September 5, 2021

MICHAEL BARONE: Joe Biden is making even Jimmy Carter look good.

What Carter brought to the White House was a willingness to adjust to events and change his views. A product of segregationist southern Georgia, he installed a portrait of Martin Luther King in the Georgia Capitol, leaving segregation behind and endorsing the civil-rights revolution.

As a presidential candidate, he took on George Wallace, who was previously unbeatable in the South, and beat him 34 percent to 31 percent in Florida. There’s a lesson there perhaps for Republicans who would like to be president but are hesitating to take on Donald Trump.

On domestic policy, unlike Biden, who already had four years’ Senate seniority when he took the oath of office, Carter refused to endorse his party’s leftmost positions. He signed the tax bill that included former Wisconsin Republican Rep. William Steiger’s cut in the capital gains tax from 49 percent to 25 percent — a growth stimulator in the decades ahead.

Just as important, he supported deregulation, with some considerable support from Ralph Nader and Ted Kennedy. Carter appointee Alfred Kahn pushed through airline deregulation, which transformed flying from luxury transportation to a way for the masses to vacation and stay in touch with far-flung family and friends.

Carter supported the Staggers Act, passed by a solidly Democratic Congress in 1980, which deregulated railroad rates. He backed trucking deregulation as well. Most Americans today don’t realize it, but Carter-era deregulations cut enormous costs from the prices of goods of just about every kind. It’s the main reason prices for private-sector products such as food and clothing have fallen in real terms over the last 40 years, while prices for public sector-affected things such as health care and higher education have soared.

Read the whole thing. P.J. O’Rourke’s 1995 book Age and Guile Beat Youth, Innocence, and a Bad Haircut contains his 1993 American Spectator essay, “100 Reasons Why Jimmy Carter Was a Better President than Bill Clinton,” which concludes with the following:

98. Carter let the Soviets have Angola, Ethiopia, and South Yemen. And, in retrospect, the Soviets deserved no better.

99. Carter wasn’t a throwback to the Carter era.

100. And let us not forget that Jimmy Carter gave us one thing Bill Clinton can never possibly give us—Ronald Reagan.

Hopefully the next GOP president can clean-up Biden’s many disasters as quickly as Reagan made it “Morning in America” again.

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