As America mourns the passing of Nancy Reagan who, as every pundit tells us, was instrumental in the policies of her husband, let us reflect on how those policies helped destroy the middle class of this country and decimated one of the finest free University systems in America and the world.
And, as long as we continue what Ronald Reagan began i.e. the downgrading of education, (see Rick Perry’s education record in Texas and Rick Scott’s in Florida, among other Republican Governors), the trading of our butter for guns and the destruction of the middle-class, and, unless we return Congress to Progressive Democrats and turn this battleship of state around post-haste, we are doomed. We, as a country, are going to continue our epic slide into the sink hole of memory – alongside the glory that was Rome.
The 2012 and 2016’s sorry Republican excuse for “debates” should serve to illustrate the Republican Party’s aversion towards programs that might – Mother Nature forbid – in any small measure benefit the working/middle class. Seeing all these imbeciles onstage at once brings to mind the British wag who famously remarked, “Somewhere in England there’s a village missing a perfectly good idiot”.
To digress, by way of illustrating how very little the Republican Party cares for anyone of us below their precious ten percent and their donor class, the Flint, Michigan drinking water crisis in which corrosive Flint River water caused lead from aging pipes to leach into the water supply, causing extremely elevated levels of the heavy metal and effectively poisoning 6,000 to 12,000 children, did not come up in the GOP presidential debate until the 33rd question, with a little more than 30 minutes left in the two-hour debate. This, mind you, that the event was held in Detroit, only fifty seven miles from Flint!
It was Republican Governor Rick Snyder who decided to cut costs by drawing the city’s drinking water from the polluted Flint River instead of from Lake Huron with little or no thought to the safety of the people of Flint. But, of course, Flint is a low-income and majority African-American city. What a surprise!
But back to the Republican “debates.” In the 2012 “debates” we witnessed Presidential hopeful Herman Cain’s witless tax scheme which an independent tax analysis showed would raise taxes on the bottom 84% of us, while being a windfall to the top 16%. Nice try Herm. Michele Bachmann, bless her tiny religiously feverish mind, wanted to send troops to Africa??? A jobs plan I suppose. And, Rick Perry, who actually had a plan – of sorts. He proposed, and still wants, a flat tax. Only thing is, said many economists, the impact of Perry’s proposal would, under some formulations, raise middle-income taxes to more than they are now, and under others, low-income people would pay more. Professor of economics Alan Auerbach of Berkeley said, “At the top, it’s definitely going to shift the burden away from the highest-income people,” so – also a nice try.
And now, here in 2016, there is (gasp) Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio and their puerile and insulting dumb show. All these mental giants, make no mistake, are the spawn of one Ronald Wilson Reagan – dear Saint Ronnie to the fawning, but somewhat less than bright, Republican faithful. The chickens have now come home to roost – and it is quite ironic to now witness the establishment Republicans, who for decades have existed on the wave of dog-whistle bigotry and pure hatred of government and any of its regulations which exist to protect ordinary citizens from the thievery of this same Republican Party and its donor class, now scared to death that their ugly spawn, one (gasp) Donald J. Trump, might become their party’s standard-bearer. And, a more fitting standard-bearer would be hard to find.
Ever since California’s erstwhile Governor and future President of these United States, the Republican Saint Ronald Wilson Reagan or, Saint Ronnie of Tampico, ascended to power, I have watched my country slowly disintegrate before my eyes. With a few notable exceptions, they being Dwight D. Eisenhower, and to some extent Richard M. Nixon, most Republican Presidents in the last sixty years have been empty suits – fairly dim toadying front men for the plutocrats that owned and operated them. But Ronald Wilson Reagan was the quintessential empty suit – complete with hat, vest, and two pair of pants.
