If Republicans ever tuned their radio receivers to frequencies commonly used on the planet Earth, they might notice the splash being made by Democrats on the floor of Congress, by the Rachel Maddow Show and by entities all over the interwebs about the archival speeches and letters of Saint Reagan, extolling the necessity of raising the debt limit in the 1980’s, wherein the Wrath of Ron is brought down on the heads of intransigent members of congress.
The various tv spots and articles note the 18 times the debt ceiling was lifted during the Reagan administration, the 11 times taxes were raised, and the percentage of GDP that was comprised by government during his administration, levels far above what the ultra-right House Republican tator tots demand in their “Cut, Cap and Balance” ode to time travel back to the NIna, Pinta and Santa Maria.
The context for those actions was certainly different, but what is clear is the degree of flexibility and relative practicality then, in contrast with today’s pervasively absolutist and inflexibly radicalized Republican zealots. Not that this is news of course, since we are actually running out of named integers for the number of examples of current Republican mental instability.
Though these sources highlighting what is retrieved from the archives generally don’t go on to mention it, it should be added that Reagan’s recovery from recession utilized classic liberal economics, Keynesian deficit spending in pursuit of massive stimulus to revive the economy. Reagan dressed it up as tax cuts and über patriotic defense spending to save his face, but the fact remains. He likewise violated today’s absolutist radical orthodoxy by boosting Social Security; by the implementation of harsh protectionism, in particular against Japan; and in the declaration of amnesty for America’s undocumented immigrants.
None of this is to deny Reagan’s conservatism, at least as far as his predominant rhetoric went, but to note that today any increase in revenue according to the Republican party line is prima facie evidence of socialism; Social Security is merely a “ponzi scheme”, and of course, evidence of socialism; and economic stimulus through government action is…in unison now: SOCIALISM! Hell’s bells, the 1990’s Republican health care plan that became the Romney plan for Massachusetts now is socialism. If Obama swore an oath to defend and protect the sanctity of ATLAS SHRUGGED, it would be declared socialism.
Of course, while Reagan’s actions would garner our sainted Ronnie hate mail from Eric Cantor today, he does in fact get his due credit for ushering in a destructive era of fiscal conservatism that continues to dominate our economics today. He succeeded in initiating the seismic shift of the tax burden from the wealthy to the middle class; in ushering in an era of antagonism to labor, and to middle-class wages; and in bringing about the demise of responsible regulation, the frenzy of deregulation and financialization that created historical levels of wealth disparity, diminished the middle-class to a literally insecure majority with one foot on a banana peel of medical bankruptcy, and the other in the grave of wage stagnation, runaway shops and threatened retirement, and oh…reduced the economy to a steaming tableau of rubble.
I can see our conservative friends going all misty eyed at such a recitation. Unfortunately for them, Republicans won’t be noticing Reagan’s violations of the radical orthodoxy or the failure of thirty years of conservative policies demonstrated by reams and volumes of empirical data, or anything else. That’s because of their entrenched policy of Wipe and Cover: wipe the historical record clean, and vacuum their memories: then cover up as fast possible with the Republican media tarp before anything at all can seep through.
What happens in Republican Cuckoo Land stays in Republican Cuckoo Land.