Nostalgia

January 12th, 2008

Three and a half years ago, a curious thing happened. A former US president passed away and his lying-in-state was televised almost continuously by the 24-hour news networks. Can’t we just leave the old Gipper dead?

Or at least stop totally misrepresenting him? He raised taxes.

Raised.

Taxes.

He raised them on California in 1967, he raised them nationally after his much-lauded 1981 cuts backfired. Particularly he raised payroll taxes, taxes that make up most of the money heading from working people — by which I mean anybody that has a job — put into the federal government, far more than they pay in income taxes or death taxes, the bugaboos of the Republican party, came from his tax increases.

Increases.

In your taxes.

That you pay.

To the government.

The goverment that’s here to help you. The government that the real President Reagan recognized had to act responsibly, as opposed to the phony, flim-flam, made-up hindsight Reagan that so many people like to look back on when they’re crafting duplicitous political rhetoric.

Simply aiming to always cut taxes, always increase military spending, never grant clemency, always cling tightly to the absolutist hard-line of your party faithful does the public a disservice. Things are more complicated than that. You can be frugal without being miserly. You can be strong without being belligerant.

8 Responses to “Nostalgia”

  1. morte Says:

    Best article I’ve seen on the mythology of Reagan in recent years (before his death)

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2003/0301.green.html

  2. Burrowowl Says:

    Good article there. I really meant this entry as a sideways compliment of the first President that I have conscious memory of. I disagree with a lot of the policies the man put forward, but he was pragmatic enough. The Republicans are starting to adopt at the national level the same kind of hard-nosed rhetorical purity that has kept them out of power in the California legislature for years. They seem to think that the public is incapable of differentiating between a modest, responsible revenue increase that was put to good use and the kinds of rampant tax-and-spend excesses normally associated with their opponents, the Democrats. It’s a shame, really.

  3. logtar Says:

    Reagan is also the first one I remember… and I was in another country.

  4. msilver Says:

    dumbing down everything I come across…

    http://chunkbot.com/junk/reaganomics.mp3

    killing me… killing YOU!

  5. Burrowowl Says:

    Wow, Chunkbot. Just… wow.

  6. morte Says:

    Pragmatism is the key here. Once Reagan (and David Stockman) realized that the supply-side magic wasn’t working the same way it was on the bar-napkin, they reversed course. I think Reagan does deserve some credit for this, unlike the stubborn George Bush, who appears incapable of recognizing error.

  7. Burrowowl Says:

    Exactly. I meant this post to be a compliment of sorts to the Reagan-that-was. He wasn’t the paragon of conservative virtue that his party now makes him out to be. The biggest problem with candidates like Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul is that they are so strongly inclined to stick to their ideological guns. Ideological purity may be well and fine for intellectual discussion, but where the cleats hit the turf you need to be flexible.

  8. morte Says:

    Not to continue this thread to infinity, but your point about ideological purity is precisely what I was teasing out with my Reagan comments. The Kucinichs and Pauls of the world are useful insofar as they represent an ideal to aim for (granted you agree with it in the first place). But real political leaders understand the limitations of ruling under constitutional arrangements and adapt. Not to mention that the public desires practical solutions, rather than ideological ones.

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