Reaganomics in the Portmanteau

Portmanteau words, which carry (so to speak) two or more words at once, seem to play a role in political slogan-making.  “Hillarycare” has been replaced by “Obamacare,” and former Governor Palin seems to like “lamestream media” a lot.

A more venerable example is “Reaganomics,” of which I found two definitions on a site called answer.com, which had borrowed them from other sites; so it goes with the Web.  The definitions:

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Investopedia Says:
The term was used by supporters and detractors of Reagan’s policies alike. Reaganomics was partially based on the principles of supply-side economics and the trickle-down theory. These theories hold the view that decreases in taxes, especially for corporations, is the best way to stimulate economic growth: the idea is that if the expenses of corporations are reduced, the savings will “trickle down” to the rest of the economy, spurring growth.

Prior to becoming Reagan’s Vice President, George H. Bush coined the term “voodoo economics” as a proposed synonym for Reaganomics.

Financial and Investment Dictionary

Economic program followed by the administration of President Ronald Reagan beginning in 1980. Reaganomics stressed lower taxes, higher defense spending, and curtailed spending for social services. After a reduction of growth in the money supply by the Federal Reserve Board combined with Reaganomics to produce a severe recession in 1981-82, the Reagan years were characterized by huge budget deficits, low interest and inflation rates, and continuous economic growth.

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A few observations on the language of the definitions: I’ve noted before my continuing disbelief that anyone ever regarded “trickling down” as a good economic process.  “Trickle” isn’t so different from the faucet’s being turned off altogether.  And “down,” in this case, seems to be a permanent position, where one is trickled on: how fun.

Please note that, in the first definition, “spurring” occurs after “trickling.”   I can’t quite picture how that works, but it seems to involve a horse and a faucet. I recall agreeing with George Bush’s assessment of Reagan’s economic theories, and I recall thinking that Bush was a version of the ultimate company-man or good soldier when he signed on to be the V.P candidate.

Reading the second definition, I don’t get very far before I gasp, or wince, or something along those lines: “Reaganomics stressed lower taxes, higher defense spending . . .”–gasp, wince, gulp.   A + B = D as in Deficit. Pay no attention to the deficit behind the trickle-machine!

I enjoy reading the capsule-history: “After a reduction of growth in the money supply by the Federal Reserve Board combined with Reaganomics to produce a severe recession in 1981-82, the Reagan years were characterized by huge budget deficits, low interest and inflation rates, and continuous economic growth.”

After a severe recession, there was the good news of huge budget deficits.  Continuous economic growth?  Wasn’t there an awful stock-market wreck in there somewhere?  (We know what Buck Turgidson would say about such events.) Nonetheless, Reaganomics seems to be a portmanteau we’re still carrying.

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