In the early 1970s, as I began serving in the U.S. Congress representing Buffalo, N.Y., I remember the disdain (and disgust) I felt as the Republican Party was torn apart by President Nixon's Watergate follies, and I felt even worse by his wage and price controls, tax and tariff hikes, and the devaluation of our currency.
As the country divided over the Vietnam War, stagflation began to appear, first under Nixon, surging under President Ford and reaching its most dangerous heights under President Carter. It didn't end until the early 1980s, when President Reagan began cutting tax rates on both labor and capital investment and as Paul Volker, chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, sharply tightened monetary policy. This was the right combination of fiscal, tax and monetary policies that ended the simultaneity of inflation and recession, what we now know as "stagflation."
In those dark days of the 1970s, economic malaise, Watergate crimes and fierce debates over the Vietnam War, John Gardner of Common Cause wrote something in Newsweek I've never forgotten: "America is caught in a crossfire between the 'uncritical lovers' and the 'unloving critics.'"
His description of crossfire between chauvinists who saw nothing wrong in America and the nihilists who wanted America to implode and be built into a new "socialist" model was the perfect metaphor for that decade. Actually, that's a pretty apt description about some of the debates taking place today over the Iraq War and at a time we are beginning to see the incipient stages of a new round of stagflation.
John McCain versus Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton will square off in the presidential campaign, with McCain "the older and wiser" versus Obama, the "charismatic and younger," or Clinton, "the experienced one." (Not!)
It's no secret I'm a strong John McCain guy, but not without respect for both Obama and Clinton. As Sen. McCain has pointed out, it will be a civil and respectful debate, but very, very spirited, as indeed it should be, with Obama and Clinton both on the far left.
With the dollar's weakness pervasive and the economy slowing down to a near halt, with more and more evidence of too many Americans, particularly people of color, losing their homes and their nest eggs of wealth, I believe McCain will chart a political and economic course for our nation that will do far more than just offer "hope" or "change." I believe he will pursue policies that will actually lead to strong economic growth while ending these early stages of dollar weakness and inflation.
Those on the left will ask in response, "Don't you have to have higher interest rates to strengthen the dollar?" Absolutely not!