Chief among his many gubernatorial achievements this jolly hail-fellow-well-met jelly bean gourmet single-handedly dismantled the greatest free University system America has known declaring; “a small minority of hippies, radicals and filthy free speech advocates” had caused disorder and that they should be taken by the scruff of the neck and thrown off campus – permanently. Then, he called for an end to free tuition for state college and university students annually demanding 20% across-the-board cuts in higher education funding repeatedly slashing construction funds for state campuses, engineering the firing of Clark Kerr popular President of the University of California, and further declaring that the state “should not subsidize intellectual curiosity.” I guess he would have been the one to know that.
In his 1961 Farewell address President Eisenhower, a man who certainly knew the horrors of war first-hand, delivered his famously prescient warning; “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” By the late 1970’s the military budget had declined in the years since the end of the Vietnam War, and we no longer had some 500,000 troops in Indochina which required huge amounts of war supplies. Of course, several hawkish organizations launched a campaign stressing the need for higher military spending to keep us ahead of the dreaded USSR. That, along with President Carter’s inability to stop the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, or handle the Iranian hostage crisis, fed the atmosphere of crisis and led to the public’s willingness to throw money at the Pentagon. Of course, lost in the shuffle was Eisenhower’s plea.
And then, along came aw-shucks Ronnie to exploit the public’s ginned up fear, and their just plain natural, but lovable, ignorance. Obviously, in him, they saw themselves.
Upon being elected President, ostensibly by the progenitors of the same inbred mouth breathers who elected George W. Bush – twice (!), Reagan raised the military budget by $34.2 billion while cutting domestic spending programs by $29 billion. Between 1980 and 1986 he doubled the Pentagon’s budget. Never mind education, roads, mass transit, medical care – we didn’t need any of that there sissy stuff…and it seems, according to this current crap er – crop of Republican hopefuls, we still don’t. By 1985 The Pentagon’s massive allowance coupled with huge tax cuts – does this all sound familiar? Do the names Cheney and Bush ring a bell? – had us in the hole for $200 billion and counting. The Reagan “revolution” had made us a debtor nation, saddled with enormous trade deficits with our trading partners abroad, and tightened credit here at home…and started us on the road we find ourselves punch-drunkenly stumbling down today.
Let us now speak of “Reaganomics”, the Republican blueprint for how to fleece the working/middle class, also known as supply-side economics and trickle-down economics, of which the latter, to me anyway, engenders a mental picture of some rich guy’s piss slowly dribbling down a wall onto your middle/working-class head. Its key components are: reduce growth of Government spending, reduce Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax, and reduce Government regulation. In short, the Plutocrat’s wet dream. In sum; it amounts to; I’ll just start shoveling the taxes that those morons in the middle-class are paying over to my rich pals who own me lock, stock, and barrel, whilst lowering the tax rates for these very same rich pal’s in the bargain. Sheer genius – if you don’t give a flying fuck about anyone who’s working for a living, and if you’re a giant sock puppet who doesn’t mind poisoning the drinking water of a few thousand children.
Oh, and while we’re at it, let’s just strip all the regulations that keep my rich pals from gouging the last drop of blood they possibly can from the working stiffs. Hmmm…yeah, that’s a plan. This last part is so good that the 2012 Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney also co-opted the brilliant idea that we should strip some more governmental regulations that just might impinge on his pals thievery. What a shock.
So, anyway…back to Saint Ronnie of Tampico; Reagan enacted lower marginal tax rates in conjunction with simplified income tax codes and continued deregulation. During his Presidency, the annual deficits averaged 4.2% of GDP after inheriting an annual deficit of 2.7% of GDP in 1980 under President Carter. The rate of growth in federal spending fell from 4% under Jimmy Carter to 2.5% under Ronald Reagan. If you’re searching for the beginning of the idea of “starving” the federal government a la Grover (nobody-liked-me-in-high-school-now-you’re-all-gonna-pay) Norquist, and all these other selfish right-wing Conservative tools, like Perry, Romney, Limbaugh, Hannity, Cantor, Ryan, Bachmann, Palin, Walker, Scott, Cruz, Rubio, Trump and their Libertarian pal- that other ignorant-of-history fellow, Ron- we-don’t- need- FEMA- Paul, look no further than Saint Ronnie of Tampico.
