“We’re going to close the unproductive tax loopholes that have allowed some of the truly wealthy to avoid paying their fair share. In theory, some of those loopholes were understandable, but in practice they sometimes made it possible for millionaires to pay nothing, while a bus driver was paying ten percent of his salary, and that’s crazy. [...] Do you think the millionaire ought to pay more in taxes than the bus driver, or less?”
By the way, President Reagan made the above remarks in a June 6, 1985 speech at Atlanta’s Northside High School, while campaigning for a broad tax-reform proposal that ended up passing in 1986.
A few weeks later, in Chicago Heights, Illinois, Reagan expounded on his belief that tax reform was needed because it was wrong to let millionaires and corporations pay taxes at lower rates than working people. He also tells a story about a letter from a business executive that may sound familiar:
“The result is that workers sometimes find themselves paying higher taxes than the giant corporations they work for, and hardworking families have to struggle under a growing tax burden while the special interests get a free ride. Now, we’re not against big corporations—they provide many of the jobs, goods, and services that keep America strong. It’s the system that’s unfair, and that’s what we’re going to change.
Just a few moments ago, I told some people inside the building here of a letter that I just received the day before yesterday. It’s a letter from a man out here in the country, an executive who’s earning in six figures—well above $100,000 a year. He wrote me in support of the tax plan because he said, “I am legally able to take advantage of the present tax code—nothing dishonest, doing what the law prescribes—and wind up paying a smaller salary than my secretary gets — or I mean, paying a smaller – I’m sorry, paying a smaller tax than my secretary pays.” And he wrote me the letter to tell me he’d like to come to Washington and testify before Congress as to how that’s possible for him to do and why it is wrong. So, this is the kind of spirit that is going on throughout the country.”
One more point about that Illinois speech. Reagan complained about the fact that “the lobbyists are out in force again; they’ve dug in around the Capitol building in Washington, trying to keep the special interests in and the people’s interests out.”
“But they’ve forgotten one thing—this time they’re going to have to contend with the allied forces of the President and Chicago’s own Dan Rostenkowski, (Democratic) chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. And if they think that things have been hot so far, Ron and Rosty have got news for them— [laughter] —you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
Now, this issue goes beyond Democrat or Republican—it’s simply a matter of doing what’s right for America. And if we work together with good faith and determination, the people can win this time, and they will win.”
Once more, history offers compelling evidence of just how fanatical and extreme the conservative movement has become in this country. They have moved so far beyond what Reagan himself advocated that they threaten to turn “the Gipper” into a RINO if not an outright liberal. As his son, right-wing talk-show host Michael Reagan, conceded on Fox recently, Reagan today would be attacked as a moderate and “he would have trouble getting his own nomination.”
– Jay Bookman
(h/t to Think Progress)