Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan presided over a golden era of prosperity. Few national leaders can say they left the world freer and more prosperous than they found it. As Reagan said in his farewell address: “All in all, not bad, not bad at all.”
However, since Thatcher and Reagan left office, their victories — lower taxes, less regulation and smaller government — have been under siege. For sure, conservatives have won decisive economic battles, but those victories have been rare and downplayed. Former President Donald Trump’s successful economic record is a stellar example. (RELATED: VASQUEZ: As Biden And The Squad Saddle Taxpayers With A Student Loan Bailout, Americans Push Back)
The latest skirmish in the long, frustrating fight for economic freedom appeared last week in London. The new Conservative Party Prime Minister, Liz Truss, unveiled a “mini-budget.” It was not the British equivalent of a MINI Cooper; it was a Rolls Royce.
Truss’s mini-budget reversed “decades of drift,” as an old Thatcherite told us.
The mini-budget borrowed boldly from the Thatcher-Reagan-Trump playbook. Broadly speaking, Truss is lowering marginal tax rates, cutting payroll taxes, lowering property taxes and deregulating businesses. All good!
American conservatives should be envious after watching the Biden administration promote a “settled” (and largely wrongheaded) dismal science. As Thatcher famously said, “It’s a funny old world.”
The only thing funny about Truss’s “go for growth” strategy is that it took the Tory Party so long to remember what made their party so successful under Thatcher.
Since John Major became Prime Minister in 1990, Thatcherism in the Tory Party has been in abeyance.
Major, David Cameron, Theresa May and Boris Johnson made the necessary genuflections to the Iron Lady; for she and Winston Churchill were the 20th century’s most successful prime ministers.
For Thatcher’s part, she was also a better vote-getter than Churchill — a lesson too often ignored by her successors.
Excluding Major, the only thing Tory prime ministers who followed the Iron Lady had in common with her was their Oxford degrees. Mention of the grocer’s daughter from Grantham risked irritating them, like too much reminiscing by an old aunt at Christmas dinner.
Liz Truss, who became Conservative Party leader and prime minister in early September, is different from her predecessors (even if she too has an Oxford degree).
First, she is younger. Truss was born in 1975, almost six months after Thatcher became leader of the Tory Party. Her Tory predecessors at 10 Downing Street began their political lives when the Iron Lady was prime minister, albeit in different ways.
Truss is free from the bracing battles over Thatcherism or with the Iron Lady herself. Truss only needs to look to the fate of her predecessors to know what strategies work and those that do not.
Thatcherism and Reaganomics worked, but the rest did not, either for the economy or with the voters.
As Reagan famously quipped, he knew his economic program was working once he heard, “they don’t call it Reaganomics anymore.”
Second, Truss was a prominent (sometimes radical) Liberal Democrat at Oxford University. In that sense, Truss is more like Reagan, who began his political life as a Democrat, than she is like Thatcher, who was a loyal Conservative at Oxford. Reagan used his past affiliations to great political effect and for an endless supply of jokes.
The conservative movement in America needs to get behind Truss, its members should see a kindred spirit in the middle of an epic battle. The stakes are enormous.
If Truss fails, Americans could have Joe Biden or Kamala Harris looking across the table at a fellow left-winger, Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer. Sir Keir may not talk quite like his rabid leftist predecessor and former leader, Jeremy Corbyn, but he is a major threat to economic freedom.
The media seeks to diminish Truss’ economic program by calling it “Trussonomics.” As Reagan famously levied in a 1980 debate with then-President Jimmy Carter, “There you go again!”
Many parts of Trump’s pro-growth America First economic agenda were aligned to the principles of Reaganomics. Just as Trump was attacked by the left and the liberal media for his America First agenda, Truss and other European conservatives now face the same assault on their own agendas.
Trussonomics is Reaganomics and Thatcherism 2.0. Ignore the international financiers, bureaucrats and itinerant globalists.
They punish Truss for doing what she said she would do. But her success is vital to the conservative legacy that began half a year before she was born.
James Carter is Director of the America First Policy Institute’s Center for American Prosperity. Previously, he served as Deputy Undersecretary of Labor under President George W. Bush.
Stephen M. Thompson is co-author of Margaret Thatcher on Leadership: Lessons for American Conservatives Today and the former press secretary to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA).
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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