The Dog Days of Reaganomics

“The Dog Days of Summer” is an expression that one hears often in baseball. The phrase comes from the very challenging days of playing baseball in the heat of the summer. Not only are players contending with the heat, but they are also contending with the length of the baseball season. The excitement of the beginning of the season has certainly waned, and the end of the season with championships on the line is too far away to make a difference. Added to this is the sad reality that some teams recognize that their championship hopes have all but been shattered. Championships are won or lost in these “dog days of summer.”


Sometimes you find the best definitions for a word or phrase in the most unlikely places.  In this case, Dr. Horn used baseball as a metaphor for life.  For Christians, he compares it to the time between the excitement of rebirth and the ultimate reward of eternal life in heaven.  I may not share his belief in salvation, but from his perspective, the metaphor is valid. 

When friends and family tell me they no longer pay attention to the news, what I believe they are saying is, “These are the dog days of political discourse.”  I understand completely.   The excitement of Joe Biden’s victory in 2020 has waned.  And the 2024 election is still too far in the distance.

I too find the heat and humidity of this warmest of all summers draining.  I prefer the comfort of air conditioning, and rather than watching the evening talk shows, I now make a nightly habit of following the Baltimore Orioles’ hold on the top spot in the American League East. (NOTE: I became an Orioles’ fan during my time as a graduate student at John Hopkins University (1971-73), when Memorial Stadium was a 10-minute walk from my apartment and bleacher seats were 85 cents.)

This morning, as I glanced at the AL East standings, I observed what can only be called “a metaphor within a metaphor.”  Despite a blown save last night, Baltimore is still in first place, two games ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays.  Meanwhile the New York Yankees continue to go back and forth with the Boston Red Sox for last place in the division, 11.5 games back of the Orioles.

It is no stretch to think of the Yankees as the latest incarnation of Reaganomics which depended on two theories of growth:  supply side economics, and by increasing the wealth of the rich, benefits would “trickle down” to the poorest workers. Owner Hal Steinbrenner and general manager Brian Cashman have spared no expense ($187 million this year) when it comes to supplying the team with talent. In one more example of failed “trickle down” impact, more than half of that investment ($108 million) goes toward the salaries of just three of the team’s 26 active players: Aaron Judge, Gerrit Cole, Giancarlo Stanton.  And yet, the Yankees remain a half-game out of the AL East cellar.

In contrast, the Orioles’ active roster has a combined payroll of $65 million.  Instead of buying talent, the Orioles have developed a cadre of exciting young players through what baseball writers credit as the best farm system in baseball.  And the team’s success is not likely to end any time soon.  Eight of the top 100 2023 draft choices are future Orioles, waiting in the wings, playing in the minor leagues for the Triple-A Norfolk Tides and Double-A Bowie Baysox.

Think of infrastructure, sustainable energy, workforce heath care and investment in critical  industries  as the farm team of the American economy.  Americans are better served by investments in these building blocks which can be the foundation of sustainable growth.  Massive tax cuts to a few rich people and multinational corporations may give the economy a short-term shot in the arm, but as we saw at the end of the last three GOP administrations, the benefits are short-lived ending in economic recession, higher unemployment and/or stagnant wage growth. 

The Republican Party has given this Orioles-like approach to economic policy what they thought was a derogatory name:  Bidenomics.  Their error is evident every time the president retweets one of his detractors blaming him for the bi-partisan infrastructure legislation, CHIPS Act and the Inflation Reduction Act with the tag line, “I approve this message.”  In my July 6 post, “Shoot the Messenger,” I chastised Biden’s communications team for failing to make the connection between Biden economic policies and America’s leading global standing.  Even I could not imagine Marjorie Taylor Greene and other MAGA mouthpieces would fill the gap.

For what it’s worth.