Of course, Reagan's reforms weren't always enacted. "It is my intention to curb the size and influence of the federal establishment and to demand recognition of the distinction between the powers granted to the federal government and those reserved to the states or to the people," Reagan added in his inaugural.
Unfortunately, this worthy goal was thwarted. As American affluence grew, we also allowed our government to grow -- one of the reasons it now spends so much and promises even more than it can ever afford.
Reagan was always optimistic, though, as we should be today. "The economic ills we suffer have come upon us over several decades," he said. "They will not go away in days, weeks, or months but they will go away. They will go away because we, as Americans, have the capacity now, as we have had in the past, to do whatever needs to be done to preserve this last and greatest bastion of freedom."
Some of the challenges we face today are different than the ones Reagan faced in 1981. Today, for example, we have to solve illegal immigration and fix unsustainable programs such as Medicare and Social Security. Some, though, are all too familiar, such as federal overspending, which was "mortgaging our future," Reagan said.
But we'll solve those problems, just as we solved the problems of unemployment, inflation and malaise in Reagan's time. Because, as he would remind us 25 years after he took office: We're Americans. Solving problems is what we do.
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