During an appearance on CNBC last night — the network of choice for those who favor tax cuts for the wealthy, bonuses for bailed out bankers and who think tax dodging is a way to fight “tyranny” — new GOP 2012 presidential frontrunner Newt Gingrich said that it’s because of him that his chief rival, Mitt Romney, was able to amass a fortune of up to $250 million. “You could make an argument that I helped Mitt Romney get to be rich, because I helped pass the legislation” that former President Ronald Reagan wanted in the 1980s, Gingrich claimed. “He should be thanking me”:
I was part of [Sen. Jack] Kemp’s little cabal of supply siders who, I think largely by helping convince Reagan and then working with Reagan, profoundly changed the entire trajectory of the American economy in the 1980s. You could make an argument that I helped Mitt Romney get to be rich, because I helped pass the legislation…He should be thanking me! He should be thanking me because I did the macroeconomic things necessary to make his career possible.
It’s a bit unclear why Gingrich thinks the Reagan economic plan was so wonderful to a private equity executive like Romney, who made his fortune by buying up companies and often restructuring them by firing workers and reneging on benefit promises in order to sell them for a profit later.
Perhaps its Reagan’s tax cuts for those at the top of the income scale that Gingrich believes helped Romney build his fortune. Of course, those tax cuts blew such a hole in the budget that Reagan reneged on some of them later. Reagan actually wound up raising taxes in seven of his eight years in office.
But in a sense, Gingrich is right, in that the Reagan agenda did wonders for the rich while not giving much help to everyone else. As ThinkProgress’ Alex Seitz-Wald noted, “despite the myth that Reagan presided over an era of unmatched economic boom for all Americans, Reagan disproportionately taxed the poor and middle class, [while] the economic growth of the 1980′s did little help them.” A new study from Lane Kenworthy, a professor at the University of Arizona, found that, contrary to the conservative belief, economic growth does not automatically trickle down to lower- and middle-class people.
As President Obama said yesterday regarding trickle down economics: “Here’s the problem: It doesn’t work. It has never worked.” But evidently Gingrich believes it worked for Mitt Romney, and that therefore Romney owes Gingrich a debt of gratitude.