growth in wage costs far exceeded productivity growth." [3]

As we can see, minimum wage hurt the Great Depression, it did not improve it. Work hours were much higher than they were before FDR took office. In 1930 to 1932, total work hours per adult were 18% below their level in 1929. They were 23% lower on average during the New Deal. [3]

GDP

GDP was a roller coaster during the Great Depression. As my real GDP picture shows (because I can't post it, look in the comments section), it goes up, but then down again in. Then WW2 comes and it goes up again. However, after WW2 real GDP goes down again. This is all over the place. Obviously FDR's policies did not work and the Depression did not end until WW2. Remember, military production output is not real wealth, wars destroy wealth rather than creating it.

Iran-Contra and Beirut

President Reagan is not responsible for Iran-Contra and he is not responsible for Beirut. Remember we are in the CW (Cold War) and as Armchair General noted, the support of rebels everywhere against pro-USSR governments greately contributed in ending then and defeating the USSR. Remember, we are discussing policies and since the president never made an effective policy of supporting the Contras, this does not matter. [5]

As for Beirut, my opponent cites that the president made a bad decision to put troops in a theater where people would obviously try to kill them without a clear goal, but remember the goal was a UN goal so Con should blame the UN, not the US and remember the UN's ultimate goal is to promote world peace so that maybe its reason to want troops to be sent to Beirut. The president cannot look at every single base. So that is why the commission found senior military officials at fault, not Reagan. Con is in no stance to refute a military committee.

Court-Packing

The Supreme Court's job is to make sure laws passed by Congress and the president are legal or not, so if the Supreme Court rules a law as unconstitutional, then it is unconstitutional. It does not matter if seven of the nine judges were Republican appointees because their job is not follow a party, but follow the Constitution. As Mr. Higgs noted:

"Striking down the NRA, Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes wrote that 'extraordinary conditions do not create or enlarge constitutional power.' Congress 'cannot delegate legislative power to the President to exercise an unfettered discretion to make whatever laws he thinks may be needed.'" [6]

However, FDR defied the check and balance system, in an unprecented move of power that made him look like a dictator. He kept many of his laws in places even after the decision. The Supreme Court is the law and breaking the law is one of the darkest things possible. So FDR tried to pack it with judges favoring him rather than the Constitution, a very despicable act. [3,6]

Moral Leadership

I'd rather take a president who does not put morre funding into AIDs rater than a president who locks up innocent Japanese people and does not support antilynching legislation. One executive order is nothing compared to dirty acts FDR committed. [2]

As for AIDS, there were a lot more important issues. The USSR and the recession in the 1980s. Would you rather have AIDS or be blown to bits by a nuclear bomb? Reagan probably simply did not have the money to spend on AIDS because it needed to be spent elsewhere.

WW2

I don't think Germany defeat would be delayed, the Soviet steamroller was on the move and it was not stopping. The UK probably would have kicked the Germans out of Africa and then do an Italian campaign and a D-Day of its own so it would eventually reach Germany as well leaving the CW border almost exactly the same it was. Again, Germany could not simply sustain its territory.

Conclusion

I have proven the New Deal failed and FDR was a terrible president in economic policy. Con dropped arguments on the stock market and FDR's special interest in the NIRA. Con also completely dropped economic criticism on Reagan for the entire debate, proving Reagan was better. In foreign policy, I have proved Reagan's policies ended the Cold War and the Americans were not needed in WW2. FDR is morally worse for locking up innocent Japanese people and not suppport antilynching legislation. His policies also left a lot of blacks out of the workforce.

Sources

1. Cain, Herman and Rich Lowrie. 9-9-9 An Army of Davids. 2012.
2. Folsom, Burton, Jr. "New Deal or Raw Deal?" The Mises Review XIV.4 (2008)
3.
Cole, Harold L., and Lee E. Ohanian. "How Government Prolonged the Depression." The Wall Street Journal (2009): Web. 2 Feb. 2009. <http://online.wsj.com...;.
4. Morelock, Jerry D. "Ronald Reagan's Cold War." Armchair General IX.5 (2012): 18-19.
5. Higgs, Robert. "How FDR Made the Depression Worse." The Free Market XIII.2 (1995)
DudeWithoutTheE

Con

I would like to thank my opponent for his conduct during this debate, which has been exemplary. I have very much enjoyed discussing these issues with him, and would be happy to debate him again any time. Now, alas, I must explain why the content of his argument is in various parts untrue, exaggerated, fallacious, or plain contradictory.

