The Reagan Nobody Talks About

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In the Fiscal Times, Bruce Bartlett lists the reasons that Ronald Reagan would not win the presidential nomination in today’s GOP. He then lists the sins Reagan committed after he entered the Oval Office:

• As a Hollywood actor, Reagan had been the head of a labor union, the Screen Actors Guild, and was proud of the higher pay and benefits he negotiated for his members. As president, he praised labor unions, saying, “Collective bargaining…has played a major role in America’s economic miracle. Unions represent some of the freest institutions in this land. There are few finer examples of participatory democracy to be found anywhere.”

• Franklin D. Roosevelt was Reagan’s political hero and he voted for him for president 4 times. As president, he said, “F. D. R. was an American giant, a leader who shaped, inspired, and led our people through perilous times.”

• As governor of California, Reagan signed into law the largest state tax increase in history up to that time. It increased California taxes by a third, including an increase in the top income tax rate. There were other tax increases as well, which raised the top rate to 11 percent from 7 percent when he took office, a 57 percent increase.

• Also as governor, Reagan signed into law California’s first law permitting legal abortion – at the behest of his two most conservative advisers, Ed Meese and Lyn Nofziger. On other social issues as well, Gov. Reagan was far more progressive than his image. For example, he authorized conjugal visits for prisoners for the first time in the state and broadened environmental protection.

• In 1981, Reagan proposed a large tax cut. But when deficits became a problem, he supported tax increases and signed 11 of them into law. Among them was the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982, the largest peacetime tax increase in American history.

• Reagan supported an increase in the capital gains tax to 28 percent from 20 percent as part of the Tax Reform Act of 1986.

• In 1986, Reagan supported an immigration reform that gave amnesty to 3 million illegal aliens. During the 1984 election, Reagan said, “I believe in the idea of amnesty for those who have put down roots and who have lived here even though sometime back they may have entered illegally.”

• At the Reykjavik Summit with Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev in 1986, Reagan, to the horror of his advisers, offered to abolish nuclear weapons. To their relief, Gorbachev declined the offer.

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