How did a non-church-attending, divorced, former-Democrat, Hollywood-insider politician become one of the most beloved icons of fundamentalists everywhere? It’s a good question.
The only possible answer is that Ronald Wilson Reagan stood for something that was so universally good that even fundies were able to look past his flaws. (The cowboy hats may also have helped.)
Rest in peace, Mr. President. We hardly knew ye.
18 thoughts on “Ronald Reagan”
Crack a history book once in a while.
I am deriving great joy from reading the old posts and finding faithful JTR there to comment on them all.
@JTR, please leave. Your comments are counter-productive to the purpose of this site. If there were a website loaded with content bashing realistic-minded, stable, sane individuals I would most likely stay away from it. Do everyone a favor and have that same courtesy for us. Goodbye.
Some of us are old enough to remember the Reagan Administration and don’t have to read it in a history book.
He WAS a fundamentalist! DUH!!!!
Damnit! it said “No Comments”, but when i posted, all of the sudden there were comments. Now my little joke makes no sense!
Love the “random posts” thingy on this blog. Today, it directed me here. This must have been in the very early days, with not so many readers. Sheesh, I could list lots of pros and cons about those Reagan years, but the day marches onward. 😉
You forgot ‘former union leader’ (Reagan was president of the Screen Actors Guild, and the only senior labor leader ever to become US President)
Let’s see now…Reagan
– consulted with astrologers (whether he actually used their advice on policy matters or just in his personal life makes no difference–the whole ‘appearance of evil’ thing, you know 😉 )
– sold advanced weapons to an enemy country (and an Islamic enemy country at that!) Weapons which may well have found their way to the battlefront against American service members.
– used the proceeds of said arms sales to fund a military intervention not authorized by Congress
– claimed he ‘didn’t remember’ the transaction and threw Oliver North under the bus in doing so
– expanded NEA funding every year he was in office – created the Department of Education
– was never *once* seen attending a church of any type (citing security concerns, which somehow never stopped Jimmy Carter before him or both Bushes, Clinton, and Obama after him. Maybe he lost confidence in the Secret Service after that whole Hinckley thing.)
I could go on here. I remember the Reagan years very well. Sounds *exactly* like a good Fundamentalist president to me! 😉
For the record, I’m not affiliated with any political party. I think Eisenhower was one of the greatest presidents of the 20th century; that both LBJ and Nixon sunk what would have been a brilliant legacy with their own insecurity-masking hubris; that Jimmy Carter is a better ex-president than he was a president; and that Clinton is a perfect example of a good leader not being a good person (with Al Gore–who put his own political reputation on the line defending Clinton’s second only to Hillary and Chelsea in terms of the damage inflicted by that man’s indiscretions).
You are sharp Steve Condrey ajc
To put it simply, our tax system is unfair, inequitable, counterproductive, and all but incomprehensible. I’ve mentioned before, and this is absolutely a fact, that even Albert Einstein had to write to the IRS for help with his Form 1040.
— Ronald Reagan
Only with the passage of time do we begin to fully appreciate the full vision of President Ronald Reagan and the achievements that resulted from that vision. The most commonly cited achievements of the Reagan dministration are ending the Cold War, rescuing the American economy from the doldrums of high inflation and high employment, and restoring America’s image both at home and abroad. Another remarkable, but rarely mentioned, contribution is the Tax Reform Act of 1986. The tax reform legislation which became law contained many key concepts from Reagan’s vision, even after going through the process of legislative compromise with an opposition majority in the House necessary to secure its passage. Presidential leadership can overcome the seemingly insurmountable obstacles which are encountered when undertaking any major reform efforts.
The 1986 Act did what most observers thought was impossible: reduce the complexity of the federal tax code. Originally, discussions for reform of the tax code focused on a flat tax system. This system has one tax rate, irrespective of income, and only limited deductions. However, going directly to a single—rate tax structure was not politically feasible, so a compromise emerged from Congress.
Prior to this reform there were eleven income tax brackets with marginal rates ranging from 11% to 50%. In addition, the code was filled with a myriad of deductions and shelters which motivated business and individuals to enter into arrangements not on their economic merits, but rather for the tax consequences. With the passage of the Act, the number of brackets was reduced to three with marginal rates of 15%, 28%, and 33%. In addition, many deductions were eliminated, which reduced many of the economic distortions caused by the previous tax complexity. The end result was a flatter and simpler tax structure.
With the Act’s passage, the United States had the lowest marginal tax rates of any major economy. This reform extended the economic expansion brought on by the Reagan tax cuts of 1981 and was one of the foundations that fueled the 1990s boom.
What is perhaps the most remarkable about this legislation is that it required Reagan and his supporters in Congress to confront nearly every powerful interest group, all of which thrived on their own special provisions in the tax code. Not only did President Reagan have to overcome K Street objections and pressures, he had to forge an alliance with the Democratically—controlled House of Representatives —— and its Ways and Means Committee from which all tax bills must originate.
While many played a role in passing this reform, it was the direct result of Reagan’s vision and leadership. Even before entering politics, Reagan spoke of the need to simplify the tax code and also campaigned on it in all of his Presidential bids. Once the major initiatives of his first term, economic revitalization and confronting the Soviet Union were underway, he turned his attention to tax reform. He campaigned on it in his 1984 reelection campaign and made it a high priority after handily winning reelection.
