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Tear Down This Myth

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Will Bunch of Attytood recently published an interesting and important book – Tear Down This Myth: How the Reagan Legacy Has Distorted Our Politics and Haunts Our Future.

On his blog, Will provides an excerpt and commentary:

Twenty years gone – but Reagan still matters. About this time one year ago, unceasing Reagan idolatry hijacked the race for the White House. Sometimes it was voiced in the name of policies on immigration or toward Iran that were the exact opposite of what really happened a generation ago. The power of this political fantasy – expressed mainly, of course, on the GOP side but occasionally even spilling over to the Democrats – caused me to begin work on a book about the Ronald Reagan myth. The result – “Tear Down This Myth: How the Reagan Legacy Has Distorted Our Politics and Haunts Our Future” – is coming out now from Simon & Schuster’s Free Press.

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OK – but you may ask whether the Reagan myth matters as much now that George W. Bush is back at the ranch and President Obama in the White House. I would argue that it does. Increasingly, the GOP minority in Washington, including 41 senators with just enough votes to derail the administration’s proposals, is going to invoke the Reagan myth to continue to justify a tax system that harms the middle class and policies that ignore the scientific consensus on climate change. Look at the first major policy debate of the Obama presidency, over the proposed $825 billion economic stimulus. Democrats are under enormous political pressure to weight the plan toward tax cuts, and away from spending programs, which Republicans quickly branded as much pork – despite evidence that jobs programs stimulate the economy at twice the rate of tax reductions. “I remain concerned about wasteful spending that might be attached to the tax relief,” House GOP leader John Boehner said – and right-wing talk radio was a lot less restrained. Ironically, the spending sought by the Democrats seek to undo the crumbling of America’s infrastructure and the failure to create “green-collar” jobs that dates back to the Reagan era.

And here’s another reason the Reagan myth still matters, and that’s because there’s a pundit class inside the Beltway that cuts its teeth in the 1980s and remains firmly convinced that America is a “center-right” nation, despite massive evidence to the contrary. These pundits will urge Obama to enact an economic recovery package in the Gipper’s image, ignoring the long-term harmed caused by Reagan’s brand of “trickle-down economics.

Unless we don’t let them – and tear down this myth.