THE ECONOMY


Real GDP: Down before FDR, up under FDR. Not 'all over the place.'
The above is the chart of Real GDP during the Roosevelt administration. It is simply dishonest to represent this graph as saying 'Real GDP was all over the place.' It shows consistently strong growth, with one recession in 1937. My opponent has a right to his own opinions, ladies and gentlemen, but not to his own facts.

As for the fall in the dollar, that it has happened is not contested, but that it has actually caused any harm to the American consumer has not been proven in the slightest. My opponents' own graph shows you that the value of the dollar has gone down consistently since FDR, including the Reagan era, right up to the present day. But real GDP per capita today is seven times what it was when Roosevelt took office! To argue that the average consumer has less purchasing power is prima facie ridiculous. He claims that the gold standard did not cause the depression, citing other contractionary policies, while ignoring the fact that the standard itself was part of the exact same contractionary set of ideas. The policies employed from '29 to '32 were contractionary in general - they caused the depression. FDR's were expansionary, they allowed recovery to begin.

I have shown that unemployment was drastically reduced under Roosevelt. Pro tries to tell you that productivity was down. Take a look at this graph.

Industrial output may have fallen in 1937, but the trend over the FDR administration was strongly positive. Nor did the gains completely disappear due to the postwar retrenchment.

As you can see, while productivity did fall in 1937 and after the end of WWII, even with the postwar contraction, the Industrial Production Index (IPI) was three times higher at the beginning of 1949 than it was when FDR took office. He also believes that in posting a simple assertion by a Libertarian thinker on the Minimum wage, he has provided evidence. Not so. I have supplied you with a study by the National Economic Council which found that the effect was minimal to non-existent. I have provided you with evidence that New Deal Programs employed black workers at a higher rate than their share of the population, and that it paid those workers more than the average black worker earned at the time. And again, he has not been able to counter the empirical evidence that unemployment drastically fell under Roosevelt.

BEIRUT AND IRAN-CONTRA

Note how my opponent consistently tries to wriggle out of accepting any blame for Reagan for anything his administration did. "It was the UN's fault! It was the army's fault! It was the fault of his advisers!" Dear voters, Harry S Truman used to have a sign on his desk in the Oval Office that read 'The buck stops here.' Pro is trying to make you believe the buck stops anywhere BUT the Oval Office. Don't fall for it. If Reagan had come out against deployment in Lebanon, or told his advisers that support to the Contras had to stop rather than directly telling them to continue it, these things wouldn't have happened. He was in favor of both, so they did.

AIDS

I demonstrated that the Reagan administration actively refused requests for funding for AIDS research and spent nine times as much money on Legionnaires' disease, which killed a tiny fraction of those who died from AIDS. Pro doesn't think a disease which killed nearly 48,000 Americans in the six years from 1981-1987 [1] was a big deal. I do. For the sake of comparison, the 13 years of American military presence in Vietnam cost 58,000 lives. [2] Alternatively, you might like to think of it as eleven 9/11s. Reagan failed, and once again Americans died because of it.

COURT-PACKING

My opponent asserted FDR acted illegally. This is untrue. Firstly, Congress has the right to pass whatever it wants, and the judges have the right to review it. It is not 'illegal' for Congress to pass Acts which then get struck down. Pro contends that FDR carried on with the laws in defiance of the court. This just flat-out isn't true. Roosevelt never ignored the decisions of the Supreme Court, although he at one point used rhetoric which implied he would. [3] What happened was that with the retirement of conservative Justices, the balance shifted towards the Court's liberal wing, and that Court then upheld the same kind of things which were being struck down by the more conservative Hughes Court. If, as my opponent contends, the law is what the Court says it is, he shouldn't have a problem with this.

