Invoking President Ronald Reagan’s name to support increasing taxes is like invoking Franklin Roosevelt to support spending cuts—it’s nothing short of ignorant.
Between 1937 and 1938, FDR approved a 17 percent cut in government spending. Does that make FDR a "wild-eyed, conservative, government-slashing capitalist"? Was President Roosevelt practicing “social Darwinism” with these “draconian” spending cuts?
It would take similarly perverse and disingenuous logic to claim that President Reagan was a “wild-eyed, socialist, tax-hiking class warrior.” But, that’s exactly what President Obama said this week.
Mr. President, here are the facts about President Reagan’s record:
- In President Ronald Reagan’s inaugural address he said: “All of us together, in and out of government, must bear the burden. The solutions we seek must be equitable, with no one group singled out to pay a higher price.”
- On August 13, 1981, President Reagan signed the biggest tax cut in American history—a 25 percent cut for all Americans.
- By the end of his presidency, the top tax rate was 28 percent.
- In the same speech President Obama referenced, President Reagan said: “Lower, flatter tax rates will give Americans more confidence in the future…It'll mean if you work overtime or get a raise or a promotion or if you have a small business and are able to turn a profit, more of that extra income will end up where it belongs -- in your wallets, not in Uncle Sam's pockets.”
Now that we have President Reagan's record straight, let’s break down President Obama’s statement point-by-point:
Was President Reagan “wild-eyed”?
Not exactly. President Reagan had poor eyesight (nearsighted), but that’s got nothing to do with taxes.
Was President Reagan “socialist”?
No. President Reagan said, "Socialism only works in two places: Heaven where they don't need it and hell where they already have it."
Was President Reagan a “tax-hik[er]”?
No. On the aggregate of his presidency, this claim couldn’t be more false. He did approve a few liberal-proposed tax hikes in exchange for spending cuts (which never happened as promised), but tax rates were dramatically lowered for every single American over his two terms.
Was President Reagan a “class warrior”?
No. Unlike the current administration, President Reagan focused on broad tax reform for all Americans. President Reagan never attacked, demonized, or singled-out any particular income group. He did not believe in classes. He believed in a united America, wealthy Americans included. While Reagan supported (as conservatives do now) cutting loopholes and lowering rates, that’s nothing similar to the proposed “Buffet Rule,” which singularly raises tax rates on successful Americans.
What would the “Reagan Rule” be?
President Reagan wanted lower taxes and a smaller tax code. The “Reagan Rule” would cut taxes for everyone—no rate higher than 28 percent—and get rid of most of the current loopholes.
We hope to see a proposal like this from the Obama administration sometime soon.
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