Who knows Ronald Reagan?

I am starting to become frustrated with the Right's persistent attempts to drag Ronald Reagan's policies back onto the main political stage. The McCain/Palin ticket resurrected the idea of Ronald Reagan to energize their base during an election year, and now the Republicans and Tea Party Movement continue to carry the torch, insisting that we need to return to the Reagan years. President Reagan had a lot of fascinating accomplishments during his Presidency. His foreign policy was a remarkable step forward. His economic policy, however, was much more controversial, and if we are just looking at some hard numbers, it baffles me why we are even bringing up the Reagan name if we are debating the Country's most crucial issue: fiscal deficits. I think we are at the point where no one really remembers what Ronald Reagan actually did during his presidency, which is the perfect storm for meaningless political rhetoric.

Most people remember Reagan's top-down approach to the economy with steep tax cuts, but he also oversaw one of the first real expansions of the deficit, which should cause us to shun his policies in light of today's issues. The Reagan legacy brought such phrases as "supply side economics" and "trickle down" to the national political conversation. This approach is centered on cutting taxes and government spending so individuals can reinvest in the economy. Similar to George H.W. Bush, Reagan was successful in cutting taxes dramatically, especially for the most wealthy Americans, but his true failure was the hard part: cutting spending. We often talk about the unprecedented growth in the national deficit from the Bush Jr. years, but rarely do Republican spinsters mention Reagan's inability to control federal spending. The deficit more than tripled under Reagan's watch, an unintended reality, but still a result of his leadership. Choosing a President that served more than TWENTY years ago may allow Republicans to augment reality, but it cannot escape a simple fact check. At the very least, they should shy away from a politician that made many of the same mistakes that led us to where we are today.

I would like to end with an entertaining video from last week:

Sure Pamela Geller is making a total idiot of herself, and, sadly enough, this interview sparked an embellished controversy about this non-issue, but there is a bigger point here. I think this exchange really drives home how difficult it is to put words in the mouth of a deceased President. It doesn't matter where you land on the political spectrum, if you thought Reagan was a great President or single handedly destroyed our economy, his policies from days ago are really no longer relevant. We shouldn't be asking what would Reagan do, or care about what he would think. We have today's problems, today's leaders, and today's America. We should start coming up with solutions that are tailored to the present instead of trying to turn back the hands of time... Or at the very least, if we are going to look back, can we at least pick a President who actually DID cut the deficit?!?


  1. Reagan did not WANT to cut spending. It was called "starving the beast": running large deficits so that whoever was in power next would be forced to cut spending and minimize the size of government. It ended up hitting Bush Sr., but it hurt Clinton as well: it was one reason why healthcare was so hard to pass even then. Bush Jr. used the same tactic: make a popular mess, then force the next guy to clean it up, probably getting him voted out of office while preventing him from implementing all too many programs that might look something like Johnson's "Great Society."

    On a side note, I find it funny that George H. W. Bush called Reagan's policies "voodoo economics." Maybe we'd be better off if he's served two terms instead of Reagan (or his son)!


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