Ronald Reagan has always been a mixed bag of results in reality, but remembered as ‘Saint Ronnie’ by Republicans. It was only 5 years ago or so I went to YouTube and listened to his 1964 nominating speech, ‘A Time for Choosing’. That speech was easily one of the 5 greatest political speeches of all time. Acquaintances who think I am a Republican just assume I voted for him, never did. They also think I have a school girl like crush on him like they do. I don’t.
What brought all this to mind was the recent passage of the tax bill in Congress. In the lead up to it, the events of 35 years ago were constantly being brought up. Their remembrance of history was substantially different than mine. Their memory was that by “cutting taxes” the “economy” took off on some fairy dust trail of good happenings. This boom according to them allowed a military buildup that crushed the evil Soviet Union.
What drives me crazy (and its a short drive) is not remembering history accurately. That serves no one, let alone a nation of over 300,000,000 people, who also happen to be the world’s last hope. Conservative talk radio forever and a day promotes the lie that “Reagan tax cuts” created the single greatest economic boom in history, bullshit. He put America on a credit card for 8 years. He borrowed out the wazoo. Of course it looks like you’re living high on the hog when you are living off of someone else’s money. But you can’t do that forever, eventually the bill comes due.
When Reagan came into office the national debt was less than one trillion dollars, roughly $925 billion dollars. When he left office he had roughly tripled the national debt, $2.5 trillion dollars. He didn’t just “bankrupt the Soviet Union”, he also got America on that path as well. He and Congress simply gave the bill for this national largesse to their grandkids. He also dramatically raised taxes on the working class by increasing the Social Security and Medicare payroll deductions. Upper middleclass and the wealthy were hardly affected by this as those deductions are capped above a certain amount and their marginal top rates were reduced.
Republicans also forget that Reagan as governor brought abortion to California in his first term. They also forget his deadly foreign adventurism in the Middle East and Central America. On the other hand, getting shot a few months into office wasn’t his fault. Many biographers suggest that incident took a lot out of The Gipper physically in retrospect. And he did rejuvenate the American mystique as far as how we are perceived by the rest of the world.
Ronald Reagan also had amnesty in his second term. Trump is getting ready to do DACA amnesty. The similarities in the two are striking. Although I personally have a lot more invested in Mr. Trump, I voted for him. I realize he is no more ‘perfect’ than Reagan was. Reagan was considered an outsider and not particularly liked by the establishment, he wasn’t absolutely loathed like Trump is. Reagan was imminently likeable on a personal level, just like Trump.
Mr. Trump has even greater upside potential than Reagan in my view. Perhaps because the nation is in even a more tenuous spot. There’s no where to go but up. It will be interesting to see how historians compare the two in twenty five years, I hope I’m around to see it. Though “historians” got so much wrong about Reagan, they might double that on Trump.