(CNSNews.com) – House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said that former President Ronald Reagan would not be “comfortable” among the House Republican conference of today because House Republicans refuse to “compromise” on raising taxes. However, when Reagan famously cut taxes in 1981 against strong Democratic opposition in the Senate, a then-younger Rep. Steny Hoyer voted for those tax cuts.
“Reagan, of course, is somewhat out of style except theoretically nowadays,” said Hoyer at a press briefing on Tuesday at the Capitol. “Reagan would not have felt comfortable in my opinion in the Republican conference [because] he was prepared to sit down and work together.”
In citing Reagan, Hoyer criticized Republicans for wanting to pass a business tax cut while opposing the Buffett Rule, which would impose a 30 percent minimum income tax on people making more than $1 million per year.
“They rejected the Buffett Rule – which would say to the wealthiest among us, ‘pay your fair share’ – and at the same time give the wealthiest among us more,” Hoyer charged.
Hoyer also said that “clearly” all Americans would have to “make a contribution” toward solving the nation’s budget crisis but that wealthier people would have to pay more.
Reagan cut taxes in 1981 – the “Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981” -- reduced the overall marginal tax rate by 23 percent over three years, which included bringing the top rate down from 70 percent to 50 percent and the bottom rate from 14 percent to 11 percent.
Reagan's 1981 tax cuts also trimmed the estate tax, lowered taxes paid by corporations, and cut capital gains taxes by 8 percentage points. The Reagan cuts also indexed tax brackets to inflation, which prevented a type of hidden tax increase known as bracket creep, which occurs when inflation pushes people into higher tax brackets, forcing them to pay higher rates despite not actually making more money.
Reagan also raised some taxes in 1982 with the “Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982,” a decision that he later reportedly said was the biggest mistake he had ever made on the domestic policy front.
The 1982 law repealed some of the tax deductions in the 1981 tax cut bill. However, Reagan had agreed to the bill as part of a broader deal with House Democrats to cut spending – a $3 cut for every $1 tax increase -- a part of the bargain Democrats did not keep.
Between 1981 and 1987, the Republicans controlled the Senate and the Democrats controlled the House of Representatives. In 1986, the Democrats retained control of the Senate and held both chambers of Congress until 1994. Reagan served two terms as president from 1981 through 1988.