The Republican-led caucus today celebrated a president who supported taxing the rich, favored collective bargaining for unions, and understood the importance of gun safety. Amazingly, that president was Ronald Reagan.
Reagan signed into law bipartisan tax reform – including the largest peacetime tax increase in American history – in 1982, raised the gas tax by billions in 1983, closed tax loopholes in 1984, and in 1986 imposed the largest corporate tax increase in history while simultaneously expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit.
“We’re going to close the unproductive tax loopholes that have allowed some of the truly wealthy to avoid paying their fair share. [These loopholes] sometimes made it possible for millionaires to pay nothing while a bus driver was paying 10 percent of his salary – and that’s crazy. It’s time we stopped. Do you think the millionaire ought to pay more in taxes than the bus driver or less? … We want to see that everyone pays their fair share and no one gets a free ride [and that] no one is manipulating the system to their advantage because they’re rich and powerful.”
Reagan was a president who expanded Social Security by increasing the tax rate and by taxing benefits for wealthy recipients.
"[This law] assures the elderly that America will always keep the promises made in troubled times a half century ago.. . . [The Social Security Amendments of 1983 are] a monument to the spirit of compassion and commitment that unites us as a people."
Reagan was a president who banned armor –piercing bullets, supported a ban on assault weapons and supported the Brady Bill.
“This is a matter of vital importance to the public safety ... While we recognize that assault-weapon legislation will not stop all assault-weapon crime, statistics prove that we can dry up the supply of these guns, making them less accessible to criminals.”
“Certain forms of ammunition have no legitimate sporting, recreational, or self-defense use and thus should be prohibited.”
Reagan was a president who signed immigration reform legislation granting amnesty to 3 million undocumented workers.
"We have consistently supported a legalization program which is both generous to the alien and fair to the countless thousands of people throughout the world who seek legally to come to America. The legalization provisions in this act will go far to improve the lives of a class of individuals who now must hide in the shadows, without access to many of the benefits of a free and open society. Very soon many of these men and women will be able to step into the sunlight and, ultimately, if they choose, they may become Americans."
And, finally, Reagan was a president who expressed unwavering support for collective bargaining rights.
“Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost.”
In the wake of Senate Republicans’ celebration of this great legacy, Senate Democrats are eager to work across the aisle on legislation dealing with tax reform, firearm safety, securing and expanding our social safety net, and upholding immigrant and collective bargaining rights. We are encouraged that Senate Republicans appear willing to work with us to make progress on these issues about which Reagan spoke so clearly.