Vail Valley Voices: The GOP’s ‘socialist’ history
Just a few random thoughts for my Republican friends.Ayn (pronounced “Eye n,” not “Ann”) Rand comes into vogue each time the Democrats are in power. When the Democrats are in power, Republicans always point to her writings of how things should be. I don’t get it. Ayn Rand was an atheist. And, she was all about individual rights. Republicans are typically God fearing Christians. And, they’re against abortion, an individual right. So why are Republicans once again so enamored with Rand when her views mostly contradict what the Republican party stands for? Next, Republicans always want to point to the Reagan years as their glory days. OK, great. I voted for Reagan. They’re all fired up, really complaining about things right now. They’re complaining about unemployment, that our president is a socialist, that Democrats are going to tax and spend us into oblivion — to name some. They’re standing by their age old ideals that “We’re about less government and business.” None of this adds up. First, unemployment has yet to reach the high point of 10.4 percent in 1982 — under Reagan. So it was under Republican leadership when unemployment reached its high mark. Then Ronald Reagan presided over the largest tax increases in history. First, in 1983 Reagan made one of the greatest ideological about-faces in the history of the presidency, agreeing to a $165 billion bailout of Social Security. Reagan raised taxes again in 1983 with a gasoline tax and once more in 1984, this time by $50 billion over three years, mainly through closing tax loopholes for business. Reagan raised taxes a total of four times between 1982 and 1984.Reagan’s coup de grace tax increase was the historic Tax Reform Act of 1986. Though it achieved the goal of lowering individual income tax rates, it was progressive (liberal) reform. The plan imposed the largest corporate tax increase in history – -an act unimaginable for any conservative to support today. Just two years after declaring, “there is no justification” for taxing corporate income, Reagan raised corporate taxes by $120 billion over five years and closed corporate tax loopholes worth about $300 billion over that same period. In addition to broadening the tax base, the plan increased standard deductions and personal exemptions to the point that no family with an income below the poverty line would have to pay federal income tax.Moving on, the Republicans are all claiming that our president is a socialist. Again, if we go back to the Reagan years, what’s up with that? The Tax Reform Act of 1986 included programs that today’s Republicans would certainly deem “socialist.” The Low Income Housing Tax Credit was part of the act. It encouraged investment in low-income housing. The Alternative Minimum Tax was also part of the act, definitely a “redistribution” because it was targeted at high-income households. But the grand daddy of all redistribution programs (“socialist”) was the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), greatly expanded under Reagan. EITC actually gave money back to families who didn’t meet a certain income level. EITC was all about providing money for poverty, low-income earners, and tax credits to people with kids. It’s been heralded (rightly so) as one of the greatest “social programs” in American history. I’m not saying Ronnie was all about tax increases. He introduced some historic tax cuts, including being able to deduct mortgage interest. But when it comes to tax increases and social programs, look no further than President Ronald Reagan for the largest tax increases in history and some of our greatest social programs. I also don’t understand this whole notion of trickle-down economics that my Republican friends want to take credit for. My friends always say, “We need to get back to the Reagan years, trickledown economics.” The biggest boom the economy has ever felt is the Internet. It had nothing to do with trickledown economics. It had to do with divestiture, and it was two liberal Democrats — Jimmy Carter and Judge Harold Greene — who were responsible. Ronnie took the credit for divestiture, but it was Carter and Judge Greene, whom Carter nominated, who deserve all the credit. Greene was a federal judge for the United States District Court of Columbia. Greene presided over the anti-trust case that broke up the AT&T vertical market monopoly of the telecommunications industry in the United States. The case, one of Greene’s first after being named to the bench, resulted in the 1982 consent decree between AT&T and the Federal Trade Commission. The consent decree, later amended and usually called the modified final judgment (MFJ), provided for the spinoff of the regional bell operating companies (RBOCs). The case freed AT&T to enter the computer industry, from which it had previously been barred, leading to commercial distribution of the Unix operating system. Every Apple computer, iPhone, and iPod is based on Unix. IP, the Internet protocol, is based on Unix.At the time, nobody understood how important divestiture was going to be. But Jimmy Carter did.Divestiture broke up the phone companies, opened the idea of “Information providers,” and broke up the monopoly on information. It was this decree that laid the pipes for the information age, the Internet. If not for the work done by Carter and Greene, we might not have the great technological advancements we’re all enjoying today. Carter appointed probably the only man on earth who could have understood how complex the issue was, Judge Greene. Finally, why are Republicans against the legalization of pot, and for that matter, drugs? The war on drugs was lost years ago. It’s done nothing but lead to big government and spending. We could take the billions we waste every year fighting the war on drugs and put it into treatment and education. Conservative principles of smaller government and less spending are in direct conflict with the war on drugs, with laws that try to control what we put into our bodies. Booze and cigarettes are arguably much more harmful than a little weed. Paul Kulas lives in Eagle.