On the occasion of Ronald Reagan’s 100th birthday, Republicans and other conservatives simply could not contain their myopic admiration for “The Great Communicator.” In reality, he should have been called “The Great Propagandist.” Or, perhaps, “The Great Bullsh***er.”
For, I believe, the collapse of the middle class can be traced directly to the decisions made during his terms in office. Take the assault on labor unions. It was Reagan who decided that he could not be troubled with the PATCO strike. So he fired most of the nation’s air traffic controllers and replaced them with new, more obedient controllers.
Or take “Reaganomics,” AKA “Voodoo Economics” and “Trickle-down Economics.” Under Reagan, the administration began the biggest transfer of wealth in the nation’s history. All upward.
He began by paving the way for interstate banking, which effectively did away with usuary laws that limited the interest rate banks could charge for loans. And he ended tax deductions for the interest paid on loans. (For those too young to remember, prior to Reagan, all of the interest paid on loans for education, cars, credit cards, etc. was tax deductible.) The effect was to enact a huge tax increase on the poor and the middle class while, at the same time, cutting taxes for corporations and the wealthy.
Reagan’s economic disciples, such as George W. Bush, have not only further cut taxes for corporations and the wealthy, they have continued the assault on labor unions by providing tax incentives for corporations to ship jobs overseas. They have dramatically cut the estate tax and capital gains taxes. They have provided subsidies for some of the world’s most profitable corporations – oil and pharamceutical companies. They have attacked Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare and even public education as “entitlements.” And people like Wisconsin Governor Walker are trying to put an end to collective bargaining.
The result of the policies of all these Reaganophiles is that the 400 wealthiest people in the nation now control 50 percent of the nation’s wealth. To be clear, that means 400 people now have as much money as the bottom 110,000,000 Americans combined! Even Reagan’s own budget director now admits that “Reaganomics” was a disaster for the middle class.
So pardon me if I choose not to celebrate the Reagan legacy. To me, that would be akin to celebrating the legacy of influenza. Or measles. Or polio!