The problem is that when you step out of the conservative dream and come back to reality, you find that not only was Ronald Reagan a bad president, but he was one of the worst presidents we've seen in modern times. Reagan's policies have destroyed the United States for three decades, and here are 10 reasons why Ronald Reagan was the worst president of our lifetime.
1. Reagan cut taxes for the Rich, increased taxes on the Middle Class -
Ronald Reagan is loved by conservatives and was loved by big business throughout his presidency and there's a reason for it. When Reagan came into office in January of 1981, the top tax rate was 70%, but when he left office in 1989 the top tax rate was down to only 28%. As Reagan gave the breaks to all his rich friends, there was a lack of revenue coming into the federal government. In order to bring money back into the government, Reagan was forced to raise taxes eleven times throughout his time in office. One example was when he signed into law the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982. Reagan raised taxes seven of the eight years he was in office and the tax increases were felt hardest by the lower and middle class.
2. Tripling the National Debt -
As Reagan cut taxes for the wealthy, the government was left with less money to spend. When Reagan came into office the national debt was $900 billion, by the time he left the national debt had tripled to $2.8 trillion.
3. Iran/Contra - (I break this down in more detail in the article linked here)
In 1986, a group of Americans were being held hostage by a terrorist group with ties to Iran. In an attempt to free the hostages, Ronald Reagan secretly sold arms and money to Iran. Much of the money that was received from the trade went to fund the Nicaragua Contra rebels who were in a war with the Sandinista government of Nicaragua. When the scandal broke in the Untied States it became the biggest story in the country, Reagan tried to down play what happened, but never fully recovered.
4. Reagan funded Terrorists -
The attacks on 9/11 by al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden brought new attention to international terrorism. All of a sudden, Americans coast to coast wore their American flag pins, ate their freedom fries and couldn't wait to go to war with anyone who looked like a Muslim. What Americans didn't realize was that the same group that attacked the United States on 9/11 was funded by Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. Prepping for a possible war with the Soviet Union, Ronald Reagan spent billions of dollars funding the Islamist mujahidin Freedom Fighters in Afghanistan. With billions of American dollars, weapons and training coming their way, the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden took everything they were given and gave it back to the United States over a decade later in the worst possible way imaginable.
5. Unemployment issues -
When Ronald Reagan came into office 1981, unemployment was at 7.5%. After Reagan cut taxes for the wealthy, he began raising taxes on the middle and lower class. Corporations started to ship more jobs out of the United States while hiring cheap foreign labor in order to make a bigger profit. While corporations made billions, Americans across the country lost their jobs. As 1982 came to a close, unemployment was nearly 11%. Unemployment began to drop as the years went on, but the jobs that were created were low paying and barely helped people make ends meet. The middle and lower class had their wages nearly frozen as the top earners saw dramatic increases in salary.
6. Ignoring AIDS -
By the time the 1980s came around, AIDS had become one of the most frightening things to happen to the country in recent memory. No one understood what AIDS and HIV really was and when people don't understand something, they become scared of it. The fear of the unknown was sweeping across the country and Americans needed a leader to speak out about this horrible virus, that leader never came. Instead of grabbing the bull by the horns and taking charge, Reagan kept quiet. Reagan couldn't say the words AIDS or HIV until seven years into his presidency, a leader not so much.
7. Reagan gave amnesty to 3 million Undocumented Immigrants -
In today's GOP, the idea of any immigrant staying in the United States whether they are legal or illegal isn't something that conservatives embrace. What might shock them is that in 1982 Ronald Reagan gave nearly 3 million undocumented workers amnesty. The biggest reason for undocumented workers coming to the United States is because corporations hire them at a cheaper rate than they would an American citizen. All the laws that would have cracked down on companies who hire undocumented workers were, of course, removed from the bill.
8. His attack on Unions and the Middle Class -
The Republican war on unions and the middle class has been heating up in states like Wisconsin and Ohio, but it has been going on for a long time. Unions are formed to give a united voice to the workers in an attempt to create fairness between the corporations and their employees. On August 3rd, 1981, PATCO (Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization) went on strike in an effort to get better pay and safer working conditions. Two days later, taking the side of business, Ronald Reagan fired 11,345 workers for not returning to work.
*Bonus reasons against Reagan*
9. Reagan raided the Social Security Trust fund -
With Ronald Reagan cutting taxes so drastically, the U.S government was beginning to starve. Reagan added to the government and didn't make enough spending cuts to offset the tax cuts, so the money needed to come from somewhere. Ronald Reagan knew that his polices would create economic bubbles, unemployment would drop and some jobs would be created, but in time the bubble would burst leaving the economy in ruins. In order to counteract his own economic policies, Ronald Reagan needed to find somewhere else to get revenue.
Listening to Alan Greenspan and other advisors, Ronald Reagan raided the Social Security Trust Fund and replaced it with glorified IOU's. Ronald Reagan raised the Social Security tax rate which did add to the revenue, but because there is a cap on Social Security, currently no income over $113,700 is taxed for Social Security, the wealthy didn't feel the tax increase and the pain was pushed to the middle and lower classes.
10. Endless worship and never-ending praise -
Ronald Reagan left office in January of 1989 and nearly 25 years later he is held up high by the modern Republican party. As nearly three decades have gone by since Ronald Reagan was in the White House, reality and history has faded with time. Conservative figures like anti-tax Grover Norquist created the "Ronald Reagan Legacy Project" with a goal of memorializing Reagan in all 50 states. As stated in this article, Ronald Reagan did a lot to hurt the United States, not just while he was in office, but in the years that have followed. What's scary about today's current Republican party is that while Reagan was one of the worst presidents this country has had to endure over the last 100 years, he would be considered too moderate to be nominated by today's conservative standards.
(Revised and Updated: 4/25/2014)