Michael Reagan: GOP shouldn't be duped by Dem duplicity

Cagle Cartoon Syndicate Published:

Republicans had better learn from history -- and from Ronald Reagan's mistake.

President Obama and his fellow big-spenders in Congress are promising if they get higher tax rates today they'll make even higher spending cuts tomorrow.

It's an old sucker's game. Republicans --and the rest of the country -- should know it by now, because for three decades we've all been suckers.

If history is our guide, and Republicans in Congress don't grow a spine, by this time next year we'll have higher taxes, higher spending, more debt and a bigger government.

Twice before, Republicans have been fooled into playing the Democrats' con game.

It happened to my father early in his first term when he sought to close a growing federal deficit caused by the deep economic recession. He believed Democrats in Congress would keep their pledge to make $3 in future spending cuts for every $1 in immediate tax increases.

In 1982 he signed a compromise tax bill with the horrible name of TEFRA -- the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act. And, when those promised spending cuts never materialized in Congress, TEFRA became one of the biggest regrets of my father's presidency.

My father was duped by the duplicity of Democrats. And so was George H.W. Bush less than a decade later, when he foolishly allowed himself to be taken for the same ride.

In 1990s budget wrangling, which was aimed at reducing the federal budget deficit by $500 billion over five years, Bush 41 was seduced by the Democrats' promise of making $2 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax hikes.

The first Bush fell for it completely, reneging on his "Read my lips, no new taxes" pledge, opening the door for "tax-cutter" Ross Perot and losing in 1992 to Bill Clinton.

Even before he was de-elected, Bush 41 regretted the "bargain" he had made with Democrats.

Fast-forward to "Nightmare on Obama Street, Part II." We have trillion-dollar federal deficits as far as our children's eyes can see. We have an economy that's looking at four more years of low growth and higher taxes.

And now some Republicans in Congress -- who apparently don't have a piece of conservative cartilage left in their bodies -- are getting ready to be duped again.

What's that old saying? "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me." Well, Republicans look like they are about to be fooled for the third time, which is so stupid there's no adage to describe it.

While my father was bargaining with Democrats in 1982 over spending and tax cuts, he spoke over the heads of Congress to the American people.

"In a few days the Congress will stand at the fork of two roads," he said. "One road is all too familiar to us. It leads ultimately to higher taxes. It merely brings us full circle back to the source of our economic problems, where the government decides that it knows better than you what should be done with your earnings and, in fact, how you should conduct your life. The other road promises to renew the American spirit. It's a road of hope and opportunity. It places the direction of your life back in your hands where it belongs."

America is at that same fork in the road today. Twice in 30 years Republicans have let Democrat promises lead them and the country down a one-way road to bigger and bigger government.

Double shame on us. And if the GOP allows itself to be suckered again, it won't be just another disaster for conservatism, it'll be a tragedy for the whole country.

Copyright ©2012 Michael Reagan. Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan, a political consultant, and the author of "The New Reagan Revolution" (St. Martin's Press). He is the founder and chairman of The Reagan Group and president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation.

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  • I don't believe that the republicans have ever been duped. They know when they make the agreements what will happen but feel compelled to make them to save their own political aspirations. Why? Because the general public refuses to acknowledge the reality of our spending problems unless it directly affects them. Until we end up like Greece and other European countries who have had to implement austerity measures to avoid bankruptcy, people in the U.S. will not make the tough decisions that reality will eventually demand. It's kind of like the family with two incomes making close to $90,000 a year who are living pay check to pay check. Until a tragedy strikes, they will never make the choice to live below their income levels and save for a rainy day. It goes against what has become the prevalent theory of most families, don't deny your kids or yourselves anything if you can scrap by. Whatever happened to the philosphy of putting at least 10 percent of your gross earnings away in a savings account for when you need it. It's also like the two wars we have been involved in where only 1% of the population have been directly affected. People who aren't directly involved are making zero sacrifices for these wars. Sure, they condemn them but what do they do to support the troops that really make an impact on their daily lives? Have they given up something in their life to financial or even physically support the troops? Do they have to ration food or pay a premium for anything because the resources are being diverted to fight a war? Nope, because it doesn't directly affect them they don't feel that they should sacrifice. Our government will eventually have no choice but to cut spending and then what? Its not that the programs where these funds are spend aren't worth the investment but that doesn't mean you can continue to fund them on borrowed money. Some program, some individual in the system will be impacted by the cuts but its what has to happen. Personally, I think ALL Americans should have to sacrifice a little more (not just the rich) and ALL programs that are government funded need to face cutbacks. One of the things that drives me crazy is that the president continues to talk about ADDING more funds to education when 50% of college graduates can't even find a job. So why are we going to pay to educate more people when there are no jobs for them. No way to pay back their student loans. More money keeps going to colleges but they keep raising tuition and loaning more money to people to attend who will never land a job in their chosen field. We say the way for our country is more manufacturing but you don't need everyone to have an expensive college education to work in a manufacturing job. Again, its about reality versus idealism.

  • Exactly. REpublicans should start defunding all of the democrat corrupt and fraudlent policies. Defund obamacare, defund DOE, Dept of Energy, cut Fed employment back to the terrible years when clinton was in office...1/2 waht it is now! But alas, the repubs are gullable and weak. Democrats will lie, cheat, steal, do whatever it takes to keep in power and wealth.