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My problem with Ronald Reagan

This is the crafted image of Reagan that we are supposed to remember

When Reagan was president, it was a different era. There was no Internet. Cable TV was still in its infancy. The three major networks dominated the airwaves. You got your news through what was spoon fed to us every weekday evening or we could read the paper. If you lived in a small market then you got your hometown paper which may not have covered major national issues with any depth. I was living in Atlanta. Atlanta was changing from a sleepy Southern town into a major metropolis. I was going to school supported by multiple student loans. The loans were easily obtainable and had very low interest rates. In order to balance the budget, Ronald Reagan decided that these low interest rates were “too low” and he increased them. He also changed the terms of paying back these loans, which pushed thousands of students out of school. At the same time, the great communicator told America that he supported education. This is the moment when it dawned on me that Ronald Reagan was pulling the wool over our eyes. So, as Republicans celebrate the centennial birthday of Ronald Reagan, listen carefully to how they’re trying to spin his image. (Salon has a great series on Reagan.)

From TP:

1. Reagan was a serial tax raiser. As governor of California, Reagan “signed into law the largest tax increase in the history of any state up till then.” Meanwhile, state spending nearly doubled. As president, Reagan “raised taxes in seven of his eight years in office,” including four times in just two years. As former GOP Senator Alan Simpson, who called Reagan “a dear friend,” told NPR, “Ronald Reagan raised taxes 11 times in his administration — I was there.” “Reagan was never afraid to raise taxes,” said historian Douglas Brinkley, who edited Reagan’s memoir. Reagan the anti-tax zealot is “false mythology,” Brinkley said.

2. Reagan nearly tripled the federal budget deficit. During the Reagan years, the debt increased to nearly $3 trillion, “roughly three times as much as the first 80 years of the century had done altogether.” Reagan enacted a major tax cut his first year in office and government revenue dropped off precipitously. Despite the conservative myth that tax cuts somehow increase revenue, the government went deeper into debt and Reagan had to raise taxes just a year after he enacted his tax cut. Despite ten more tax hikes on everything from gasoline to corporate income, Reagan was never able to get the deficit under control.

3. Unemployment soared after Reagan’s 1981 tax cuts. Unemploymentjumped to 10.8 percent after Reagan enacted his much-touted tax cut, and it took years for the rate to get back down to its previous level. Meanwhile, income inequality exploded. Despite the myth that Reagan presided over an era of unmatched economic boom for all Americans, Reagan disproportionately taxed the poor and middle class, but the economic growth of the 1980′s did little help them. “Since 1980, median household income has risen only 30 percent, adjusted for inflation, while average incomes at the top have tripled or quadrupled,” the New York Times’ David Leonhardt noted.

4. Reagan grew the size of the federal government tremendously.Reagan promised “to move boldly, decisively, and quickly to control therunaway growth of federal spending,” but federal spending “ballooned” under Reagan. He bailed out Social Security in 1983 after attempting to privatize it, and set up a progressive taxation system to keep it funded into the future. He promised to cut government agencies like the Department of Energy and Education but ended up adding one of the largest — the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, which today has a budget of nearly $90 billion and close to 300,000 employees. He also hiked defense spending by over $100 billion a year to a level not seen since the height of the Vietnam war.

5. Reagan did little to fight a woman’s right to choose. As governor of California in 1967, Reagan signed a bill to liberalize the state’s abortion laws that “resulted in more than a million abortions.” When Reagan ran for president, he advocated a constitutional amendment that would have prohibited all abortions except when necessary to save the life of the mother, but once in office, he “never seriously pursued” curbing choice. (more…)

By |2011-02-07T22:41:00-04:00February 7th, 2011|Domestic Issues, General|Comments Off on My problem with Ronald Reagan

Grab Bag Sunday

I hope you had a nice weekend. Mine was pretty fair.

