Jeb Bush recently found himself in hot water like a crustacean at Red Lobster for saying former president Ronald Reagan would have a tough time being accepted by today’s Republican Party.
Bush took criticism from his own party for his comments, but he brought up an interesting point… that was dead on.
Members of the modern-day Republican Party, from Eric Cantor to Scott Walker, have praised Reagan – or at least their version of Reagan.
Cantor seemed to have a hard time accepting Reagan raised taxes, while his Press Secretary flat out denied it during a CBS interview with Leslie Stahl that aired earlier this year.
Cantor responds like a wife who was just told her husband is having an affair: blindsided, then focusing on the good times, as if such a thing would never happen. The Press Secretary’s reaction is so void of reality that I can’t even come up with an adequate analogy.
Anybody that went to school has likely heard of the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982. To this day, it is the highest tax increase during peacetime in American history. Take a wild guess who brought that policy to the shindig?
Reagan brought tax increases to the party like most people bring six packs of beer. Reagan raised taxes 11 times, including the Highway Revenue Act, which raised the gasoline tax and the Tax Reform Act of 1986, which raised the capitol gains tax from 20% to 28%. Wait a minute, wasn’t there someone else that recently spoke of raising the capital gains rate?
As we mentioned in March, taxes are lower now under the current Obama administration than under Reagan.
I find it strange that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker would suggest Mitt Romney follow in the steps of Ronald Reagan. Considering Walker’s recent policies against unions, it’s mind boggling that he would speak highly of a former union leader. Reagan served on the Board of Directors before eventually becoming president of the Screen Actors Guild. Reagan carried out seven one-year terms as the SAG’s president from 1947 to 1952, and again in 1959.
Reagan actually spoke very highly of unions, saying: “Collective bargaining in the years since has played a major role in America’s economic miracle. Unions represent some of the freest institutions in this land. There are few finer examples of participatory democracy to be found anywhere.”
Reagan and Romney do have something in common: flip-flopping. Before Reagan was pro-life, he signed in the Therapeutic Abortion Act as California Governor. Yes, the Republican’s golden goose is the man that legalized abortion in California.
Could you imagine Reagan if he were running today, sharing the debate stage with the likes of Bachmann, Perry, Romney and Santorum when that factoid came up?
Reagan also nominated Sandra Day O’Connor in 1981 as the first woman justice on the Supreme Court. Retired Justice O’Connor was also a strong defender of a woman’s right to choose.
As pointed out in our previous entry, Reagan also supported immigration reform that gave amnesty to nearly 3 million illegal immigrants. That’s a far cry from Herman Cain’s electrified fence or Romney’s hope of self-deportation.
Unlike today’s GOP members, Reagan regularly worked with the Democrats in congress, even forming a friendship with the Lion of the Senate, Ted Kennedy.
The concept of reaching compromises with the Democrats did not always sit well with a faction of Reagan’s own party, which he wrote about in his autobiography, An American Life:
“When I began entering into the give and take of legislative bargaining in Sacramento, a lot of the most radical conservatives who had supported me during the election didn’t like it. “Compromise” was a dirty word to them and they wouldn’t face the fact that we couldn’t get all of what we wanted today. They wanted all or nothing and they wanted it all at once. If you don’t get it all, some said, don’t take anything.”
“I’d learned while negotiating union contracts that you seldom got everything you asked for. And I agreed with FDR, who said in 1933: ‘I have no expectations of making a hit every time I come to bat. What I seek is the highest possible batting average.’ If you got 75 or 80 percent of what you were asking for, I say, you take it and fight for the rest later, and that’s what I told these radical conservatives who never got used to it.”
Sounds like advice that the modern-day Republicans would be smart to follow.
Judging by the decisions being made by today’s Republican Party, Reagan’s words would likely fall on deaf ears.
The GOP of Reagan’s era is long gone, replaced with a party whose members:
- Pledge to not raise taxes
- Attack worker’s unions
- Seek constitutional amendments against same-sex couples
- Protect corporations before citizens
- Blocked jobs bills to benefit the unemployed
- Limit women’s access to contraception and healthcare
- Blocked a strengthened Equal Pay Act for women
- Banned female representatives from the Michigan House floor for saying “Vagina”
- Continue the failed policy of trickle-down economics
- Support an unpaid war our men and women were led under false pretenses
The radical conservatives Reagan had difficulty with, now are the GOP. The inmates are truly running the asylum.