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Ralph Nader > In the Public Interest > Reagan: Would You Have Expected?

When you listened to Ronald Reagan’s campaign speeches in 1980, did you ever think he would argue again and again that veterans dying of cancer could not sue the government and its military contractors who misled them about radiation dangers when they were soldiers brought to observe atomic bomb tests?
Did you ever believe that Ronald Reagan’s government would pay, just this year, 141 Japanese banking employees $28 millionĀ­- an average of $200,000 each in severance pay, because their employer banks had ended their contract to provide services for U.S. military personnel in Japan?

The Pentagon testified in Congress that such severance payments were in accord with the Japanese tradition of guaranteeing workers lifetime employment. Apparently this generosity has been going on for as long as Reagan has been opposing raising the inflation-ravaged minimum wage for U.S. laborers.

Would you ever have expected Ronald Reagan last year to urge legislation on Congress that would limit to $100,000, in pain and suffering damages, what an injured or sick person could obtain in state or federal courts following suits against companies or others who caused their harm?

Whose side is Reagan on, anyway? How long can his verbal deceptions prop up his cruel regime? From one side of his tongue, he spoke of the brave American soldiers in Vietnam; on the other side he pushed to close down the counselling centers for these veterans in 1981.

Such hypocrisy abounds in Reagan’s mind. He says Iran has a government that sponsors violence abroad; then he illegally sells weapons to that country which may be sued against American pilots in the Persian Gulf. He says he is a dedicated budget-balancer, yet his budgets sent to Congress have built up the biggest deficits in world history — tripling the national debt before he leaves office in January 1989.

How often have you heard him rail against big government? Yet, last week he nominated to the Supreme Court, Judge Robert Bork, whose most prominent insignia is to block citizens from even getting through the federal courtroom door to challenge the abuses and waste of Big Government. Bork’s philosophy of the court’s role is to tell Americans, who do not have an “Inc” after their name, that they have “no standing to sue”.

And, ah, how inspirational Reagan has waxed over America the Beautiful, while letting the polluters poison the land, air and water that is America.

Recently, his moribund consumer adviser, Virginia Knauer, had Reagan issue a proclamation for consumer awareness week. Indeed, consumers had better be aware of the systematic Reaganite drive to scuttle the consumer protection programs all way from cleaning up the drinking water to making cars, food and drugs safer.

It is a strange phenomenon that the power of political words is still far ahead of political deeds. What politicians say provides heavy camouflage for what opposites they have done, unless citizens spend more time seeing through their verbal screens.

As the 1988 Presidential campaign season becomes more active, breaking through a politician’s waving wands of verbiage is the only way to see a politician’s record.