The state senate late last week had some fun debating the legacy of former President Ronald Reagan.
Had an amendment by Senate Majority Leader John Morse passed Friday, President Ronald Reagan would have been honored by the Senate not only for his achievements in helping to bring down the communist wall, but also for bringing amnesty to 1.7 million undocumented immigrants, tax increases to the State of California and for closing corporate tax loopholes.
Reading his amendment to a resolution honoring Reagan on his 100th birthday, Morse said he wanted to add a little bit to the former president’s biography.
On a fiscal note, Morse said that as governor of California, Reagan realized California’s income was not properly funded and implemented the largest tax increase in the state’s history up to that point. He further noted that Reagan implemented a U.S. tax code change that closed many corporate loopholes, increasing U.S. revenue by $300 billion over five years.
Morse then touched a sore spot by amending the resolution brought by Senator Ted Harvey, R-Highlands Ranch, to praise Reagan for “recogniz[ing] that human dignity trumps blind ideology” when he provided amnesty in 1986 to an estimated 1.7 million undocumented immigrants then in California.
Republicans urged a no vote on the amendment to their resolution. Morse later withdrew the amendment after saying he had made his point.
Harvey said that Morse was likely to argue for tax increases in every bill that makes its way to the floor, and he said while Reagan may have pushed through amnesty for undocumented immigrants, he later regretted not also closing the borders.
“In reality the number of people who signed up for amnesty was three million,” Harvey said. “Let us remember that Reagan said his greatest mistake was not closing the borders when he passed amnesty.”
“He knew that it would give incentive for continued illegal behavior for people to come across our border without going through the immigration process. He understood the fallacy of that decision without actually putting policies in place that stopped incentivizing continued generations of illegal immigrants from coming to this country.”
Harvey also told Morse that Reagan was responsible for considerable tax reductions at the federal level. He said those cuts led to the economic growth of the United States until the late 1990s.
According to the Washington Post, Reagan passed tax cuts in 1981 that cut the tax rate for the top tax bracket earners from 70 percent to 50 percent. He then raised taxes in 1982 in the middle of a recession as a deficit spiraled out of control. In 1986, Reagan brought the highest marginal tax rate down to 28 percent, but, at the same time, he removed a number of tax exemptions and deductions.
Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray, said he was opposed to the amendment not because what Morse said wasn’t factual, but because it did not honor the image of the man.
“I think that honoring Ronald Reagan is recognizing what he will be remembered for eternally,” Brophy said. “And that is as a person who recognized, like John F. Kennedy, that if you cut tax rates the economy will flourish and net tax revenue to the government will actually be higher.”
He went on to say that Reagan will also be remembered as the man who defeated a Soviet challenge to freedom. “I would ask for a no vote on this amendment which adds the unfortunate, I believe, leftist moves of an otherwise great conservative hero — the American president, Ronald Reagan.”
The resolution passed unamended without objection.