Flashback 1987: Ron Paul Trashes Ronald Reagan

Ron Paul in 1988
Ron Paul in 1988
Big Government libertarian Rep. Ron Paul of Texas released an attack ad this week against his intra-state rival, Gov. Rick Perry.

Paul has been running for president off and on for a quarter of century, but, according one-time Paulestinian Dave Weigel at Slate.com, this is the first attack ad ever released by a Ron Paul campaign.

The Paul campaign’s attack ad pointed up Perry’s support in 1988 for Al Gore, who ran as a conserva-Dem in the primaries that year. The Perry campaign fired back by releasing the text of Paul’s letter from the same presidential cycle explaining that he was leaving the Republican Party to run for president on the libertarian ticket. Included in his rationale was his disappointment in the policies and performance of Pres. Ronald Reagan:

President Reagan, as governor of California, had a line-item veto and virtually never used it. As President he has failed to exercise his constitutional responsibility to veto spending. Instead, he has encouraged it.

Monetary policy has been disastrous as well. The five Reagan appointees to the Federal Reserve Board have advocated even faster monetary inflation than Chairman Volcker, and this is the fourth straight year of double-digit increases. The chickens have yet to come home to roost, but they will, and America will suffer from a Reaganomics that is nothing but warmed-over Keynesianism.

Candidate Reagan in 1980 correctly opposed draft registration. Yet when he had the chance to abolish it, he reneged, as he did on his pledge to abolish the Departments of Education and Energy, or to work against abortion.

Under the guise of attacking drug use and money laundering, the Republican Administration has systematically attacked personal and financial privacy. The effect has been to victimize innocent Americans who wish to conduct their private lives without government snooping. (Should people really be put on a suspected drug dealer list because they transfer $3,000 at one time?) Reagan’s urine testing of Americans without probable cause is a clear violation of our civil liberties, as are his proposals for extensive “lie detector” tests.

Under Reagan, the IRS has grown bigger, richer, more powerful, and more arrogant. In the words of the founders of our country, our government has “sent hither swarms” of tax gatherers “to harass our people and eat out their substance.” His officers jailed the innocent George Hansen, with the President refusing to pardon a great American whose only crime was to defend the Constitution. Reagan’s new tax “reform” gives even more power to the IRS. Far from making taxes fairer or simpler, it deceitfully raises more revenue for the government to waste.

Knowing this administration’s record, I wasn’t surprised by its Libyan disinformation campaign, Israeli-Iranian arms-for-hostages swap, or illegal funding of the Contras. All this has contributed to my disenchantment with the Republican Party, and helped me make up my mind.

Ron Paul did not mention back than that Reagan also raised taxes at least seven times when he was president or that one of his first acts as governor of California in the 1960s was to raise both spending and taxes, with a $1 billion tax hike that would represent over $6 billion in today’s dollars.


  • Paul Richard Strange, Sr.
    September 21, 2011 - 7:03 pm | Permalink

    I am a Reagan fan and also a fan of Ron Paul. Some of the mindset of the late Ayn Rand creeps into Dr. Paul’s comments, I think.

    Ayn Rand regarded virtually any and all pragmatism, (except her own self-serving pragmatism) as evil! Dr. Paul is not like that. He is, however, a great thinker and a Christian whose thoughts have been influenced, to some extent, by the atheist egoist Ayn Rand.

    Ronald Reagan was too pragmatic. Many of us grant him somewhat of a pass, for a variety of reasons:
    (1) He had to choose between defeating Soviet Communism or advancing his balanced budget agenda. The Democrat house, controlled by Speaker O’Neill, made it clear to him that he could not have both;
    (2) Strict constitutionalism and libertarianism is an absolute necessity for preservation in the public marketplace of ideas any capacity to pass on freedom to our posterity without moral and economic collapse. Yet, it is like a great diagnostician who has no clue how to get an obese client to lose weight, but accurately points out all of the dangers.

    Reagan was great because he inspired a debate that has made it possible for libertarians and strict constitutionalists to have a voice. Reagan put the prolife movement on the map.

    Ron Paul is great because he doesn’t need a focus group to tell him what he believes. His involvement in American politics, with his consistent sense of ethics, has caused more than a few citizens to see that philosophy matters. I am supporting him in the 2012 primary because he has been right about so many issues, even if he lacks the charisma craved by our Hollywood-studded culture.

    Waxahachie Texas

    • September 22, 2011 - 4:37 am | Permalink

      Hi Paul:

      Just wanted to say thanks for posting a thoughtful and nonjudgemental comment. It’s too bad that you have partaken of the Reagan Kool-Aid, but I understand that after 30 years of hearing the GOP distort Reagan’s record and “legacy,” it would be difficult for anyone who considers themselves a “conservative” to not tout Reaganism. Check out “The Big Con”, by Jonathan Chait if you want to see how the GOP came to be the way they are today, which is not, in any classical sense, “conservative.”

  • Paul Richard Strange, Sr.
    September 25, 2011 - 5:09 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for your response. I will, indeed, check out the work by Jonathan Chait. Let me say that I’ve been down the road, listening to people who think Reagan was actually worse than FDR, and I even joined the Constitution Pary in frustration at the degree to which the GOP becomes corrupted and unprincipled. Here’s some of the “other side”: Reagan’s likelihood of ending the two-party system was probably as impossible as any desires of strict constitutionalists before and after him; Ron Paul would not have anything close to the effective voice that he has if he had abandoned the Republican Party; he was the Libertarian Party candidate in 2008 and I voted for him.
    To me, it’s like our family relationships. We should do all in our power, short of dis-owning them, to persuade all that is good and decent and right.
    As a young sailor on active duty when Ronald Reagan was elected, and seeing how the nation changed from the severe gloom of the Carter Administration, to the hopefulness of Reagan in the White House, it is difficult for me to call that “bunk”. It seems to be making cultural and political life seem like all achievements are utterly nothing if we do not magically do the impossible, and force every citizen to demand strict constitutionalism.

    Anyway, it’s a real privilege to have been allowed to comment on your article. God bless you. I will check out the work you refer to.

  • Paul Richard Strange, Sr.
    September 25, 2011 - 5:14 pm | Permalink

    Correction: wow, am I getting older or what? I meant to say 1988, not 2008,as I though Bush was Reagan’s nearly worst decision. paul

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  • Randy Lowe
    January 16, 2012 - 7:13 am | Permalink

    The Reagan legacy has been cherry-picked for the things people like about it. Dr. Paul was correct in all his allegations, but to those who believe the myth, it’s tantamount to blasphemy. Reagan showed his inability to make a courageous decision with the very first policy choice he made, his choice of George H.W. Bush as his running mate. That pushed us farther down the road to a one-party progressive government than any other single event.

    It’s now just the Republicrats….the right and left wing of the government party…

  • Greg
    January 19, 2012 - 4:55 am | Permalink

    ( Correction: wow, am I getting older or what? I meant to say 1988, not 2008,as I though Bush was Reagan’s nearly worst decision. paul )

    Bush as Reagan’s VP was not his decision. What I recall hearing was Rockefeller, after hearing that Reagan did not want Bush as a running mate, told Reagan if Bush was not his running mate, the only way he would see the inside of the White House would be as a guest.

    Also, the entire story of the Hinckley/Bush family relationship has never be published.

  • Albert Fonseca
    December 5, 2014 - 3:08 pm | Permalink

    Ron Paul has always been outspoken about his disagreements with Reagan. His position has never changed and his actions are consistent which is something rare in a politician.

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