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MILLER: Ripping off the Gipper

What would Reagan do? He’d cut spending and taxes

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Liberals are trying to twist Ronald Reagan's words to muster support for raising taxes. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's press office sent a memo on Monday to congressional Republicans claiming they'd found evidence proving that President Reagan was the real inspiration for President Obama's tax-the-rich "Buffett Rule." The California Democrat posed the question: "What would Reagan do?"

The correct answer is: He would cut taxes. Mrs. Pelosi's memo sends people over to the liberal Think Progress website, where a video montage interweaves clips of Mr. Obama and Reagan saying apparently similar things about tax rates. "We're going to close the unproductive tax loopholes that allow some of the truly wealthy to avoid paying their fair share," said the Gipper.

You're supposed to think that's just what Mr. Obama is doing, but the liberals edited out the context of the 40th president's remarks. In a June 1985 speech at an Atlanta high school, he called for a total overhaul of the tax system. He wanted loopholes closed to lower the tax rates for everyone, for a net reduction in the tax burden. Congressional Republicans point out that's precisely the opposite of what the Democrats are now trying to do.

"One of the problems we have in the United States of America is what I call 'revisionist history' and obviously that's something that Nancy Pelosi has taken a page from," Florida Rep. Allen West told The Washington Times. "Ronald Reagan set the conditions with the right type of regulatory policies and tax policies that enabled this country to grow. And that's what we have to do."

Mr. West called the current president's American Jobs Act, a "mini-me stimulus, and that's the last thing we need."

Fellow freshman Rep. Jeff Landry echoed the sentiment. "I've never known Ronald Reagan to employ class warfare," the Louisiana Republican told The Washington Times. "I've always known him to be one that pulled America together."

The Pelosi memo is chock-full of cherry-picked "facts" about millionaires designed to support their Keynesian economic fantasies. Americans for Tax Reform's Ryan Ellis explained recently that many millionaires have income from investments that fluctuate with the economy. "During bad years, the very wealthy pay less because everything is tanking," he told us.

Mr. Ellis pointed out that the top 0.1 percent of taxpayers saw their tax rates go down from 28.2 to 22.7 percent from 2000 to 2009 but their contribution has gone up from 16 to 18 percent of all income taxes paid in that same period.

It's simply not true that the uber-rich are paying lower tax rates than many in the middle class. In fact, a typical middle-class family of four has a median income of $75,000 and shells out about 12.5 percent to the IRS - that's 10 percent less than the rich guy.

You know liberals are desperate when they start quoting Ronald Reagan. As Reagan told the gathered students 26 years ago, his guiding philosophy was "freedom, freedom and more freedom." That's not the principle behind anything Barack Obama is doing.

Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.

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