Ronald Reagan, party animal.

Ronald Reagan, party animal.

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
June 5 2004 7:33 PM

Ronald Reagan, Party Animal

The man who taught Republicans to be irresponsible.

(Continued from Page 1)

You know the rest of the story. The deficit, which stood at $74 billion in Carter's final year, ballooned to $155 billion in Reagan's final year. In the words of Vice President Dick Cheney, "Reagan taught us deficits don't matter."

Today, what does it mean to be a Republican? It means you can cut taxes indiscriminately and needn't worry about the debt you're piling up. It certainly doesn't mean that you want to shrink the federal government. Indeed, government spending under George W. Bush has increased faster than it did under Bill Clinton. Before Reagan, pandering was principally a Democratic vice. Today, it's principally a Republican vice. Ronald Reagan performed that transformation, and it remains his most enduring legacy.

Timothy Noah is a former Slate staffer. His  book about income inequality is The Great Divergence.

  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Aug. 28 2015 12:31 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? International affairs writer Joshua Keating on what to read to understand the apparently permanent slowdown of the Chinese economy.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 1 2015 12:20 PM Does Contraception Reduce Abortions? The relationship is surprisingly ambiguous—until you look at the best evidence.