And, as far as the oft-cited anecdotal evidence that Reagan’s was the anti-regulation presidency, the number of pages added to the Federal Register (which records the rules and regulations that federal agencies issue per year), declined sharply under Reagan.
This is not meant to absolve Jimmy Carter for his part in deregulation, but it was Reagan who took deregulation to dizzying heights. And P.S., Reagan’s administration is the only one not to have raised the minimum wage. Wow! – The Plutocrat’s quinella. You can expect that times two if you (Mother Nature forbid) ever get a Perry, or a Paul, or a Cantor, or a Ryan, or a Cruz, or a Walker, or a Jindal, or a Rubio, or a (gasp) Trump in The White House. And, yes – the list of the eminently unqualified Republican jackasses goes on forever.
As far as the issue of poverty in America, and robbing the working/middle class to give to his rich-ass friends and backers goes, under Saint Ronnie’s astute stewardship the number of Americans below the poverty level increased from 29.272 million in 1980 to 31.745 million in 1988. This means that, as a percentage of the total population, it remained almost stationary, from 12.95% in 1980 to 13% in 1988. The poverty level for people under the age of 18 increased from 11.543 million in 1980 (18.3% of all child population) to 12.455 (19.5%) in 1988. The share of total income going to the 5% highest-income households grew from 16.5% in 1980 to 18.3% in 1988 and the share of the highest fifth increased from 44.1% to 46.3% in same years. In contrast, the share of total income of the lowest fifth fell from 4.2% in 1980 to 3.8% in 1988 and the second poorest fifth from 10.2% to 9.6%.
Moreover, during Reagan’s first term, for the first time, homelessness became a visible problem in America’s urban centers, leading many to rightly blame Reaganomics. In the closing weeks of his presidency, Reagan told the New York Times that the homeless “make it their own choice for staying out there.” Many chided his policies as the aforementioned trickle-down economics, due to the significant cuts in the upper tax brackets. Yes, with such legendary disdain for the less fortunate among us, he is certainly deserving of Right-wing Republican sainthood alright.
It bears repeating that this dismal record of wanton destruction by one of the very worst Presidents in our 241 year (and counting) history is exactly where our downward slide began.
I cannot leave this without mentioning his doppelgangers (I was so tempted to spell that with one p). George W. Bush; another tale of ineptitude writ large – and the current heirs apparent, one Ted Cruz, and one (gasp) Donald J. Trump, whose Presidential ambitions rival those of Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann for sheer audacity, and hallucinatory ability regarding whatever capabilities he might think he has.
Then there is Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, and yes – it bears repeating – the buffoonish and mean spirited (gasp) Donald J. Trump.
As much as I revere and admire Franklin Delano Roosevelt for his uncommon patrician concern for the common man, there isn’t a word strong enough in the English language to describe how much I detest Ronald Wilson Reagan, a world-class dim bulb. A man whose measured IQ it is rumored soared to the stratospheric heights somewhere between 98 and 105 and who also said; “education is not the means of showing people how to get what they want…” Really?
This is a man whose picture should be put not on the fifty-dollar bill, as Republicans have suggested, but instead embossed onto every sheet of every roll of toilet paper that leaves the supermarket. The ones anyway, that George W. Bush, Rick Perry, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Dick Cheney, Grover Norquist, Karl Rove, the Koch Brothers, Paul Weyrich, Richard Mellon Scaife, Donald Trump, Ralph Reed, Bob Vander Plaats, Sheldon Adelson, Rupert Murdoch, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and (gasp) Donald J.Trump et al, do not grace.
© tony powers and Barking in the Dark, 2011, revised 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to tony powers and Barking in the Dark with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.