Reagan: The Biggest RINO

August 24th, 2011 at 12:52 am | 27 Comments |

| Print

What would the Club for Growth say about Ronald Reagan? We know what they think about Rick Perry since they have produced new Presidential White Papers on him. Their opinion: eh, not bad, but not great.

Now, keep in mind, the Club for Growth is hard to please. We are talking about Rick Perry, the governor of Texas. That is Texas, arguably one of the most conservative and freest of the market states in the country. The very place that George W. Bush helped to create a pro-business atmosphere. All he had to do was clock in and clock out and he gets an A, right?

What I find fascinating when I read the Club for Growth White Papers is that generally only politicians who aren’t governors get great scores. The Club for Growth loves Michele Bachmann. That’s mainly because she has the freedom to toe the ideological line. She has never been forced to balance a budget in a politically diverse environment. So if you are a governor, and especially a governor from a non-ideologically pure state, then prepare to get your hat handed to you by the Club for Growth.

With that being said, I thought it would be interested to imagine the White Papers for conservative icon Ronald Reagan. It might go as follows:

While Ronald Reagan showed promised early on in his presidency by passing one of the largest tax decreases in history, he spent the rest of his presidency signing into law 11 different tax increases. These tax hikes were enacted with the goal of paying for government-run health insurance, such as Medicare. While the eleven tax hikes did not fully make up for that initial tax cut, we find Reagan’s vulnerability to compromise somewhat alarming. True conservatives never increase taxes, much less 11 times.

In Reagan’s eight years, the United States also went from being the world’s largest international creditor to being the world’s largest debtor. In 1981, the deficit was $74 billion and the national debt was $930 billion. Within two years (because of the 1981 tax cut), the deficit was $208 billion. By the end of Reagan’s presidency, the Gipper had allowed the national debt to spiral to $2.6 trillion. We at the Club for Growth find Reagan’s utter disregard for our nation’s finances troubling. What America needs is someone who reduces government, not increases it.

Again, while Reagan entered office with the kind of government-reducing rhetoric that the Club for Growth admires, he largely failed to follow through on his commitments. We find Reagan’s creation of the Department of Veteran Affairs troublesome. Indeed, Reagan ended his presidency with 60,000 more federal employees in the workforce. In 1983, Reagan agreed to $165 billion in government bailout money for the unconstitutional Social Security. Now is the not the time when the United States should bail out its government run programs. If Reagan’s goal was to reduce government, then he utterly failed. America needs somebody who will stick it to Washington, not a government-loving RINO like Ronald Reagan.

Of course, we are not even going to go into Reagan’s non budget-related indiscretions, such as his granting amnesty to illegal immigrants, his states’ rights crippling support of a federal minimum drinking age, and his 1981 “voluntary” export restraint on Japanese cars (the auto industry doesn’t need more bailouts). And then there is his breath-taking support of the Brady Bill, published on the pages of the ghastly New York Times. There is enough here alone to suggest that America would be better off without Reagan’s big government policies.

We think that Dick Cheney is wrong when when he stated that Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter. America would be better off served by somebody like Michele Bachmann. She is ideologically pure.

Recent Posts by Paul Talley

27 Comments so far ↓

  • SpartacusIsNotDead

    Why are you pointing the finger only at the Club for Growth? There’s not a leading GOP politician in the country who thinks any differently from the Club on any of these issues.

  • balconesfault

    I pretty much agree with the critique of Reagan. Reagan was the President who was most responsible for kicking off the recent trend of explosive deficit growth, and conservatives should rightly be appalled at his economic failures.

  • rockstar

    He’s dead, let it go. Cults of personality are dangerous.

  • zaybu

    Compared to Michele Bachman, Ronald Reagan was a genius.

    I know, I know. Michele has set the bar way way down low.

  • angeleno

    So we’ve established that Reagan wouldn’t pass muster. So now what?

    • medinnus

      Now we sit back and judge those GOP know-nothings who still worship Reagan as their own personal saint as ignorant buffoons.

  • Elvis Elvisberg

    Reagan also proposed a standing army for the UN:

    “What I propose . . . is nothing less than a human velvet glove backed by a steel fist of military force,” he said in a speech to about 1,000 students at the Oxford Union.He called for a standing U.N. force, “an army of conscience that is fully equipped and prepared to carve out human sanctuaries through force if necessary.”

    Reagan, who once dubbed the former Soviet Union “the evil empire,” said that following the collapse of communism, the world appears to have traded “a single, monolithic threat to the world’s peace for a host of smaller, yet no less deadly, flashpoints.”

    He said multinational institutions like NATO and the United Nations must be in the forefront of putting “weapons behind our words” to help get food to starving Somalis or Sudanese and put an end to ethnic cleansing in Bosnia.

