Ronald Reagan died more than two decades ago, and yet he remains to be one of the most talked about figures in the history of American politics. In fact, it is nearly impossible in any political debate, particularly in Republican debate, that his name wouldn’t be mentioned. Reagan has become a legend among Republicans and conservatives. They even considered him as the greatest being to ever walk the planet. But if you will search the facts, you will discover that this man, who was regarded as a beloved father of many Americans, was actually a terrible, and in fact, one of the most hated presidents of all time. Here are the top reasons why some people hate the 40th president of the United States.
- He Raised Taxes.
Reagan was known as a great tax cutter, but the truth is he was not. While it’s true that he cut taxes during his administration, he only did that once, and then raised them several times, yearly after that. Reagan campaigned in 1980 election on reducing taxes. And people voted for him because they believed in him. When he won the presidency, he immediately signed the Economic Tax Act of 1981, which had reduced the top marginal rate from 70 to 50 percent and dramatically decreased the individual tax rates by 23 percent. Oh, what a relief it was for tax payers!
But only a few months after he signed that law, he asked for about a third of it back. In 1982, Reagan quickly signed the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act– the largest tax increase in American history – which raised taxes by $37.5 billion per year. But that was just the beginning. After he signed that law, he again, supported another tax increase known as Highway Revenue Act of 1982, which doubled the gasoline tax. The following year, Reagan signed the Social Security Amendments of 1983, which raised payroll tax and started taxing the benefit checks of higher earners.
Over the remainder of his presidency, Reagan continued to approve a series of tax increases, which eventually took back most of his 1981 tax cut, including the Deficit Deduction Act of 1984 and the historic Tax Reform Act of 1986. As what former Senator Alan Simpson, who called Reagan “a dear friend,” said in an interview, “Ronald Reagan raised taxes 11 times in his administration.”
- He Tripled The National Debt.
As we know, Ronald Reagan campaigned for presidency to cut taxes as he thought this was the answer to the nations’ economic mess. He believed that a tax cut would help the government generate more revenue as this would certainly enable the rich to spend more, invest more, and create new jobs. Although the Congress was skeptical about Reagan’s idea, they still approved tax cuts for business and individuals.
The Economic Recovery Act of 1981, which was signed by Reagan to cut taxes, was supposed to increase savings and investments, as well as help the economy recover from financial crisis, but it failed to achieve its purpose. Despite the huge tax breaks given to business and individuals, business investment fell and unemployment rate increased due to recession. The major tax cut, which was supposed to solve the economic problem, resulted in an overall decline in revenue and increase of government debt. Because of this, Reagan had to raise taxes after he signed his tax cut law. But despite the 11 tax hikes that he enacted, Reagan was never able to control the deficit from growing. From just having $994 billion debt when he came into office, Reagan grew it to $2.9 trillion when his term ended in 1989.
- He Increased Unemployment Rate.
Truth be told, when Reagan took over the leadership of the U.S. in 1981, the country was in a terrible shape. But it was already starting to recover from the terrible damage caused by Carter’s policies and recession since the Great Depression in 1930s. However, Reagan’s monetary policies in 1981 completely aborted, and in fact, worsen the recovery. When Reagan took office, the unemployment rate in the U.S. was 7.5 percent and declining. But after he passed some laws in 1981, which cut the taxes of the wealthy and increased the taxes of middle and lower class, unemployment rate began to increase.
During this year, tens of thousands of unemployed workers crisscrossed the country to find jobs but were unable to get one. Businesses started to lay off employees and hire only few workers. Some of them even began to ship jobs out of the country to be able get cheap labor. Millions of people continued to lose their jobs and as 1982 came to a close, the unemployment rate reached it peaked at 10.8 percent – the highest since 1930s.
Sure, Reagan was able to lower unemployment rate as the years went on by creating more jobs. But unfortunately, those jobs that were created tended to be low-paid, which barely helped the Americans.
