Bob Dole in 1982: “We’re just trying to avoid going over the cliff”: Reagan, Kemp, and “tax the rich.”
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This Kemp remark, writes Reagan biographer Steven Hayward, was the origin of the thought that Kemp’s compadre Congresssman Newt Gingrich would later tartly express: that the GOP’s Senate Finance Committee Chairman Bob Dole and his support for tax increases made Dole and his fellow GOP tax increasers the “tax collector for the welfare state.”
Bob Dole was furious, protesting — in a remark that is uncannily prescient for the same struggle in December of 2012 —
We’re not trying to make a U-turn. We’re just trying to avoid going over the cliff.
Then Dole grumbled about the classical economics — or as it was being called, “supply-side economics” — that had already been a stunning success for presidents Calvin Coolidge and John F. Kennedy:
I never understood all that supply-side business.
Catch that? In 1982 the tax wing of the Republican Party was insisting that if Reagan juuuuuuuuuust went along with Tip O’Neill and his band of liberals and increased taxes….America would nevvvvvvvvvvver face the threat of going over the fiscal cliff again.
Honest. Really. Never, ever again.
Ronald Reagan reluctantly agreed. Later saying it was the worst mistake of his presidency.
And lo and behold……here we are again. Not to mention there we were in 1990 when President George H.W. Bush was told the same fairy tale — and fell for it too.
Amidst all the abuse principled House Republicans of 2012 are taking for not agreeing with Speaker John Boehner to go along with President Obama and raise tax rates on the “rich” — it is important to learn from Reagan and Kemp’s hard-learned experience as they themselves did.
For once in his presidency, in 1982 Reagan went against his always superb instincts. Not to mention his knowledge of economics gained over time as an economics major in college, an actor, spokesman for General Electric, and, last but not least as a labor negotiator in his role as head of the Screen Actors Guild.
But Reagan never, as is frequently portrayed today by Obama allies, abandoned his belief in the economic necessity of lower tax rates.
First, Reagan flatly refused to raise the very income tax rates he had just finished cutting and signing into law in August of 1981 — not even a year earlier. To be quite colorfully specific, when then-House Majority Leader Jim Wright, the Texas Democrat and later Speaker, tried to get Reagan to go along with giving up the third year of the Reagan tax cuts for a list of larger, unspecified domestic spending cuts, Reagan bluntly replied:
You can get me to crap a pineapple but you can’t get me to crap a cactus.
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.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?