Liberal Delaware Governor Jack Markell:
Ronald Reagan’s legacy of constructive bipartisanshipReagan worked with liberal Democrats in a sort of constructive bipartisanship? Say it ain't so!
The Republican presidential candidates are eagerly claiming the mantle of President Ronald Reagan. But as we mark Reagan’s birthday Monday, it’s fitting to consider the accuracy of their claims.
Reagan, originally a Democrat, famously remarked that he did not leave the Democratic Party — rather, that the party left him. Similarly, the tea party platform embraced by the Republican presidential candidates leaves behind the best of what Reagan accomplished.
Reagan was, in many ways, similar to President Bill Clinton — though partisans in both parties would hesitate to admit that. Both were former governors who defied political stereotypes. Both worked with political opponents to confront the challenges facing the nation and craft bipartisan solutions. Reagan worked with a Democratic Congress to pass comprehensive immigration and tax reforms. Clinton worked with a Republican Congress to reform welfare and keep moving toward federal surpluses.
The current debate among former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and others could not stand in greater contrast with this shared legacy of constructive bipartisanship. [link]
Well, we'll talk about how "constructive" it was in a moment.
But the painful truth is - despite the rhetoric that came out of the Reagan White House in the 80's (and despite the invective that was hurled at The Gipper for his dastardly starving of the poor and his blind eye toward the sufferers among us ... blah ... blah ... blah) - liberalism flourished.
That "constructive bipartisanship"? Here's the truth of the matter: Reagan wanted a robust build-up of our military (you may remember that thingie called the USSR) and the Democrat-controlled Congress wanted billions for social programs (to be heaped upon existing social programs).
Both got what they wanted.
A bipartisanship that produced this (click on the image to enlarge it):
A national debt obligation that still remains unpaid to this day.
So here's where Governor Markell gets it right, and wrong. He's right that there came about a bipartisan working relationship between Ronald Reagan and the Democratic Congress in his day. But it was, in fact, a
Today's Republicans - to their credit - in lockstep with the wishes of the American people, refuse to go down that road any longer.
The bases for negotiation (thanks in no small way to the Tea Party) have changed, Jack. We still look for constructive bipartisanship, but on our terms. We're going to reduce the size of government, the size of the annual deficit, and the scope of the national debt; we'll negotiate with you on how deep those cuts will be.
Reagan indeed negotiated with the Democratic Party the rate of acceleration of the expansion of the government. He sat down with his liberal counterparts and said, "here's how much I need, how much do you need?" And they went from there.
Reagan's day is done. We're broke. Beyond broke. And the government is so massive that it is unwieldy, out of touch, and so costly that it is breaking our country's back and crushing any opportunity for American entrepreneurs to thrive in a very competitive global marketplace.
We're willing to sit down with you Democrats and discuss - in harmonious fashion or otherwise - the means by which we put that monster back in its cave. We're not willing to keep writing checks that our children and grandchildren will be forced to cash.
Constructive bipartisanship? We're all for it. But here's where the discussion starts.