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Ronald Reagan: The Bad and the Ugly

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It is amazing to me how people get a selective memory when speaking about those that have passed away. Case in point, President Reagan. He passed away this week, and from news reports, you would think that the man was Mother Teresa. I’ll concede the fact that he’s responsible for scaring the bejesus out of Gorbachev and ending the cold war, and he was a good public speaker, but he wasn’t a saint! Since it seems that the media outlets and the Republican spin machine will continue talking about the “good” of Reagan, let’s talk a little about the bad and the ugly, shall we?

The Bad: Reaganomics. This so-called economic concept of Ronald Reagan was that if you cut taxes you would increase Federal Revenues since economic activity would increase. The increase in economic activity would bring with it increased Federal tax revenues. In other words the tax cut would be self liquidating and self paying since any lost revenues for the moment would almost immediately be made up by increased revenues in the future. It didn’t cost anything, therefore, to lower taxes and the economy would be stimulated to new heights.

In truth, Reaganomics was a smoke screen for a hidden agenda. Taxes were cut, only in the first year of his presidency, to keep the American public happy while a plan to increase the national debt by $2.5 trillion was being concocted. What for? The United States systematically overspent on national defense to crush the Soviet Union since it was obvious they couldn’t keep up. It took Reaganomics only 8 years to increase the national debt from $1 trillion to about $3.5 trillion!

Reaganomics Key Points:

  • The national debt when Ronald Reagan took office was about $1 trillion. That included in it all the debt run up for the Revolutionary war, the Spanish-American war, the Civil war, World War I, World War II, the Korean war, the Vietnam war and all the Social wars of the 1930’s and subsequent years. In other words it took the United States from 1776 until 1980 or more than 200 years to accumulate a national debt of $1 trillion.
  • Ronald Reagan left us a national debt of about $3.5 trillion or $3,500 billion.
  • Given the spending habits established by the legacy of Ronald Reagan the national debt is now a little over $7 trillion!
  • The interest cost on the national debt now runs about $318 billion a year! When Ronald Reagan took office they were about $53 billion a year.

So, feel free to give Reagan props for ending the Cold War, but don’t perpetuate the myth of fabulous Reaganomics. The end of the Cold War came with a $2.5 trillion price tag attached to it, don’t try and tell us that it was free!

The Ugly: the closing of mental health hospitals in California and across the United States. Is it any wonder that California seems to have all of the crazy homeless people? State mental hospitals were taken away by Governor Reagan in the seventies, and federal mental health programs were later taken away by President Reagan in the eighties.

When Ronald Reagan was governor of California he systematically began closing down mental hospitals, later as president he would cut aid for federally-funded community mental health programs. It is not a coincidence that the homeless populations in the state of California grew in the seventies and eighties. The people were put out on the street when mental hospitals started to close all over the state.

Seeing an increase in crime, and brutal murders by Herb Mullin, a mental hospital patient, the state legislature passed a law that would stop Reagan from closing even more state-funded mental health hospitals. But Reagan would not be outdone. In 1980, congress proposed new legislation (PL 96-398) called the community mental health systems act (crafted by Ted Kennedy), but the program was killed by newly-elected President Ronald Reagan. This action ended the federal community mental health centers (see timeline on this link) program and its funding.

In closing, the next time you pass by a homeless person in downtown San Francisco screaming to themselves at the top of their lungs, remember Reagan. And if your kids need to go out and get jobs at age 9 to pay down the national debt, be sure to tell them that they can thank Ronald Reagan, and now President Bush, for their misfortune.

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About Fabian

  • http://www.9t9.net/Screed/nemo Johnny Nemo

    The best description of Reaganomics I ever heard was from critic R. Fiore, who said, “The idea is that if you give rich people enough money, they’ll be forced to hire some poor people to help them carry it around.”

  • Howard Owens

    First, I’ve never been a fan of supply-side ecnoomics, but point in fact — Reagan’s policy, including the deficit spending, caused what some consider a deliberate recession that halted double-digit inflation. We haven’t had any real inflation worries since. Also, the deficit basically proved to be a joke as we retired it in just a couple of years of good times. Also, many economist believe large deficits are a good thing. Governemnt deficits for an economy as large as ours have never really been proven to be a bad thing. We just assume that it is, because it’s bad for individuals and corporations — but large governments? Maybe not. Finally, your history is faulty on the deficit. There was no deficit when Kennedy became president. He was the first president to see a deficit start to accumulate. Nixon was the run who really ramped it up, but of course, Reagan (combined with a Democratic Congress that approved his budgets (don’t forget that little fact), did really run the tab up a bit.

    Also, Reagan didn’t kick mentally ill people out on the street — the Supreme Court did. And it was a Supreme Court that at the time was largely made up of Democratic appointees. The Court ruled that it violated due process to hold mentally ill people in state-run institutions wihtout their consent. Reagan had NOTHING to do with it.

    As for my kids at age 9 needing jobs — the current debt has absolutely nothing to do with Reagan. The debt was completely retired under Clinton. You can blame the current debt on Bush, if anybody, if blame needs to be assigned.

