When the conservatives, from members in congress to conservative talk radio to Fox News, want to talk about the "real" America and a person who embodies what this country is really all about; when they want to present an icon to younger people who do not know better, they dust off Ronald Reagan, drag him out into the light, and tell us all what he stood for, hoping, apparently, we don't know reality, or that quite often while they intone and invoke his sacredness, they go against who he was and what he actually believed and did.
He was an active union member and was elected to the Board of Directors of the Screen Actors Guild in 1941, became its Vice President in 1946 and was finally elected President of the Guild in 1947 serving through 1952, and was elected Union president again in 1959.
Under his presidencies the Screen Actors Guild had to deal with labor disputes, the Taft-Hartley Act, the House Committee on Un-American Activities hearings and Hollywood blacklisting.
He continued to support unions during his years as president and only fired the air traffic controllers because they had broken the law that stated that federal workers are not allowed to go on strike.
He supported the Polish union workers in the Gdansk shipyard and their president Lech Walesa.
Today’s Republicans are extremely anti-union. Reagan was a union man.
He supported all the infrastructure programs of Eisenhower in the mid 1950′s.
Today, Republicans are against infrastructure spending.
When he switched parties and was elected as the Republican governor of California, he approved tax hikes to balance the budget.
Then as president of the United States, he may have cut taxes in 1981 and again in 1988, but Ronnie raised taxes every year from 1981 to 1987 including The Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 which was the largest peacetime tax increase in U.S. history up to that point.
This was followed by the Deficit Reduction Act of 1984, a higher gasoline levy, and a 1986 tax reform deal that included the largest corporate tax increase in American history.
He also raised the debt ceiling 18 times, and declared, "We're going to close the unproductive tax loopholes that allow some of the truly wealthy to avoid paying their fair share", believing that the loopholes "sometimes made it possible for millionaires to pay nothing, while a bus driver was paying 10 percent of his salary – and that's crazy."
But now according to David Stockman, Reagan’s budget director, "The Republican Party has totally abdicated its job in our democracy, which is to act as the guardian of fiscal discipline and responsibility. They're on an anti-tax jihad – one that benefits the prosperous classes."
In contrast, under President Obama raising the debt ceiling is anti-American, and to suggest taxing the corporations and the top 2% is killing the job creators who have yet to create the jobs they get the money for.
Reagan knew that tax increases were necessary if you want to balance the budget, and his tax increases brought in more revenue and shrank the unemployment rate.
He’s the California governor that made abortion legal in 1967 by signing the “Therapeutic Abortion Act” to reduce the number of “back-room abortions” performed in California.
He later claimed to be Pro-Life, but was that a true U-turn, or a political ploy to get the religious right’s vote?
Could be the same tactic that conservatives now say that President Obama used when his opinion of same sex marriage had evolved, although the Religious right move would have brought in more votes than a same sex marriage one would.
Principle vs politics?
In 1987 the Brady Act, which was gun control legislation that required background checks before getting a firearm, was proposed. Four years later, Reagan wrote an editorial that said the Brady Bill would provide a crucial “enforcement mechanism” to end the “honor system” of the 1968 Gun Control Act and “can’t help but stop thousands of illegal handgun purchases".
The Bill, which Reagan supported, passed in 1993.
In 1986, Reagan signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act, making it illegal to knowingly hire or recruit illegal immigrants, required employers to attest to their employees’ immigration status, and granted amnesty to approximately 3 million illegal immigrants who entered the United States prior to January 1, 1982.
Present day Republicans who invoke Reagan as if he were a saint have rejected giving any kind of amnesty to illegal immigrants and have suggested rounding them all up like Cliven Bundy’s illegally grazing cattle and deporting them. Republicans have refused to improve the laws that would punish employers for hiring illegal immigrants.
As far as the image of him being a Hawk, while he may have authorized the bombing of Libya, he was reluctant to go after terrorists in the Middle East, was unwilling to wage war against terrorism there, and did not retaliate against acts of terror because he called the deaths of innocent civilians in anti-terror operations “terrorism itself".
He denounced the use of torture under any circumstances and signed the United Nations Convention Against Torture in 1988.
Apparently he also believed in the United Nations, while he would have objected to waterboarding.
While claiming government was the problem, he did not get rid of the Department of Education as he had said he would, and added the Department of Veterans Affairs.
In 1983 he raised payroll taxes for all income over $100,000 which was to keep Social Security solvent, again, in spite of his promise to get rid of Medicare and cut Social Security.
In spite of his work on the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I) and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force Treaty, present day Republicans oppose President Obama’s doing the same thing in favor of more weapons.
And as far as the present claim that “government does not create jobs”, Ronald Reagan hired 200,000 more government workers, creating 200,000 jobs.
In 1986, Congress passed, and Reagan signed, The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) as part of the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), which made it mandatory for hospitals receiving federal funds to treat people in emergency rooms in spite of lack of insurance or ability to pay.
And, in spite of his “Death Valley Days” image and his supposed ranch north of Los Angeles, Ronnie is responsible or Executive Order 12548 that extended the federal grazing fee formula indefinitely so that there would be annual fees for domesticated livestock grazing on public range land with no exceptions.
Oh, and he admired FDR.
Many of the things that got him canonized by the mainstream Republicans and the Tea Party ones are the things present day Republicans and Tea Partiers are staunchly against.
“I never as a citizen want to see our country become urged, by either fear or resentment of this group, that we ever compromise with any of our democratic principles through that fear or resentment.”
Reagan’s statement is precisely what a liberal might say.
Good night Ronnie.