And what about the debt? Oh, yeah. The "trillion-dollar debt" Reagan told Realtors about was about $994 billion when he took office. When he left office, it was $2.87 trillion. Democrats love to point that out. Republicans love to punch right back and say that Reagan had to wrestle with a Democratic Congress, so his ability to cut spending was limited.
Rush Limbaugh loves to make that last point. What he -- and Slate writer David Weigel -- habitually leave out is this: Reagan sent his own proposed budget to Congress each year. And each year, his budget would have resulted in an even worse deficit than did the one offered by Congress.
Twenty years ago, most people understood that fact. But too many kids these days get their history from...well, from Rush Limbaugh.
The idea that Reagan was powerless in the face of spend-crazy congressional libruls is ridiculous. Then as now, all the Ds ran scared, pretty much all the time. And the conservative Blue Dog Democrats were, arguably, an even weightier presence. There was no progressive blogosphere -- no progressive media of any kind, aside from The Nation and Pacifica radio. Reagan easily won most of his fights. Reaganism won the battle of the weltanschauungs.
After a protracted recession, the Reagan administration created a precarious prosperity through unprecedented defense spending. "Military Keynesianism," it was called. That monstrous overspending on weaponry was the real reason for the massive debt. The public put up with it because relentless Republican propaganda had convinced the country that the government spent more on welfare and foreign aid than on defense. In reality, of course, welfare was but a tiny sliver of the pie, while defense spending reached the 40 percent range -- maybe higher, depending on whose figures you use. (Much depends on how you tote up Veterans' benefits, Department of Energy expenditures, intelligence spending and the like.)
If the conservatives want to crow about Reagan, they must also confess that Ronald Reagan initiated the era of massive deficits. Nobody in the country could offer much of an argument when Lloyd Bentsen, during the 1988 vice presidential debate, observed: "You know, if you let me write $200 billion worth of hot checks every year, I could give you an illusion of prosperity, too."
Now we have the hot checks without the illusion of prosperity. Who says there's no progress? Speaking of Republican framing: In the video below, Bill Maher has some important words on that topic, although he doesn't get to that subject until about the three minute mark.
Neither Reagan or G.W.B. could not have passed the budgets that took us into the path of deficits without the Democrats in congress. FDR left a great legacy that the politicians of his own party helped destroy. I can't see how we can defend those who betrayed the American working class, while all along pretending to represent them. That the budgets Reagan sent were worse than the ones passed by Democrats or with the help of Democrats cannot be used to defend those asses.
posted by Anonymous : 3:54 AM
It goes to show just how strong a President FDR was that he could push through his programs in the face of republican opposition and the back stabbing, sniveling cowards of the Democratic party.
In 2008 working class, blue collar Democrats chose Hillary Clinton to be our presidential candidate but the O-thugs gave it to Ronald Obama.
Come 2012 Obama will get the big city machine (graveyard) votes but not much else. Blue Collar Dems will stay home or, if the republicans are smart enough to field one, vote for a John McCain type moderate.
posted by Mr. Mike : 9:41 AM
Don't forget that Reagan presided over the biggest tax increase in history too. That one's always forgotten.