Author: Jessie Berney
Conservatives like to pretend that President’s Day is a holiday for the exclusive celebration of Ronald Reagan, their favorite president and a man they lionize as an earthbound saint crossed with the world’s manliest cowboy.
So it’s a good idea to remember Reagan’s real legacy: a bad president surrounded by bad people who did bad things. Here are five of the worst things Reagan did as president to remind you exactly the kind of leader he was.
5. Reagan Stole Money from the Social Security Trust Fund
Remember those Saturday Night Live sketches in 2000 where Al Gore promised to put Social Security in a lockbox?
The reason Gore was so committed to protecting Social Security is that Ronald Reagan used the funds as his personal piggy bank. After his tax cuts devastated the federal treasury, ushering in the era of giant deficits we’re still mired in today, Reagan raised Social Security taxes, ostensibly to protect Social Security for future generations. Instead, he dumped that money into the general treasury fund to reduce the deficits he had created. Speaking of corruption…
4. Reagan Filled His Administration With Corrupt People
No administration was as corrupt as Ronald Reagan’s, not even Nixon’s. His attorney general resigned after he was involved with a company that received illegal no-bid contracts. His secretary of the interior, who thought his job was to sell off federal lands to defense contractors, was indicted on multiple counts of perjury.
Reagan’s vice president and successor, George Bush, pardoned six separate people for their roles in the Iran-Contra affair, including Reagan’s National Security adviser and his secretary of defense. Speaking of Iran-Contra…
3. Reagan Presided Over the Iran-Contra Affair
In 1985 and 1986, Ronald Reagan sold arms to Iran, locked in a horrific war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, for cash and the release of U.S. hostages. The sales to Iran violated sanctions against Iran.
But much of the money that came from the sales was diverted to fund the Contras, right-wing rebels fighting the left-wing Sandinista government of Nicaragua. That was in violation of laws against helping the Contras.
As noted above, George Bush had to pardon several Reagan aides in the wake of the scandal. Speaking of aides…
2. Reagan Refused to Mention AIDS, Then Cut Funding for Research
1. Reagan Opposed Sanctions on Apartheid Era-South Africa
References: Dissident Voice, Los Angeles Times, PBS.org, Philadelphia Inquirer, About.com