There’s No One Like Ronald Reagan, Not Even Ronald Reagan

Posted: February 6, 2011 in Current Events, Politics
Tags: , , , ,

Today, many conservatives are celebrating the birthday of the late President Ronald Reagan.  It’s been made into kind of a big deal because he would have been 100 years-old today.  Also many conservative politicians and media pundits have made Reagan into a sort of a pioneer or hero for their movement.  For some, it even goes as far as being a litmus test.  If you don’t claim to love you some Reagan, then you can’t truly call yourself a conservative in some people’s eyes.  Personally I think Reagan was a decent President.  But the differences between how Reagan is portrayed by the right and how he actually was during his Presidency make me chuckle.

Today’s Reagan is definitely a mythical character.  I’m pretty sure the actual Ronald Reagan would not be revered by the true Tea Party believers.  I can think of three ways off the top of my head where Ronald Reagan the President differs from Ronald Reagan the mythical hero:

  • “Low Tax” Reagan – Yes, if you were rich, Reagan was very good to you on tax day.   The top marginal tax rate was 70% when Reagan took office, and only 28% by the time he left.  However, Reagan certainly signed plenty of bills with tax increases while he was in office.  Heck, the same day the highest marginal rates was lowered to 28%, the lowest bracket was increased from 11% to 15%.  Also, there was a “bubble rate” that effectively meant that after you reached a certain income threshold, you no longer benefitted from the 15% bracket, instead the rate went to a 28% flat rate on all of your taxable income.  So Reagan lowered taxes for the rich while raising taxes on the poor and middle class literally at the same time.  Reagan would pass 11 tax increases during his time in office.  (To be fair, he passed the largest corporate tax increase in history, something today right-wingers would totally rule out for being a “job-killer”.)
  • “Small Government” Reagan – Um, no.  The federal budget was around $590 billion when Reagan took office.  By the time he left, the federal budget was over $1 trillion.  Reagan’s definition of “small government” was just things he didn’t want to spend money on (certain social programs).  He had no problem spending money on things he liked (ie the military).  Also, there’s this:

Hmm, something changes around 1981 or so.

  • “Ass-kicker” Reagan – Reagan didn’t go off invading countries in response to terrorism.  He did bomb Libya, but there’s a big difference between a targeted military attack and an outright military invasion of a whole country.  Reagan called the death of civilians in anti-terrorism campaigns “terrorism itself” according to his biographer.  Reagan’s staff supported civilian trials for terrorists.  Reagan even signed the United Nations agreement which forbids torture for ANY reason.  I’m not saying that Reagan was all ‘peace and love dude’.  But the contrast of these positions against the terrorism policies supported by many Republicans today is interesting.

It all makes me wonder.  Would Reagan (the real one, not the mythical one) be labeled a “RINO” by the Tea Party if he was around today?

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