Ronald Wilson Reagan (Part 95)

President Reagan speaking at a Take Pride in America event with actors Clint Eastwood and Louis Gossett Jr. in the Rose Garden. 7/21/87

7:52 PM EDT on November 6, 1984 from ABC7 WLS-TV Chicago
ABC News – The 84 Vote
Peter Jennings, David Brinkley, Barbara Walters, Tom Wicker – The New York Times, George Will – ABC News

Lee Edwards of the Heritage Foundation wrote an excellent article on Ronald Reagan and the events that transpired during the Reagan administration,  and I wanted to share it with you. Here is the eighth portion:

“People are policy,” Ed Feulner of the Heritage Foundation has often remarked, and nowhere was this more true than in the Reagan administration. There was a constant struggle between the Reaganauts who wanted to transform the government and the pragmatists who were content with change at the margin. Between them was the president himself, who sometimes aligned himself with the Reaganauts and sometimes with the pragmatists, instinctively seeking a golden mean between the two camps. He was willing to accept less than 100 percent if that was all he could get and if the agreement moved him toward his basic goal of minimizing government and maximizing individual freedom. As he once said of his landmark welfare reforms in California, “If I can get seventy percent of what I want from a legislature controlled by the opposition, I’ll take my chances on getting the other thirty when they see how well it works.”[xxix]

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.

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