WWII AND THE SOVIET UNION

For starters, my opponent's last point on World War II begins with the words 'I think,' therefore has no value whatsoever in a debate. However, even if it is true that the Soviets would have won on their own, he has provided no rebuttal to my point that greater Soviet domination of Europe would have been a bad thing, indeed he cannot counter this point without undermining the case he has built around Reagan's opposition to the USSR. If the USSR is evil, allowing it greater power would have been bad. If it is not, Reagan's already overrated contribution to bringing it down cannot count for anything.

Now the idea that Reagan 'won' the Cold War is one of the most persistent and pernicious of fallacies to have infected our political discourse. Both sides have shown that the Soviet system contained inefficiencies that made its downfall inevitable. Reagan did not force the USSR to enter into a disastrous war in Afghanistan. He did not cause the costs of their 'Evil Empire' to rise year-on-year faster than Soviet GDP. He was not responsible for movements in the Soviet Satellites such as Solidarnosc which had already begun to seriously challenge the Communist system before Reagan took office. [4] And he certainly was not responsible for bringing into being the policies of Glasnost and Perestroika which opened up the Soviet Union to the outside world, and for the first time allowed for the free exchange of ideas and criticism of the government. Ladies and gentlemen, in so far as there is a president who deserves credit for ending the Cold War, his name is Gorbachev, not Reagan.

So what have I shown you? I have clearly proven that the New Deal worked, and that FDR's economic record is superior to Reagan's. I have shown that on the great moral issues of their time, Civil Rights for Roosevelt, AIDS for Reagan, Roosevelt did what he could in the face of opposition within his party, while Reagan pandered to extremists at the cost of American lives. I have shown you that the Reagan administration supported serial human rights violators and sacrificed American lives for no gain in Lebanon. I have proven that my opponent's crediting of Reagan with ending the Cold War is not based in reality, and that there is a fundamental tension in his case between thinking ending the Cold War was a good thing, and that allowing the USSR to overrun Europe alone would also be acceptable. In other words, it is incredibly clear who the better president was. Voters of DDO, TEAR DOWN THIS MYTH!

[1]http://www.cdc.gov...
[2]http://www.vhfcn.org...
[3]http://blog.constitutioncenter.org...
[4]http://www.historiasiglo20.org...
Debate Round No. 4
63 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by babyy 4 years ago
babyy
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Posted by 1Historygenius 4 years ago
1Historygenius
By the way, I thank Herman Cain for giving me the victory in this debate. He played a key role in my victory.
Posted by malcolmxy 4 years ago
malcolmxy
It's debatable whether the great depression was worse than the double-dip recession of the 80s. Recessions were different beasts back then. Regardless, they both did the same thing - spend money like drunken sailors on shore leave for the first time in a year. It's the only way to get out of a recession/depression.
Posted by Ron-Paul 4 years ago
Ron-Paul
RFD:

I judge this debate from a unique standpoint; that of a Libertarian. Meaning, I think both presidents were bad, but for different reasons. I have no pre-decided bias towards either side, unlike the other voters. Both sides are on equal grounds.

Spelling/Grammar and Conduct were both fine in this debate.

Sources: Con slightly outdoes pro in sources. He had a few more than pro, although I felt pro's were a little bit more reliable, but not much. I also give this point to con because he made a great effort with this debate and brought up several good points.
Posted by Ron-Paul 4 years ago
Ron-Paul
Arguments: Both sides presented great arguments. It was really a back and forth debate, however, pro wins by a nose. I'll explain in more detail below.

First, the moral arguments. The main arguments here were the internment of the Japanese, AIDS funding, and the packing of the Supreme Court. On Japanese internment, pro easily wins this point, as con conceded. On AIDS, I am forced to give this to con because pro was arguing against the magnitude, not the relevance. Pro could have won this point if he had focused more on the relevance and importance of AIDS rather than just brushing it aside. Finally, on the packing of the Supreme Court, this argument was very well contested by both sides, although pro wins by a sizable margin because he proves it was unethical, and more importantly undemocratic. Both sides present good point, but pro wins moral arguments.

