Former Nevada Governor, Senator and newly appointed General Chairman of the Republican National Committee Paul Laxalt (R-Nevada) faced a panel of interviewers on CBS News Face The Nation in January 1983. A shade less than two years into his first term as President, Reagan was already being asked if he was planning on running for a second term. Clearly the age factor was beginning to concern people. But more than that, the policies, the deficit, the taxes and the program slashings (i.e. Medicare) were starting to concern people as well and maybe more so. And who better to put a positive spin on things to the media than Reagan's old friend Paul Laxalt.
Phil Jones (CBS News): “The Democrats are going to confront you, as you know, with a choice between canceling that third phase of the Tax cut, at least for those over $40,000 a year in income, rather than cutting the Medicare payments for those who have to go into the hospital. Why would you prefer to keep the tax cut and cut Medicare?”
Paul Laxalt: “Well because, first of all this President made a commitment to the American people that would be his program. I see no compelling reason to do otherwise. To do that, really would be to affect a political compromise that I think is undesirable. We have a total package here which, if we can get some cooperation from our Democrat colleagues I think we can pass and which will serve the country well. You’re going to have negotiation, I know you are I hear it from the House side. So listen, we’ll deal with you on the social side if you’ll deal on military and if you’ll deal on the third year tax cut. That’s an academic exercise, because Ronald Reagan has indicated, in no uncertain terms, that if they fool with the third year tax cut that’s veto-grabbed. As far as the defense situation is concerned, again they’re going to stand firm on the defense. So I just think you’re dealing academic exercise if you’re talking about these kind of tradeoffs.”
Laxalt was considered a pretty likable guy who had friends on both sides of the aisle. But even this level of spin was hard to pull off.
Even in 1983 we had the eternal deficit and people screaming about taxes. It never seems to stop no matter what and no matter who. But memories are often short, especially when it's not convenient.