Washington Could Learn a Lot from a Drug Addict
Concerning spending cuts Reagan believed, that members of Congress “wouldn’t lie to him when he should have known better.” However, can you believe a drug addict when he tells you he is not ever going to do his habit again? Congress is addicted to spending too much money. Lee Edwards wrote in his article “Golden Years” about Ronald Reagan:
Sometimes Reagan went along with a pragamatist like chief of staff James Baker, who persuaded the president to accept the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 (TEFRA), which turned out to be the great tax increase of 1982 — $98 billion over the next three years. That was too much for eighty-nine House Republicans (including second-term Congressman Newt Gingrich of Georgia) or for prominent conservative organizations from the American Conservative Union like the Conservative Caucus and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which all opposed the measure.
Baker assured his boss that Congress would approve three dollars in spending cuts for every dollar of tax increase. To Reagan, TEFRA looked like a pretty good “70 percent” deal. But Congress wound up cutting less than twenty-seven cents for every new tax dollar. What had seemed to be an acceptable 70-30 compromise turned out to be a 30-70 surrender. Ed Meese described TEFRA as “the greatest domestic error of the Reagan administration,” although it did leave untouched the individual tax rate reductions approved the previous year. (TEFRA was built on a series of business and excise taxes plus the removal of business tax deductions.)[xxx]
The basic problem was that Reagan believed, as Lyn Nofziger put it, that members of Congress “wouldn’t lie to him when he should have known better.”[xxxi] As a result of TEFRA, Reagan learned to “trust but verify,” whether he was dealing with a Speaker of the House or a president of the Soviet Union.