The Conservative Lie on Ronald Reagan

September 8, 2010 at 7:11 am | Posted in American politics | 5 Comments

I’m reading an interesting piece on a conservative filmmaker who is releasing a polemic this fall. Nothing too eye-catching about it. More power to him. But there is yet another example of the conservative lie on Ronald Reagan. From the Times:

While working on those projects, however, Mr. Griggs said he became alarmed by what he saw as runaway spending in Washington, and so decided the documentary would come first.

Runaway spending in Washington. It’s typical conservative propaganda. Nothing unique, except that this Mr. Griggs has created a documentary (can it really be a documentary if it is not factually based? Is it not a propaganda piece instead?) that supposedly highlights “small government.”

The tone of the film, which Mr. Griggs directed and helped write, is a little softer than that of those three conservative commentators. Its central argument is a straightforward case for the virtues of smaller government and the futility of efforts to redistribute wealth. But its charm, if that word can apply to political documentary, comes from computer-generated animations in which bobbing-headed political figures, designed by Tom Richmond of Mad Magazine, try to school one another on the ins and outs of policy.

Animated politicians on both sides of the aisle — Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton, Sarah Palin, the older and younger George Bushes — all take some good-natured hits. Ronald Reagan offers Mr. Obama a couple of jelly beans, but Mr. Obama figures he’s already entitled to half, and so on.

heh, good-natured hits…But here’s the thing. Ronald Reagan is NOT an example of small government. How can people claim otherwise? Just look at this beautiful graph:

and understand that Reaganomics increased our national debt from $900 million to nearly $3 trillion! That’s TRIPLING the national debt. Not only that, but the size of the federal government grew, particularly defense, under Reagan. That’s not small government. That’s BIG Government. Under the man conservatives now deify. They long for the days under Reagan. But they deny reality. Reagan was a big spender. Reagan also increased taxes. Reagan massively increased the size of the government, and Reagan TRIPLED our national debt.

In other words, the current conservative position vis a vis “small government” is built on lies, deception, and fraud. These are unsustainable. Essentially, they are selling Americans a false presentation, and once in office, will NOT be doing what they say, because in the end, they will follow Ronald Reagan into massive deficits and massive government. Americans should be smart enough to realize the stupidity of putting this Republican group back in power in Congress. But sadly, this will not happen. Americans’ memory is too short term, and they are distracted far more by local matters or by entertainment. We don’t need to oscillate back and forth between the two parties. One party should be put in minority status for a much longer period of time until they have finally purged the madness out of their system. That would be the Republican party, a sad shell of what it once used to be.


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  1. Well said.
    I used to vote Republican, until I finally “got it”: we get better government and lower deficits under Democratic presidents. Also, all these “big government programs” that “redistribute wealth” have in fact blessed people’s lives and strengthened families. I am talking about Social Security and Medicare. Also, progressives brought us the forty hour work week, safer conditions for workers, etc., which also strengthen families. It used to be that a man could support his family while his wife stayed home and nurtured their children. IMO this is due to “progressive” pro-family legislation. Now many families must have two or more incomes to make ends meet.
    The Family Proclamation says to support legislation that will strengthen the family, not that is “small government”. For me, strengthening the family trumps “small government”.
    I want “good government”, whatever its “size”.

  2. The chart should be updated to include current President Obama as well – he hasn’t exactly helped the national debt problem either.

  3. Erik,

    Indeed. We’ll have to wait until Obama’s first fiscal year (2010) ends. Fiscal Year 2009 was Bush’s, which isn’t even on that graph. Fiscal Year 2010 ends at the end of this month, and October 1, 2010 begins Fiscal Year 2011.

  4. Dan,

    I agree that Republicans tend to be hypocritical when it comes to tying words and actions together on taxes and spending. But while the President does wield some influence and veto power, it is the Congress that is most responsible for the nation’s purse strings.

    A more accurate chart would show the red/blue bars according to the majority party in Congress. Even that would be an overly simplistic view of the factors involved in spending, but it would be more explanatory than the chart above.

  5. Austrian

    True. If you can find one that fit that criteria, that would be cool.

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