First I asked ChatAI to find similarities between the Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump administrations. ChatAI told me that I should be looking for differences. Next, I asked it to find differences. The list of similarities had serious problems, but the list of differences was mostly defective.
First, I ask this question:
Tell me similarities between the Reagan agenda and the Trump agenda
ChatAI responds (reformatted here for easier reading):
Both the Reagan and the Trump administrations were conservative in nature, and had several similarities in their political agendas, although there are also many differences. Here are a few similarities:
- Tax cuts: Both administrations implemented significant tax cuts as a key part of their agenda, aimed at stimulating economic growth.
- Deregulation: Both administrations were focused on reducing regulations, with the goal of making it easier for businesses to operate and create jobs.
- National defense: Both Reagan and Trump emphasized a strong, assertive national defense, and increased military spending during their time in office.
- America-first foreign policy: While their approaches differed, both presidents believed in a foreign policy approach that prioritized U.S. interests and put America first.
- Pro-life: Both Reagan and Trump were pro-life and advocated for policies that would limit or ban abortion.
- Support for law enforcement: Reagan and Trump both had a strong stance on law and order and supported law enforcement.
ChatAI produces a numbered list of six similarities between Reagan and Trump. ChatAI uncritically assumes that Republican propaganda to sell these things was true and honest and that the results followed the propaganda. But in fact:
- Tax cuts by Reagan, Trump, and also George W. Bush did not stimulate economic growth–they consolidated wealth in the hands of fewer people. We know growth was not stimulated because growth in the 1980’s slowed compared to the 1970’s, picked up in the 1990’s after tax increases, then slowed again in the early 2000’s, and growth slowed under Donald Trump. We know that wealth was consolidated because the entire hypothesis is bad and we looked the results.
- Republicans have always wanted to avoid business regulations or deregulate. Regulations often come about because terrible things happen. Republicans forget that part in favor of blanket regulation removal without concern that the same problems return.
- Both Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump were all about ‘rebuilding the military,’ but somehow Donald Trump sneaks by as some sort of antiwar figure: Trump continued the PNAC agenda by creating the Space Force and tearing up the Iran peace deal, among other things.
- We cannot say that Reagan and Trump “prioritized U.S. interests” without qualification because that is a matter of analysis of specific policies–we can only say they claimed to do so. Further, if we assume Reagan and Trump actually did such a thing, that implies the other party did not.
- Nearly all Republican politicians have been against rights of women to obtain abortion since shortly after the Roe v. Wade case.
- Reagan and Trump may have spoken about law enforcement, but it cannot be said that Trump was generally for such a thing after his supporters attacked the Capitol Police while Trump silently sat by and watched it go down.
Overall, ChatAI appeared to paint rosy pictures of the people discussed, taking from the self-serving comments of their proponents. ChatAI wrapped up its list with this summary:
These are just a few similarities, and it’s important to note that there were also many differences between their administrations on issues such as immigration, foreign policy, and social welfare programs.
ChatAI emphasizes twice that there were only “several similarities” or “just a few,” but that there were “many differences.” So after being prompted twice by it, I took the bait and asked ChatAI about social welfare differences:
What differences on social welfare between Reagan and Trump
ChatAI responds (again reformatted):
Reagan and Trump, although both being conservative in their political ideologies, differed in their approach towards social welfare policies. Here are some of the differences between the social welfare policies of the Reagan and the Trump administrations:
- Healthcare: Reagan opposed the idea of universal healthcare and cut federal spending on healthcare. Trump attempted to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that provided access to health insurance to millions of Americans.
- Social Security: Reagan supported reducing Social Security funding and increasing the retirement age. Trump pledged not to cut Social Security or Medicare benefits while in office.
- Food Stamps: Reagan sought to reduce the number of people receiving food stamps by instituting work requirements and tightening eligibility standards. Trump attempted to cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) budget by instituting stricter work requirements for beneficiaries.
- Housing: Reagan cut funding for public housing and reduced the budget for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Trump’s administration proposed massive cuts to HUD and the Department of Agriculture’s rural housing program.
After pushing so “many” differences over “few” similarities, ChatAI says differences are merely in “approach.” In fact, Reagan and Trump both generally opposed social welfare:
- Healthcare: Reagan used the cut spending approach whereas Trump ordered “repeal and replace” but only tried the repeal part–never coming up with a replacement plan.
- Reagan cut Social Security by raising retirement age whereas Trump attempted to cut Medicare and other health benefits with his attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Fortunately, Trump failed by one vote. Either way, we are talking major benefit cuts.
- Both Reagan and Trump wanted to cut food benefits to people, but the “approach” differed. Same ideology of starve the poors, different approach.
- Both Reagan and Trump wanted to cut housing assistance–and again, ChatAI sees this as such an important difference that it is one of just four items in a numbered list.
In the end, ChatAI does a bad job of finding similarities and completely blows it on finding differences by conflating differences in general with differences merely in approach. ChatAI wraps it up:
Overall, Reagan’s policies were generally more focused on reducing the size of government and promoting individual responsibility, whereas Trump’s policies were more focused on cutting costs and reducing government spending.
Aren’t those generally the same things coming out of the same ideologies, only different to the extent that times were different? Yes, that’s it. ChatAI could not find serious differences because Republicans have changed little in forty years. But ChatAI sure prompted us to focus on these minor differences over similarities.
Editors note: It’s more fun to dismantle the results of a smart bot than a partisan person. Smiles.
More on ChatGPT:
An attorney was forced to answer a court for using ChatGPT to find cases–cases that did not exist. Affidavit.