Will 16 House GOP members keep John Boehner from a 1990 replay? Losing the base — and the House.
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It turned out that Richard Darman, Bush’s director of the Office of Management and Budget and a thorough-going moderate Republican, was insisting on raising taxes.
Dick Darman, who died a while back, was a man of many talents. Conservative principle was not one of his things. Neither, as so many conservatives had long been concerned, was it one of President Bush’s things. As far back as 1985, three years before his 1988 run for the White House in which he presented himself as Reagan’s heir and made his “read my lips, no new taxes pledge,” Bush had invited Rollins to dinner at the Naval Observatory, the vice president’s residence. After dinner, standing on the porch for a talk, Bush told Rollins he didn’t think lowering taxes — as Reagan was at that moment in the process of doing a second time — was a “good thing.” To Rollins’ astonishment, Bush voiced the views of liberals: the way to get more revenue for the government and help the economy was to raise taxes, not lower them. The fact that Reagan was persisting with this, Bush said, would wind up hurting the President.
A year later, Reagan won his tax victory, and the rest is history. Some 21 million jobs were created in the Reagan presidency — and tax revenue for the government went up — not, as Bush predicted, down.
Say again, tax revenues went up — not down.
As noted in Investor’s Business Daily by Paul Sperry:
Between 1982, when the first round of Reagan’s across-the-board tax cuts went into effect, and 1990, when President George H.W. Bush broke his no-new-taxes pledge, individual tax receipts jumped 57% to $467 billion.
All of this notwithstanding, Bush was persuaded by Dick Darman and insistent Democrats to break his “no new taxes” pledge.
Bush had also made one other pledge on economic policy in 1988: to cut the capital gains tax to 15% from 28%, the next step needed to continue the Reagan expansion. By breaking his “read my lips” pledge — and failing to get the capital gains tax reduced as promise — disaster followed.
In terms of the economy, by the fall of 1991 an all too predictable recession had hit.
And right on cue, the Democrats of the day — the very same Democrats who had gulled Bush into breaking his tax pledge — were out there excoriating the President for (in the words of a certain Governor of Arkansas named Clinton) “record numbers of people without jobs” etc., etc., etc.
As if this weren’t bad enough, one of Reagan’s famous supply-siders, longtime Jack Kemp adviser Jude Wanniski, took to the pages of the New York Times to scorch the President for abandoning Reaganomics. The headline over Wanniski’s op-ed: “Blame Bush for the Recession.”
One of the political strengths of the Reagan Revolution was that it had finally begun to break the decades-long grip of Democrats on the Congress. In 1980, Reagan’s victory had finally broken that grip on the Senate, electing a GOP Senate Majority for the first time since 1952. It was lost again in 1986 — but a GOP Senate would be back, finally out of the political wilderness.
The House was a tougher nut to crack. But the rise of a group of young GOP Reagan Revolutionaries — led by Newt Gingrich — had used Reagan’s powerful 1980 and 1984 victories and had begun to force cracks in the idea of the House as a permanent liberal fiefdom. The 1990 congressional elections were seen as the potential to gain another eight seats, with problems on the horizon for only a handful of GOP incumbents. In baseball terms, 1990 would be about singles and doubles, not grand slam home runs.
Suddenly, these potential gains were wiped out — and some 30-35 House GOP seats were in danger of being lost. All because President Bush had broken the tax pledge.
Rollins, who by then had been lured to the job of being the Bush-era executive director at the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee with an eye to finally winning back the House, did what any self-respecting Reaganite would do. He sent out a memo to GOP candidates telling them to be consistent, saying: “Do not hesitate to distance yourself from the President.”
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?