Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Reagan Myth

If you, as I have over the past few months, watched any of the Republican debates or heard any of those candidates speeches, you are probably under the impression that former President Ronald Reagan must have been a 9 foot tall, floating Messiah with a 13" man pump who shit lumps of gold and single handedly took down the Soviet Union, eliminated taxes, forced our enemies into submission and led the US to it's economic pinnacle never to be matched again (until Clinton came into office). That is if you didn't actually live in the eighties and or you have a brain. All I keep hearing Romney and McCain talk about, and the only thing that puts more wood in the pants of the Republican base than water boarding people who don't pray in school, is how they are going to lead us back to the glory years of Reagan. WWRD (What Would Reagan DO), many of them say when they talk about Iraq, keeping the Bush tax cuts in place and national security. As many people have pointed out, Reagan wasn't really all that Reaganesque and where they are getting this load of monkey feces is beyond me.

Here are the issues and here was Reagan's stance:

Taxes: In 1982, the Reagan Whitehouse rescinded most of the Kemper Roth tax cuts of 1981 making it the largest peace time tax increase in America's history. That tax increase, TEFRA, raised taxes 37.5 billion dollars per year and included increases on Cigarette taxes, Federal Unemplyment Taxes on businesses and tripled telephone service taxes. In 1982 he also raised the gasoline tax. In 1983, Social Security taxes (an entitlement) were raised and there were more tax increases in 1984, 85, 86 and 1987.

On War and withdrawal of troops: In 1984,bowing to the demands of the Shi'a Muslim group Amal, Reagan withdrew the troops who had been stationed in Lebanon for over a year, approximately 4 months after the Marine barracks in Lebanon were bombed. That was the highest single day death toll for the American Military since the 1st day of the Tet Offensive in 1968.

On Illegal Immigration: In 1986, The Reagan Administration granted amnesty to 2.7 million illegal immigrants.

On National Security and negotiating with the enemy/terrorists: In 1987, it was discovered that Reagan was selling and trading arms to Iran, a country who just 8 years prior, took 66 Americans hostage and held them for 2 years. This was also just 4 years after the Marine barrack bombing in Lebanon which Iran was suspected to be involved with.
Let's also not forget his funding of the mujahedeen/Taliban in Afghanistan and support of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and funding of the genocidal rebels in Nicaragua.

On The Federal Government overextending its powers: In 1981, Reagan fired over 11,000 air traffic controllers who were striking for safer and better working conditions.

During the 80s arrests for all crimes went up 28% but, arrests for drug offenses rose 126%. From 1980 to 1990 the number of people in American prisons doubled. That doesn't sound like the work of a smaller, less powerful, less intrusive government.

On small government: By the end of Reagans last term military spending was 43% HIGHER than it was at the height of the Vietnam War...That doesn't make for a smaller government that makes for a bigger, stronger central government.

On fiscal responsibility and the economy:
A. The national debt under Reagan tripled.
B. Deregulation of Savings and Loans led to the largest and costliest venture in public misfeasance and larceny of all time.
C. The S&L bailout was subsidized by the Federal Government to the tune of 124.6 Billion dollars and may have encouraged lenders to make high risk, sub-prime loans which affect the housing crisis of today thus exposing the dangers of unregulated capitalism.

On "Trickle Down" wealth: Under Reagan, the number of families living under the poverty line increased by 1/3

On Compassionate Conservatism: The AIDS epidimic started in 1981. Six years later, Ronald Reagan mentions AIDS in public for the first time while talking about how the government should not provide sex education information by saying: "How that information is used must be up to schools and parents, not government. But let's be honest with ourselves, AIDS information can not be what some call 'value neutral.' After all, when it comes to preventing AIDS, don't medicine and morality teach the same lessons." By 1989 there had been over 70,000 AIDS deaths. He was once quoted as saying: "Maybe the Lord brought down this plague," because "illicit sex is against the Ten Commandments."

Other Reagan quotes:
"Unemployment insurance is a pre-paid vacation for freeloaders."
"...a faceless mass, waiting for handouts", when referring to Medicaid recipients.

From what I can tell, if Reagan were running for office today, he would be vilified even more than McCain. At least McCain wouldn't cut and run like Reagan did in Lebanon.

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