Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill and Ronald Reagan

Paul Bunyan dug the Grand Canyon and built Mt. Hood.  Pecos Bill rode a tornado and used a rattlesnake as a lasso.   And Ronald Reagan rescued America from big government and defeated the Soviet Union.  American heroes are as mythological as Greek or Roman ones.  The media is once more trumpeting Ronald Reagan on his 100th birthday.  This isn't the first 24-hour Reaganfest but it is time for a reality check. 

Heroes are appealing and myths are mighty.  None of the facts below are likely to leave so much as a scratch on Reagan's teflon monument. 

Republicans have Forgotten...
1967:  As governor, Reagan raised California taxes by 30% of the general fund, a modern record.
1967-1975:  Reagan raised government spending in California by 177%.
1981:  Reagan's first year in office marked a reversal in deficit spending in America.  After falling sharply from 1945 until 1981, the national debt as a percentage of GDP rose under Reagan from 35% to 55% by the end of his term.
1981-1989: Reagan signed 15 tax measures into law as president.  4 were tax cuts.  11 were tax increases.
1982:  Largest peacetime tax increase in US History, $100 billion over 3 years
1986:  Largest corporate tax increase in US History, $120 billion over 3 years
1981-1992:  Under Reagan and Bush Sr., the national debt quadrupled from $1 trillion to $4 trillion.
1991:  The breakup of the USSR was due to internal forces, a succession of short term leaders, Gorbachev's reforms, an economic crisis, an unpopular war in Afghanistan and possibly Chernobyl.  Crediting Reagan is popular in a country that believes the US must be responsible for everything but in reality his only contribution was overspending on defense, a minor factor.

Democrats have Forgotten...
Late 1940s:  With his acting career drying up, Reagan offered up the names of many Hollywood associates (competitors?) to the McCarthyites. 
1966:  Reagan declared that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a mistake. He advocated repeal of California's anti-discrimination law, stating "If an individual wants to discriminate against Negroes or is his right to do so."
1980:  Reagan's campaign negotiated a DELAY in releasing the American hostages from Iran until after the election.  In exchange, the secret flow of weapons to Iran began within days.
1981:  Reagan attracted Southern Democrats to the Republican party by calculated appeals to white racism.
1981:  In his first year, Reagan fired 12,000 air traffic controllers and broke their union. He also appointed anti-union members to the National Labor Relations Board, this though he had not only been a union member himself but president of the Screen Actors Guild.
1981-1989:  138 corrupt Reagan Administration were convicted, indicted or under investigation for felony charges, a record that will hopefully stand for a long time to come.
1983:  Payroll (Social Security and Medicare) taxes on all workers and employers raised from 9% to 15.3% over 6 years.
1986:  Reagan's Iran-Contra scheme was discovered.  Reagan's administration violated its own arms embargo and sold weapons to Iran, using the proceeds to illegally arm the Contra rebels in Nicaragua

1988:  Revelations that President Reagan based many of his presidential decisions on astrology, including the selection of Bush as his VP and signing an arms treaty with the Soviets.(Reagan consulted prominent astrologers regularly since at least the 1940s)
1989:  Reagan doubled defense spending during his presidency, a prime contributor to deficit growth in his terms.

In the 2010 election, Republican candidates were comical in their competition to win the "heir of Ronald Reagan" competition.  Even Obama quoted Reagan and seemed to strive for the most-Reaganesque ribbon.  Prospective Republican party chairs were fielded a question last month that asked their "favorite Republican other than Ronald Reagan", needing to preempt the predictable responses.

On the NPR show "This American Life", elementary students on a tour of the Reagan Library do a role play of Reagan's decision to invade Grenada in 1983.  The rigged scenario is an endorsement of this much-maligned decision to invade the tiny island.  The justification?  Grenada might have joined with Cuba and Nicaragua and attacked the US.  I say bring it on, Grenada.  We've got Paul Bunyan and his ox, Babe.