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In Today’s GOP, Reagan Is A RINO

I’ve already written this week about the extent to which Republican hawks have subverted and misrepresented Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy agenda to suit their rhetoric, but the ongoing battle over the debt ceiling and taxes illustrates even better the extent to which the real Ronald Reagan bears little resemblance to the GOP as it exists today:

With the nation at risk of default next month, the Republicans’ fierce anti-tax orthodoxy is running square into the Ghost of the Gipper— the GOP’s great modern, pre-tea party hero, Ronald Reagan.

Indeed, a POLITICO review of Reagan’s own budget documents shows that the Republican president repeatedly signed deficit-reduction legislation in the 1980’s that melded annual tax increases with spending cuts just as President Barack Obama is now asking Congress to consider.

The Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 (TEFRA) is the most famous, because of its historic size and timing, a dramatic course correction that quickly followed Reagan’s signature income tax cuts in 1981. But in the six years after were four more deficit-reduction acts, which combined to almost double TEFRA’s revenue impact on an annual basis.

A table in one of Reagan’s final budget submissions spells this out.

For 1991, the document projects $61.6 billion in revenue increases attributed to TEFRA. At the same time, the four other smaller deficit-reduction acts were expected to add a total of $53 billion in revenues on an annual basis.

Translated into current dollars, the total revenue increases for the five bills would then be equal to about $190 billion a year. That’s far in excess of anything that has been proposed by the White House in recent deficit talks led by Vice President Joseph Biden, yet most of these increases were approved when Republicans controlled the Senate in the 1980’s.

(…)

In the Biden deficit talks, Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) has pegged the administration’s tax options at raising about $400 billion over 10 years -or an average of $40 billion annually. White House officials have indicated they are prepared to accept less, but there is clearly some competition between the need for deficit reduction up front vs. paying for corporate tax reform in the future.

In other words, the annual tax increases contemplated by the Administration, most of which consists of eliminating deductions, credits, and loopholes rather than raising rates, is equal to about 20% of the tax increases put into effect over the course of the Reagan years. < Part of the problem is that the GOP has pretty much completely bought into the somewhat silly idea pushed by Grover Norquist and others that any change in tax policy that results in higher revenue counts as a “tax increase.” Under this logic, even a  reduction in tax rates could count as a “tax increase” if it led to higher revenue as predicted by the Laffer Curve. When language gets distorted in this manner it ends up becoming useless. When it becomes actual policy you end up with perverse results, like Republicans saying that absolutely no “tax increases” (as defined by the Norquistians) would be on the table during debt ceiling negotiations.

This may be ideological purity, but it doesn’t strike me as responsible government. If Republicans controlled the White House, the House, and had enough of a majority in the Senate to avoid filibusters, then it would be realistic to talk this way. In the current environment, all it serves to do is to make the base happy while causing gridlock in Washington.

Ronald Reagan came into the White House with the promise that he would turn the economy around by cutting taxes. By August of his first year he had delivered on that promise,and he did it despite the fact that the House was controlled by the opposition and his own party had a slim three seat majority in the Senate. One year later, though, he signed into law one of the largest tax increases in history, followed in 1986 by a major tax overhaul that, while it lowered rates, ended many popular deductions and increased revenues. He did things like this because he, and fellow Republicans at the time like Howard Baker and Alan Simpson, knew that governing could not be held hostage by ideological purity, and that compromise isn’t a dirty word.

But that isn’t the Ronald Reagan that most conservatives know today. Instead of the reality, or the actual history provided by former advisers like David Stockman and Bruce Bartlett, they are imbued with Rush Limbaugh’s Ronaldus Magnus, a false characterization of a Ronald Reagan who governed as some sort of uber-conservative super being. Anyone who actually lived through the 1980s knows that it isn’t true, but it seems to be the only way that contemporary conservatives can keep Reagan in their pantheon, because if they actually acknowledged his real record they’d be forced to denounce him as a RINO.

UPDATE (James Joyner):  See also my October 2010 post, “Ronald Reagan: RINO.” If you think President Reagan would have alienated the Tea Party types, you should see Governor Reagan.

 

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. I am so disappointed with the budget negotiations so far. I’m in favor of decreasing government spending, so I should be siding with the Republicans, but I find I can’t because their whole way of dealing with it so… childish.

