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LP Monday Message: Reagan Not Serious About Cutting Government, Says Redpath

September 28, 2009

Dear Friend of Liberty,

During the 2008 primary, many Republican presidential candidates claimed to be like former President Ronald Reagan. This was apparently intended to mean that they supported small government. I recently listened again to this speech promoting free enterprise, which Ronald Reagan gave in 1977 (before he was elected president).

I found Reagan’s scripted speech to be inspiring, but I could hear him falling away from these principles when he answered impromptu questions about farming and other issues.

William Redpath, Chairman of the Libertarian National Committee, recently taped an interview for ReasonTV. It’s posted here.

When asked when he became a Libertarian, Redpath responded that he had been a Democrat in high school, a Republican in college, and then in the early eighties, “I decided Ronald Reagan was not serious about cutting the size of government.”

I agree. I think President Reagan’s record shows he was a typical big-government conservative Republican.

For example, during Reagan’s eight years in office, the federal government spent a total of about 22% of GDP. (That’s the biggest-spending eight years since World War II.) Spending grew from $678 billion to $1.14 trillion. So much for cutting government.

Reagan also escalated the War on Drugs, heightened trade barriers, and increased farm subsidies. And of course, he sent the federal debt through the roof.

In the book Recarving Rushmore: Ranking the Presidents on Peace, Prosperity, and Liberty, Ivan Eland ranked Reagan near the bottom, at 34th out of 40.

Barack Obama, like Ronald Reagan, gave some inspiring speeches during his campaign for president. He talked about ending foreign wars and bringing our troops home. He even claimed to support a “net spending cut”! However, Obama is turning out to be just another big-government war-supporting Democrat.

Maybe one of Obama’s worst hypocrisies (so far) is his support of George W. Bush’s “state secrets” doctrine, which he hopes will protect his administration from civil liberties lawsuits.

Republicans and Democrats sometimes make good promises, but they never deliver. By supporting Libertarians, you send a clear message that you want more freedom and less government, and you’re not buying the hypocrisy of the Rs and Ds.

I hope you’ll get involved helping to prepare your local and state Libertarian Party affiliates for the 2010 election season. We’re doing our best to get organized and build things up here at the national headquarters so we can better serve you in upcoming elections. I hope you’ll show your support by contributing to the Libertarian Party today.

Also, we’ve got a new poll on our home page.


Wes Benedict
Executive Director
Libertarian National Committee


  1. Robert Capozzi Robert Capozzi October 5, 2009

    mad props to Ford for his liberal use of the veto.

  2. Steven R Linnabary Steven R Linnabary October 5, 2009

    Of the last 40 years , who do you all think was the best president?

    Jerry Ford.
    Legalized gold. Freed Eastern Europe from Soviet domination. Gave us the WIN button (that one should be making a come back sometime soon). Saved us from the Swine Flu.


  3. Robert Capozzi Robert Capozzi October 4, 2009

    ms: does it really matter?

    me: Ah, the Bohemian Rhapsody question!

    Nothing really matters. Yet, somehow, how we respond and perform does matter, if only to ourselves. If we respond respectfully, with integrity and strength, we are more likely to gain respect and strength.

    If we respond like children acting out, we are likely to attract angry children.

  4. With feet of clay, Truman and Ike are barely passable, with Kennedy and Nixon among the baddest of the bad ……………

    Kennedy [John, Bobby, Teddy] just horrible,
    and I am not a right wing conservative ideologue!

  5. Gene Berkman Gene Berkman October 3, 2009

    When Reagan took office, Social Security tax hikes already passed under Carter took effect, so poor and middle income people were hit with higher withholding.

    The Reagan/Kemp tax cuts balanced these Social Security tax hikes – and since every President raids the Social Security fund for general spending, the SS tax hikes kept the deficit from achieving even higher levels.

    The 1986 tax reform did give tax relief to millions of low income workers, and many ended up (at least temporarily) with no income tax liabilities.

  6. paulie paulie October 3, 2009

    As long as we are in a historical mood…

  7. paulie paulie October 3, 2009

    Last 40 years? I’d say Carter and Clinton did the least damage. IMO.

  8. libertariangirl libertariangirl October 3, 2009

    I think its a given that any politician elected to the office of the presidency does both good and bad , usually mostly bad .

    Of the last 40 years , who do you all think was the best president?

    Reagan is my favorite .

  9. George George October 3, 2009

    Taxes increased under Reagan – withholding taxes rose, increasing the burden on working poor and lower middle class. Additionally, many poor people were hurt by his militarization of drug enforcement. Entire neighborhoods were destroyed all over the country. Also, we are still paying taxes to cover all the bad checks Reagan’s government wrote. Until Reagan, the debt was much, much lower.

  10. Michael Seebeck Michael Seebeck October 3, 2009

    does it really matter?

