Ronald Reagan And The Myth Of Deregulation

reagan22newIt’s high time we dispel once and for all the absurd myth that Ronald Reagan was somehow for deregulation.

Statistically speaking, the size of bureaucracy, in terms of sheer civilian manpower, increased dramatically under Reagan, so that by the time he was finished, there were well over 200,000 more government workers than in 1980, when he took office.

In fact, the size of government under Ronald Reagan grew astronomically in virtually every way. To wit:

At the end of the first quarter of 1988, government spending had increased to 28.7 percent of the national income (“national income” refers to the private money generated by the hard-working citizens of this country). To put that into better perspective, this figure is even higher than Jimmy Carter’s outrageous numbers: in his final year as president, Carter maxed out at staggering 27.9 percent. Indeed, both Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter cut government spending far more efficiently than Ronald Reagan. Here are some of those numbers, which don’t lie:

Under Reagan, Social Security spending went from 179 billion in 1981 to 269 billion.

Farm programs skyrocketed: 21 billion to 51 billion.

Medicare jumped from 43 billion in 1981 to 80 billion in 1987.

During the Reagan era, federal entitlements alone rose from 197 billion to 477 billion.

Reagan promised the people that he would “abolish” the Department of Energy and the Department of Education. He did no such thing. On the contrary, these budgets more than doubled under Reagan. In his own words: “We’re not attempting to cut either spending or taxing levels below that which we presently have.”

In addition to not cutting, however, Reagan also upped the spending a few notches, thus: the Gross Federal Debt went from 900 billion to 2.7 trillion. Ford and Carter simply doubled it; Reagan tripled it.

Spending habits (which are a better gauge of government size than are taxes) increased under Reagan’s leadership in almost every way. But in any case, Reagan hardly cut taxes: by the end of 1987, government revenues, a good indicator of taxes and tax cuts, were nearly identical to those of Carter.

Reagan’s Economic Recovery Act, so-called, was negated a year or two later by his Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act (TEFRA).

He furthermore placed a five-cent-per-gallon tax on gas.

He hiked up taxes on the trucking industry.

He succeeded in increasing the Social Security tax – to the tune of 165 billion. In terms of foreign trade, Reagan was the most mercantilistic since Herbert Hoover: import restriction doubled under Reagan, and quotas were placed on countless products.

Foreign aid went from 10 billion to 22 billion.

Reagan also supported seatbelt laws and federal airbag laws.

Reagan increased regulation of the auto industry by not opposing that monstrous thing known as Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ).

In the final analysis, Reagan, like all the other bureaucrats, was just another interventionist. So please don’t be fooled.

If the mark of a minimal government is a government which, in Thomas Jefferson’s words, “extends only to such acts as are injurious to others” (i.e. which limits itself to protection against the initiation of force), then Reagan was about as far from that as any President ever, right or left.

That is, until now.


  • DAG

    December 17, 2009

    Ronald Reagan is an icon because he stood for real ideals. You people just want to tear him down because all you care about is destruction. Shame.

  • Boon

    December 17, 2009

    LOL! What are you trying to do, whip all the wingnuts into a frenzy!?!

    Great post.

  • Dan Tillman

    December 18, 2009

    The libs keep trying to bring down Reagan and the libs keep failing.

    This article is a fucking waste of time.

  • Nick

    December 18, 2009

    Yes, yes. Ray is nothing if not a “lib.”

  • EJ

    January 26, 2010

    Remember, Reagan didn’t write any of those laws!

    They were written by, as were most of the last half of the last centry, of a Democratically controlled legislature.

    Politics required tax cuts, which increased US treasury revenues, and the dems got their spending.

    It is too easy to blame the President. Congress are the ones who pass the tax laws and dictate the various Acts.


    I say, elect Bozo! Who’s he?


    Elect Bozo if both candidates on your ballot are all too typical, thus worthless, politicians. Say no more to the incumbent and no to the other party at the same time.

    Get Bozo on the ballot in all 50 states. Chances are there will be an incumbent and an opposition ‘party’ candidate. Could Bozo beat them both?

    Make Bozo the ultimate protest vote!

    If not legally on the ballot in your state, then simply write Bozo in. Hell, hand out official Bozo slips that meet the state requirements to drop in the ballot box.

    Bozo is the perfect individual expression and Internet age choice to get rid of an incumbent.

    If Bozo wins, then none who were on the ballot are wanted. Have a new election with different folks.

    What if Bozo is going to change, en masse, their W-4, to 100 dependents, thus shutting down the purse string. Would Obama incarcerate, at the point of a gun, the tens of millions who join in this rebellion?

  • EJ

    January 26, 2010

    Bottom Line

    I’ld rather have Bozo.

  • R.J. Moore II

    October 7, 2010

    “Remember, Reagan didn’t write any of those laws!”
    He also didn’t veto them.
    Reagan was all talk. No honest libertarian (or even classical liberal) could possibly participate in this murderous gang down in DC. Only the deluded and pseudo-libertarians (i.e., efficiency experts for the state) do.

  • Redomondo

    November 5, 2010

    Speaking of Reagan, here is a great speech from him in 1964

    too bad there was no follow-through

  • me

    March 11, 2011

    sooooooooo funny when the radical right gets whaloped with the truth…..i love it…..

  • Ray

    March 11, 2011

    You may be me, but you don’t quite sound like me.

    The radical right, the radical left, the liberals, the conservatives, blah-blah — there’s no real difference here in principle: it’s purely a difference of form.

    As we’ve discussed here so many times.

    Feel free to reply.

    Thank you for dropping by.

  • Anthony

    August 8, 2011

    Republican’s are so funny. Your solutions are so vague and unclear. Only reason why john McCain didn’t win. Because people wanted answers and he responded with sugar coated answers.

    The truth is Ronald Deregulation made a huge impact on our country. Republican’s forgot that the every common American including a lot of the lower class contribute to the boost of this economy. Yea even our lower class, the poor class.

    The average poor American still has it made compared to the lower class in other countries. They Still got to pay bills, still got to eat, still want to have a good time. A lot of poor people depending on their income can manage to provide luxury to their family from time to time.

    Deregulation gave companies the ability to maximize their profits by laying off workers. So from the Reagen era on out, jobs have done nothing but dramatically decreased. What so sad you guys think solutions and issues come and go during one term in office when this is not the case.

    The issue we have today is based on decisions not only off of Obama but also from George W Bush, Bill Clinton, George Bush, Reagen, and Carter. Every single president has some part in why we are in the situation we are in so what we as a people need to do is stop blaming the right wing or left wing and come together against Washington in general and demand people start making better decisions for the sake of our country. Not to mention almost every president has mention the word New World Order in their speech. and That word is starting to be said more often.

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