    BTW: How come the Democrats always ignore the fact that Reagan legalized abortion in California BEFORE Roe vs. Wade? Also, Reagan appointed the first woman to the Supreme Court.

    He also signed legislation creating MLK day.

    Also, the Welfare reform of 1996, which Clinton gets great credit for, and has been a great success, was based largely on policies instituted by Reagan when he was Gov. of California.

  • http://naproom.mu.nu Tom

    Good points Howard.

  • Shark

    re: Reaganomics ‘hidden agenda’ — don’t forget “starve the beast”, ie. break the fed relative to assisting the poor and underprivileged — while greatly increasing the corporate welfare in the form of “defense spending”

    (Remember those $600 hammers?)

    Raygun was also responsible for turning the interior dept into a corporate partner with land rapers, um developers/resource thieves.

    (Remember James “have some land for oil drilling” Watt?)

    Raygun also began the ‘demonization’ of ‘regulations’ — which, imo, has not only continued/accelerated with Bush, but done more damage to this nation that most other political crimes from the past 30 or so years.

    Raygun also solidified the Christoid Coalition w/the GOP, started that “family values” smokescreen crap, and pretty much ignored the pandemic of AIDS for far too long.

    AND NOW —

    On The Positive Side: Raygun’s futuristic, visionary style brought back the… um… cowboy hat and horseback riding — 19th century relics too often neglected in the final decades of the 20th century.

  • John-z

    Another spinless poster in Fabian Gonzalez. It’s one thing to kick a man when he is down but another when the man has just passed. I haven’t been on this site long but I am quickly finding that it is more of a politicly-left charged site than what it is advertised to be.

  • http://www.foliage.com/~marks Mark Saleski

    this site isn’t right or left john….but what you’re seeing this year is elements of the left who are sick and tired of the constant tar & feather treatment they’ve been getting.

  • John-z

    “Sick of tar and feather treatment”.

    It’s 2004 and everyone except a straight middle age white man is a damn victim of something.

    I guess next illegal immigrants will become victims because they can’t speak or understand english.

  • http://www.filteringcraig.com Craig Lyndall

    “this site isn’t right or left john….but what you’re seeing this year is elements of the left who are sick and tired of the constant tar & feather treatment they’ve been getting.”

    Are you kidding? Everyone in their mother is spewing from the left constantly. Name all the celebrities and news commentators, etc who have come out on the right.

    (Crickets chirping) Rush Limbaugh, Dennis Miller, Bill O’Reilly, Michael Savage

    Name all the ones who have come out on the left.

    Michael Moore, Howard Stern, Bill Maher, Tim Robbins, Susan Surandon, Alanis Morrissette, Jack Black, Moby, Janeane Garafalo, Johnny Depp, Dixie Chicks, David Cross, Maynard James Keenan, NOFX, Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin, John Cusack, Barbra Streisand, Jessica Lange, Robert Redford, Dustin Hoffman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Robert Altman, Eddie Vedder, Kim Bassinger, Rob Reiner, Woopie Goldberg, and that is just a partial list.

    So don’t you give me the “tired of being tar and feathered story.” People are tired of being slammed in the fucking face with anti-bush “he didn’t win the election” rhetoric all of the time. And another thing.

    If the democrats want to win the election, they should realize this kind of preaching is just reaching the choir. It is alienating any potential swing voters because it is just stupid name-calling. Your protests have been noted again and again. Time for something else that might be convincing to those on the fence.

    Sick and tired of tars and feathers? I am sick and tired of lefty name calling bullshit. I am on the fence in this election, but I would hate to agree with some of these smug pricks on the left. It sickens me.

  • http://www.foliage.com/~marks Mark Saleski

    boo fuckin’ hoo.

    your tiny little list is dwarfed by the enormous list of right wing talk radio hosts, pundit shows and op-ed writers.

    personally, i’m not tired of being tarred & feather with the label ‘liberal’…considering the sources.

  • John-z

    Craig couldn’t have said it any better. The truth hurts.

  • http://www.foliage.com/~marks Mark Saleski

    no the ‘truth’ doesn’t hurt..but ignorance tickles.

  • John-z

    If ignorance tickels then you must laugh with minimal brain activity.

  • http://www.foliage.com/~marks Mark Saleski

    take it out…i have to poop.

  • JR

    Everyone and their mother is spewing from the left constantly.

    Everybody can’t be on the left. Maybe what you’re hearing from is actually the center.

  • http://chairmankc.tblog.com/ chairmankc

    Bush and Company are trying to bask in the too-positive media spotlight on Reagan by portraying him as the heir to the Reagan legacy. I don’t know if I can blame them for trying but 2 things in their technique strike me as sad and silly. (1) they deny doing it and (2) they simultaneously try to distance themselves from those parts of the Reagan platform with which most Americans disagree. More at http://chairmankc.tblog.com/

  • boomcrashbaby

    Bush is as similiar to Reagan as a pretzel is to a jelly bean.

