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By John Martin - Posted on 15 February 2011
Neither do I, but I'm glad Ezra Klein is there to bring up tidbits like this:
Eugene Robinson: Today's Democrats are like Reagan...that is one headline sure to disturb the right! Great article. And I thought Ezra Klein did a great job of showing the truth, not the myth.
WASHINGTON -- As we mark the centennial of Ronald Reagan's birth, one
of our major political parties has become imbued with the Gipper's
political philosophy and governing style. I mean the Democrats, of
The Republican Party tries to claim the Reagan mantle but has moved
so far to the right that it now inhabits its own parallel universe. On
the planet that today's GOP leaders call home, Reagan would qualify as
one of those big-government, tax-and-spend liberals who are trying so
hard to destroy the American way of life.
Some Republicans, I suppose, might be so enraptured by the Reagan
legend that they are unaware of his actual record. I hate to break it to
Sarah Palin, but Reagan raised taxes. Often. Sometimes by a lot.
When he took office as governor of California in 1967, the state
faced a huge budget deficit. Reagan promptly raised taxes by $1 billion
-- at a time when the entire state budget amounted to just $6 billion.
It was then the biggest state tax increase in history. During Reagan's
eight years in Sacramento, the top state income tax rate increased from 7
percent to 11 percent. Business and sales taxes also soared.
When Reagan moved into the White House, he brought with him a theory
that critics derided as "voodoo economics" -- the idea that the way to
balance the budget was to lower taxes, not raise them. Reagan quickly
pushed through the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981, a tax cut of about
$264 billion. Republicans seem to rank this event alongside Columbus'
discovery of the New World as one of the great milestones in human
What eludes the GOP's selective memory is that Reagan subsequently
raised taxes 11 times, beginning with the Tax Equity and Fiscal
Responsibility Act of 1982. All told, he took back roughly half of that
hallowed 1981 tax cut. Why? Because he realized that the United States needed an effective federal government -- and that to be effective, the government needed more money.
Republicans laud Reagan's unshakable commitment to smaller
government. Yet federal employment rolls grew under his watch; they
shrank under Bill Clinton. Reagan had promised to eliminate the
Departments of Energy and Education, but he didn't. Instead, he signed
legislation that added to the Cabinet a new Department of Veterans
On social issues, Reagan advocated a federal ban on abortions, the
legalization of organized prayer in the schools and an end to
court-ordered busing to achieve racial balance. He accomplished none of
this. In his personal life, by all accounts, Reagan was a
live-and-let-live kind of guy. He did, after all, spend much of his
adult life as a denizen of -- cover your ears, Republicans -- evil
None of this is to suggest that the patron saint of modern American
conservatism was some sort of flaming liberal, just that he was a
pragmatist who respected objective reality. In a big state or a big
country, big government was a given. When taxes needed to be raised, the
thing to do was raise them.
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