If we ever needed the "Gipper" we need him now. You know who I mean, the late great former President of the United States, Ronald Reagan. If the Gipper was around today the Tea Party Republicans would be forced to face all the ramifications of the failure of the U.S. Congress to raise the federal debt limit.
Instead of watching President Barack Obama sit patiently through testy meetings with Speaker John Boehner and his House rival Majority Leader Eric Cantor, we would see President Reagan call upon his Republican troops to bite the bullet and stop whining about massive cuts to Social Security and Medicare.
No one said it better than Ronald Reagan when he told the nation and a Republican Congress
that the full consequence of a default, or even the serious prospect of a default by the United States are impossible to predict and awesome to contemplate. Denigration of the full faith and credit of the United States would have substantial effects on the financial markets and the value of the dollar.
There is more to the Ronald Reagan financial story that needs telling, especially for the obstructionist Tea Party Congress members, many of whom weren't old enough to appreciate what had occurred and how bad America's financial condition really was.
In 1981, following his heart and his supply-side economic beliefs, President Reagan pushed through $749 billion in tax cuts, which coupled with massive defense spending created record deficits that the Republican Congress refused to challenge. Forced to raise taxes 11 times to reduce the deficit, the national debt tripled to $3 trillion. That was followed by three consecutive votes to raise the debt limit.
Years later, under President George W. Bush, the country's financial state was not looking much better. President Bush got Congress to vote to increase the national debt seven times during two terms in office. The Congress didn't have much choice on the debt limit vote because it had reduced taxes by $1.3 trillion followed by another tax cut of $550 billion. When all was said and done the Bush administration succeeded in doubling the national debt.
Currently the loudest noises against raising the national debt are coming from Speaker Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mc Connell. Besides being from the same party they also share the distinction of having voted 19 times during their careers to raise the debt limit. It is correct to assume that most of those yes votes were cast under a Republican president.
Raising the national debt limit has never really been a big deal for old-time Republican legislators. Senator Orin Hatch (R-Utah) said it best when he proclaimed, "it was a standard practice not to pay for things." He had the backing of then Vice President Dick Cheney who said "deficits don't matter" when he urged support for raising the debt limit.
Did the deep tax cuts really create jobs and stimulate the economy? Not according to the infamous David Stockman, one time budget director under President Reagan. Stockman's analysis last year was "the debt explosion has resulted not from big spending by the Democrats, but instead the Republican Party's embrace, three decades ago, of the insidious doctrine that debt doesn't matter if it comes from tax cuts."
Last week, after leaving a marathon of no success meetings with the legislative leaders, President Obama said that "President Reagan wouldn't be sitting here listening to this stuff." The President was right. If the Gipper was running the show he would take Boehner, Cantor and McConnell out to the woodshed and give them a history lesson they wouldn't forget.