This weekend, Republicans marked the 100th birthday of Ronald Reagan with speeches celebrating his small government philosophy, anti-tax fervor and hard-line foreign policy. But if Reagan was a GOP candidate today, he would doubtless fall victim to violations of his own 11th Commandment, "Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican." Because despite all of the right-wing hagiography, Ronald Reagan ballooned the national debt, repeatedly raised taxes, signed abortion rights legislation and negotiated with terrorists in Iran. For those and so many other perceived offenses, the GOP rank and file - and especially its purity-demanding Tea Partiers - would today brand a reanimated Ronald Reagan a Republican in Name Only.
Meet RINO Reagan:
- Reagan tripled the national debt
- Reagan raised taxes 11 times
- Reagan expanded the size of government
- Reagan supported the "socialist" Earned Income Tax Credit
- Reagan negotiated with terrorists in Tehran
- Reagan sought to eliminate nuclear weapons
- Reagan gave amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants
- Reagan approved protectionist trade barriers
- Reagan signed abortion rights law in California
- Reagan eventually debunked AIDS myths Republicans continued to perpetuate
1. Reagan Tripled the National Debt. As most analysts predicted, Reagan's massive $749 billion supply-side tax cuts in 1981 quickly produced even more massive annual budget deficits. Combined with his rapid increase in defense spending, Reagan delivered not the balanced budgets he promised, but record-settings deficits. Even his OMB alchemist David Stockman could not obscure the disaster with his famous "rosy scenarios."
Forced to raise taxes twice to avert financial catastrophe, the Gipper nonetheless presided over a tripling of the American national debt to nearly $3 trillion. By the time he left office in 1989, Ronald Reagan more than equaled the entire debt burden produced by the previous 200 years of American history. It's no wonder Stockman lamented last year:
"[The] debt explosion has resulted not from big spending by the Democrats, but instead the Republican Party's embrace, about three decades ago, of the insidious doctrine that deficits don't matter if they result from tax cuts."
Sarah Palin's revisionist history Friday notwithstanding, it was Reagan who put the United States on "the road to ruin."
2. Reagan Raised Taxes 11 Times
As ThinkProgress noted, the inedible image of Ronald Reagan the tax cutter is "false mythology." (It is also worth noting that it was President Obama and not Reagan who delivered the largest two year tax cut in American history.) While Governor Reagan doubled California's state spending and signed the biggest tax hike up to that point, as President he raised taxes in seven of his eight years in office. 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."
3. Reagan Expanded the Size of Government
On Friday, Sarah Palin told the Reaganauts assembled by the Young Americans for Freedom, "We need to stop spending and cut government back down to size." If that's the case, her role model should be Democrat Bill Clinton and not Republican Ronald Reagan.