    It tooke us 60 years to get into this mess; it’s going to take more than one summer to get out. And yes, our previous bad financial behavior means consequences, which includes more taxes than we’d need otherwise to pay down the huge debt we’ve built up.

    Part of being an adult is realizing sometimes you have to do things you don’t like short term to get better results long term. Taking your medicine sucks, but it’s necessary.

    Meanwhile the house republicans and the Grover Norquists of the world are acting like four year olds throwing a tantrum in the middle of Walmart because they’ve been told they can’t have the toy they want.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 3

  2. Moosebreath says:

    See also this comment (bottom paragraph).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. Tsar Nicholas says:

    This is an excellent post. Indeed it’s staggering the extent to which the Rush Limbaughs of the world have distorted Reagan’s tenure.

    It’s not just dollars and cents.

    Reagan signed onto a massive amnesty for illegal immigrants. He was a former union leader. Hell, a former Democrat.

    That said, let’s not confuse the irrational and ignorant right with the GOP at large. For every Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and National Review acolyte foaming at the mouth and spitting out bile there are much larger numbers of pragmatic and rational Republicans. The problem is the irrational and ignorant right has a larger microphone and they disproportionately represent the GOP’s primary voter bases, especially in lower-turnout elections.

    Overall the right side of the spectrum is a heterogenous segment of the body politic, despite the occasional Sharron Angle-style fiasco. Let’s not lose sight of that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  4. DMan says:

    “Ideological purity” is their new ideology. Conceding anything to “the other side” is not allowed. Conceding that they’re wrong, also not allowed. The frustration with this democracy thing is showing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  5. steve says:

    It should also be remembered that , in nominal dollars (the metric being used most frequently by current Obama critics), Reagan almost tripled the debt.

    Steve

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  6. Wiley Stoner says:

    Most of those who post here were either not born or were children when Reagan came to politics. Did you know he quit the donks because of their policies? People like mataconis make such asinine statements like the headline for this article. Do a little research. You will find there is not a razor blade edge difference between Sarah Palins philosophy and that of Ronald Reagan. Reagan converted me from a Carter voter to the GOP The statement Reagan would be considered a RINO today is a flat out lie from those who do not know or beieve history. Reagan was as conservative as Goldwater. Stormy, in case you missed it. The GOP took the House in this last election. They won the house based upon the promise of no new taxes and the promise to cut government spending. I guess what you are saying is it is childish to stop spending beyond your means? That sounds like the writings of an idiot. The only purpose of raising taxes on the rich is wealth redistribution. If you want some wealth, go out and earn it. You are not entitled to someone elses.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 17

  7. Some Republicans are more Republican than others in their eyes, and apparently yours .

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  8. Wiley Stoner says:

    Reagan tripled the debt to what? Obama raised it 5 trillion dollars in three years. Just what was the national debt at the end of Reagans Presidency? According to real sources. Reagan increased the debt by 660 billion dollars in his first term and 1.04 trillion in is second term. First term he had a donk controled house and GOP Senate. Next term he was saddled with donks in both houses. Unlike the donks of today, some of them were loyal to the country. Obama increased the national debt by 5 trillion dollard in his first three years.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 16

  9. Tano says:

    Reagan tripled the debt to what?

    To a level three times higher than he found it. Obama will barely double it.

    And Obama, of course, is spending to resolve two wars he inherited and to stimulate the economy out of a new depression.
    Reagan blew up the budget for no reason other than the desire to transfer tax burdens from today’s upper classes to tomorrows average taxpayers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 5

  10. Terrye says:

    I agree that in many ways people have turned the real Reagan into a caricature of himself.

    But there are real differences between today and the 80s. Today people pay a lot more in payroll taxes and local taxes and property taxes than they did back then. A federal tax hike today would create more of a burden than it did 25 years ago.

    Reagan did run deficits, but then again Democrats like Tip O’Neil had something to do with that. One of the drivers of the growth was the military build up that helped bankrupt the Soviet Union, that in turn lead to the socalled peace dividend and cuts in military spending a decade later.

    But Reagan was downright frugal compared to Obama. In fact in 2007 when Democrats took control of the Congress the national budget deficit was $167 billion…under Obama we run that much in a month.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 7

  11. But Reagan was downright frugal compared to Obama. In fact in 2007 when Democrats took control of the Congress the national budget deficit was $167 billion…under Obama we run that much in a month.

