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A Spooky Halloween Tale of Democratic Capitalism

jimmy and rosalynn carter stand as amy carter carves a pumpkin with a large decorated pumpkin on a nearby table
President Jimmy Carter and first lady Rosalynn Carter in 1977 at Halloween-themed birthday party for 10-year-old Amy Carter, seated.

Ralph Benko By Thursday, 22 October 2020 09:28 AM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

In the past year we've heard a great deal about "Democratic Socialists" thanks to Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. Now, both Halloween and Election Day are approaching. A night and a day devoted to the kooky and the spooky ...

Come closer, children. Let me tell you a spooky story for this spooky season.

Once upon a time, within living memory of the very elderly, like me, actual Democratic Capitalists roamed the land, unashamed! Democratic Capitalists were considered "normal."

They may return! Insert ominous organ spike here!

As I revealed in Chapter Two of my latest book, The Ten Commandments of Capitalism, the most radical Reagan tax-rate cuts, cutting the top rate from 70% to 28%, were initiated and led by Democrats. Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski, a loyal Chicago Democrat, cut the top income tax rate from 70% to 50%. Then, Sen. Bill Bradley and Rep. Dick Gephardt, both real-deal labor Democrats, led the charge to cut the top rate to 28%.

Spookier! Democratic Capitalism didn't end there.

President Clinton signed into law a whopping cut in the capital gains tax rate from 28% to 20%. Clinton reformed welfare, cut tariffs, kept inflation in check and restrained federal spending growth so well that, compared to his successors, he resembled that icon of capitalism, that skinflint, Scrooge McDuck. As supply-side thought leader Charles Kadlec wrote at, "The boom was on."

Scared yet? No? Well.

Even spookier! Democratic Capitalism didn't begin there.

JFK promised and LBJ enacted cutting the top rate from 91% to 70%. President Jimmy Carter, although hopeless on inflation and taxes, was wonderfully pro-capitalism in cutting onerous bureaucratic red tape.

President Jimmy "Killer Rabbit" Carter?

Hero of deregulation?

Spooky but true.

This month we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Staggers Rail Act of 1980, passed by a Democratic Congress and signed by President Carter.

Per a press release issued by the Association of American Railroads, "Today's nimble, resilient rail network is built upon the rock-solid foundation laid 40 years ago with the signing of the Staggers Act," said AAR President and CEO Ian Jefferies. "In the face of a dynamic competitive landscape, the smart regulatory framework, which predominantly relies on market forces to govern rail rates, still empowers railroads to invest, innovate and deliver for customers and communities every day. Staggers has stood the test of time and remains just as relevant and essential in 2020 as it was in 1980."

But wait. There's more.

On Election Day, 2020, there is a chance, some say a majority chance, that the Democrats could regain the White House and even take the US Senate majority.

Political and economic apocalypse now? Insert ominous organ spike here!

But consider … the craft beer renaissance. During the Epoch of Reagan I founded the capital's most iconic monthly gathering of free market economists, the Prosperity Caucus, now entering its 35th year, its leadership having devolved from me to Steve Moore, Bob Stein, James Carter, James Lucier, and, now, Ike Bannon.

(Warning! Jon Decker, national director of the 138,000+ Capitalist League's youth league, is staging an even more convivial monthly gathering of free market thinkers. OK, as that great capitalist Ludwig Erhard once wrote, "Prosperity Through Competition!"

Up your game, Ike!)

What do these two ferociously festive free-market groups have in common?


$5 at the Prosperity Caucus still buys you (now, as when I subsidized it in the 1980's and 90's) all the beer you can drink and all the pizza you can eat (before the rations run out). Deregulation cuts consumer costs!

Cheap great beer, along with lowered shipping costs, may be another feather in President Carter's wee war bonnet. There's a merry argument among libertarians (who live to argue, no, not you, Libertarian Party presidential nominee Jo Jorgenson, your partisans) about whether to credit America's craft beer renaissance to Jimmy Carter's deregulation of that industry.

John Harry, writing for The National Museum of American History, states: "The next time you raise a glass of craft beer, make sure you toast former President Jimmy Carter. No, really. You should be offering your suds up to the man who was reported by the media during the 1976 election to be a non-drinker. As crazy as it may seem now, homebrewing used to be illegal and Jimmy Carter actually played a part in changing that, contributing to the craft beer revolution." James Fallows at The Atlantic reports the controversy swirling around crediting the abstemious Jimmy Carter with our craft beer renaissance.

While we endure election night… week … month … whatever … raise a mug of deregulated craft beer to the Staggers Act … and to Capitalism. Could a Democratic sweep two weeks from now usher in a new age of Democratic Capitalism?

Spooky thought!

Ralph Benko, co-author of "The Capitalist Manifesto" and chairman and co-founder of "The Capitalist League," is the founder of The Prosperity Caucus and is an original Kemp-era member of the Supply Side revolution that propelled the Dow from 814 to its current heights and world GDP from $11T to $88T. He served as a deputy general counsel in the Reagan White House, has worked closely with the Congress and two cabinet agencies, and has published over a million words on politics and policy in the mainstream media, as a distinguished professional blogger, and as the author of the internationally award-winning cult classic book "The Websters' Dictionary: How to Use the Web to Transform the World." He has served as senior adviser, economics, to APIA as an advocate of the gold standard, senior counselor to the Chamber of Digital Commerce and serves as co-founder of and senior counselor to, a stablecoin venture. Read Ralph Benko's reports — More Here.

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Once upon a time, within living memory of the very elderly, like me, actual Democratic Capitalists roamed the land, unashamed! Democratic Capitalists were considered "normal."
democratic capitalism
Thursday, 22 October 2020 09:28 AM
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