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Ralph Nader > In the Public Interest > Let’s Look at Reagan’s Record

The bands are ‘a playing, the flags are ‘a waving and the taxpayers are ‘a paying for Ronald Reagan’s finale and departure, as they have paid for the past eight years of fiscal and political profligacy.

Elaborate publicity events, planned by White House public relations, are taking the media by storm. Nor are the supine Democrats challenging the deceptive images and gloss being wrapped around the Reagan government’s performance. And the national broadcasters and newspapers seem willing to send Reagan flying off to Santa Barbara on a media cloud nine.

Well, as FDR’s Postmaster General, Jim Farley, used to say: “Let’s look at the record,” — the Reagan record. It is a chronicle of wreckage and callousness that will continue to plague millions of Americans in many ways. For behind that nice-fellow image was a pretty lazy man who always did the bidding of the rich and powerful.

Here is the briefest of lists to illustrate — under Reagan there was a record near-tripling of the national debt to $2.7 trillion, record annual budget deficits, record trade deficits, record transforming of America into a debtor nation, record giveaway of public land resources, record decline in low income public housing starts, record homelessness, record Pentagon waste, fraud and abuse, record corporate crimes, record corporate mergers and acquisitions, record skyrocketing corporate executive salaries along with stagnant or declining real wages for workers, record salary hikes for top government officials, record-long freezing of the federal minimum wage, record export of jobs overseas, record selling of America cheaply to foreign investors.

Continuing … record complexity in federal tax and pension laws and in the forms people have to fill out, record cuts in food stamps, medicaid and the ‘social safety net, record ten year poverty rates, record deregulation of banks, record government bailouts for crooked or speculative banks, record number of bank failures, fifty year record number of farm foreclosures and bankruptcies, record amounts of hard drugs imported, record brazenness in pushing through Congress the abolition of the $ 1 20 per month minimum social security for 3 million Americans (later repealed under a wave of elderly protest), record denials of Social Security disability payments and record number of federal judges condemning these denials.

Continuing … record low in issuing of OSHA lob safety standards, record low in issuing NHTSA auto safety and fuel efficiency standards, record debacle in mismanaging the nation’s nuclear weapons’ plants and radioactive contamination, record denigration of federal solar and energy conservation programs since they got underway in early Seventies, record share of the taxpayer’s dollar going lust to pay interest on the national debt, record reliance of a debt-burdened government on foreign financiers, record resignations of shady, high government appointees (the sleaze phenomenon), record number of government civilian employees, record reduction planned for continual meat and poultry inspections, record low in significant antitrust law enforcement, record number of attempts by Reagan to destroy the legal services for the poor program, record tax bonanzas for six years given to major corporations.

Continuing record government secrecy, record insensitivity to civil liberties and enforcement of the civil rights laws, record prices for government publications and information thereby undermining public’s right to know, record hypocrisy between what a President says regarding the rights of government whistleblowers and ethics in government, compared to his vetoes and ‘look the other way’ behavior.

Continuing… record postwar high in the number of children living in poverty, record declining rate of student loan availability, record funding of chemical and biological warfare programs (since Nixon stopped them 28 years ago) and… oh, yes, a record number of speeches and statements against federal deficit spending.

Reagan has told us how he brought down inflation. But the record shows that the world oil glut, The Federal Reserve’s high interest rate policy and the worst postwar recession (1981- early 1983) produced that result, not Reagan.

Reagan says that his administration was responsible for creating over 1 7 million jobs. That is a strange thing for a supposed free enterpriser like Reagan to claim. Maybe he is referring to his massive

prime-the-pump red-ink spending. In any event, there was a record number of lower-paying jobs created in industry and commerce thereby requiring more members of the family to look for paying work.

Reaganites say that he lifted our ‘spirits — correct if they mean he led the nation in a drunken world record, spending binge. His backers say he strengthened and rearmed America. Seems that there were plenty of missiles and firepower around before Reagan. But after two trillion defense dollars, Reagan leaves the U.S. with scads of defective weapons systems, huge cost overruns, undersupplied conventional forces and even fewer tactical fighter squadrons than existed in 1980.

Reagan did teach us one thing, however, that somebody can become President if they smile, toady up to the powerful and wave the flag.