Republicans had better learn from history â€” and from Ronald Reaganâ€™s mistake.
President Obama and his fellow big-spenders in Congress are promising if they get higher tax rates today theyâ€™ll make even higher spending cuts tomorrow.
Itâ€™s an old suckerâ€™s game. Republicans â€” and the rest of the country â€” should know it by now, because for three decades weâ€™ve all been suckers.
If history is our guide, and Republicans in Congress donâ€™t grow a spine, by this time next year weâ€™ll have higher taxes, higher spending, more debt and a bigger government.
Twice before, Republicans have been fooled into playing the Democratsâ€™ con game.
It happened to my father early in his first term when he sought to close a growing federal deficit caused by the deep economic recession. He believed Democrats in Congress would keep their pledge to make $3 in future spending cuts for every $1 in immediate tax increases.
In 1982 he signed a compromise tax bill with the horrible name of TEFRA â€” the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act. And, when those promised spending cuts never materialized in Congress, TEFRA became one of the biggest regrets of my fatherâ€™s presidency.
My father was duped by the duplicity of Democrats. And so was George H.W. Bush less than a decade later, when he foolishly allowed himself to be taken for the same ride.
In 1990â€™s budget wrangling, which was aimed at reducing the federal budget deficit by $500 billion over five years, Bush 41 was seduced by the Democratsâ€™ promise of making $2 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax hikes.
The first Bush fell for it completely, reneging on his â€śRead my lips, no new taxesâ€ť pledge, opening the door for â€śtax-cutterâ€ť Ross Perot and losing in 1992 to Bill Clinton.
Even before he was de-elected, Bush 41 regretted the â€śbargainâ€ť he had made with Democrats. In March of 1992, the sucker in chief said, â€śI thought this one compromise â€” and it was a compromise â€” would result in no more tax increases.
â€śI thought it would result in total control of domestic discretionary spending. And now we see Congress talking about raising taxes again. So, Iâ€™m disappointed, and given all of that, yes, (it was) a mistake.â€ť
Fast-forward to â€śNightmare on Obama Street, Part II.â€ť We have trillion-dollar federal deficits as far as our childrenâ€™s eyes can see. We have an economy thatâ€™s looking at four more years of low growth and higher taxes.
And now some Republicans in Congress â€” who apparently donâ€™t have a piece of conservative cartilage left in their bodies â€” are getting ready to be duped again.
Whatâ€™s that old saying? â€śFool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.â€ť Well, Republicans look like they are about to be fooled for the third time, which is so stupid thereâ€™s no adage to describe it.
While my father was bargaining with Democrats in 1982 over spending and tax cuts, he spoke over the heads of Congress to the American people.
â€śIn a few days the Congress will stand at the fork of two roads,â€ť he said. â€śOne road is all too familiar to us. It leads ultimately to higher taxes. It merely brings us full circle back to the source of our economic problems, where the government decides that it knows better than you what should be done with your earnings and, in fact, how you should conduct your life.
The other road promises to renew the American spirit. Itâ€™s a road of hope and opportunity. It places the direction of your life back in your hands where it belongs.â€ť
America is at that same fork in the road today. Twice in 30 years Republicans have let Democrat promises lead them and the country down a one-way road to bigger and bigger government.
Double shame on us. And if the GOP allows itself to be suckered again, it wonâ€™t be just another disaster for conservatism, itâ€™ll be a tragedy for the whole country.
Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan and a political consultant. He can be reached at Reagan@caglecartoons.com.