  • I have been discussing the commerce clause with a friend of mine. He is a conservative and he doesn’t like health care reform. In spite of this, we’re trying to have a civil discussion over the constitutionality of healthcare reform, which I covered a couple weeks ago. One of the arguments for the constitutionality of health care reform is Congress’s authority under the commerce clause in the Constitution. The commerce clause can be found in article I, section 8. I found a nice explanation of the commerce clause here. I have also been reviewing Linda Monk’s book, The Words We Live By. It points to a couple of key cases that I’m going to be looking up in the next day or so (United States versus Darby Lumber Company, Heart of Atlanta Motel versus the United States).
  • I congratulate President Obama for going to Afghanistan. I think it is truly important that we get Afghanistan right. One of the key questions is — is it too late? Only time will tell. One thing is certain. We have to get the corruption under control.
  • Several days ago, I got my U.S. Census letter in the mail. As I was filling it out, I kept thinking to myself, what’s the big deal? Conservatives like Michele Bachmann have been railing against the census as if the questions were going to be the most invasive ever thought of (what is your bra size? How often do you watch pornography on the Internet?) She even went so far as to suggest that people should not fill out the census — violating US law. The questions were simple. The information is critically important to all of us.
  • Lost in the healthcare debate is the reform of student loans that was also in the legislation. Government loans used to go through different financial agencies so that they can extract management fees. Now the government will lend directly to students. This should significantly decrease interest rates and other fees. This is a good thing.
  • Sarah Palin has come up with a new attack line against President Barack Obama. I guess she thinks that this is a winner. She told a crowd at the “Conservative Woodstock” in Searchlight, Nevada that, “we need a commander-in-chief, not a constitutional law professor lecturing us from a lectern.” Now that’s a comeback… not!! She spent a good deal of her time talking about how important the Constitution is and then turned around to claim that we don’t need a constitutional law professor. Does that make any sense? Does she make any sense?
  • Frank Rich from the New York Times had an absolutely fabulous column today. He put the over-the-top rhetoric and violence into perspective. We have to go back to the civil rights era and the ratification of the Civil Rights Act before we can say that we’ve seen anything like this in American politics. Here’s a small excerpt from his column. (Please read all the column. It is wonderful.):

But there was nothing like this. To find a prototype for the overheated reaction to the health care bill, you have to look a year before Medicare, to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Both laws passed by similar majorities in Congress; the Civil Rights Act received even more votes in the Senate (73) than Medicare (70). But it was only the civil rights bill that made some Americans run off the rails. That’s because it was the one that signaled an inexorable and immutable change in the very identity of America, not just its governance.

The apocalyptic predictions then, like those about health care now, were all framed in constitutional pieties, of course. Barry Goldwater, running for president in ’64, drew on the counsel of two young legal allies, William Rehnquist and Robert Bork, to characterize the bill as a “threat to the very essence of our basic system” and a “usurpation” of states’ rights that “would force you to admit drunks, a known murderer or an insane person into your place of business.” Richard Russell, the segregationist Democratic senator from Georgia, said the bill “would destroy the free enterprise system.” David Lawrence, a widely syndicated conservative columnist, bemoaned the establishment of “a federal dictatorship.” Meanwhile, three civil rights workers were murdered in Philadelphia, Miss.

That a tsunami of anger is gathering today is illogical, given that what the right calls “Obamacare” is less provocative than either the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or Medicare, an epic entitlement that actually did precipitate a government takeover of a sizable chunk of American health care. But the explanation is plain: the health care bill is not the main source of this anger and never has been. It’s merely a handy excuse. The real source of the over-the-top rage of 2010 is the same kind of national existential reordering that roiled America in 1964.

In fact, the current surge of anger — and the accompanying rise in right-wing extremism — predates the entire health care debate. The first signs were the shrieks of “traitor” and “off with his head” at Palin rallies as Obama’s election became more likely in October 2008. Those passions have spiraled ever since — from Gov. Rick Perry’s kowtowing to secessionists at a Tea Party rally in Texas to the gratuitous brandishing of assault weaponsat Obama health care rallies last summer to “You lie!” piercing the president’s address to Congress last fall like an ominous shot.

  • And then there was one… or four. Kansas, Kentucky, Syracuse and Duke were all ranked the number one seeds in their sections. Only Duke has made it to the final four. The other three teams include Michigan State, West Virginia and possibly the greatest Cinderella story of them all, Butler. March madness brings some absolutely fabulous basketball and some of the most horrendous basketball faux pas. By the way, I picked Duke to win it all.

I’ll end with a little smooth jazz from Jeff Lorber, who has playing this type of music for over 25 years.

Artist: Jeff Lorber
Tune: Rain Song

By |2010-03-29T00:02:04-04:00March 29th, 2010|Afghanistan, Domestic Issues, Healthcare, Legal, Music|Comments Off on Grab Bag Sunday

Where’s the Outrage podcast 7-08-06

New Jersey men arrested.  They were thinking about blowing up the Path tunnel.  Looks a lot like the Miami 7.  Guys who are thinking bad thoughts and no means to carry out those thoughts.  Bush administration noted that college tutition is going up soooo they cutting student loans just to balance things out.  Actually, the original excuse is that they are trying to balance the budget.  We confront some of the lies of the Right this week.  We point out that Ann Coulter seems to be in a little hot water for copying someone elses notes and pretending that they are hers.  We listen to some great music – James Brown, Sly and the Family Stone, Tower of Power and more.

By |2012-05-08T18:35:17-04:00July 22nd, 2006|Podcasts|Comments Off on Where’s the Outrage podcast 7-08-06
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