Obama Twists Reagan’s 82 Speech in Billings

Aaron Flint posted on July 26, 2011 08:57 :: 1730 Views

President Barack Obama cited a 1982 speech by President Ronald Reagan in Billings, Montana during his prime-time speech Monday.  It was all part of an effort to twist Reagan’s words, and lead Americans to believe that somehow this spending spree by President Obama and Senate Democrats would have been supported by Reagan.    

The Washington Times points out what Reagan really had to say in Billings back in 1982, with this editorial:

In his speech Monday night Mr. Obama quoted Mr. Reagan speaking August 11, 1982 in Billings. Montana: “Would you rather reduce deficits and interest rates by raising revenue from those who are not now paying their fair share, or would you rather accept larger budget deficits, higher interest rates, and higher unemployment?  And I think I know your answer.” At that time Mr. Reagan had reluctantly agreed to a deal in which the Democratic Congress promised to reduce spending by $3 for every $1 in new revenue. But this Faustian bargain only demonstrates why House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, is holding the line on taxes today. During the Reagan years, Congress went ahead and imposed the agreed-on taxes but quickly broke the spending-cut pledge and instead pursued even greater budget increases. As Reagan later lamented, “Congress never cut spending by even one penny.”

But Mr. Reagan would not be fooled again. In a 1983 debt-ceiling debate, Reagan threatened to veto any measure that contained tax hikes. “I am unalterably opposed to Congress‘ efforts to raise taxes on individuals and businesses,” he said. His administration “did not come to Washington to raise the peoples’ taxes. We came here to restore opportunity and get this economy moving again. We do not face large deficits because Americans aren’t taxed enough. We face those deficits because the Congress still spends too much.”

I said this a couple weeks ago on our talk show, “Compromising is what got us into this compromising position.”  Compromise has only come from one side.  Elected officials have continually compromised in favor of more government and more debt.  The American people want compromise, yes, but they want the other side to start compromising for a change.  So far the spin has placed compromise somewhere between a lot more spending and not as much spending as the other guy.  The compromise has never meant less spending.  Compromising put us in this compromising position.     

Here’s a link to the full text of President Obama’s speech. 

Here’s an excerpt of Pres. Obama’s remarks where he attempted to use Reagan’s words to support his position on spending:

Would you rather reduce deficits and interest rates by raising revenue from those who are not now paying their fair share, or would you rather accept larger budget deficits, higher interest rates, and higher unemployment?  And I think I know your answer.”

Those words were spoken by Ronald Reagan.  But today, many Republicans in the House refuse to consider this kind of balanced approach -– an approach that was pursued not only by President Reagan, but by the first President Bush, by President Clinton, by myself, and by many Democrats and Republicans in the United States Senate.  So we’re left with a stalemate.

And it was a line that has been touted for several days by the talking heads of MSNBC.  Have no fear, you can leave it to an intern at the Media Research Center- Alex Fitzsimmons- to set the record straight for MSNBC.

Newsbusters has this:

If any of the anchors had played the entirety of Reagan’s 1987 radio address, instead of giving free air time to the Democratic Party’s deceptively edited spot, they would have heard Reagan articulate a position on the debt ceiling almost identical to House Republicans’ and nearly opposite Obama’s: “You don’t need more taxes to balance the budget. Congress needs the discipline to stop spending more, and that can be done with the passage of a constitutional amendment to balance the budget.”

And, when it comes to compromise, Fitzsimmons added this:

While Republicans were voting to put America’s fiscal house in order, Lawrence O’Donnell, host of “The Last Word,” was trying to teach Republicans one of Reagan’s “lessons,” though in doing so he actually undermined Obama’s position on the debt limit:

Somewhat to my surprise, that lesson that Ronald Reagan was trying to teach about the debt ceiling, what it actually means, what happens if you wouldn’t raise it. He said that in the context of having to sign a debt ceiling increase that included pieces that he did not like, that he was absolutely opposed to, but he said I got to sign it because if I don’t, look what happens.

By O’Donnell’s logic, if Reagan did the right thing by signing into a law a debt ceiling increase that contained elements with which he “absolutely opposed,” then Obama should urge the Senate to pass the House Republicans’ “cut, cap, and balance” bill so he can sign it into law, raise the debt ceiling, and avert economic calamity.

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