In keeping with his leadership style, President Reagan left the details of implementing the vision to key aides, but provided leadership when necessary to break impasses which appeared to have stopped the reform initiative. At times, the pundits thought that tax reform was dead. Yet through his personal efforts Reagan was able to keep it alive and get most of what he wanted. When required, he would he would intervene and broker a deal behind closed doors. However, he was most effective when he communicated his vision for a fairer and simpler tax code directly to the American people. President Reagan summarized the power of capturing the support of the American people at the bill’s signing ceremony on October 22, 1986:
The journey’s been long, and many said we’d never make it to the end. But as usual the pessimists left one thing out of their calculations: the American people. They haven’t made this the freest country and the mightiest economic force on this planet by shrinking from challenges. They never gave up. And after almost three years of commitment and hard work, one headline in the Washington Post told the whole story: “The Impossible Became the Inevitable,” and the dream of America’s fair—share tax plan became a reality.
HOW DID THE REAGAN TAX CUTS AFFECT THE U.S. TREASURY?
Many critics of reducing taxes claim that the Reagan tax cuts drained the U.S. Treasury. The reality is that federal revenues increased significantly between 1980 and 1990:
Total federal revenues doubled from just over $517 billion in 1980 to more than $1 trillion in 1990. In constant inflation-adjusted dollars, this was a 28 percent increase in revenue.3
As a percentage of the gross domestic product (GDP), federal revenues declined only slightly from 18.9 percent in 1980 to 18 percent in 1990.4
Revenues from individual income taxes climbed from just over $244 billion in 1980 to nearly $467 billion in 1990.5 In inflation-adjusted dollars, this amounts to a 25 percent increase.
HOW DID REAGAN’S POLICIES AFFECT FEDERAL SPENDING?
Although critics continue to focus on President Reagan’s budget “cuts,” federal spending rose significantly during the 1980s:
Federal spending more than doubled, growing from almost $591 billion in 1980 to $1.25 trillion in 1990. In constant inflation-adjusted dollars, this was an increase of 35.8 percent.6
As a percentage of GDP, federal expenditures grew slightly from 21.6 percent in 1980 to 21.8 percent in 1990.7
Contrary to popular myth, while inflation-adjusted defense spending increased by 50 percent between 1980 and 1989, it was curtailed when the Cold War ended and fell by 15 percent between 1989 and 1993. However, means-tested entitlements, which do not include Social Security or Medicare, rose by over 102 percent between 1980 and 1993, and they have continued climbing ever since.8
Lowering taxes. While the Reagan tax cuts of the early 1980s—dropping the top rate from 70 percent to 28 percent and indexing tax brackets for inflation—get much of the attention by economic historians, don’t forget the capital gains tax cut of 1978, authored by Republican William Steiger and signed reluctantly by Jimmy Carter, or the 1997 capital gains tax cut signed by President Clinton. The economic rationale behind lowering tax rates is that high taxes can discourage work, savings, and investment and encourage tax avoidance and evasion.
“Until very recently, there had been a growing bipartisan consensus, acknowledged at least implicitly, that you cannot run a high-tax [economic] regime and be competitive,” says Lawrence Lindsey, a former economic adviser to President Bush. Indeed, it’s tough to find an economist or politician who advocates a return to 1970 levels of taxation, though they may gripe that tax cuts are infrequently matched by spending cuts, resulting in big budget deficits. As Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisors stated in 1994, “It is undeniable that the sharp reduction in taxes in the 1980s was a strong impetus to growth.”
A recent paper by David and Christina Romer of the University of California-Berkeley examined U.S. tax cuts since World War II and found that “tax increases appear to have a very large, sustained, and highly significant negative impact on output … [and] that tax cuts have very large and persistent positive output effects.” Now every economist isn’t for every tax cut—David Romer himself was against the Bush tax cuts—but as a general guideline, lower taxes seem to be better for economic growth than higher taxes.
He didn’t whine about the crap-sandwich he inherited from Jimmy Carter. He didn’t think the government was the answer to every problem. He thought (correctly) that the federal government WAS the problem. “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.'” – Ronald Reagan
He has a piece of the Berlin Wall next to his grave in California. He played a large role in winning the Cold War when the geniuses at the New York Times said it could never be done, and he was a fool to try. He didn’t “save or create” jobs. He presided over the creation of 16 Million net new jobs, 2 Million jobs per year every year of his Presidency. He believed the most powerful force for positive change in America was the American people. He got the government out of the way, and the country prospered at every level.
He was a great President.
Like an after-evaluation on any public figure, both Steve and After Glow list actual facts, in among the obvious slants one way or another. I am not going to debate them, because facts are, after all, what they are. What I would like to state as my own real experience, so, okay, not fact, is that I have prayed for very leader we have had in the White House for the last 35 years. Some of them I had not voted for, and was not initially thrilled about their election.
You probably already know this, but when one prays for someone regularly, one gets caught up in hopes for that person. Hopes not only that he will do the right thing, but hopes for yes, his personal welfare. I cannot sneer at any of these men, nor can I wish them harm, as a result. I have come to love them, and to wish good things for them.
So, one of the things that bugs me about fundies is this complete disregard for the instruction in the Word to pray for our leaders, to recognize just Who, after all, really put them into place, and the fundy habit of trash-talking them. Steve and After Glow, I know neither of you did that! I refer now to postings to FB from my fellow church members, rants from pulpits, etc.
Prayer has not made me agree with these men. It has simply made me care about them.
Rant over. 😳
I have a lot of respect for Ronald Reagan’s legacy. I’ve served under him as my commander-in-chief, and have seen him up close and personal on many occasions.
That’s my personal opinion.