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When Democrats Loved Deregulation

1 11 8
12.12.2018

When President Donald Trump bragged in his first State of the Union address about cutting red tape, the Democratic response was no surprise. "Deregulation," warned Center for American Progress Senior Advisor Sam Berger in Fortune, "is simply a code word for letting big businesses cut corners at everyone else's expense."

But many leading Democrats had the opposite view in the 1970s. Then, at the dawn of the deregulation era, left-leaning politicians and economists understood that excessive government management of industry let the big-business incumbents get away with lousy performance at the expense of competitors, taxpayers, and consumers. The leading figure in that fight to cut red tape and shut down entire federal agencies was none other than Jimmy Carter.

It was Sen. Ted Kennedy who held extensive Senate hearings in the early '70s, with testimony from the likes of Ralph Nader and liberal economist Alfred Kahn, about the benefits of lifting state controls on the airline industry. The resulting Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, signed by Carter, killed the Civil Aeronautics Board—a federal agency that decided which airlines could fly where, and even what they could charge. The new competition to the old airline cartel reduced fares, expanded destinations, increased safety, and made........

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