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Ralph Nader > In the Public Interest > Dukakis Blows His Chance to Expose Reagan-Bush Record

No presidential candidate has blown more opportunities to score points with the voters against an incumbent (Reagan-Bush) government than has Michael Dukakis. In both debates, Dukakis seemed unwilling or unable to use the common language of common observation of today’s Washington.

Let’s demonstrate with a few salvos based on what the newspapers have been reporting over the past seven and one-half years.

(1) Reagan-Bush came to Washington in 1981 pledging to reduce Big Government. By the end of 1988, the nation’s national debt will have tripled to nearly $3 trillion. The government deficits by Reagan just in the first four years were greater than the total deficits from George Washington through Jimmy Carter and America has become the world’s largest debtor nation in just three years from being the world’s largest creditor nation when Carter left office.

Reagan’s big government has added 102,000 more federal civilian employees to the total number prevailing when he took office. The Reagan-Bush administration has been a government of big business, by big business and for big business while setting new records for secrecy, lie detector coercion and other civil liberty violations.

To top off the hypocrisy, Reagan-Bush have gone out of their way to make it harder for citizens to challenge, question or sue the federal government. They have accomplished this exclusion in part by appointing the kinds of judges who throw taxpayers and consumers out of court on the specious doctrine that they have no legal standing to sue. And since 1981, Reagan has supported legislation to prevent families or members of the armed forces from suing the manufacturers of defective equipment such as helicopters whose failure killed or injured servicemen. Finally, Reagan-Bush were very active in trying to federally regulate state judges and juries in order to comply with the demands of the insurance and other industries that they be given greater powers to escape liability in the courts.

[2] Reagan-Bush have weakened America economically vis-a-vis foreign countries. Their economic policies have helped create a huge trade deficit (ranging around $160 billion a year) which has exported jobs, lowered the value of the dollar and set this country’s land, factories and other buildings up for sale to foreign investors at fire sale prices.

Because of these mountains of debt and deficits, our country is more in the grips of foreign financiers who hold large amounts of U.S. government bonds. Real wages, which are lower than they were in 1970, after inflation adjustments, are slipping rapidly in comparison with wages in other industrialized countries. We’re no longer number one or two or three in these categories.

[3] Reagan-Bush have set new records in using your tax dollars to bail out mismanaged or corrupt corporations. Observers thought that the $4.5 billion bailout of the teetering Continental Illinois Bank three years ago was the record. Well, the informed talk in Washington is that there is a $75 to $100 billion bailout coming soon for the hundreds of savings and loan associations whose speculations were permitted by Reagan’s financial de-regulation policies in the early Eighties.

Although Reagan told me in 1975, during a debate with him, that he deplored business coming to Washington for a handout, the Reagan corporate welfare programs are prospering as never before. And over at the Pentagon, the military contracting budget is spilling out more than just $450 claw hammers and $1700 toilet seat covers. The front pages of newspapers have headlined the corruption and waste that is rampant inside these munitions corporations and their consulting firms for months. After spending over $2 trillion on defense, Reagan has fewer fighter plane wings than in 1980.

(4) Reagan-Bush have left Americans defenseless before the ravages of polluters, the frauds of seamy corporations and the cruel depletions of poverty among millions of young children. They have accomplished this callousness by blocking, freezing or removing life-saving and health-advancing programs from auto, food, drug and worker safety to infant nutrition and other child care services.

A new report entitled: “Risking America’s Health and Safety” documents George Bush’s record as head of Reagan’s “Task Force on Regulatory Relief.” To see how Mr. Bush turned his back on asbestos and lead removal, expressed his delight at the revocation of life-saving auto standards, and thumbed his nose at consumers right down to approving the delay of safe infant formula standards, write to Public Citizen, P.O. Box 19404.