Invoking the Name of Ronald Reagan

In justifying a $1 million state subsidy for stem cell research, state Sen. Russell Potts, R-Winchester, indirectly invoked the moral authority of Ronald Reagan. “If [stem cell research] is all right for Nancy Reagan and her family … it’s all right for me.” (As reported by Richmond Times-Dispatch writer Jeff E. Schapiro.)

It is touching to hear such reverence for the opinion of Nancy Reagan, who supports stem cell research as a potential cure for the Alzheimer’s Disease that crippled and killed her husband. I wonder if Mr. Potts feels the same deep-seated respect for other sentiments that Nancy Reagan might hold, especially those she shared with her husband, including his opposition to increasing taxes and government spending.

I don’t recall Mr. Potts having cited the moral authority of either Nancy or Ronald Reagan in defense of his fiscal philosophy as practiced here in Virginia. Indeed, Mr. Potts’ legislative record is the antithesis of everything that Ronald Reagan–and his wife– stood for. As documented by Bacon’s Rebellion columnist Phillip Rodokanakis (“And the Winner Is….”, Jan. 31, 2005), Potts not only supported last year’s tax increase in Virginia, the biggest in state history, he lent his name to legislation that would have increased state spending by more than $2 billion — more than any other member of the General Assembly.

Say what you want, Mr. Potts, spend what you want. But keep Ronald Reagan out of it.


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  1. Barnie Day Avatar
    Barnie Day

    I’d keep Reagan’s name out of it, too–if I wanted to maintain credibility. The Reagan-backed Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 was the largest tax INCREASE in American history to that date. That same year Reagan supported a five cents per gallon INCREASE in the federal gasoline tax–generating $5.5 BILLION. A year later Reagan supported and won passage of a $165 BILLION Social Security tax INCREASE. Reagan as a candidate promised to abolish the Education and Energy Departments. Instead, those budgets DOUBLED during his first six years. Social Security spending went from $179 billion in 1981 to $269 billion in 1986. The cost of Reagan’s farm program INCREASED by 140 percent, from $21.4 billion in 1981 to $51.4 billioin in 1986. Medicare spending under Reagan INCREASED from $43.5 billion in 1981 to $80 billion in 1987. And federal entitlements overall under Reagan more than DOUBLED–from $197.1 billion to $477 billion. Foreign aid under Reagan DOUBLED–from $10 billion to $22 billion. The federal debt TRIPLED under Reagan–from $900 billion to $2.7 TRILLION.

    We must not be talking about the same guy. Which Ronald Reagan are you referencing? I’m talkin’ ’bout Ronald Wilson Reagan–you know, the one who was president.

  2. Don’t forget Reagan’s two tax increases as Governor of California…

  3. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Barnie, I am impressed by your ready access to the names of all that legislation! But your memory and mine differ regarding the political dynamics of the Reagan era.

    I seem to recall that the Democrats controlled Congress throughout Reagan’s eight-year tenure, save for two years when the Republicans held a razone-thin margin in the Senate. I recall Democrats routinely castigating Reagan — their charges amplied by the Mainstream Media — for the miserliness of the budgets he submitted. I recall Democrats routinely declaring Reagan’s budgets “dead on arrival” and routinely packing them with lots of extra spending for all the usual Democratic priorities.

    I still remember the hue and cry about how that mean, mean Ronald Reagan wanted to feed poor school children ketchup for lunch, how he was driving up the ranks of the homeless, etc. etc. etc. Yes, it is true, Reagan did cave on a lot of domestic spending initiatives rammed through a Democratic Congress. He was, in the end, a pragmatist. But he applied the brakes wherever he could.

    I find it fascinating how Reagan lives in the minds of Democrats as one who simultaneously short-changed domestic spending — “balancing the budget on the backs of the poor” — while holding him accountable for running up record deficits!

  4. Barnie Day Avatar
    Barnie Day

    Jim, despair not! He’ll live in my mind forever–as Howdy Doody!

  5. Oh and you also left out the Tax Reform act of 1986. It was supposed to be revenue neutral but ended up costing the american tax payer billions.

  6. Barnie Day Avatar
    Barnie Day

    Paul, I actually did recall the 1986 legislation, and the two monster tax increases while he was governor. But Jim can only take so much of a beating at one time! I’m already pressing my luck. My guess is he’s already trying to figure out how to block access, where I am concerned!

  7. Will Vehrs Avatar
    Will Vehrs

    So, Barnie, is Sen. Chichester your kind of Reagan Republican?

  8. Barnie Day Avatar
    Barnie Day

    In matters of taxes and spending, clearly, Reagan had a proclivity to say one thing and do another. If that is the measure, then Chichester will fall short. I could be wrong. I haven’t consulted the palm-readers, soothsayers and witchdoctors that seemed to find favor during the Reagan era.

  9. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Barnie, you are incorrigible.

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