    Ronald Reagan: Kenyan anti-colonialist.

  • jg bennet

    Reagan was a total RINO……

    He was also a protectionist on trade and CATO in 1988 called him the most protectionist president since Hoover.

    Lost in the flood of Ronald Reagan retrospectives and testimonials is a crucial fact with special relevance for all Americans today: To a great extent, Ronald Reagan was a trade realist.

    When major American industries were on the ropes, a combination of national security fears, electoral concerns, and outrage at inequitable, illegal competition prompted Reagan to act, and American manufacturing was unquestionably the stronger for it. Tragically, this is a crucial aspect of his legacy that all three of Reagan’s White House successors have rejected, frittering away American manufacturing and jobs in one ill-advised free trade agreement after another.

    The conventional wisdom about Reagan as free enterprise, free market champion is largely true. But on trade policy, Reagan acted decisively in five instances to save major American industries from predatory foreign competition. Moreover, the temporary import relief succeeded spectacularly, resulting in improved performance by these industries and avoiding the captive market prices that conventional economics teaches will always flow from restricting foreign competition.

    Reagan’s tactics were flexible. In autos, machine tools, and steel, his administration subjected foreign producers to so-called voluntary export restraints. In semiconductors, Reagan officials negotiated an agreement to secure a specific share of the Japanese market for U.S. companies, and then imposed tariffs on Japanese electronics imports when Tokyo briefly refused to keep a promise to halt semiconductor dumping.

  • Oldskool

    Yeah, but, he took a hatchet to social safety nets which widened the gap between rich and poor. And he ignored the AIDS epidemic because he thought it was only happening to gays. So, he deserves at least one more airport or aircraft carrier named after him.

  • jg bennet


    “If we’ve learned any lessons during the past few decades, perhaps the most important is that preservation of our environment is not a partisan challenge; it’s common sense. Our physical health, our social happiness, and our economic well-being will be sustained only by all of us working in partnership as thoughtful, effective stewards of our natural resources.”
    Remarks on signing annual report of Council on Environmental Quality, July 11, 1984

    “A strong nation is one that is loved by its people and, as Edmund Burke put it, for a country to be loved it ought to be lovely.”
    Message to Congress transmitting Council on Environmental Quality’s annual report, February 19, 1986

    “The preservation of parks, wilderness, and wildlife has also aided liberty by keeping alive the 19th century sense of adventure and awe with which our forefathers greeted the American West. Many laws protecting environmental quality have promoted liberty by securing property against the destrutctive trespass of pollution. In our own time, the nearly universal appreciation of these preserved landscapes, restored waters, and cleaner air through outdoor recreation is a modern expression of our freedom and leisure to enjoy the wonderful life that generations past have built for us.”
    Message to Congress transmitting Council on Environmental Quality’s annual report, October 3, 1988

    “Generations hence, parents will take their children to these woods to show them how the land must have looked to the first Pilgrims and pioneers. And as Americans wander through these forests, climb these mountains, they will sense the love and majesty of the Creator of all of that.”
    Remarks upon signing legislation designating wilderness in North Carolina, New Hampshire, Vermont and Wisconsin, June 19, 1984

    “The Montreal Protocol is a model of cooperation. It is a product of the recognition and international consensus that ozone depletion is a global problem, both in terms of its causes and its effects. The protocol is the result of an extraordinary process of scientific study, negotiations among representatives of the business and environmental communities, and international diplomacy. It is a monumental achievement.”
    Statement on signing the instrument of ratification of the Montreal Protocol on Ozone-Depleting Substances, April 5, 1988

    “I just have to believe that with love for our natural heritage and a firm resolve to preserve it with wisdom and care, we can and will give the American land to our children, not impaired, but enhanced. And in doing this, we’ll honor the great and loving God who gave us this land in the first place.”
    Remarks to National Campers and Hikers Association in Bowling Green, KY, July 12, 1984

    “I believe in a sound, strong environmental policy that protects the health of our people and a wise stewardship of our nation’s natural resources.”
    Radio address to nation on environmental and natural resources management, June 11, 1983

    “I’m proud of having been one of the first to recognize that states and the federal government have a duty to protect our natural resources from the damaging effects of pollution that can accompany industrial development.”
    Radio address to nation on environmental issues, July 14, 1984

    “Those concerns of a national character–such as air and water pollution that do not respect state boundaries, or the national transportation system, or efforts to safeguard your civil liberties–must, of course, be handled on the national level.”
    Address to Conservative Political Action Conference, Washington, DC, February 6, 1977

    “What is a conservative after all but one who conserves, one who is committed to protecting and holding close the things by which we live…And we want to protect and conserve the land on which we live — our countryside, our rivers and mountains, our plains and meadows and forests. This is our patrimony. This is what we leave to our children. And our great moral responsibility is to leave it to them either as we found it or better than we found it.”
    Remarks at dedication of National Geographic Society new headquarters building, June 19, 1984

    • balconesfault

      He’s way greener than the current GOPers, perhaps … but his Administration, in immediately bringing aboard Gorsuch and Watt for key environmental positions … was a marked break from the policies under Nixon/Ford which embraced the position that the Federal Government played a key role in environmental protection.

