Whenever liberals want to convince people that their ideas are reasonable, they haul out Ronald Reagan for a posthumous endorsement. Sometimes they just use Reagan as a general straw man, claiming that Reagan couldn’t win a Republican primary in today’s Republican Party. In other cases, they get more specific. Last week, Barack Obama pulled this same trick, claiming that his Buffett Rule tax proposal came right out of the Gipper’s playbook:
So this president gave another speech where he said it was “crazy”—that’s a quote—that certain tax loopholes make it possible for multimillionaires to pay nothing, while a bus driver was paying 10 percent of his salary. That wild-eyed, socialist, tax-hiking class warrior was Ronald Reagan.
He thought that, in America, the wealthiest should pay their fair share, and he said so. I know that position might disqualify him from the Republican primaries these days, but what Ronald Reagan was calling for then is the same thing that we’re calling for now: a return to basic fairness and responsibility; everybody doing their part.
Well, yes, Reagan did say this — but in support of his proposal for comprehensive tax reform, which actually lowered tax rates in exchange for eliminating a significant number of deductions. Bill Kristol wondered how many times Obama misrepresented Dutch, and then counted the ways:
Did Reagan, as Obama claimed, “travel across the country pushing for the same concept” as Obama today? No. Reagan was pushing for comprehensive tax reform, at the center of which was an across-the-board tax rate reduction combined with elimination of tax shelters. The idea was to simplify the system, out of respect for citizens and for the health of the economy. Obama, by contrast, has never risked offering a serious big tax reform proposal. What he does want to do is to raise marginal tax rates on many American families. …
Here’s what else Reagan had to say: He ascribed the economic comeback of the previous few years, in which “hope has returned, and America’s working again,” to the fact that we “cut tax rates and trimmed federal spending.”
Why didn’t President Obama quote that? What about Reagan’s explanation for why his administration had cut rates?
“What’s really important is what inspired us to do these things. What’s really important is the philosophy that guided us. The whole thing could be boiled down to a few words—freedom, freedom, and more freedom. It’s a philosophy that isn’t limited to guiding government policy. It’s a philosophy you can live by; in fact, I hope you do.”
Somehow, Obama neglected to quote that.
Reagan went on to defend his tax plan: “We want the part of your check that shows federal withholding to have fewer digits on it. And we want the part that shows your salary to have more digits on it. We’re trying to take less money from you and less from your parents.” Reagan noted that some people would save the additional money, some would spend it, some would invest it—but all were fine. Because “whatever you do with it, you’ll be the one who’s doing the doing. You’ll make the decisions. You’ll have the autonomy. And that’s what freedom is.”
Obama didn’t quote that either.
Yeah, liberals like to use Reagan as an argument, but they don’t like Reagan’s ideas. Just call them Fauxnald Reagans.
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