by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
President Ronald Reagan is invoked incessantly by conservative commentators and politicians, but never more so than when the subject is taxes. And so it was when Donald Trump released his plan for tax reform. Several conservative commentators have done Trump a favor (and the public a disservice) by vouching for the legitimacy of the plan and saying it is very much in the Reagan tradition.
That gives Trump far too much credit. His tax plan bears a superficial resemblance to Reagan’s agenda, but Reagan would never have proposed something so transparently infeasible.
Reagan is invoked too casually on taxes both by those who believe no tax cut is too big and by those who always want to raise taxes instead of cutting them. Both camps base their views on misleading interpretations of the Reagan record. …
… His emphasis on tax cutting was always coupled, however, with efforts to keep deficits and debt under control so as to ensure that whatever he accomplished could be sustained. He struck numerous deals with Congress during his presidency — e.g., on civil-service pensions, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid — that, cumulatively, reduced long-term entitlement-spending commitments by trillions of dollars.