    Again, I think government spending needs to go down. But what’s going on right now has nothing to do with that. There is apparently an offer on the table right now to reduce spending by three trillion over 10 years in exchange for 1 trillion in tax increases over the same time period.

    This is a good deal. Indeed, if you really think the deficit is a problem and not just a bargaining ploy, 3 trillion in cuts + 1 trillion in increases is better than just 3 trillion in cuts, since it reduces the deficit even further.

    And yes, it’s not a final soltion, but it gets us closer to one than we are now. But instead of actually making that first step and then moving on to next years budget, the Republicans seem more interested in posturing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  12. David M says:

    It sounds good to say there are a large group of pragmatic and rational republicans, and that Sharron Angle was an aberration, but the fact the debt limit has not been raised shows otherwise. There is no upside to default, and contemplating default is just as nuts as anything Sharron Angle was ridiculed for.

    The total tax burden (federal/state/local) is lower now than the ’80s.

    The deficit for FY2007 isn’t really useful for anything, as the main drivers of the long term deficit do not include Democratic or Obama initiatives. There have been items that increased the short term deficit since then, but the only major Democratic legislation since 2007 has been the PPACA which reduced the deficit. This is why revenue must be included as part of the deficit reduction negotiations.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  13. And if I can be cynical, I wonder if this isn’t a result of so many Tea Party groups being crammed with baby boomers. That generation has been like a demographic swarm of locusts. Every institution (school, business, banking, etc.) they touch they pump up into some unsustainable balloon that gives them gold plated benefits and then collapses as soon as they get to the age they no longer need it.

    We’re now witnessing the final act where all they care about is their entitlements and their retirement, and if the country collapses in a few decades, they don’t care, they’ll be dead.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  14. Wayne says:

    Here we go again. People doing B.S. revisionist of Reagan tax history. Yes he agreed to tax increases once he cut them. However they were lower when he left office than when he took office. He also only agreed to them as a compromise in order to get “significant” spending cuts.

    Saying Reagan and Obama are alike because they sign off on a plan on tax increases and significant spending cuts, is B.S. (Not that Obama has done that yet but let’s assume he does.)

    Reagan fought long and hard for the spending cuts and hard against tax increases. He only agreed to some tax increases in order to get “significant” spending cuts.

    Obama is fighting long and hard for tax increases and hard against significant spending cuts. There is a big difference there. If you can’t understand that then I’m not sure what to say to you.

    In the end Reagan got burn. Many of the promise of cuts never happen. It is easy to promise to make cuts several years down the road. Many of cuts that did happen were undone. Hopefully Republicans have finally learned from history.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 15

  15. Wayne says:

    Next some of you will claim a Police officer who kills someone in order to protect a life is the same as bank robber killing a bank teller. After all both shot their guns and killed someone. Both are the same right? The why I guess doesn’t matter to many of you.

    Reagan’s philosophy and what he fought for are very much in line with those of today’s conservative and Tea Partiers. If he was alive today there is no doubt he would be backing the conservatives’ position and not the liberals’.

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  16. Next some of you will claim a Police officer who kills someone in order to protect a life is the same as bank robber killing a bank teller.

    *cough*Jose Guerna*cough*

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  17. Davebo says:

    But there are real differences between today and the 80s. Today people pay a lot more in payroll taxes and local taxes and property taxes than they did back then.

    Well to be fair Terrye, the only tax you mention that either Reagan or Obama could effect is the payroll tax. And it was Reagan who hike the FICA tax in the largest tax increase in US history. As for property taxes, I submit California for your consideration.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. Jay Tea says:

    Just a quick note: Reagan signed the illegal alien amnesty bill under the explicit promise from its backers that it would be the last time, ever, that they’d ask for it and, really and truly, they’d go along with securing the borders.

    Just like they promised in 1965.

    Reagan’s mistake wasn’t in signing the bill, it was in believing the lying scumbags who convinced him they could be trusted.

    Let’s learn from Reagan’s mistake. Border security FIRST, then we’ll talk amnesty programs.

    The pro-illegal-alien side lied and conned the rest of us twice before. Let’s not fall for it a third time.

