Cruel deeds camouflaged by velvet words are gushing from Ronald Reagan and his associates in great numbers these days. If you voted for Mr. Reagan, you may wish to ponder the following checklist of Reaganite actions and words since Jan. 20, 1981.
- Transferred the remaining pricing power over oil produced in the U.S. to the OPEC-EXXON cartels. This raised your price of gasoline almost immediately by 10 cents more a gallon. Reagan calls this “decontrol.”
- Proposes to promptly transfer the pricing power over U.S. natural gas to the OPEC-EXXON cartels. This would cost the average natural gas-using family over $1,000 a year in heating bills. Reagan also calls this “decontrol.”
- Reagan has revoked a requirement giving American workers the right to know what workplace chemicals they are being exposed to on the job. He calls this getting rid of red tape.
- Reagan has revoked a Carter policy or warning other countries when corporations export products like hazardous drugs that are so dangerous they are not permitted to be sold to Americans under U.S. law. Reagan calls this freeing up the export trade.
- Energy efficiency standards for heating and cooling federal buildings were revoked. So were proposals to let you know how efficient household appliances are that you are thinking of buying. Reagan calls these programs unnecessary, although evidence shows they would save millions of barrels of oil and other fuels each year. But then candidate Reagan ridiculed energy conservation on the campaign trail—the only person of either party to so brazenly condemn thrift.
- Reagan has proposed to eliminate the Legal Services Corporation which provides lawyers for poor Americans. He says the states and private lawyers can do a better job. But even the conservative leadership of the American Bar Association has consistently championed the good works of the Legal Services Corporation.
- Reagan has moved to cut nearly in half the budgets of the government’s solar and conservation of energy programs, while leaving intact the massive $1.5 billion a year which you, the taxpayers, are providing the atomic energy corporations. Reagan hasn’t bothered to give an explanation why he is reducing the two most important ways for America to become energy self-sufficient.
- Reagan postponed for a year and may completely destroy the greatest life-saving automotive engineering safety system—the passive restraint—since cars came with brakes. Tens of thousands of Americans will be killed or injured on the highways as a result of this latest delay of a standard that was first proposed by the Nixon Administration for the 1972 model year. Reagan describes letting more Americans be casualties as “lifting a regulatory burden” from the auto companies.
- Reagan is moving to cripple federal law enforcement in the health, safety and environment areas. Already the law and order movement to curb corporate crime, pollution, monopoly and fraud is at a virtual standstill. Stopping our government from defending its people from irresponsible corporations in these times of inflation and toxic waste dumping is what Reagan calls “deregulation.”
- The top Republican wants to eliminate the new National Consumer Cooperative Bank which lends money at market rates of interest to food, housing, auto repair, energy and other cooperatives that are fighting inflation. Many congressional Republicans voted for this legislation in 1978, including Sen. Robert Dole. Reagan’s budget director, David Stockman, arrogantly asserted the bank was not necessary without justifying his claims.
- Reagan cohorts throughout the government are moving to eliminate the openness of and access to government proceedings set up by the Carter people for Americans who cannot otherwise afford to have their voices heard. Although these programs cost less in one year that what the Pentagon spends in 30 minutes, Reaganites say these reductions are needed to reduce the deficit. So apparently are reductions in child nutrition and infant health care programs which have reduced childhood disease and infant mortality in the past decade.
It is noteworthy that Reagan ignores large, documented waste in the Pentagon and wants to add tens of billions of dollars to corporate arms-contracting programs. He even ignored $5 billion of easy-to-stop annual waste in that department that the U.S. General Accounting Office showed him could be accomplished and result in improved defense.
The multi-millionaire from California avoids cutting tens of billions of dollars of corporate subsidies which middle-class taxpayers are paying for each day of the year.
Last year I described Ronald Reagan as much crueler and more reactionary than Richard Nixon. Reagan’s first six weeks in office certainly supports that appraisal. The question is how long his smile and amiable demeanor will continue to mask his political and economic extremism.