by John Hawkins | June 7, 2004 12:04 am
Since today is Ronald Reagan’s 92nd birthday, I thought it would be a good time to remind people of what Reagan accomplished during his eight years in office. That shouldn’t be necessary, but Reagan’s critics continually harp upon the faults of his administration (increasing the debt, Iran Contra) & regularly attempt to distort his record in an attempt to deny him the credit he deserves.
To begin with, to fully appreciate what Reagan accomplished, you must consider the terrible condition America was in when he arrived. America’s military was in sad shape, the economy was gripped in the most severe meltdown that America had experienced since the great depression, & Vietnam, Watergate, & four years of last century’s worst President (Jimmy Carter), had led many Americans and much of the world to wonder if America had passed it’s peak and was beginning to decline.
Ronald Reagan was responsible for changing all of that. Here are Reagan’s biggest accomplishments…
Taxes: Reagan slashed taxes from a 70% top bracket in 1981 to 28% in 1986. That resulted in 20 million jobs being created between 1983 – 1989, a doubling of the amount of revenue going into government coffers, and a wave of prosperity that America rode from 1983 until 2001 with only a small pause at the end of the George Bush Sr.’s term.
Rebuilding America’s Military: If you want to know why America is such a military powerhouse today, then you need look no further than Reagan. Reagan’s funding increases and dedication to strengthening our military are what allowed us to be so successful in the Gulf War and beyond. If Reagan hadn’t come along, our military capabilities would be only a shadow of what of they are today.
SDI: Reagan’s much derided “Star Wars program” not only helped convince the Soviets that they couldn’t compete with America, but the missile defense system we’re going to have working (at least in a rudimentary form) possibly as early as 2004, is an outgrowth of the program Reagan promoted.
Defeating The Soviet Union: When Reagan came into office, détente was the policy of the day. Reagan abandoned détente and made no secret of the fact that considered the Soviet Union to be an, “evil empire.” Instead of cooperating with the Soviets, Reagan forced them to try to keep up with America’s massive military budget when they could barely feed their own people. Eventually Gorbachev, who was an avowed Communist, realized that the Soviets had no hope of keeping up with the US, and he started trying to implement reforms. Things soon spiraled out of his control and the death of the Soviet Union occurred withina few years. Had Reagan never been in office and had the policy of détente continued to the present day, the Soviet Union would probably still exist.
Rebuilding the Republican party: Just as Babe Ruth “saved” baseball after the, “Black Sox scandal”, Ronald Reagan “saved” the Republican party after Nixon. Reagan’s incredible popularity (1980: Reagan 489 electoral votes — Carter 49 & 1984: Reagan 525 electoral votes — Mondale 13) forever altered the way the public viewed the Republican Party and the way the GOP viewed itself. Had Reagan lost 1980 or 1984, it’s doubtful that we’d see the GOP controlling both Congress and the Presidency today.
Those are what I consider to be Reagan’s “big five accomplishments.” Of course, Reagan is also fondly remembered for his patriotism & optimism, which you can get a feel for by reading the final paragraph of a letter Reagan wrote to the American people to announce that he had Alzheimer’s Disease….
“In closing, let me thank you, the American people, for giving me the great honor of allowing me to serve as your president. When the Lord calls me home, whenever that day may be, I will leave with the greatest love for this country of ours and eternal optimism for its future. I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life. I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead.”
Is it any wonder that so many Conservatives love & respect the Gipper?
This article was originally posted at RWN on Feb 6, 2003
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