    At least this time Ted Kennedy, a prime force behind both measures, isn’t around to lie to our faces again…

    J.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 15

  19. David M says:

    @Wayne: Whether or not the tax rates were lower when Reagan left office than when he entered office missed the point entirely. Reagan differed from today’s GOP b/c he was willing to acknowledge the reality that revenue is part of the deficit reduction conversation. Also, since when did spending decrease in the 80s? Military spending isn’t free and has to be included.

    So Reagan agreed to tax increases and spending cuts (that didn’t happen) and that’s why he’s different from Obama? That is completely incoherent, not to mention utter garbage as all reports of the negotiations include Obama and the Democrats agreeing to spending cuts.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  20. The pro-illegal-alien side lied and conned the rest of us twice before. Let’s not fall for it a third time.

    Actually, I’m just pro freedom of association. The nativists are just the same as union-thugs, thinking they should have a veto over everyone else’s lives in order to protect themselves from having to compete in a free market.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  21. Jay Tea says:

    Stormy, I don’t quite follow your logic there. Are you an open borders sort?

    And do I have the right to NOT freely associate with people who have shown contempt for my nation’s laws regarding immigration and cut to the front of the line ahead of those who are showing respect for us by following the legal procedures?

    Fool me once, shame on you.

    Fool me twice, shame on me.

    Fool me three times? No bloody chance.

    J.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 8

  22. WR says:

    @Stormy Dragon: So if I want to join with my fellow employees to negotiate a fair wage because as individuals we have no bargaining power against a multi-national corporation, that makes me a thug in your eyes?

    Thanks, Stormy, but I’d rather be a thug than roadkill.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  23. Stormy, I don’t quite follow your logic there. Are you an open borders sort?

    I’m a “taller fences, wider gates” sort. I think we should no who is coming into the country, but that if your reasons for coming here are peaceable, you should be allowed to.

    And do I have the right to NOT freely associate with people

    Sure. The problem is you claim the power to prevent everyone else from associating with them as well.

    who have shown contempt for my nation’s laws regarding immigration

    As I’ve said before, I don’t believe in respect for the law purely for the sake of respecting the law. I am also contemptuous of our nation’s laws regarding immigration because I believe they are evil.

    and cut to the front of the line ahead of those who are showing respect for us by following the legal procedures?

    Again, the great Nativist lie. THERE IS NO LINE

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  24. sam says:

    Look, Wayne, The Great Communicator was also the Great Compromiser. And that alone would get him drummed out of the Righteous Party. Really, your history is deficient. Follow the link, and read the paragraphs beginnning, “Twenty-four years ago this week”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  25. So if I want to join with my fellow employees to negotiate a fair wage because as individuals we have no bargaining power against a multi-national corporation, that makes me a thug in your eyes?

    I should note I don’t consider all unions thugs. However there are a lot of thuggish unions out there.

    What makes those unions thugs is that if I want to negotiate what I consider a fair wage with my employer, and my idea of fair doesn’t match theirs, they reserve the right to use physical force to make me go along with them.

    Unions are themselves mutli-national corporations now. Who protects me from them?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  26. Jay Tea says:

    My apologies, Stormy. We’re of a sort — I’m a “taller fences, wider gates” sort, too. But after the last two go-arounds, I want the fences first, then we’ll work on the gates. ‘cuz we tried it the other way twice before, and the fences, if anything, got shortened.

    And by “the line,” I apologize. I was referring to the millions each year who do follow the legally-established immigration rules and seek to come here without breaking the law. And our immigration policy is, I believe, the most open and liberal in the world already.

    I know that that isn’t a lie, because I’ve met a lot of them. A LOT. I live near Dartmouth College, and my work brings me into contact with quite a few students. And there are a LOT of Chinese and Indian nationals among that group.

    So put me down as in favor of … ugh… “liberalizing” our immigration policy. But not until we’ve built those fences a bit higher.

    You know, like was promised in 1964 and 1985.

    Consider it my version of “comprehensive immigration reform.”

    J.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  27. An Interested Party says:

    The point isn’t about comparing Obama to Reagan but, rather, that Reagan wasn’t who so many of today’s conservatives think he was…and as for the argument that he only agreed to tax increases so long as he got spending cuts, well, that argument makes him look like a foolish dupe, as he increased taxes many times without getting all those spending cuts…

    Reagan’s philosophy and what he fought for are very much in line with those of today’s conservative and Tea Partiers.

    If that was really true, he would never, ever have agreed to any tax increases, period…after all, that’s the position of most of the current conservative crowd…

    Reagan’s mistake wasn’t in signing the bill, it was in believing the lying scumbags who convinced him they could be trusted.

