President of the U.S., 1981-1989; Republican Governor (CA)
OpEd: Deregulation became a conservative mantra
Reagan swept into office under the banner of free-market economics. Step one was to fire the cops on Wall Street. The Reagan administration proudly embraced the idea of `deregulation, as if financial and corporate regulations were the biggest problems
faced by Americans--rather than the wrongs those regulations were designed to prevent. From Reagan's perspective, it was far more important to protect a corporate giant from the government than it was to protect a customer, investor, or small
competitor from the actions of a corporate giant. Regulation became the new enemy. Forget exploding gas tanks, cancer-causing chemicals in the water supply, or drugs that caused birth defects--regulation was proclaimed to be the real danger in America.
From the 1980s onward, "deregulation" became a scared tenet of all conservatives, a mantra that can be translated to mean: let corporate American do more of whatever corporate America wants to do.
Businesses don't pay taxes; it's all passed on to customers
Here's how President Reagan explained the corrosive influence of corporate taxes on the average American:
"Some say shift the tax burden to business and industry, but business doesn't pay taxes. Oh, don't get the wrong idea. Business is being taxed,
so much so that we're being priced out of the world market. But business must pass its costs of operations--and that includes taxes--on to the customer in the price of the product. Only people pay taxes, all the taxes.
Government just uses businesses in a kind of sneaky way to help collect the taxes. They're hidden in the price; we aren't aware of how much tax we actually pay."
Reagan was right. If Americans understood just how many hidden government fees and taxes are absorbed into the price of the goods and services they buy, they would be irate.
Goal is not material gain; but to renew the American dream
In 1982, President Ronald Reagan, at the Conservative Political Action Conference declared, "Higher productivity, a larger gross national product, a healthy
Dow Jones average--they are our goals and are worthy ones. But our real concerns are not statistical goals or material gain.
We want to expand personal freedom, to renew the American dream for every American. We seek to restore opportunity and reward, to value again personal achievement and individual excellence. We seek to rely on the ingenuity and energy of the
American people to better their own lives and those of millions of others around the world."
Reduce corporate tax rates & keep incentives for capital
Let us move together with an historic reform of tax simplification for fairness and growth. We have cut tax rates by almost 25%, yet the tax system remains unfair and limits our potential for growth. Exclusions and exemptions cause similar incomes to be
taxed at different levels.
One thing that tax reform will not be is a tax increase in disguise. We will not jeopardize the mortgage interest deduction that families need. We will reduce personal tax rates as low as possible by removing many tax
preferences. We will propose a top rate of no more than 35%, and possibly lower. And we will propose reducing corporate rates, while maintaining incentives for capital formation.
Tax simplification will be a giant step toward unleashing the tremendous
pent-up power of our economy. But a second American revolution must carry the promise of opportunity for all. It is time to liberate the spirit of enterprise in the most distressed areas of our country.