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Apr 18 2012

Obama Invokes Reagan on Buffett Rule

President Obama invoked the memory of Ronald Reagan on the campaign trail recently, recounting that Reagan had also pushed for something similar to the Buffett rule and used very similar arguments to those that Obama is using to argue for the same thing.

Some years ago, one of my predecessors traveled across the country pushing for the same concept. He gave a speech where he talked about a letter he had received from a wealthy executive who paid lower tax rates than his secretary, and wanted to come to Washington and tell Congress why that was wrong. So this president gave another speech where he said it was “crazy”—that’s a quote—that certain tax loopholes make it possible for multimillionaires to pay nothing, while a bus driver was paying 10 percent of his salary. That wild-eyed, socialist, tax-hiking class warrior was Ronald Reagan.

He thought that, in America, the wealthiest should pay their fair share, and he said so. I know that position might disqualify him from the Republican primaries these days, but what Ronald Reagan was calling for then is the same thing that we’re calling for now: a return to basic fairness and responsibility; everybody doing their part. And if it will help convince folks in Congress to make the right choice, we could call it the Reagan Rule instead of the Buffett Rule.

FARK had a great headline for this: “Obama blasphemes Holy St. Reagan, says the modern GOP would denounce him as a ‘wild-eyed, socialist, tax-hiking class warrior.’ Which is ridiculous because Reagan wasn’t black.”

12 comments

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  1. 1
    eric

    Err…the Senate killed it yesterday, 51-45. The FARK satire is pretty amusing, but as political news, isn’t this OBE?

  2. 2
    alistairgordon

    For one to attempt to invoke Reagan when one is unschooled in the correct rituals and litanies is indeed a dangerous thing.

  3. 3
    Gregory in Seattle

    Proving, yet again, that the whole political spectrum has shifted hard right in the last 30 years, to the point where Democrats are invoking Reagan and Republicans are saying that Reagan’s own policies are dangerous socialist threats to everything that is America.

  4. 4
    Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

    Zombie Reagan will not be amused.

  5. 5
    The Lorax

    I wonder if this is a clever strategy by Obama to appeal to the far right by invoking Reagan. With Romney losing females and minorities, and Obama now reaching out toward conservatives, why is the GOP even trying?

  6. 6
    Gregory in Seattle

    @The Lorax #5 – Yes, Obama is now reaching out towards conservatives, and thereby leaving his presumed supporters on the left with no one who represents them. Who will speak for the trees, when even the Democrats enthusiastically quote the Once-ler?

  7. 7
    d cwilson

    I wonder if this is a clever strategy by Obama to appeal to the far right by invoking Reagan.

    No. The far right wouldn’t vote for Obama even if he bleached his skin ivory.

    It’s the same strategy he (unsuccessfully) employed by saying that overturning the ACA would be “judicial activism”. He’s throwing the right’s own rheotoric and heroes back in their faces in order to work them up into a tizzy as they rush to claim that black is white.

  8. 8
    Michael Heath

    The Lorax writes:

    I wonder if this is a clever strategy by Obama to appeal to the far right by invoking Reagan.

    I doubt President Obama thinks the far right is in play. Instead this argument was probably intended to help Senate Democrats make a case for the Senate to pass the Buffet rule, where the GOP once again obstructed a vote from even taking place.

    The god Republicans actually serve is Grover Norquist’s god, not Ronald Reagan – they just pay Reagan lip service to better serve the apostle Norquist. The president’s argument also probably serves as an argument directed at swing voters that the Republican party is no longer capable of governing the country, but are instead focusing solely on serving a few plutocrats. I know several secular conservatives who are disgusted with how the Republicans obstruct increases in taxes, however they appear to too loyal to the tribe to become Obamacons.

    In a better world than the one we have, the president’s argument would have influential conservatives leveraging this argument to advocate they reconsider their current approach to politics and governance. But that’s no longer possible, conservatives have effectively developed a cocoon so well insulated no such serious consideration happens anymore, where the minuscule number of serious conservatives remaining are also effectively shunned if they suggest returning to prior lyrics, even one Reagan sang – e.g., Bruce Bartlett and David Frum being two illustrative examples.

  9. 9
    Michael Heath

    The Lorax writes:

    I wonder if this is a clever strategy by Obama to appeal to the far right by invoking Reagan. With Romney losing females and minorities, and Obama now reaching out toward conservatives, why is the GOP even trying?

    Gregory in Seattle responds:

    Yes, Obama is now reaching out towards conservatives, and thereby leaving his presumed supporters on the left with no one who represents them. Who will speak for the trees, when even the Democrats enthusiastically quote the Once-ler?

    Huh???? When did liberals abandon their support for progressive taxation? The president’s instead merely pointing out that there was a day when conservatives also supported progressive taxes, including one of their old gods. In fact, as late as 2003 President Bush’s commission on tax reform refused to analyze some right wing advocated tax schemes, including a national consumption and/or VAT tax, because Mr. Bush and his commission framed these approaches as not being progressive.

  10. 10
    Modusoperandi

    Michael Heath “…however they appear to too loyal to the tribe to become Obamacons.”
    When I was a kid I had an Obamacon. It transformed from a pragmatic moderate to a moderate pragmatist. Oddly, when a conservative played with it he insisted that both were communists.

    “The president’s instead merely pointing out that there was a day when conservatives also supported progressive taxes, including one of their old gods.”
    Pah! Typical liberals, wearing their clear-colored glasses, bringing up RealReagan instead of IdealReagan!

    “In fact, as late as 2003 President Bush’s commission…”
    Oh. That administration has been expunged from history. Too liberal, apparently.
    And also he was right on Iraq. Even though he never existed.
    Time isn’t a line, it’s a series of dots that can be put in any order (with some dots ignored, and other imaginary dots added, a la IdealReagan), to push whatever the talking point is today. It’s absolute relavitism.

  11. 11
    Michael Heath

    Modusoperandi:

    Typical liberals, wearing their clear-colored glasses, bringing up RealReagan instead of IdealReagan!

    This reminds me of a skit which I think was on SNL, Little Elvis. There’s some comedy to be mined with the authentic and imagined Reagan. It would be especially good if it just didn’t ridicule conservatives but liberals who also obsessively evoke him as their almost singular boogeyman. [W. Bush doesn't count since liberal criticisms of him are predominately spot-on.]

  12. 12
    Modusoperandi

    Michael Heath “This reminds me of a skit which I think was on SNL, Little Elvis.”
    “Hey, look at that pencil, man! That is huuuge!”

    “It would be especially good if it just didn’t ridicule conservatives but liberals who also obsessively evoke him as their almost singular boogeyman.”
    Oh, sure. “Boogeyman”. See if you’re brave enough to say Reagan’s name three times in the mirror. I dare you!

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