    Once again, the “poor Ronnie was fooled” argument, as with tax increases…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  28. And by “the line,” I apologize. I was referring to the millions each year who do follow the legally-established immigration rules and seek to come here without breaking the law.

    A line normally implies that the people in it will be processed through in the order the arrived in it and that by being patient you will continually make progress toward the front. None of these is the case.

    First of all, most people can’t get in the line to start with. To get in the line you have to meet special criteria you must:
    1. Have family already in the US (which Republicans want to eliminate)
    2. Have a company spending huge amounts of money to bring you here (which Republicans want to eliminate)
    3. Have millions of dollars to invest in the US
    4. Be from an “underepresented ethnic minority” (which Republicans–everybody now, you all know the words–want to eliminate).
    5. Be a political refugee from some country that’s popular with congress right now.

    The overwhelming majority of people don’t fit into one of those categories. If you don’t, THERE IS NO LEGAL WAY TO IMMIGRATE TO THE US.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  29. steve says:

    @Terrye: On the Soviet Union, they had their big military build up in the 60s and 70s. Our spending did not bankrupt them, they were already bankrupt. Bacevich covered this pretty well in his Washington Rules book.

    Steve

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  30. Ben Wolf says:

    @Jay Tea: You’re really going to argue Reagan was a hapless fool, hoodwinked by evil Hispanic Lovers? Now who’s underestimating the man?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  31. steve says:
  32. Ben Wolf says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Unions have been systematically rolled back to the point they only represent about 10% of american workers. If you’ve wanted someone to campaign against the power of organized labor, I’d say you got your wish.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  33. Jay Tea says:

    Stormy: you wanna argue that those circumstances apply to a majority, or even a significant percentage, of illegal aliens here in the US today?

    I want a lot of things I can’t have, or would have to work really, really hard to get. I really, really want them. Am I entitled to just take them?

    Ben: let’s flip that around a bit. You implicitly stipulate to my accounting of things — that Reagan pushed for increased security, the other side resisted, and in the end, they won.

    You put forth two possibilities: that Ted Kennedy and his allies either snookered Reagan by making an agreement they never intended to abide by, or they got Reagan to go along with their intent to have amnesty only without any increase in enforcement.

    Exactly which interpretation makes Kennedy and the Democrats look less than despicable? The one where they made a deal with the president and broke it, or got him to agree to their side privately and make it look like he was bamboozled by them?

    J.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  34. Am I entitled to just take them?

    Once again the fall back into collectivist rhetoric. People voluntarily working together without your permission is not taking anything from you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  35. Jay Tea says:

    People voluntarily working together without your permission is not taking anything from you.

    I absolutely agree with this. I just don’t see what on God’s green earth it has to do with illegal immigration.

    J.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  36. Eric Florack says:

    He did things like this because he, and fellow Republicans at the time like Howard Baker and Alan Simpson, knew that governing could not be held hostage by ideological purity, and that compromise isn’t a dirty word.

    Utter BS.

    Reagan, like Bush, compromised his principles based on promises from the Democrats that cuts would happen. We’re still waiting for the Democrats to cut anything but the military. IN both cases, the only ones to compromise was the right. Who can blame the GOP of today for not wanting to play that same game again, so as to get the same result?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 9

  37. Jay Tea says:

    Stormy, let’s make it very, very simple. I believe that we, as a nation, have a right to secure our borders, to determine who can and who can not come in here, to set laws and policies regulating entry, and enforce those laws and policies.

    Do you?

    J.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  38. ratufa says:

    People voluntarily working together without your permission is not taking anything from you.

    I’m not sure that’s true in practice. For example, suppose you run a business and follow the law with respect to paying salary and benefits (i.e. pay at least minimum wage and pay the taxes that federal/state/local government requires that you pay as overhead when hiring). Your competitor decides to not follow wage laws or pay those taxes. As long as the competitor can get away with this and uses their lower overhead to have more competitive pricing, it hurts your ability to compete.

    Some obvious objections to the above argument:

    1. “You could behave the same as your competition wrt hiring.” True. But, your expected benefit/cost for breaking the law may be different from that of your competition (e.g. you may be in a state with stricter enforcement or greater penalties than your competitor).