Next, the foreign policy arguments. The main arguments here were FDR's part in WWII, the Iran-Contra scandal, the Lebanon "war", and Reagan's performance at defeating the USSR. On FDR and WWII, con wins this point because even though pro adequately proves that the allies could have beat the axis powers by the time the US entered, fewer deaths would result if the US entered, and con secured this point there. As for the Iran-Contra scandal, this to me was a draw; both sides proved their cases here, although, con, to me, barely edges pro. Pro proved Reagan didn't know, but that would be incompetence if he knew in the slightest. On the Lebanon "war", again, another draw as both sides prove their cases. Unlike earlier in American history, presidents don't play as big of a role as they used to in direct wars, although, Reagan should have had some inkling. Finally on Reagan's performance at defeating the USSR, both sides pro exaggerated facts while con ignored some. Overall, the fact that pro mentioned that Reagan's economic policy opened up more competition to the USSR proves his point. Overall, con wins.
Posted by Ron-Paul 4 years ago
Ron-Paul
Finally, the economic arguments. I'm not going to split this up into individual points as usual, but as one whole point. Con claimed that FDR had a stronger recovery than Reagan, but that was only because the Great Depression was a greater recession than the one in Reagan's time, as pro explained. This point should be dropped then. As for the minimum wage, pro does provide the evidence con wants, but not exactly. Pro wins that they were harmful to blacks and to the economy in general, but he never proves how they were bad for the worker. Pro edges out this point. The same thing happens with the NIRA arguments. Finally, there is the gold standard/Fed arguments as to who caused the great depression to be considered. Con wins the former, but pro wins the latter. On the former, con points out why is the declining value of the dollar is a bad thing, and stuffing that burst of laughter at that comment down, and this secures this point for con. On the latter, pro points the Fed arguments out and con never really refutes these. Also, pro wins the increased regulation as to the cause of more depression argument. Pro wins this point pretty solidly.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this debate and I hope no bias entered into my vote. Great job to both sides. Also, if any questions or comments at my vote are needed, feel free to ask me and I'll clarify. I hope I was thorough enough.
Posted by malcolmxy 4 years ago
malcolmxy
boredom?
Posted by wrichcirw 4 years ago
wrichcirw
Gee, looks like everyone here got trolled hard by Hewhoknowsall, who also happens to be a serial vote bomber.

Why are you guys talking about the Holocaust and Jews in a debate about FDR and Reagan? Just wondering.
Posted by malcolmxy 4 years ago
malcolmxy
Also, Holocaust means 10% population extermination, so even by your numbers, it was a holocaust, right?

I think a better, though equally fallacious argument would be that Stalin dropped 30 million and Mao 60 million in the time it took Hitler to kill off 12 million (6 million Jews + 6 million other "mud people").
Posted by malcolmxy 4 years ago
malcolmxy
"registered" death. As it turns out, war criminals don't often register their crimes.

Just out of curiosity, the charred remains of Jews found at camps - typhoid eradication?

And this picture -

http://0.tqn.com...

