The Spectacle Blog

Reagan’s Welfare Queen Issue Resurfaces in Romney Video

By on 9.18.12 | 12:40PM

Ronald Reagan used to be excoriated for talking about the "welfare queen" when he ran for president.

Liberals would work themselves into a foaming hysteria attacking Reagan on the subject, insisting he made it up out of whole cloth. Just the other week Chris Matthews was singing this same tune, insisting the story was both fiction and racist.

This is worth recalling as Mitt Romney comes under assault for essentially making a broader version of the same charge -- saying that there are considerable millions of Americans out there who are now on the government roles for one reason or another, considering themselves victims etc.

First, as with Romney, Reagan was right.

As Matt Lewis of the Daily Caller reminds, Reagan's story was 100% accurate. And the "Welfare Queen" story was accurately recorded -- wonder of wonders -- by the both the New York Times and the Washington Post. Lewis points to this excerpt from the original manuscript of ex-Reagan aide Craig Shirley's book Rendezvous With Destiny:

Chicago's justice system was cracking down on people such as Reagan's famed "welfare queen" Linda Taylor who was finally convicted of using multiple aliases and bilking the taxpayers out of thousands of dollars. (New York Times, March 19, 1977) Reagan had made much of the woman in the 1976 campaign as an example of the "waste, fraud and abuse" that the federal and state welfare agencies engaged in. It was much disputed at the time over exactly how much she stole. Human Events, Reagan's favorite weekly newspaper, claimed one thing and some in the media claimed another about the amount of her excesses. The Washington Post account verified the conservatives' charges about the woman, stating that she'd stolen over $150,000, had 26 aliases, three Social Security numbers, 30 different addresses around the city and "owned a portfolio of stocks and bonds under various names and a garage full of autos including a Cadillac, Lincoln and a Chevy wagon." She incidentally had several dead husbands and had just returned from a trip to Hawaii, presumably to avoid the last bit of the winter of 1977. All of her ill-gotten goods were courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer. "Prosecutors say there is no category of public aid -- welfare payments, rent subsidies, medical reimbursements, food stamps, transportations allowances, child-care expenses, survivors' benefits --that Taylor had neglected to apply" for. The Post re-dubbed her, "The Chutzpa Queen." (Washington Post, March 13, 1977, page 3.) 

In other words,  Reagan's "Welfare Queen" story was true, and reported on in the day by the two leading papers in liberal land.

What does this have to do with Romney?

What Romney is saying in this Mother Jones clip, in essence, is that the Welfare Queen mentality has spread to a larger pool of Americans.

Romney is right now, just as Reagan was right with the original story. The Welfare Queen really existed. So too do large numbers of Americans, whatever the correct percentage, live today some version of the Welfare Queen existence. No one is suggesting -- Romney certainly did not suggest -- that these people are doing something illegal.

What he was suggesting -- and he should stick with this -- is that far too many people are not paying taxes in this country, leaving it not to the rich -- but the middle class- to pick up the tab.

Obama is trying to create a dependent society, saying taxing the rich is the answer to all of this nonsense. In fact, as Margaret Thatcher used to say, sooner or later liberals will run out of rich people's money. And they will step up what is already a liberal war on

Mitt Romney is right in what he said.

Can he explain it better?

Doubtless.

But was he right?

Yes he was. And he shouldn't be defensive. Middle class voters know every day that unless this problem is addressed pronto -- the financials of this country will swiftly go Greek.

What this video reveals is that Mitt Romney has raised the modern version of the Welfare Queen issue.

It was in fact a big winner for Ronald Reagan. And can be for Romney.

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