    2. “This only happens because government is making laws affecting businesses and distorting the market.” Perhaps so, but the world we live in is one in which government makes laws and distorts markets.

    Also, for another example, while free trade provides great benefits in general, there are groups of people who are net economic losers because of it. Look at what has happened to many old mill and factory towns, for example.

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  39. glasnost says:

    I don’t agree with much that Jay Tea has to say, and could say various other unkind things along those lines with sincerity, but I thought I’d give him a round of applause for being the rare hard-right conservative who argues with a civil tone and at least responds to arguments made in his direction – again, regardless of what you think about the quality of those responses.

    Seriously. This is a good trend.

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  40. glasnost says:

    Also, is this one of the last non-registration comment systems left on popular political blogs? thank heaven.

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  41. john personna says:

    @Tano, I take a middle line on Reagan’s deficits. I think he honestly tried, and failed, in the environment of his day. I don’t think he would have followed the same plan, if he could have seen ahead, to the final outcome.

    He was a pretty honest guy, and would not have just stood up and lied about running up a debt, while talking responsibility.

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  42. john personna says:

    Note: That Reagan did raise taxes underscores my point, that Reagan was not a Nordquist. He was trying to make it work, with a congress in opposition, and a congress that still had a lot of the old-line Great Society Democrats.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  43. I believe that we, as a nation, have a right to secure our borders, to determine who can and who can not come in here, to set laws and policies regulating entry, and enforce those laws and policies.

    Nations do not have rights; nations have powers. Only individuals have rights. And yes, we do grant our government the power to enforce our borders and to control who enters the country. But merely stating that does not answer the question of how that power ought to be used.

    I believe in individual liberty. If a person wants to come here peaceably to live, that is their right. If someone wants to hire them to do work, that is their right. Neither should require more than the minimal paperwork to maintain an orderly flow across the border, neither should require great efforts to do that.

    You, on the other hand, believe you have the right to sit in judgement of both, and decide whether their persons and plans are worthy of being allowed to go about their lives without your interference. This is not the advocacy or liberty and small government. It is collectivism and is no different from all of Obama’s central economic planning, save that you’re in charge of it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  44. Jay Tea says:

    Jazz it up all you like, Stormy. I’ve got the law on my side.

    Your side has the argument that we should ignore the law, not that we should change it, ‘cuz it’s mean and racist and discriminatory and changing it is too darned hard.. Or that we should change it under false pretenses, like in 1964 and 1985.

    I have my position. I also support the law as passed. If you can persuade enough people to change it to your way, I’ll abide by it. I’ll work to change it back, but I’ll abide by it and advocate that others also abide by it.

    We’ve got two different arguments going. “What should the policy be” and “should be obey and respect the policy and law as it stands.”

    Apparently we disagree on both. I’ll cheerfully debate the merits of the former. I’ll get downright vicious on the latter.

    And I’ll disagree with you on the “nations don’t have rights.” Nations have inherent rights, such as self-defense, sovereignty, and self-determination. I’d also put in “secure their borders against incursions of all types.”

    J.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  45. Ben Wolf says:

    @Jay Tea: The Immigration
    Reform and Control Act did contain provisions for greater control of illegal immigration. It required employers to attest to their employees’ immigration status and
    made it illegal to knowingly hire or recruit unauthorized immigrants.

    Regan himself supported amnesty on general principle. In one of his debates with Mondale Reagan stated “I believe in the idea of amnesty for those who have put down roots and lived here, even though sometime back they may have entered illegally”. Allen Simpson has stated that Reagan supported amnesty because he understood that illegal immigrants were vulnerable to physical and financial abuse.

    Reagan wasn’t tricked or lied to; he got the bill he wanted and it failed to accomplish its objectives in regaining control of immigration. Legislation doesn’t always work out the way one plans.

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  46. john personna says:

    Stormy says “Nations do not have rights; nations have powers. Only individuals have rights.”

    So why not national rights as short-hand for aggregated individual rights?

    I may not agree with Jay on the details of what our aggregated policy should look like, but he’s on the right page with nations having prerogatives.

    It’s as old as life and rooted in biology. We are not the only critters to have immigration policy.

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  47. Jay Tea says:

    Hey, ain’t this interesting. Two comments on this thread are hidden by low votes, and they’re both from the conservative side. And, objectively speaking, I don’t see anything offensive in either except “they make liberals feel bad.”

