Reagan Foundation Chief: Gipper's Influence Remains Strong

Tuesday, 05 Feb 2013 03:31 PM

By Cyrus Afzali and Kathleen Walter

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As the nation prepares to mark what would have been President Ronald Reagan’s 102nd birthday on Wednesday, the chief of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation believes the former president’s legacy remains a powerful influence in the United States.

On Wednesday, the library will host a special ceremony conducted by the commander of the Marine Corps base at Camp Pendleton in California. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani will present the keynote address. The event will be streamed live on the foundation’s website, www.reaganfoundation.org, beginning at 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time.

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Addressing some current events with Newsmax, John Heubusch, the foundation’s executive director, said President Reagan would be concerned about the nation’s debt problem, tax increases and the country's struggle to remain the top nation in the world.

“You might recall when President Reagan took office, the economic situation in the United States was even more miserable than we found it just a few years ago — interest rates, unemployment rates, inflation rates just through the roof and absolutely a terrible stagnation influencing the country," Heubusch said.

“Within two-and-a-half to three years’ time, President Reagan had our country's growth back. We were experiencing growth rates of more than 7.5 percent in certain quarters," he said. "Unemployment fell, interest rates fell and inflation rates fell. President Reagan knew the answer to a sound economy was by letting the free market work and reducing taxes.”
 
He believes Reagan’s influence can be seen in the tax vote taken recently by Congress, which put in place lower tax rates for 98 percent of U.S. taxpayers.

“While it’s regrettable that it imposed higher taxes on the top 1 or 2 percent of the nation’s wealthy, you notice that Congress put in place permanent, lower tax rates for 98 percent of Americans,” Heubusch said. “That’s Reaganomics, so to this day, Reagan’s policies are still speaking to us through legislation and we’re very happy to see that.”

Speaking about the party’s efforts to broaden its appeal, Heubusch said embracing Reagan’s values is a message that still resonates today.

“Ronald Reagan’s principles are still perfectly suitable for the Republican Party. It’s difficult to argue against such important values as freedom, liberty and the free market,” he said. “So as long as the party continues to adhere to the fundamentals that Ronald Reagan stood for and keep that in the core of his philosophy, the party will be fine.”

Heubusch said Nancy Reagan, who was will be  92 in July, remains quite active at the Reagan Library, attending regular board meetings and a variety of special functions. She will be at the library for this week’s special ceremonies. Likewise, the Reagan children often are at the library to promote various events.

Located about an hour outside Los Angeles, the Reagan Library remains very popular, receiving about half a million visitors a year. The museum was renovated about 18 months ago and now includes more interactive exhibits as well as a new exhibit area that features community-oriented exhibits that change regularly.

Reagan remains a very popular figure, according to The Gallup Organization’s annual survey, which asks Americans to list the president they most admire. Reagan has consistently appeared in the top three of that list, trading places among Abraham Lincoln and George Washington for the top spot. Heubusch attributes that to Reagan’s stand for conservative values and his belief in principles that improved the nation.

“He stood for conservative values and principles that make this country great. It’s our job at the foundation and his library to do everything we can to not only preserve his memory, but promote it as well,” Heubusch said.

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