March 9, 2008


From the Right, He Looks Too Blue (L. Brent Bozell, March 9, 2008, Washington Post)

For 20 years, the moderate establishment of the Republican Party has told conservatives to sit down, shut up and do as we're told. History shows that sometimes we bite the bullet. But not always. I absolutely guarantee that this year we cannot be taken for granted. This is a movement fed up with betrayals, and they've come one after the other.

Think back to 1988. Plenty of qualified conservatives -- Pete du Pont, Rep. Jack Kemp and Sen. Paul Laxalt, Pat Robertson (for evangelicals, anyway) -- were prepared to succeed President Ronald Reagan, but the GOP establishment, along with the professional political class, rallied around Vice President George H.W. Bush, an unthinkable proposition for conservatives just eight years earlier. After a listless campaign start, Bush finally energized the conservative base with his "No new taxes!" pledge at the Republican National Convention in New Orleans. We carried him to victory that November.

Within two years, he'd broken his promise and delivered one of the largest tax increases in history. His 1991 nomination of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, which pleased conservatives, had been preemptively neutralized by his selection of the liberal David H. Souter in 1990. After brilliantly executing the 1991 Persian Gulf War, he squandered a 91 percent approval rating. He did nothing to advance the conservative cause. He did not cut taxes. He did not rein in federal spending and regulation. He did nothing for social and cultural issues.

By 1992, we who had dined at the table of Ronald Reagan had been banished to the GOP kitchen.

Heck, think back to 1980. The guy conservatives helped elect that year passed record tax increases, set deficit spending records, appointed Sandra Day O'Connor, fled from Lebanon, negotiated with Iran and the USSR, saved Social Security instead of reforming it, not only kept the Education Dept he'd promised to abolish but added another cabinet department, passed the biggest immigration amnesty in history.... Reagan kept them at the kitchen table--they just thought they were guests of honor.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 9, 2008 10:10 PM

I thought President Reagan lower income tax rates on the highest bracket from 70% down to 35%?

What taxes did he raise and was the total net positive?

Posted by: Perry at March 9, 2008 11:01 PM

It's conservative lore that Reagan the icon cut taxes, while George H.W. Bush the renegade raised them. As Stockman recalls, "No one was authorized to talk about tax increases on Ronald Reagan's watch, no matter what kind of tax, no matter how justified it was." Yet raising taxes is exactly what Reagan did. He did not always instigate those hikes or agree to them willingly--but he signed off on them. One year after his massive tax cut, Reagan agreed to a tax increase to reduce the deficit that restored fully one-third of the previous year's reduction. (In a bizarre bit of self-deception, Reagan, who never came to terms with this episode of ideological apostasy, persuaded himself that the three-year, $100 billion tax hike--the largest since World War II--was actually "tax reform" that closed loopholes in his earlier cut and therefore didn't count as raising taxes.)

Faced with looming deficits, Reagan raised taxes again in 1983 with a gasoline tax and once more in 1984, this time by $50 billion over three years, mainly through closing tax loopholes for business. Despite the fact that such increases were anathema to conservatives--and probably cost Reagan's successor, George H.W. Bush, reelection--Reagan raised taxes a grand total of four times just between 1982-84.

Posted by: oj at March 9, 2008 11:19 PM

Ronald Reagan was victory--the final victory in the war of anihilation against THE FORMER SOVIET UNION. Nothing else matters.

Posted by: Lou Gots at March 10, 2008 4:05 AM

Wasn't it also Reagan who said that if someone votes with us 60% of the time, they are not our enemy?

I guarantee that Reagan would have supported McCain. Why are those who worship him unable to do so?

Posted by: Steelhand [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 10, 2008 6:42 AM

Reagan raised taxes. Fair enough.

But don't forget to mention that the 1982 tax increase was Bob Dole's idea, rushed through Congress and signed by Reagan because of the harsh economic landscape (and early irrational fears of DEFICIT). The 1983 tax increase was supposed to be $2 of spending cut for every $1 of tax increase. Tip O'Neill promptly broke his word and allowed no spending cuts.

Once the economy came roaring back (starting in the spring of 1983), Reagan was politically much stronger and able to ignore the calls for more tax increases, but he never went back and tried to squeeze Tip on spending cuts. But these increases were minor compared to the impact of cutting the rates the way he did in 1981.

The SS tax increase (from '83, I believe) isn't explicitly mentioned (although it was probably a political necessity back then).

What Lou said, too.

Posted by: jim hamlen at March 10, 2008 7:26 AM

Intersting - from where I've sat it has been the conservatives sneering at and lecturing the moderates. And betrayal? That's all I've been hearing - do things our way or we conservatives will stab you in the back. And for a group that claims to be the 'base' of the party, they certainly do not seem able to get any of their candidates to win the primaries necessary for the nomination.

They are loud, that's for sure.

Posted by: Mikey [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 10, 2008 7:36 AM

Well, it appears Oj is being disingenuous again, massive income tax cuts, against a few loophole closed here and a gas tax there. My guess is Reagan cut taxes much more than he raised or let others increase. But I am way to lazy to try to quantify the numbers so Oj, you have my permission to continue to troll your blog along these lines.

Mikey’s comment totally loses me; I wonder what conservative base he is talking about.

Posted by: Perry at March 10, 2008 9:12 AM

The conservative base that has been in a continuous hissy fit at the Republican Party since about 1991. Look over the newspaper and magazine columns from back then, read those today (including blog posts and comments). "We will sit this election out!" "Vote for the Democrat so that the country can get damaged and we'll have a real conservative elected next time!" "RINO! You're all RINOs!" "The conservative base has been slapped again! They haven't nominated a true conservative!"

Or maybe you haven't read or heard any of that, Perry. Lord knows I've heard it a lot.

Posted by: Mikey [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 10, 2008 9:37 AM

I'm with you Mikey. The "Conservative" wing has the political skills of a angry three year old. I would just argue with your starting point. What about T.R.'s tantrum? What about the "Conservatives" who formed the Libertarian party? How can a bunch of people so eager for smaller government be so bad about self control?

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at March 10, 2008 10:57 AM

The fact that Ronald Reagan hiked taxes more than any other president doesn't mean he didn't also cut rates first. It just means he wasn't who the Right says he was.

Posted by: oj at March 10, 2008 11:33 AM

Ah, the old Reagan was just a puppet theory. Never heard that it was Bob Dole, who wasn't even majority leader, pulling the strings though.

Posted by: oj at March 10, 2008 11:44 AM

Where do you think Newt's famous description of Dole came from? Not from 1995, but much, much earlier. On taxes, Baker followed Dole's lead (just like he would in 1983).

Reagan was no puppet, but there was real fear regarding the economy in 1982. For example, after rising every year since probably 1947, the use of electricity actually declined slightly in 1982. Not headline news, but it explains why unemployment was so high (9% and change, as I remember). But things turned around pretty quickly - by the summer of 1983, only Tip was still crying about a depression.

The "Right" would have preferred Reagan be a dummy. He wasn't. Neither was Ike. Nixon was dumber than both of them (although the "Right" didn't like him, either).

Posted by: jim hamlen at March 10, 2008 12:45 PM

Nixon wasn't a dummy, he was a socialist. Sorry. He was a dummy.

Posted by: erp at March 10, 2008 1:58 PM

so not a puppet but a scaredy cat?

Posted by: oj at March 10, 2008 3:14 PM