    I think it might be time to pre-emptively vote “dislike” on all liberals’ comments, even before I read them, just to level the playing field a bit.

    After all, why debate when you can just shut up your opponents?

    J.

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  48. Ben Wolf says:

    @Jay Tea: Actually I’m not really sure why Erick’s comment was voted down. To me what he wrote was wrong, but it doesn’t seem like something that should have been edited out.

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  49. john personna says:

    I did not vote Eric down, but “wrong on fact” might be one reason.

    It is important to distinguish disagreement on fact versus analysis or opinion.

    Did Democrats really ever promise cuts to Reagan, or for that matter, Bush?

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  50. Jay Tea says:

    I don’t remember if it was Alan Dershowitz or Nat Hentoff (I think it was Dershowitz) who said the best remedy to “bad” speech is more speech. But it’s a hell of a lot easier to just keep them from being heard in the first place.

    But it’s certainly enlightening to see which side’s comments are being suppressed…

    J.

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  51. Jay Tea says:

    Seven people voted down my first comment.

    Seven people voted down Eric’s comment.

    I suspect it was the same seven.

    Would any one of them have the decency and courage to say just what about each or either comment was so bad, you had to do what you could to get it hidden?

    I’m gonna bet no.

    J.

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  52. john personna says:

    I didn’t vote you down either Jay, but at a guess it has something do do with “lying scumbags”

    People aren’t monolithic blocks, and it’s kind of crazy to think that there was some block that promised Reagan something or other.

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  53. Jay Tea says:

    Interesting theory, john, but not that helpful. There are several people who could provide an actual answer, instead of speculation, and it says something that they won’t stand behind their actions.

    I appreciate the suggestion, but not really what I was looking for.

    J.

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  54. Eric Florack says:

    I suspect it was the same seven.

    Silence the opposing point of view. Typical liberal open-mindedness.

    Did Democrats really ever promise cuts to Reagan, or for that matter, Bush?

    Yes, they did. In Regan’s case, the compromise saw the Democrats sign on to a bill that mandated $2 in spending cuts for every dollar of increased tax revenue. What they gave us was $1.65of spnding increases for every dollar n increased revenue, which for the record was about double the income under Carter… ($550busd to about $990busd.)

    This was not a situation of tax cuts casing the deficit. This was and remains a case of massive spending causing the deficit. So it was with Bush, as well.

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  55. Moosebreath says:

    I was not here much this weekend but Bithead manages as usual to get the facts wrong. From Wikipedia’s entry on the 1982 tax increase:

    “President of the United States Ronald Reagan agreed to the tax hikes on the promise from Congress of a $3 reduction in spending for every $1 increase in taxes. Some conservatives, led by then-Congressman Jack Kemp, claim that the promised spending reductions never occurred.[4] One week after TEFRA was signed, H.R. 6863 – the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 1982 which Ronald Reagan claimed would “bust the budget” [5] was passed by both houses of Congress over his veto.[6] Four years later, then-budget director David Stockman, however, stated that Congress substantially upheld its end of the bargain, and cites the Administration’s failure to identify management savings and its resistance to defense spending cuts as the key impediments to greater outlay savings.[4]”

    So not only did Congress hold up its end of the bargain, but it was the Reagan Admin which did not.

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  56. Eric Florack says:

    THe spending cuts never happened. THey most decidedly did NOT hold up their end of the bargain.

    And Stockman turned into an idiot… quite possibly a paid one.

    I’d like some proof of your statement. Can you tell us please just what it was they cut, outside of the Military?

    And how is it, if such cuts were made, the deficit rise to $230 billion, despite the tax revenues nearly doubling? It appears that spending went up by an even greater amount than the hugely increased revenues.

    Why is it that each of Reagan’s budgets were Dead on arrival o the hill? The fact is, that had the promised cuts actually occurred, there would have been no deficit at all by the end of Reagans 2nd term.

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  57. john personna says:

    I did not know about the 3 for 1 deal, though I think I’d respect Stockman’s views on the outcome.

    That said, surely you see the limitations to this kind of “promise.”

    Congress is a herd of cats, and if congressional leaders made an agreement then everyone in the room should have known that it was limited by their ability to keep the cats together.

    If for instance defense spending was not kept in line, that’s because some congressmen broke ranks.

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  58. john personna says:

    BTW, I do remember the MX missile.

