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New York Times Misses Good Old Days of Reagan

Image: New York Times Misses Good Old Days of Reagan

By Drew MacKenzie   |   Friday, 03 Jan 2014 10:44 AM

The liberal New York Times is pining for the good old days of President Ronald Reagan, when bipartisan politics helped to craft new tax codes and immigrations laws — a far cry from the dark days of President Barack Obama, when the rift between Republicans and Democrats grows increasingly wider.

An article in the Times Friday fondly recalls the times when legislators from either side of the aisle worked together for the greater good instead of having to battle it out over every minor point in new legislation as they do today.

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In 1986, an election year, Reagan faced exactly the reverse of the problem Obama does now — Reagan's Republican party controlled the Senate while the House was controlled by Democrats.

Yet both houses of Congress signed off on comprehensive tax reform reducing the top rate to 28 percent from 50 percent while also eliminating many tax breaks.

And with just three weeks to go before election, bipartisan politicians voted to shake up immigration laws as well, granting amnesty to many while penalizing business owners who employed illegals.

"It happened in part because both parties had moderate wings then that held real power," said John Harwood of The Times. "Committee chairmen built their authority through seniority. And members ran for re-election based more on what they had done than what they had stopped.

"On tax reform, the most striking difference in Mr. Reagan’s era was greater commitment at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue," said Harwood, explaining that then Rep. Jack Kemp, a New York Republican, and then Sen. Bill Bradley, a New Jersey Democrat, teamed up to knock back legislators with personal agendas.

It was the same sort of accord when it came to passage of the new immigration bill. Bradley told the Times that one day he paid a private visit to a leading Republican senator involved in the legislation to discuss his concerns before the vote.

"I had 22 questions on a yellow pad," he said. "I agreed with 16 of his answers and I disagreed with six of them. I said, 'You have my support.' I didn’t even know the Democratic position. That’s not possible today."

Nowadays, in fact, the Obama administration is taking a stance against income inequality, which is far more noticeable than during Reagan's tenure. And Republicans would admit they have a hard time pushing for a reduction to the now top rate of 39.6 percent, than the 50 percent of yesteryear.

There is a better chance this year of a new immigration law being passed. However, although a bipartisan bill has already been approved by the Senate, House Speaker John Boehner wants to move slowly ahead with changes in immigration measures.

The Times alludes to the fact that the tea party movement is playing a major role in preventing more moderate Republicans coming together with Democrats on bipartisan tax and immigration policies.

Trent Lott, a former member of the Republican leadership in both the House and Senate said to the Times, "They’re being told, 'Don’t do that — if you do, you’re going to be laying out who some of the losers are going to be in an election year.'"

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