Tuesday, June 12, 2012

On Jeb Bush Remarks Reagan Would Have No Place In Today's GOP...

by: Les Carpenter
Rational Nation USA
Liberty -vs- Tyranny

On the heels of Jeb Bush's remarks that Reagan would not have a place in the present GOP I started thinking. Reagan was a great communicator and had a wonderful ability to endear himself to people. Simply put he was liked. Even by many who disagreed with his "vision" for smaller government.

As I said, the hoopla amongst "conservatives" over Jeb's remarks started the wheels turning. So, I decided to do a little research. Given the subject matter what better place to go than the Ludwig von Mises Institute to look at President Reagan's record. I was aware Reagan was really not the limited government giant many believe. I was somewhat surprised at some of the specifics.

Excerpts from The Sad Legacy of Ronald Reagan, by Sheldon L. Richman. Written in October 1988 it highlights the Reagan record in summary.

Ronald Reagan's faithful followers claim he has used his skills as the Great Communicator to reverse the growth of Leviathan and inaugurate a new era of liberty and free markets. Reagan himself said, "It is time to check and reverse the growth of government."

Yet after nearly eight years of Reaganism, the clamor for more government intervention in the economy was so formidable that Reagan abandoned the free-market position and acquiesced in further crippling of the economy and our liberties. In fact, the number of free-market achievements by the administration are so few that they can be counted on one hand—with fingers left over.

Let's look at the record:


In 1980, Jimmy Caner's last year as president, the federal government spent a whopping 27.9% of "national income" (an obnoxious term for the private wealth produced by the American people). Reagan assaulted the free-spending Carter administration throughout his campaign in 1980. So how did the Reagan administration do? At the end of the first quarter of 1988, federal spending accounted for 28.7% of "national income."

Even Ford and Carter did a better job at cutting government. Their combined presidential terms account for an increase of 1.4%—compared with Reagan's 3%—in the government's take of "national income." And in nominal terms, there has been a 60% increase in government spending, thanks mainly to Reagan's requested budgets, which were only marginally smaller than the spending Congress voted.


Reagan came into office proposing to cut personal income and business taxes. The Economic Recovery Act was supposed to reduce revenues by $749 billion over five years. But this was quickly reversed with the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982. TEFRA—the largest tax increase in American history—was designed to raise $214.1 billion over five years, and took back many of the business tax savings enacted the year before. It also imposed withholding on interest and dividends, a provision later repealed over the president's objection.

But this was just the beginning. In 1982 Reagan supported a five-cent-per-gallon gasoline tax and higher taxes on the trucking industry. Total increase: $5.5 billion a year. In 1983, on the recommendation of his Spcial Security Commission— chaired by the man he later made Fed chairman, Alan Green-span—Reagan called for, and received, Social Security tax increases of $165 billion over seven years. A year later came Reagan's Deficit Reduction Act to raise $50 billion.

Even the heralded Tax Reform Act of 1986 is more deception than substance. It shifted $120 billion over five years from visible personal income taxes to hidden business taxes. It lowered the rates, but it also repealed or reduced many deductions.


For all the administration's talk about deregulation (for example, from the know-nothing commission which George Bush headed), it has done little. Much of what has been done began under Carter, such as abolition of the Civil Aeronautics Board and deregulation of oil prices. Carter created the momentum and Reagan halted it. In fact, the economic costs of regulation have grown under Reagan.

Some deregulation has occurred for banks, intercity buses, ocean shipping, and energy. But nothing good has happened in health, safety, and environmental regulations, which cost Americans billions of dollars, ignore property rights, and are based on the spurious notion of "freedom from risk."


By now it should not be surprising that the size of the bureaucracy has also grown. Today, there are 230,000 more civilian government workers than in 1980, bringing the total to almost three million. Reagan even promoted the creation of a new federal Department of Veterans' Affairs to join the Departments of Education and Energy, which his administration was supposed to eliminate.


The Reagan administration has been the most protectionist since Herbert Hoover's. The portion of imports under restriction has doubled since 1980. Quotas and so-called voluntary restraints have been imposed on a host of products, from computer chips to automobiles. Ominously, Reagan has adopted the bogus fair-trade/free-trade dichotomy, and he was eager to sign the big trade bill, which tilts the trade laws even further toward protectionism.


Reagan's fans argue that he has changed the terms of public-policy debate, that no one today dares propose big spending programs. I contend that the alleged spending-shyness of politicians is not the result of an ideological sea-change, but rather of their constituents' fiscal fright brought about by $250 billion Reagan budget deficits. If the deficit ever shrinks, the demand for spending will resume. {Read Full Article}

I suppose it really depends on your perspective. Government (Leviathan) grew during the Reagan years without a great deal of restraint. So yes he would be fine when one looks at the record of the GOP under GWB. On the other hand there is little doubt given Reagan's record but what he would be a fish out of water in today's Tea Party.

Reagan was not only a great communicator, he was without a doubt not above compromise. He understood that at the end of the day governing effectively was important, and that is what he did. His "vision" for a more limited and less regulatory government is perhaps his greatest legacy. Even though his record did not live up to his "vision."

Via: Memeorandum


  1. Murray Rothbard has also written some pointed critiques of the Reagan record.

    It reveals a few things. First, he was not as ideological as he is made out to be. He knew how to horse-trade and cut deal, while never selling out his bedrock principles.

    Secondly, his record is a reflection of the environment he was operating in. We live in the Progressive Era. Big government is a given, the statists have framed the debate. Given this, and compared to other presidents, he can still be considered a great and successful president.

  2. Reagan's biggest attribute was his ability to talk to the American people and have them believe him. When the other party got in his way, he went on TV and spoke to their voters who put pressure on the politicians because Reagan was so believable. Clinton had this ability as well but his personal actions got in his way.
    Reagan started bringing respect to the office and to the country but in his later years he lost some control of the office.
    All the press says what a great speaker Obama is. Although he is much better than GWB, who isn't, he does not communicate to his audience, he talks at rather than to, Reagan spoke to his audience, big difference.

    1. Obama simply sees himself as more educated, enlightened, and somewhat above the folks that elected him.

      It shall be his one cause of his eventual undoing.

  3. "I suppose it really depends on your perspective."
    No, there are the facts and the proven historical effect of those facts. When you say perspective you are talking about spin.

    1. Perhaps, perhaps not. It depends on your interpretation of reality.


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