    (Notice how Reagan ‘solved’ the cold war without invasion?)

  • http://www.parida.com/reaganomics.html Pierre Andre’ Rinfret

    AA chunk of this is plaguerized from the following website:

    http://www.parida.com/reaganomics.html

    I bet a great deal of the information presented here is also stolen.

  • Ryan

    actually the debt up until Reagan was accumlated since the administration of Andrew Jackson. Jackson actually successfully paid off the national debt, and returned the profit back to each individual citizen. That was the last time the country was out of debt.

  • I am in USA 15 years, came as refugee from former Soviet Union. Work for government with mentally re

    I am in USA 15 years, came as refugee from former Soviet Union. Neurologist for 20 yeasr. PhD in medicine. Work for US government with mentally retarded and disabled people. Now we complain about wrong decisions of Reagan. Man was, obvioiusly, already sick when he made them. In our days science invented PET SCAN of brain in order to discover which areas of brain is fnctioning and which are NOT. Why do not check every candidate to public official position for healthy, fully functional condition of their Frontal Lobes of Brain, which responsible for sound judgment, vision of future consequences of their actions, shame, moral, consideration, love for others and connection with higher power? Why even IQ is not checked? When we give the power over our lves and lives of the whole world in the hands of one person (now even congress has no say for six months in case of emergency according to Bush’s new law)? And we even do not want to know condition of mental health of this person and his ability to make rightheous decisions. Olga

  • Maurice

    Unfortunately IQ alone does not help. President Jimmy Carter had a high IQ but is routinely listed as one of the worst presidents.

  • Clark

    I am sixteen years old and I have been searching for articles about ronald regan because me and my “Colleagues”we where having a political debate.Where I live people support Presidential Candidates for issues like pro choice (Texas Cough) anywho my friend said that he thought ronald regan was a good President,and I asked him why he liked him.he couldnt come with a single reason why but i knew.Because he is a republican and his Ignorant republican parents taught him that. see,the problem with people these days is they are not informed about politics.they just want to base it on the party they were taught that is good and vote for it thats how Dubya got elected

  • http://www.amarketplaceofideas.com Fred X

    You liberal guys think like women. By and large illogically. Only emotionally. If you ever really meant business you would stop coercing us who do not agree with you to pay taxes. Certainly you believe in your causes enough to spend every last one of your dimes before asking for one of mine right? …uh….didn’t think so.

  • Jordan Richardson

    I have no problem “thinking like a woman.” Most of them are smarter than me, anyway. It would be an upgrade for me and it certainly looks like it would be one for you, too, Fred.

  • bliffle

    Perhaps “Fred X” will someday emerge from the intellectual fog that he lives in and come to realize that all that ‘irrational’ and ‘emotional’ facade has just been a convenient ruse that women have used to confuse him so that they may do exactly what their logic tells them to do.

    Then again, he may not. I’ve even heard grown men say such things as Fred.

  • Joe

    Bliffle I don’t even think I have to mention your blatant sexism. Also, if honouring the three main tenets of our country (life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness) makes one womanly than I suppose Thomas Jefferson was a flaming dandy in your book (a book, I suspect, which would condone the persecution of said dandies).

  • Cindy D

    bliffle sexist? pffft. You need glasses Joe either that or learn to read.

  • Jon

    You forgot to mention that Reaganomics cut down inflation to 1.9%, and in fact, the real income (adjusted for inflation) of the poorest fifth of U.S. households increased by 12 percent in the 1980s

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    Reaganomics has miserably failed this country for the last thirty years…no amount of mathematical razzale-dazzle is going to change this fact.

  • AnonymousDan

    That’s funny…read the Constitution. It is the CONGRESS that can spend money…NOT THE PRESIDENT! A democratic run congress spent it during the Reagan years. I remember him PLEADING with the congress to CUT SPENDING!
    Ronald Reagan said “We don’t have a trillion-dollar debt because we haven’t taxed enough; we have a trillion-dollar debt because we spend too much”

  • Libby

    “I am sick and tired of lefty name calling bullshit. I am on the fence in this election, but I would hate to agree with some of these smug pricks on the left. It sickens me.’
    ———————

    conservatives deserve to be called everything in the book. The numbers show conservatives always screw economy in favor of the rich and poor republicans back them up because they fit what they’re being called. you can put that in your pipe and smoke it.

  • Susan

    Ronald Reagan and George Bush both get my votes for being the worst presidents, although I think that Reagan probaly did a little more damage. They were both HORRIBLE and screwed this country up. Clinto was by far a better leader, and by 2012 you will see that Obama will have cleaned up some of this mess the nasty, self centered republicans have made. BTW, I am not low income relying on the government, but I can honestly say I don’t have a problem shelling out money for people that are less fortunate. The republicans would have all the poor, sick and elderly on the street if they could get away with it.

  • sess

    Fred X , your party has all the emotional topics , gays , abortion , global warming hating … lets talk economics homo… you sound like a fat women..

  • Raymond

    BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH…..

  • No

    Sources?