  11. Robert Capozzi Robert Capozzi October 3, 2009

    IMO, the lesson of Reagan is that generic L rhetoric sells.

    Holding high the banner that the Letterman blackmailer committed no crime? Not so much.

    Had Reagan not been such a hawk, he might have actually reduced government’s take vs. slowing the rate of increase down. Instead, he horsetraded with Congress to get his defense buildup at the expense of increased domestic spending (albeit at a slower rate).

  12. Aaron Starr Aaron Starr October 3, 2009

    Actually, tax reductions under Reagan for the lowest-income groups were quite large — in some cases creating a negative income tax.

    While in office, Reagan doubled the personal exemption, increased the standard deduction, and tripled the earned income tax credit (EITC), which provides net cash for single-parent families with children at the lowest income levels.

    These changes eliminated income tax liability altogether for over 4 million lower-income families.

  13. Steven R Linnabary Steven R Linnabary October 3, 2009

    What I didn’t like about Reagan was his RAISING the taxes of the poorest.

    Until Reagan, a low income person could keep more of his money. A person in 1979 could keep FAR more of his dollars than the same person in 1987.

    The arrogant excuse was that the poor are more likely to use “social services”, but that doesn’t necessarily hold true for all low income people.

    So it makes it hard to convince the hardest hit of Reagan’s policies to turn around and embrace those policies. It just makes you look elitist.


  14. Aaron Starr Aaron Starr October 3, 2009

    What I liked about Ronald Reagan was his administration’s successful push to reduce the top marginal tax bracket from 70% to 28%.

  15. libertariangirl libertariangirl October 2, 2009

    America’s Biggest Issue Is The Spanish Threat To Florida // Oct 2, 2009 at 5:33 am

    do you mean as a 2nd language , SPANISH is the biggest threat to Florida or did you mean SPAIN has now somehow become a huge threat to Florida?

  16. robert capozzi robert capozzi October 2, 2009

    Threat, might be that Reagan’s legacy is less significant than some (L and not) believe it to be.

    But do you really believe your handle IS more relevant?

  17. So on the same day the Senate was voting on creating a massive new welfare entitlement in the form of a “public option,” the Libertarian Party was talking about a guy who died of Alzheimer’s years ago and has been out of office for two decades?

    Attacking Reagan? Really? Is the Libertarian Party run people who think Knot’s Landing is still on the air?

    What’s next? Ignore the $300 billion “cap and tax” wealth redistribution scheme so the Libertarian Party can instead call for the discovery of a “Northwest Passage”?

    And Libertarians wonder why 99.5% of America considers them irrelevant and a waste of time.

  18. Gene Berkman Gene Berkman September 29, 2009

    In fact, in 1967 Governor Reagan signed a MASSIVE tax hike that resulted in California taking in an additional 1 billion dollars per year in taxes. That’s for the young people who don’t realize how little the dollar is worth today.

    On the plus side, Governor Reagan did sign a bill legalizing abortion in California. To this day most California Republicans are pro-choice, along with most California Libertarians.

  19. paulie paulie September 29, 2009


    Rather odd poll – Reagan was the only ex president included. Why him and not others?

  20. tab tab September 29, 2009

    Given Reagan’s popularity, I wonder if perhaps it would have made more sense to attack George Bush.

    Those who are still hypnotized by the Reagan myth probably aren’t going to join the LP anyways.

  21. Gary Gary September 29, 2009

    Don’t forget that Governor Reagan increased state taxes along with increasing spending. Plus for the pro-life crowd he legalized abortion. Yep. Reagan the New Deal Liberal Union President.

  22. Gene Berkman Gene Berkman September 28, 2009

    Before he was elected Governor of California, Ronald Reagan made a strong case for limiting government and defending free enterprise, in his campaign speeches for Barry Goldwater.

    His record in office has been to preside over the expansion of government. Part of that was out of his control, as the State Legislature in California was dominated by supporters of the welfare state (including Republicans.)

    As President, he was not able to cut back the welfare state as much as people wanted, but his ramp up of military spending and his War on Drugs both led to expanded government power and more costs to taxpayers.

    He only looks good by comparison with every President that has held office since then.

  23. Gary Gary September 28, 2009

    Reagan was a true New Deal Liberal. He protected and expanded Democratic programs when he could have forced shrinking the government with vetos and GOP control of the Senate. If I remember right spending grew about 43% during his eight years.

    Reagan is an example of a real Conservative. Conservatives want to hold power. Nothing more. Nothing less. They adopt liberal programs as their own to get votes.

  24. Steven R Linnabary Steven R Linnabary September 28, 2009

    Well, not to be contrarian…

    If we use that criteria then we should NEVER attack FDR’s actions and proposals either!


  25. NewFederalist NewFederalist September 28, 2009


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