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Reagan was no hero but he played one in a movie

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Bush leaves in his wake a divided GOP, reduced to summoning up the corpse of Ronald Reagan about whom his party will tell you the same old lies, the same old GOP propaganda. This is to be expected from a party that regurgitates the same failed policies, the same old formulae. Whomever gets the GOP nod will use Reagan's name a lot. Short on results, short on heroes, short on truth, the GOP noise and propaganda machine can be counted to invoke Reagan's ghost as Giuliani summoned up the specter of 911. Give these poor schmucks a break! A glossed-over, revisionist memory of Reagan is all this miserable, morally bankrupt party has left.

The truth is Reagan failed this nation in three significant areas --the economy, the prospects for world peace, and a case of treason: Iran-Contra.

The origins of the biggest myth about Ronald Reagan are most certainly found in Reagan's words when he accepted the party's nomination in 1980.
We need rebirth of the American tradition of leadership at every level of government and in private life as well. The United States of America is unique in world history because it has a genius for leaders -- many leaders -- on many levels. But, back in 1976, Mr. Carter said, "Trust me." And a lot of people did. Now, many of those people are out of work.

--Ronald Reagan, Acceptance Speech at the 1980 Republican Convention

A promise never kept. Here's the truth from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Job Growth Per Year Under Most Recent Presidents 8

Johnson 3.8% Carter 3.1 Clinton 2.4 Kennedy 2.3 Nixon 2.3 Reagan 2.1 Bush 0.6

--Steve Kangas, quoting Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics Survey
The Reagan economy never equaled the Carter economy. The job creation rate under Reagan never equaled that of the GOPs demon du jour --Jimmy Carter. Carter is still unfairly libeled and reviled by the extremists and liars of the GOP mainstream.

In the following chart, notice that the 1979 unemployment rate was not recovered until 1988.
Unemployment Rate 5

1960 5.5% 1965 4.5 1970 5.0 1975 8.5 1976 7.7 1977 7.1 1978 6.1 1979 5.9 1980 7.2 1981 7.6 1982 9.7 1983 9.6 1984 7.5 1985 7.2 1986 7.0 1987 6.2 1988 5.5 1989 5.3 1990 5.5 1991 6.7 1992 7.4

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In fairness, it must be pointed out that many Reagan policies originated with the Carter administration; notably, Carter actually increased defense spending. If the policies worked, Reagan could take credit for them. If they didn't work, Reagan and the GOP noise machine always had Carter to blame! The GOP still bad-mouths Carter though there is not a Republican who can carry Carter's water.
When I talk of tax cuts, I am reminded that every major tax cut in this century has strengthened the economy, generated renewed productivity and ended up yielding new revenues for the government by creating new investment, new jobs and more commerce among our people.

--Ronald Reagan, Acceptance Speech at the 1980 Republican Convention

That's a famous Reagan half-truth. Keynesian, Democratic tax cuts, indeed, stimulate economies but only under Democratic regimes --not under GOP regimes. The reason: Democratic tax cuts are egalitarian, benefiting all income groups and classes. GOP tax cuts, by contrast, are deliberately inequitable, benefiting only rich cronies, the corporate establishment, the Military/Industrial complex and other corporate supporters of the GOP establishment. GOP tax cuts are a payoff, just as were the no-bid contracts to Halliburton, Blackwater et al! I've got the stats from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Census Bureau, and the BEA to prove it.

Despite his over-blown, high sounding rhetoric, Reagan's "trickle down" tax cut of 1982 was quickly followed by a depression lasting some two years --the longest and deepest depression since Herbert Hoover's "Great Depression".

At the end of two years of hardship, Americans were no better off. The GDP growth rate of some three percent was no better at the end of two years of hardship than it had been before the Reagan crash. Nothing had been gained.

The Reagan years can be summed up briefly. He doubled the size of the Federal Bureaucracy and tripled the national deficit. The most pernicious effect of GOP economic policy is the effect of declining opportunity, a corollary of decline in wealth among all but the very rich.

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It is merely rhetorical to ask: why does the GOP seem to repeat ad nauseum utterly failed strategies that have never been shown to work? Reagan's Budget Director, David Stockman called Reaganomics a 'Trojan Horse'. He understood that the purpose of the tax was not really intended to trickle down. Rather, the tax cuts always do precisely what the GOP insiders know they will do: they enrich the GOP base! Here is how someone who lived through the Reagan nightmare remembers it:

I was in the automotive field at the time, and dozens and dozens of established tool manufacturers, unionized shops, producing high quality tools, small companies with deep roots and real a commitment to the towns they were in all across the Midwest and the local communities, went out of business. Why? Because with deregulation any hustler could get virtually unlimited financing and set up manufacturing plants overseas producing exact copies of American made tools and flood the US market with them with no fear of the Reagan administration enforcing any laws against them. It also became easier, and far less risky, to get financing to set up a thousand junky identical chain outlets than it did for small local businesses to get credit or tax relief - restaurants, auto parts stores, hardware stores, grocery stores, florists - thousands and thousands of small businesses chewed up and destroyed. We have a younger generation of people who have no personal experience with so many things - local businesses and tight knit communities, affordable, convenient and efficient public transportation, wages that allowed one person in a household enough income to support the family, homes that were homes, not investments, easy access to public recreation, confidence in the safety of food and other consumer items, all regulated and inspected for the public welfare, freedom from the relentless intrusion of corporations into our lives, and on and on and on. Reagan destroyed the country, and if we try to gloss over that (which at the very least Obama's remarks have done) or if we buy into the dishonest rationales and excuses and obfuscations that the Reagan administration used to disguise their agenda and to sell it to the public, we surrender any chance at real change, we bury the coffin forever into which the right wingers have put the left - and by extension, the majority of the American people, and we condemn ourselves to living in this ongoing nightmare of destruction and human suffering. It is not time to make nice with the Reagan legacy propagandists, even by implication or omission. It is time to relentlessly and fearlessly point out that the crisis the country is in is best described and analyzed as the chickens coming home to roost from the Reagan era. It is time to fight. It is not time to heal or move on-no matter how attractive and appealing this may be-it is not time to paper over the profound divide in the country, it is not time to accommodate or apologize for

--Found on the Democratic Underground

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Len Hart is a Houston based film/video producer specializing in shorts and full-length documentaries. He is a former major market and network correspondent; credits include CBS, ABC-TV and UPI. He maintains the progressive blog: The (more...)

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