Monday, May 28, 2012


It marvels me as I listen to politician’s worship the Gipper and if you did not know I am talking about the actor who was president – Ronald Reagan. One, if not both, of our major political parties has become imbued with the Gipper's political philosophy and governing style. I find this amazing that they praise him so because my recollection of his rule is very different.

Those in the GOP trying to claim that cloak, be it the right wing-nuts or the new Klan (tea party), has moved so far to the right that they now inhabits its own parallel universe. On their little rock, or under it, that today's GOP leaders call home, Reagan would qualify as one of those big-government, tax-and-spend liberals who they would say was trying to destroy the American way of life.

I wonder if these Republicans can remember the real Reagan legend or are they simply unaware of the truth. I have some bad news for you guys; Reagan raised taxes and he did it often, and by a lot. I just want to add that this is the guy who wanted to cut school lunch programs for children, remember he said, “Ketchup as a vegetable” and he also broke the union by firing the air traffic controllers.

When he took office as governor of California in 1967, the state faced a huge budget deficit. Reagan promptly raised taxes by $1 billion - at a time when the entire state budget amounted to just $6 billion. It was then the biggest state tax increase in history. During Reagan's eight years in Sacramento, business and sales taxes soared, and the top state income tax rate increased from 7 percent to 11 percent.

From there the man, and without my vote, moved into the White House. He brought with him a theory called "voodoo economics". This fallacy was supposed to be an idea that implied the way to balance the budget was to lower taxes not raise them. Reagan quickly pushed through the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981, a tax cut of about $264 billion, which he and his fellow Republicans hailed as the greatest milestone in human history.

Reagan subsequently raised taxes 11 times, beginning with the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982. All told, he took back roughly half of that hallowed 1981 tax cut. Why? Because he realized that the United States needed an effective federal government and to be effective the government needed more money.

Just like today, the Good Ol’ Boys and their unshakable commitment to smaller government should know that on Reagan’s watch the federal employment rolls grew; they shrank under Bill Clinton. Reagan had promised to eliminate the departments of Energy and Education, but he didn't. Instead, he signed legislation that added to the Cabinet a new Department of Veterans Affairs.

On social issues, Reagan advocated a federal ban on abortions, the legalization of organized prayer in the schools and an end to court-ordered busing to achieve racial balance. He accomplished none of this. None of this is to suggest that the patron saint of modern American conservatism was some sort of flaming liberal, just that he was a pragmatist who respected objective reality. In a big state or a big country, big government was a given. When taxes needed to be raised, the thing to do was raise them and I say on those who have benefited the most.

Even though Reagan knew that ideology had its limits, in fact, those extreme views have become orthodox. In my opinion, I don't doubt that he or the GOP today truly believe that ideology. There are some Democrats today that sound and act almost like Reaganites. From my vantage point, if we had not had the last decade of Lord George there might not have been a need for this conversation because when he walked into the White House there was a surplus.
Let me remind you that it was Clinton, who balanced the budget. President Obama has pledged not to raise taxes on the middle class, and Democrats couldn't even manage to reverse tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans that might have made even Reagan blush. Obama based his, what they call, Obama-care on Republican ideas - including the individual mandate, which had been proposed by conservative think tanks and implemented by Mitt Romney.

Meanwhile, the Republican Party has lost its mind. The GOP argues for deep across-the-board budget cuts of a kind that Reagan ultimately rejected. Party leaders denounce the belief that government can do any good for anybody as "socialism."

Here's a quote that might have come from a Democrat during last fall's tax-cut debate: "We don't seek to aid the rich, but those lower- and middle-income families who are most strapped by taxes and the recession." In fact, it was Ronny who said those words in 1983, when he was arguing for tuition tax credits.

Inspired by an article written by Eugene Robinson with facts derived from it.

And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

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