      In other words, Reagan set the wheels in motion for the GOP to be wholly antagonistic towards the environmental movement, thanks in no small part to an unholy alliance with the Mountain States Legal Foundation. IMO the anti-environmentalists in the GOP who rail against government interference in man’s ability to destroy whatever land he can get his hands on and pump out whatever pollution he needs in order to maximize his economic profitability are the true heirs to the Reagan environmental legacy, and not those who want to rely on some language from feel-good speeches.

    • Graychin

      And Reagan made a show of removing Carter’s solar panels from the White House roof.

      Deeds speak louder than words. But greener than today’s GOP? Definitely.

  • jg bennet


    From 1981 through 1986, the Senate was controlled by a Republican majority, the House had a Democratic majority, and Republican Ronald Reagan was President. It was during this time that the first moratoria on oil and gas leasing were put in place.

    In 1981, Congress voted to stop the sale of leases off the coast of Northern California. The moratorium was included in the Interior Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 1982. The provision was supported by almost every member of the California delegation from both political parties. It was approved by the House and by the Republican-majority Senate, and signed it into law by President Reagan.

    In 1982, Congress extended the moratorium for Northern California and expanded the area to include the Central California coast. The House also approved an amendment by Republican Congressman Jim Courter to prohibit leases off the coast of New Jersey. Again, the majority-Republican Senate approved the bill and Reagan signed it into law. In 1983, the moratoria on offshore leases were continued in Northern and Central California and were expanded to include Southern California, the Florida Gulf Coast, and the Georges Bank off the coast of New England. Republican and Democratic Members of the California and Florida delegations pushed for the moratoria. The Republican-majority Senate approved the Interior Appropriations Act and President Reagan signed it into law.

    In 1984, the Interior Appropriations Act for FY 1985 continued the ban on offshore leases off the coasts of California and New England.

    In 1985, Donald Hodel replaced James Watt as Secretary of the Interior. Secretary Hodel began negotiating an agreement with Congress to prohibit leases off many coastal areas in exchange for the authority to lease tracts in a few areas. Hodel began negotiating with the California Delegation. Republican Congressman Bill Lowery of San Diego, a member of the Appropriations Committee, was a leading advocate for continuing the moratorium on leases off Southern California throughout his Congressional career.

    In 1986, the Interior Appropriations Act for FY 1987 included an agreement to delay offshore lease sales off the coast of California until 1989, after the end of the Reagan Administration. The Republican-majority Senate approved the moratorium and President Reagan signed it into law.

    Democrats gained majority control of the Senate in the 1986 election. From 1987 through 1992, the House and Senate had Democratic majorities while the President was a Republican. During this time, the only major change in offshore leasing policy was President George H.W. Bush’s executive order to implement a 10-year moratorium on drilling off the coasts of California, Florida, and New England.

    The Exxon Valdez spill off the Alaskan Coast in March 1989 increased environmental concerns. The Interior Appropriations Act for FY 1990 includes moratoria on leases off of California, Florida, Massachusetts, Bristol Bay of Alaska, and the Atlantic Ocean from Rhode Island to Maryland. President Bush signed the bill into law.

    In June 1990, President George Bush announced a 10-year moratorium on drilling off California, Florida, and New England. The Interior Appropriations Act for FY 1991 included one-year bans on leases for areas not covered in Bush’s order, including Bristol Bay in Alaska, the Florida Panhandle, and the Atlantic from New Jersey to Maryland.
    From 1991 to 2007, the Interior Appropriations Act for each year included moratoria on drilling except off the coasts of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and parts of Alaska. There was no significant change in policy toward offshore drilling even though Republicans controlled Congress for twelve years from 1995 through 2006.

    In 1998, President Bill Clinton extended the moratoria on offshore leases off the coasts of California, Florida, and New England until 2012. These moratoria had been instituted by President George H.W. Bush in 1990.

  • gover

    Grammar note-”Club for Growth” is incorrect usage. Correct usage is, “Club for Growth (sic)”, or more colloquially, “so called Club for Growth”.

  • Club For Growth: Club Of Dunces | Library Grape

    [...] Talley notices something interesting about the Club: We know what [the Club for Growth thinks] about Rick Perry since they have produced new [...]