- He Expanded The Size Of The Government.
During his 1980 campaign for presidency, Reagan promised to cut both federal spending and taxes. When he won, he immediately followed through on part of his campaign promises, signing a major reduction in tax rates. But in the case of cutting government, he failed to follow through on that promise; rather went in the opposite direction.
During the Reagan administration, government spending increased 2.5 percent per year. In 1983, Reagan agreed to a $165 billion bailout of Social Security. The budget for the Department of Education and Energy, which Reagan promised to reduce, ended up doubling to $22.7 billion. The budget for farm programs has also risen from $21 billion in 1981 to $51.4 billion in 1987. He also expanded Medicare, gave additional funds for drought-relief programs, increased the defense budget, and increased the U.S. contribution to International Monetary Fund. And this doesn’t include the creation of Department of Veterans’ Affairs, which today has a budget of $163 billion.
Worse is all these programs were funded by deficit spending – the reason why the government tripled its gross federal debt, from $994 billion to 2.9 trillion, during Reagan’s administration.
- He Negotiated With Terrorists.
In addition to reducing tax and spending, Reagan pledged in his 1980 presidential campaign that the U.S. would never negotiate with terrorists. But as usual, he broke that promise. It began in 1985 when Reagan and some senior U.S. officials secretly provided weapons to Iran, in exchange for the safe release of American hostages held by Iranian proxies in Lebanon. Well, the secret trade was successful. Eventually, after the arms were transferred and sold, the American hostages were released. However, much of the money that was generated from the arm sales went to fund the Nicaragua Contra rebels – something that the U.S. government had prohibited from doing. And even the trade was successful, it didn’t stopped the terrorists to take more hostages; in fact, it just encouraged them more.
Months after, the illegal trade remained to be unknown to the public. It wasn’t until 1986 that the controversial news has gotten out. A Lebanese magazine published a series of articles in 1986, exposing the illegal transaction between the U.S. government and Iran terrorists. When it went public, it became an enormous political scandal, raising a lot of questions and demanding a lot of investigation. But days later, Reagan finally admitted that he indeed swapped U.S. weapons for American hostages.
- He Funded Terrorism.
In 1970s, when the Russia was the biggest threat to America, the government of the United States started providing limited funds and training to Afghanistan mujahedeen to fight our Russian enemies. The Carter administration even authorized our intelligence service to equip them with weapons.
However, when Reagan was elected in 1981, the limited funds that were allocated for these militants began to increase significantly. In addition to arms, sophisticated military equipment and advanced weaponry were also given to them to better fight off our enemies. Our top-secret intelligence officers even played a much bigger role in training and arming these militants.
Little did our people know that much of the tactics that these terrorists know today were taught by our CIA officers, including car bombing and assassinations; and much of the weapons that this group, now known as Taliban, were funded by former president Reagan. It is estimated that more than $20 billion was given to the Afghan groups to train and arm them. But instead of solving our problems in war, we’ve just created the greatest enemy of our time.
- He Started Unnecessary Wars.
In 1983, Reagan ordered the Unites States Marines be sent into Lebanon as an international peacekeeping force. Despite the strong objection of his own secretary of defense, who perceived the situation as dangerous, he still pursued the order and sent the marines to the dangerous war zone. Making the already-dangerous situation much worse, Reagan strictly ordered the military to not load any of their weapons. So from the moment that they entered Beirut, they had become what we known as “sitting ducks.” As a result of Reagan’s absurd actions, 241 U.S. servicemen, 220 marines, and 21 other personnel died on October 23, 1983. Our unarmed military never had a chance to fight when a suicide bomber, carrying 2000 pounds of explosives, drove into the Marine barracks.
After the Beirut bombings, Reagan shortly approved the invasion of Grenada, an island with less than 100,000 inhabitants. 6,000 elite troops were sent on the island. In this attack, the U.S. completely defeated the government of Grenada. But it was considered by far the easiest invasion for the U.S. since the island had no special armed forces to fight against us. Little did people know that the decision to invade Grenada was only made to take the attention away from Reagan’s failure in Beirut.
