In short, Ferrara claims that Reagan delivered to us 25 of the greatest years in the history of the planet. He was a tax-cutting, de-regulating, inflation-fighting machine whose policies are "exactly the opposite" of President Obama's. Anyone can arrange "facts" to say what they want, like Ferrara does.
Reagan did inherit an economic mess, namely the problem of high inflation. But it was Jimmy Carter's Fed appointment- Paul Volcker, who Ferrara refuses to mention by name-- that did the inflation-fighting and induced the deepest recession since the Great Depression. Once that dragon was slain, the Fed was able to loosen its grip on the money supply, and the economy took off.
Perhaps the biggest contributor to the economic growth of the 1980s was the dramatic decrease in the price of oil. The inflation-adjusted price of oil fell from $99.11 in 1980 to $28.70 by 1986.
That's a huge supply-side boost that had nothing to do with monetary policy (and the inflation rate during this period was well above our current rate--another omission by Ferrara). It had more to do with the end of OPEC embargoes and the fact that Reagan cozied up to Saudi Arabia to break the cartel's hold. One can argue this point as a benefit of Reagan, but the fact that the Saudis use the money to build Wahabbist mosques that influenced Saudi terrorists to commit 9/11 and still indoctrinate jihadists in Afghanistan and Pakistan tend to suggest this was not a good long-run decision for America.
Ferrara seems bent on purporting the myth that Reagan was the Deregulator in Chief. Reagan did indeed deregulate, but the process of deregulation was initiated by Gerald Ford, and most of the heavy lifting was done (very ironically) by the Carter administration. Most of the deregulating was already done well before Reagan.
Ferrara trumpets the Reagan tax cuts without mentioning that Reagan actually signed tax increases into law in 7 of his 8 years in office. Why? Because of the yawning deficits caused by tax cuts that David Stockman and Art Laffer promised us would "pay for themselves" (the "magic asterisk"). I outsource to Brian Goldsmith of The Atlantic:
I find it interesting that Ferrara omits that Reagan signed the payroll tax increase into law because of projected shortfalls in Social Security and Medicare. Ferrara now blasts Obama for wanting to do the same. (Do you get the drift, here?) Reagan tripled the federal deficit.
In 1982 alone, (Reagan) raised taxes twice, including the largest peacetime tax increase in American history. He raised payroll taxes, gas taxes, and corporate taxes. In fact, Reagan raised taxes every year he was president but the first and the last. He also raised spending by nearly a quarter in real terms -- more than double the increase under President Clinton. He added a new Cabinet department (Veterans' Affairs). In all, Reagan grew the federal civilian workforce by about 200,000... The national debt skyrocketed from $700 billion to nearly $3 trillion. And, as Michael Kinsley has written, "[the Democratic] Congress did not force Reagan to spend all this money. His total budget requests exceeded the amounts Congress appropriated."
While Reagan's worshipers blame the deficits on a Democratic Congress, the data say otherwise.
The 1986 tax reform that Ferrara points to as a Reagan achievement was in no doubt initiated by Reagan's Treasury but much of the credit goes to Bill Bradley and other Democrats in Congress for writing the final legislation. This is pointed out in Alan Blinder's Hard Heads, Soft Hearts (my review).
Worse, Ferrara seems to think the 25 glorious years would have been uninterrupted in 1990 without those silly Bush tax hikes. Those were due to the yawning structural deficits the Reagan administration left.
Many Reaganites credit the dramatic U.S. GDP growth in the 1990s to Reaganomics. Alan Greenspan, a Reagan friend, credits it more to Bill Clinton and Congress raising taxes to balance the budget, causing long-term interest rates to fall and allowing the Fed to support a boom. I don't believe either, but to claim it was all somehow due to Reagan is a huge stretch. Let's credit China and India's growth to Reagan, too. It's just as plausible with the "facts" Ferrara uses.
Most sad is Ferrara's choice to use Art Laffer's 2008 book to argue that the 25 glorious years created immense wealth. What happened to that wealth in 2008 and 2009? The wealth accumulated from the mid-1990s disappeared. Remember that Art Laffer back in 2006 was claiming that there would be no recession, that housing prices would never fall (see him at the 1:18 mark).
Reagan also granted blanket amnesty to 3 million illegal immigrants and his administration illegally funneled weapons to Iran, while at an earlier point also funneled weapons of mass destruction to Saddam Hussein to fight Iran. Not very helpful for the American long-run.
There are reasons that progressives I know think that conservatives are blatantly dishonest, and Reagan mythology is one of them. I know Peter Ferrara has to know all of the above about Reagan. Ferrara likely seethes that Reagan raised the payroll tax to pay for Social Security because Ferrara wants to destroy Social Security. The problem is, smart conservatives keep calling him out on his bad math.