    The MX program, which is producing the most powerful and destructive weapon of war ever built by the United States, is a waste of $25 billion, according to the man most responsible for making it a reality, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft.

    “We have spent a lot of money,” an embittered Scowcroft said in an exclusive interview, “but we haven’t got a thing to show for it.”

    I liked Reagan, but I didn’t agree with him on everything. “Trees cause smog” and the MX were points of departure.

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  59. sam says:

    @Eric Florack:

    “THe spending cuts never happened. THey most decidedly did NOT hold up their end of the bargain.”

    Reagan was quite successful, at least in his first term, in getting spending cuts.

    In February 1981 Reagan presented the Economic Tax Recovery Act to Congress, calling for massive personal and corporate tax cuts, reductions in government spending, and a balanced budget. The program was based on supply side economics: Tax cuts, the theory went, would allow people either to spend more on goods and services, thus giving the economy a boost, or to invest in businesses, thus leading to economic growth. The economic expansion, supply side theorists argued, would generate enough revenue to cover the shortfall resulting from the initial cut in tax rates.

    In an effort to balance the budget, Reagan “propose[d] budget cuts in virtually every department of government.” While he cut back social programs, including school-lunch programs and payments for people with disabilities, he refused to touch Social Security and Medicare. He also advocated deregulation of certain industries in an effort to reduce the government’s role in the economy, and proposed such a massive military buildup that Pentagon spending would reach $34 million an hour during his administration.

    At first some Republicans were skeptical and most Democrats were hostile toward the Recovery Act. To overcome opposition, Reagan lobbied hard in Congress and used his skills as the “Great Communicator” to persuade the country. One after another, Congressmen began to line up behind Reagan’s program. Feeling for Reagan swelled after John Hinckley, Jr.’s, assassination attempt on March 30, 1981. Perhaps his rapid, dramatic recovery was seen as emblematic of what the country could achieve under his leadership. By July 1981, Reagan’s economic program won the support of two-thirds of the American public and was approved by enough Democrats to get it through Congress. [The 1982 Recession]

    And

    Everyone talks about the Reagan tax cuts, yet there is more to President Reagan’s legacy than tax cuts. There is also his courageous and largely unappreciated willingness to fight for reductions in domestic spending.

    Ronald Reagan sought–and won–more spending cuts than any other modern president. He is the only president in the last forty years to cut inflation-adjusted nondefense outlays, which fell by 9.7 percent during his first term (see table 1). Sadly, during his second term, President Reagan did not manage to cut nondefense discretionary spending, and it grew by 0.2 percent. But his record is still quite remarkable if compared to other administrations. Every other president since Lyndon Johnson serving a full four-year term did not even do as well as Reagan in his less-impressive second term. [American Enterprise Institute, Veronique de Rugy , President Reagan, Champion Budget-Cutter]

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  60. john personna says:

    This is the bit we have trouble remembering, through the lens of time:

    Ronald Reagan sought–and won–more spending cuts than any other modern president. He is the only president in the last forty years to cut inflation-adjusted nondefense outlays, which fell by 9.7 percent during his first term (see table 1). Sadly, during his second term, President Reagan did not manage to cut nondefense discretionary spending, and it grew by 0.2 percent. But his record is still quite remarkable if compared to other administrations.

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  61. Eric Florack says:

    Reagan was quite successful, at least in his first term, in getting spending cuts.

    No argument, but taht’s not the time frame under discussion. Look again at the date the deal in question w as inked.

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  62. Moosebreath says:

    “Look again at the date the deal in question w as inked.”

    1982 was not in Reagan’s first term?

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  63. Moosebreath says:

    And Bithead, since comments are now closed in the other thread, I am bringing your response from there here:

    “McCain qualifies, easily.”

    McCain may qualify as a centrist, he varies his positions between centrist and conservative as needed for the portion of the public voting next on him (in addition to being very hawkish on foreign affairs). On the other hand, you also said he was a “weak-willed leftist”. Unless that term is the same in your mind as a centrist (in which case, I suggest professional counselling), then my comment about you changing your terms stands.

    “But let’s examine this from a historical perspective; at what point in the last 200 years have the democrats ever given us any spending cuts outside of that applied to the military?”

    Umm, did you actually read the article I linked to? It is quite explicit on the cuts to non-defense portions of the budget.

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