In California these days, Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is seen with Democratic politicians in calling for a $16 billion tax increase. But this increase, Schwarzenegger and the Democrats insist, is not simply another burden on the taxpayer because it will include spending cuts.
To at least one Golden State taxpayer with a name familiar to all, this is moonshine.
“Remember when my father was President and he was promised that, for every extra tax dollar allowed for fixing Social Security [in 1982], he would get $3 in spending cuts?” said nationally syndicated radio talk show host Michael Reagan, son of Ronald Reagan. “My father went to his grave not getting the $3 in spending cuts he was promised.”
Toughened by the memory of his father’s experience, Mike Reagan will address a “tea party” on the steps of the State Capitol in Sacramento April 15. In speaking to a crowd of fellow “ax-the-taxers” from the site of where his father often worked while governor of California from 1966-74, the younger Reagan will primarily focus on Proposition 1-A, which will be on the state ballot later this year. The measure, backed by Schwarzenegger and Democratic legislative leaders, will allow taxes to go up in order to raise an additional $16 billion in state revenue but will be accompanied by spending cuts.
In Mike Reagan’s words, “Saying that you need to raise taxes in order to make cuts in government spending makes no sense whatsoever.” In fact, the proposal in Proposition 1-A does sound eerily like the spending cuts-for-higher taxes that President George H.W. Bush bought into in 1990 — making a pact with Democratic congressional leaders, abrograting his famous “Read my lips — no new taxes” campaign pledge, and, many believe, creating a self-inflicted wound that was key to his defeat in 1992.
The event with Mike Reagan is being put on under the aegis of the Conservative Action Group, headed by veteran California conservative activists Jim Lacy and Bill Butcher. As to whether state Republican officials will join in the event April 15, Reagan told me: “We’ll find out, won’t we?”
Reagan and I also discussed how politicians of all stripes invoke his father’s name these days and suggest that the 40th President would support their position on virtually everything.
“It’s absolutely absurd,” Reagan told me, “They are assuming that he would have gone along with anything that got us here in the first place and, of course, he would not. And they assume that Ronald Reagan would have gone approve of any screw-up. He would not have. He would have held his party accountable.”