- He Closed All Government-Run Mental Hospitals In The U.S.
A month before the 1980 election, President Carter passed the Mental Health Systems Act, which aimed to improve the community mental health programs and provide better service to people with chronic mental illness. But this Act had hardly become law because when President Reagan took over in 1981, he immediately discarded the policy as an effort to reduce government spending. In the summer of 1981, Reagan signed the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act into law, which reduced the federal funding of Community Mental Health Centers (CMHC). But not only that, it also repealed most of the policies of the Mental Health Systems Act, eliminating most services for people struggling with mental illness and converting the funds with smaller block grants.
The lack of funds and support from the government led to the closing of many mental state hospitals. Hundreds of patients were then released into local communities. But since not all communities are properly funded and appropriately equipped, most of the patients were brought in adult homes, with their families, or on the streets. Those who lived in that time witnessed how these homeless patients left out onto the cold streets without food, medication, care, or even proper clothing that would protect them from the freeze.
Reagan never understood mental illness and never cared for people with mental health problems. He already made similar decisions when he was the governor of California in 1967. He signed the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act (LPS), which basically ended the involuntary commitment of mentally disordered individuals to institutions. The law allowed people to refuse treatment for mental illness, so as a result, thousands of patients were released and hundreds of hospitals were closed down.
- He Allowed Abortion.
Reagan was the first national politician to proclaim himself as “pro-life” – a person who strongly value life. He was even labeled by conservatives as the “father of pro-life movement.” But that’s not what the records say. Many of today’s people are unaware that in June 1967, only after six months as a governor in California, Reagan signed a law, known as Therapeutic Abortion Act, which allowed women to obtain safe and therapeutic abortion. After the law was enacted, the total number of abortion significantly increased from 518 in 1967 to 100,000 per year in the remaining years of his term as governor.
When he first saw the result, he was shocked and didn’t know how to react. Later, however, he felt guilty about the unintended consequences of his actions, but never accepted his responsibility. Instead, he blamed the doctors, arguing that they had misinterpreted the law.
To prove his sincerity of being a pro-life, Reagan advocated a solid pro-life position that abortion was wrong and shouldn’t be allowed during his presidential campaign in 1980. But when he won, he did nothing to advance his pro-life movement.
- He Ignored AIDS Epidemic.
By the time the 1980s rolled around, AIDS/HIV had become a great concern for people not only in the country, but in the entire world. During that time, people were so scared, especially when they saw that more and more people were dying every day because of it. Their fear grew larger because no one understood what the disease was. No one even gave them any idea about it. They waited for a leader to understand what was happening, but no leader came out to speak about the issue. Reagan, who was the president at that time, just kept quiet.
By the fall of 1981, the first 100 AIDS cases were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but Reagan said nothing about it. On February 1, 1983, the number increased to 1,025 with 394 deaths in the U.S. But again, Reagan kept silent on the subject. 1,000 more cases were reported six months after that, until on April 23, 1984, the CDC announced 4,177 AIDS cases and 1,807 deaths. But again, Reagan kept silent. Even when his friend, Rock Hudson, was diagnosed with AIDS, he still did nothing to stop the further spread of the virus. Reagan couldn’t even say the word “AIDS,” that as if he would die if he say that word.
But after some activists begged Reagan to do something about it, he eventually addressed the issue of AIDS in 1987. But by that time, 36, 058 Americans had already been diagnosed with the disease, and 20,849 had died.
So there you have it! I hope by now, you have much better idea about the truth of Reagan’s legacy. No, he was not a great president. And he was definitely not the greatest being to ever walk this planet. Reagan did a lot to hurt our country. He made several wrong decisions, broke a lot of promises, and destroyed many American lives.
What do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? If you disagree be prepared for a healthy argument in the comments section below.