How long before Republicans start asking for funds to have Ronald Reagan’s face carved out of granite alongside Lincoln’s on Mount Rushmore? Conservative politicians appear unable to give a speech these days without mentioning the holy trinity of divine truth and wisdom: Reagan, God and the Founding Fathers.
A piece in yesterday’s Washington Post (Five myths about Ronald Reagan’s legacy) should be required reading for all conservatives.
…much of what today’s voters think they know about the 40th president is more myth than reality, misconceptions resulting from the passage of time or from calculated attempts to rebuild or remake Reagan’s legacy.
So what might some of those myths be?
1. Reagan was one of our most popular presidents.
His average approval rating during his eight years? 52.8 percent – lower than Lyndon Johnson, H. W. Bush and Clinton.
2. Reagan was a tax-cutter.
He raised taxes in 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986 and 1987. Who got screwed? You guessed it – the middle class who “paid a higher percentage of their income in taxes when Reagan left office than when he came in.”
3. Reagan was a hawk.
He bombed Libya in 1986. Before that? Nothing. After that? Nothing.
4. Reagan shrank the federal government.
a) Spending grew by an average of 2.5 percent a year.
b) National debt when Reagan took office: $700 billion. National debt when Reagan left office: $3 trillion.
c) Number of federal employees when Reagan took office: 2.8 million. Number of federal employees when Reagan left office: 3 million.
Ronald Reagan has to be the most over-rated president in American history. The man was a conservative with charisma, charm and a Hollywood background who would be unable to get the backing of today’s Tea Party. Reagan was weak on immigration, he tripled the national debt, raised taxes and grew government – not quite your teabagger’s cup of tea.
As for what the Reagan years represented, Bill Clinton had it figured out in 1991.
“The Reagan-Bush years have exalted private gain over public obligation, special interests over the common good, wealth and fame over work and family. The 1980s ushered in a Gilded Age of greed and selfishness, of irresponsibility and excess, and of neglect.”
In the words of the Great One, tear down those myths!