In his Sept. 26, 1987 radio address to the nation, “The Federal Debt Ceiling Increase and Deficit Reduction,” Reagan explained the need to work out a deal with his Democratic counterparts on Capitol Hill on the debt ceiling. And a portion of that address has been used by House Democratic caucus in a video ad posted earlier this week.
“[Unfortunately,] Congress consistently brings the government to the edge of default before facing its responsibility. This brinkmanship threatens the holders of government bonds and those who rely on Social Security and veterans benefits. Interest rates would skyrocket, instability would occur in financial markets and the federal deficit would soar. The United States has a special responsibility to itself and the world to meet its obligations. It means we have a well-earned reputation for reliability and credibility—two things that set us apart from much of the world.’”
That nearly 24-year-old audio has led some to suggest that in the heat of the 2011 debt ceiling debate raging between the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and the Democratic-controlled White House and Senate that Reagan might be rejected by the modern-day GOP.
“Would Reagan even be a Republican today?” MSNBC “Hardball” host Chris Matthews asked on his Wednesday program.
However if you take a look at that same address in its entirety, you’ll see a broader context. The country was on the verge of winning the Cold War and congressional Democrats were pushing for higher taxes. And much like this incarnation of the debt ceiling fight, Democrats are still lobbying for tax hikes. But the part the House Democratic caucus left out of Sept. 26, 1987 debt ceiling address was his pledge not to allow Congress to “increase your taxes.”
“This decision is not easy. I have no choice but to sign this bill to guarantee the United States government’s credit. But I also will not permit Congress to dismantle our national defense, to jeopardize arms reduction, or to increase your taxes. I am determined that will not happen.”