For the modern Republican, Ronald Reagan is one of the most revered Presidents of the last 50 years. He is often used as an example of how GOP hopefuls should act and his economic policies are still used as an example by Republicans of how growth can be achieved. How great of a President he was often depends on personal perspective, but as these interesting facts will show, he was not necessarily as conservative as he is portrayed to be today.
1. Reagan Raised Taxes a Lot
While serving as the Governor of California, state spending doubled under his leadership. He signed the largest tax increase into law in the history of the state at that point in time. While in the White House, taxes went up 7 out of the 8 years that he served. At one point, the Reagan Administration raised taxes 4 times in 24 months. To say that Reagan was against taxation would be a false statement.
As Alan Simpson, a Republican and a close friend to Reagan, often put it: “Reagan was never afraid to raise taxes.” He ended up doing so 11 times in total.
2. Trickle Down Economics Failed For Reagan
One of the reasons why Reagan got into office in the first place was through promises of tax cuts. That was achieved in 1981, but the outcome was not what was expected. Instead of improving unemployment rates, they got worse – much worse. At one point, the unemployment rate was nearly 11%. To help get control of the mess, tax rates were raised across the board, but the Middle Class bore the brunt of the taxation.
The proof is in the results. Since 1980, the most income has risen for the Middle Class is 30%. That’s not even enough to keep up with standard inflation rates. In comparison, the wealthy class ha sseen their average incomes increase by 400% or more.
3. Reagan Believed in Big Government
During his campaign, Reagan promised to move decisively to stop the spending of the federal government. When he got into office, one of the first things he tried to do was privatize the Social Security program, which turned into an epic failure. To save it, he started a progressive system of taxation. Instead of cutting agencies, he added a department for Veteran’s Affairs that expanded the size of government by over 300,000 employees.
By the time it was all over, the US national debt had tripled to $3 trillion in total. Defense spending also reached its highest levels since the Vietnam War under his administration.
4. He Was More Pro-Choice Than Pro-Life
What Reagan is remembered for in this area is that he campaigned for a Constitutional amendment that would make abortions illegal except in the instance where one was necessary to save the love of a mother. What isn’t remembered is that while serving as Governor in 1967, Reagan actually signed a bill that made abortions more accessible for women. Once he reached the Presidency, he never really pursued that promised amendment.
5. Reagan Vetoed Sanctions Against South Africa
During the Reagan administration, South Africa was still in throes of apartheid. Even with most of the world against them and everyone sanctioning them, including the Olympics, South African stood resolute in their racist policies. An effort was taken up by Congress to put the final nail in the coffin of apartheid by authorizing sanctions against South Africa, but the act which would cut off all American trade to the country was vetoed by Reagan.
The Republicans in Congress decided that they had enough votes to override the veto and that’s what they did. Reagan said that the law wouldn’t do anything that would solve the problems that South Africa faced. The only problem was that it also ended up showing that Reagan was supporting apartheid.
6. The War on Terror Started with Reagan
Reagan had a strong Biblical belief that the days of Armageddon that are described would be because of nuclear war. There was a strong thought that a war between the US and the Soviet Union would create the End of Days in Reagan’s mind, so he took a multi-faceted solution to solving that problem. One of the things that he did was equip and train Islamist fighters in Afghanistan to stand against the Soviet occupation.
This relationship that Reagan formed still exists today. Who was one of the leaders who came out of the groups that American forces help to bring into greater power? Osama bin Laden, who was a prominent commander of the forces at the time of US support.
7. Reagan Granted Amnesty
One of the most unique decisions of the Reagan Administration was to create a bill that would give up to 3 million illegal immigrants who had entered the country before 1982 the chance for amnesty. The law was supposed to be an attempt to help American workers by penalizing businesses who hired undocumented workers, but Congress removed that part of the law before passing it. In the end, it was one of the largest amnesty programs that continues to help families gain American residency.
8. He Had Interesting Tastes in Food
One of the things that Ronald Reagan was most famous for was his love of jelly beans. Strangely enough, his favorite flavor was the black ones. What most people don’t know is that he actually started to eat jelly beans so that he could stop smoking a pipe. By the time he reached the White House, he was eating the gourmet Jelly Bellies and that helped to raise the profile of the jelly bean maker to international prominence.
He was often described as someone who wasn’t a fussy eater, but 99 out of 100 times, if you put Brussels sprouts in front of Reagan, he wouldn’t eat them. He wasn’t particularly fond of tomatoes either.
9. He Was Divorced
Reagan is still the only US President to have a divorce. Nancy Davis, who would become the First Lady, was his second wife. He married Jane Wyman in the 1940s and they were divorced in 1948.