A lack of kosher food or folks looking to lose a little weight with no Jenny Craig at the time?
13 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by Canadian-In-Florida 4 years ago
Canadian-In-Florida
1HistorygeniusDudeWithoutTheETied
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Reasons for voting decision: Both sides were very well conducted, grammar and spelling was good on both sides and so I'm not going to count up and nitpick I'm leaving it tied. Sources for both sides were reliable and valid. Ultimately the argument went to Reagan. While I did agree with him prior I remained objective to the points made, not my preconceived notions and as such it was a close call but I must give it to Pro.
Vote Placed by Ron-Paul 4 years ago
Ron-Paul
1HistorygeniusDudeWithoutTheETied
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Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.
Vote Placed by Nur-Ab-Sal 4 years ago
Nur-Ab-Sal
1HistorygeniusDudeWithoutTheETied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro really secured his victory through the attacks at the moral issues surrounding FDR's presidency, with respect to Japanese internment. Con's response to the sharply declining dollar value, that Pro couldn't explain how it was bad (which seemed like a prima facie economic issue to me), also pretty much scored Pro a victory. Con, however, also brought up some good points; namely, he brought up the lack of AIDS research funding, and the Iron-Contra affair, among other things. However, I felt Pro argued better points, even if he didn't quite rebut Con's points effectively. Overall, arguments to Pro.
Vote Placed by Chuz-Life 4 years ago
Chuz-Life
1HistorygeniusDudeWithoutTheETied
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Reasons for voting decision: This debate was a difficult read for me until I revisited the first post again. "I am arguing that President Ronald Reagan was a better president in terms of policies..." It seems both Pro and Con strayed away from that original challenge at times. Policy for Policy, Regan's was better for the country than FDR's has been in the long run. Sources go to Con for illustrating that point.
Vote Placed by Citrakayah 4 years ago
Citrakayah
1HistorygeniusDudeWithoutTheETied
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Reasons for voting decision: Conduct- To Con. Pro went on about 'magical liberal fairy tales' which loses some points in my book. S&G- Pro appeared to insert pictures that didn't appear. Point lost. Arguments: 1. Pro mentioned several things, such as minimum wage and workplace regulations, as bad, without adequately saying why they are bad. I consider these things good. 2. Con successfully argued that Reagan had lousy moral leadership compared to FDR, mostly by pointing out the issues with AIDS. 3. Pro failed to show why the decline in the value of the dollar is necessarily bad. The only thing I can think of that there is absolutely no debate over is that we have to carry around more bills.
Vote Placed by lannan13 4 years ago
lannan13
1HistorygeniusDudeWithoutTheETied
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Reasons for voting decision: CVB Hewhoknowsall
Vote Placed by HeWhoKnowsAll 4 years ago
HeWhoKnowsAll
1HistorygeniusDudeWithoutTheETied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro definately stated some solid facts
Vote Placed by iamnotwhoiam 4 years ago
iamnotwhoiam
1HistorygeniusDudeWithoutTheETied
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Reasons for voting decision: Economic recovery and employment increase were better under FDR. Pro didn't convince that going off the gold standard was bad for US. Reagan's underfunding and lack of action on AIDS is unforgivable.
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 4 years ago
RoyLatham
1HistorygeniusDudeWithoutTheETied
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Reasons for voting decision: The problem with judging this debate is that for a number of issues the comparison is with what would have happened without the President's policies compared to what actually happened with the policies. So deep recessions ordinary bounce back strongly as the markets beome bargains. Did FDR weaken the rate of recovery? Would the Soviets have collapsed as soon or at all without Reagan policies? It isn't absolutes, it's relative to what would have happened. Con wins the gold standard argument. In hindsight we know the minimum wage, tariif policies, a Fed policies prolonged the Depression. If FDR was a principles civil rights advocate he wouldn't have interred the Japanese. The process of attempting to pack the Court was unethical. Reagen was at least incompetent to allow the Contra scandal. AIDS was not recognized as a serious epidemic in the early days. I think Pro made the case overall basd upon the majority of evidence, but we'll never know for sure what would have happened.
Vote Placed by miketheman1200 4 years ago
miketheman1200
1HistorygeniusDudeWithoutTheETied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro negated arguments made againts Reagan's foreign policy easily. Pro provided substansial evidence to prove that FDR caused significant drops in the value of the dollar. To top it off con made a laughable argument that money based off debt can be beneficial to an economy. Though I dislike both presidents, my vote rests with Pro who presented better and clearly evident claims, and made better arguments for them. Pro negated attacks against Reagan's foreign policy. Pro was able to provide evidence to the substantial loss of value in the US dollar. Cons laughable argument that money based on debt can be a good thing almost secured my vote. Both debated civily and well, but the proof is in the pudding. Really they were both bad presidents who did little to fix anything in the long run. My personal opinions aside, Pro had the better argument today and receives my vote.