Sen. Ted Cruz may be new to the senate, but he’s apparently well-schooled in the mythical version of Saint Ronald Reagan. FactCheck takes a look at a recent statement by him that stands history completely on its head in claiming that Reagan reduced spending and debt.
Cruz: [Obama is] one of only two presidents, post-World War II, to face double-digit unemployment. And for the last four years economic growth under President Barack Obama has averaged 0.8 percent, less than 1 percent. There is only one other period post-1950 where we have had four years of less than 1 percent economic growth. That’s from 1979 to 1983. Coming out of Jimmy Carter following the same policies of out of control spending, out of control debt, out of control taxes, out of control regulation. That’s the only other period. President Reagan came in facing that stagnation and he implemented policies the exact opposite of Barack Obama’s.
In fact, it’s interesting: 79 to 83, economic growth was 0.8 percent. Today, it’s 0.8 percent for the exact same period because Obama didn’t learn the lesson from Reagan that if you want to turn the economy around you cut taxes, you reduce spending, you reduce the debt, and you don’t send regulators like locusts to destroy small businesses and jobs.
FactCheck points out the obvious:
But Cruz is simply wrong to claim that the “lesson from Reagan” was that “you reduce spending, you reduce the debt” to turn the economy around. Reagan increased both. Historical budget figures from the Congressional Budget Office show that clearly.
Federal outlays (total spending) rose by 40 percent under Reagan’s first four budgets (fiscal year 1985 vs. Carter’s last budget for fiscal 1981). That was two-and-a-half times faster than the rate of inflation, which rose 16 percent during the same period, as measured by the Consumer Price Index.
And far from cutting debt, Reagan borrowed more heavily than previous presidents. In Reagan’s first term, debt owed to the public increased by nearly 91 percent by the end of fiscal year 1985, compared with what it had been at the end of Carter’s fiscal 1981.
Republicans like to claim that this is only because the Democrats controlled Congress and prevented Reagan from cutting the budget, but that is absolutely false. I went back some years ago when someone made that claim and added up all of Reagan’s proposed budgets and compared them to the budget passed by Congress. Guess what? When you add up all those budgets, Reagan’s proposed budgets were higher than the ones that Congress sent to his desk to sign.
Ronald Reagan is no longer a real person for Republicans, he’s an empty vessel into which they pour all of their ideological commitments and pretend that he embodied all of them.