The Real Gov. Reagan

Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner are tripping over themselves trying to insist they’re clones of Ronald Reagan:

Both candidates have labeled themselves “Reagan conservatives” in their ads — ironic, perhaps, because both have contributed to Democratic candidates.

Of course, they’re identifying with President Reagan, whose tax cuts yanked America out of the 1970s malaise and into almost 30 years of economic growth, lasting to 2008, with only two minor recesssions. But neither Poizner nor Whitman is running for president (yet).

As governor, Reagan broke his campaign promise against taxes, and imposed $1 billion in tax hikes — the equivalent, factoring inflation and population growth, to $20 billion today, more than Arnold’s $13 billion in tax hikes last year.

Campaigning for governor in 1966, Reagan promised that his feet were “in concrete” against imposing the onerous withholding scheme on Californians, in which their state taxes were paid with each paycheck, instead of once a year. Once elected, he broke that pledge, quipping, “The sound you hear is the concrete cracking around my feet.”

He was terrible on spending, too. His first budget, fiscal 1966-67, rose an incredible 17%, then was followed by increases of 8%, 19% (!) and 14%.

So in Reagan’s first term as governor, spending rose an incredible 73%. Even Govs. Davis and Schwarzenegger, spendthrifts that they have been, never got that high, only making it to 15% twice for Davis and once for Arnold.

Reagan’s broken promises and spendthrift ways were detailed in “Here’s the Rest of Him,” an old book from 1968 by Kent Steffgen.

— John Seiler

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