  • valkayec

    What should anyone expect from the libertarian Club for Growth? In many ways, it’s more radically libertarian than the Cato Institute.

  • MattP

    Is anyone who reads Frum Forum or comments here actually a Republican? I thought this site was a gathering place for moderate Republicans. But the more I read the blog posts and the more I read the comments, it seems like most everyone must be a Democrat.

    • MSheridan

      I think the largest group regularly posting here are the mostly centrist Independents. Myself, I’m a Democrat, and my best guess is about a third of the posters are likewise, but some of us post more often than the average. A few of the Dems who post here are fairly conservative (by Dem standards). Maybe one fourth of the posters are actual registered Republicans (discounting the Smarg and JimBob types, who don’t count). However, if it matters and for what it’s worth, several Independents and Dems posting here have indicated that they used to be Republican.

      Hope that helps.

  • NRA Liberal

    What the hell is an “ideologically pure state”???

  • armstp

    Remember Reagan was originally a Democrat….. Obama is “right” of Reagan.

  • jg bennet

    On October 1964, Ronald Reagan gave a televised speech in support of Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater. “The Speech,” as it has come to be known, helped launch Ronald Reagan as a leading force in the American conservative movement. However, less than twenty years earlier, Reagan was a prominent Hollywood liberal, the president of the Screen Actors Guild, and a fervent supporter of FDR and Harry Truman. While many agree that Reagan’s anticommunism grew out of his experiences with the Hollywood communists of the late 1940s, the origins of his conservative ideology have remained obscure. Barry Goldwater said that it was Regan’s father in law who swayed him, either way Reagan had liberal tendencies and his record proves it. he became a centrist not a right winger…

    So Reagan was a commie “libtard” before he was a “right wing nut”..

    labels do not fit reagan hence his success. he taxed, tariffed, went in debt put a pro choice woman on the supreme court, refused to allow off shore drilling and he is a conservative hero……go figure…..

    today’s republican party is not the party of reagan……. it is the party of jefferson davis…..

    • balconesfault

      today’s republican party is not the party of reagan……. it is the party of jefferson davis….

      Which is why Rick Perry will be the perfect standard bearer for the GOP in 2012.

  • Why Doesn’t Huntsman Switch Parties? | The Pink Flamingo

    [...] The only thing that will split the GOP are the increasingly pathetic tea parties.  Don’t worry, FOX News will give it a good try, in order to promote their increasingly perverse, John Stossell brand of values where child labor laws are good for the economy because they lessen the need for prostitution.  (Yes, he actually wrote a column about this for townhall).  The Club for Growth is also going to do as much as possible to promote the purity of flakes like Michele Bachmann, as we are told to jettison Ronald Reagan. [...]

  • Graychin

    If Ronald Reagan didn’t exist, today’s “conservatives” would have to invent him. In fact, that’s pretty much what they have done – REinvent him.

    We are all familiar with Reagan’s un-Republican political record, but we often overlook how he first rose to political fame. He was first a union leader for the Hollywood screen actors, a bunch of lefties now as they were then. After that, he morphed into a right-wing corporate shill for General Electric – always the Great Communicator. After his GE gig ended, he recorded right-wing rants played as five-minute essays on radio stations – taking Barry Goldwater’s slot – making him a pioneer in turning AM radio into conservative wierdland. Then it was on to the California governor’s chair – and the rest is history.

    His ideological history suggests to me that he was anything but the man of rock-solid convictions that he is portrayed as today. He morphed from an FDR/New Deal supporter, union advocate and an opponent of Senator Nixon to someone who absorbed the political opinions of his GE paymaster like a sponge. And his conservative mouth wrote a barrel full of bad checks that his presidency failed to pay. He never fought for any of his “deeply held” principles – like a balanced budget and lower federal spending. But he was vehemently anti-union in his later years.

    His party didn’t leave him at all. The winds of employment just blew him in another direction.

  • t6c

    I just finished a biography of Otto von Bismarck and the similarities are interesting. Both appear to be conservatives who did radical things to thwart the left. Bismarck created the welfare state in Germany to take the issue away from the radicals, for example. Reagan’s record shows a similar pattern—negotiating with the “evil empire,” tax reform, etc… The objectives were constant, but the means changed as needed.

  • Newslinks for Wednesday August 24, 2011 | Conservative Home USA

    [...] for Growth calls Perry pro-growth, but warns of 'interventionist streak' – MSNBC (FrumForum concludes that the hard-to-please Club for Growth wouldn't much like Ronald [...]

  • Rabiate republikanere « minerva

    [...] konservative ved å justere flere av sine standpunkter, blant annet om abort. Muligens humoristisk, Paul Talley har  på FrumForum hevdet at selv Ronald Reagan ville fremstått som en såkalt RINO, Republican in Name Only, etter [...]