For all the glowing accolades Republicans like to give to President Reagan, especially on the occasion of his 100th birthday, the truth is, if he were still around his policies would be way too liberal for today's GOP. Not that Reagan was a liberal or even that much of a moderate. His administration definitely was right of center. But that is how far to the right and how radical the modern GOP has become.
We have all heard Reagan's former budget director time and time again say tax cuts do cause deficits if not offset with spending cuts. That notion is absolutely rejected out of hand by Republicans today. Today's Republican “Patriots” think tax cuts are the answer to everything. Yet in addition to cutting some taxes, Reagan raised taxes 11 different times – an act totally unthinkable by Republicans today.
There is a constant fascination with the national debt by the GOP – because it’s politically expedient for them to focus on the debt now that they are out of power. But if you mention to them that Reagan tripled the national debt, they will insist it was because of “patriotic” reasons. They will counter that Obama has increased it by 15%, while becoming unglued and ranting like crazy people about socialism and government takeovers.
The biggest argument of the day is the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) that was passed into law last year. Every elected Republican, along with every word ever spoken on Fox News, has called the Affordable Care Act “unconstitutional” because it carries a mandate that all who can afford it has to purchase insurance through private providers or pay a penalty to the government. Regardless of the fact that Republicans have touted “personal responsibility” for decades, this has caused some of the most heated arguments and moments in America since the Civil Rights Movement in the 60s. It brought us the Summer of Hate where multitudes of elected Republican members of Congress were organizing protests against the government and stirring the pot by calling the president an enemy of the state. Unfortunately it also gave us the Tea Baggers, who are still trying to figure out why everybody cannot protest government services while, at the same time, partaking in government services just like they do.
But something interesting happened yesterday in a Senate hearing on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. Former Solicitor General Charles Fried, who was Reagan's SG his entire second term as president, firmly told his Republican colleagues that not only is the ACA constitutional, but the individual mandate is too.
It is extremely rare to hear a Republican say such a thing nowadays. It would cost them their career and result in being labeled a liberal by the current rightwing establishment. In listening to Fried, it was refreshing to be reminded of just how moderate Republicans used to be. That is why I, as an independent, used to vote for just as many moderate Republicans as I did moderate Democrats – but not anymore. Fried’s speech highlighted just how numbingly stupid and completely controlled today’s Republicans are by Fox News, the neoconservatives, and the Religious Right.
Again, Fried, who was one of Reagan's inner circle of advisors, is disagreeing completely with not just a policy viewpoint of the modern GOP, but disagreeing entirely with the very foundation of the modern GOP.
As much as Republicans say they adore him, Reagan would be driven out of the party these days.