September 4, 2015


Ronald Reagan, Heretic (Timothy Egan, 9/04/15, NY Times)

[T]here's a gaping disconnect among Republicans between the Reagan worship of 2015 and the reality of his long, public career.

Start with immigration, and the police-state proposals that have driven Trump to the top of Republican polls. As president, Reagan signed a bill that granted amnesty to nearly three million people who were in this country illegally. And then he went a step further, acting on his own after signing the first bill, to extend amnesty to another 100,000 people.

Reagan would never back the authoritarian roundup and deportation that Trump advocates, or the Big Brother tracking of immigrants "like FedEx packages," as Gov. Chris Christie has proposed.

While Trump vows to build a giant wall, Reagan is best known for four words: "tear down this wall." He was referring to the Berlin barrier, but he could have been talking about obstructions for immigrants from south of the border. "I believe in the idea of amnesty for those who have put down roots and lived here for some time and may have entered illegally," said President Reagan. You can hear the boos in the Reagan Library should any Republican say such a thing today.

Taxes. Yes, Reagan reduced the top rate, which was onerously high. But he was no absolutist, as required under the senseless no-new-taxes-ever pledge that all Republicans are supposed to take. Reagan raised taxes at least four times during his two terms in office, and 11 times by some readings of the record.

He had to do this because the federal deficit and the size of government ballooned all out of proportion while he was president. Yep, with Reagan the government-hater in charge, the size of the federal government grew to 5.3 million employees, and the federal debt nearly tripled, to $2.9 trillion. What's more, he raised the debt ceiling -- something modern Republicans are willing to shut down the whole shebang over -- 18 times. Heretic!

Posted by at September 4, 2015 8:21 AM

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