But, of course, the Democrats were lying. Instead of cutting $280 billion, they spent an additional $450 billion -- only $140 billion of which went to the Reagan defense buildup that ended the Evil Empire.
Meanwhile, Reagan's tax cuts brought in an extra $375 billion in government revenue in the next six years -- as that amiable, simple-minded dunce Reagan always said they would. His tax cuts funded the entire $140 billion defense buildup, with $235 billion left over.
If Democrats had lied only a little and merely held spending at the same level, Reagan could have smashed the Russkies, produced the largest peacetime expansion in U.S. history with his tax cuts and produced a $235 billion budget surplus. (Jobs created in September 1983: 1.1 million; jobs created in September 2011: 150,000.)
But the Democrats not only refused to implement any budget cuts, they hiked government spending. To the untrained eye, that appears to be the exact opposite of cutting the budget.
Even the gusher of revenue brought in by Reagan's tax cuts couldn't pay for all the additional spending piled up by double-crossing Democrats -- more than twice as much as Reagan's spending on defense.
Reagan's defense spending crushed the Soviet war machine. What did Tip O'Neill's domestic spending accomplish? (I mean, besides destroying the black family, increasing single motherhood and creating government bureaucracies that can never be eliminated.)
Unable to learn from the first kick of a mule, President George H.W. Bush made the exact same deal with Democrats just a few years later.
Pretending to care about the deficit -- created exclusively by their own profligate spending -- Democrats demanded that Bush agree to a "balanced budget" package with both spending cuts and tax increases.
In June 1990, Bush did so, agreeing to tax hikes in defiance of his "read-my-lips, no-new-taxes" campaign pledge.
Again, Democrats, being Democrats, produced no spending cuts, and within two years the increased federal spending had led to a doubling of the deficit.
The Democrats didn't care: All that mattered was that they had tricked Bush into breaking his tax pledge, which they celebrated all the way to Bush's defeat in the next election.
On CNN's "Crossfire," then-congressman Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., gloated: "All the spin control in the world can't undo the fact that the president is moving away from (no new) taxes."
An article on the front page of The New York Times proclaimed that "with his three words, ('tax revenue increases') Mr. Bush had broken the central promise of his 1988 campaign."
As the next presidential campaign got under way, CNN interviewed a "Reagan Democrat," who said: "Bush says, 'Read my lips.' Remember when he said that? We got taxes anyway. Clinton says, I will raise your taxes because we have to do something about that national debt."
Democrats had effectively taken away the Republican Party's central defining issue -- low taxes -- and the Republicans got nothing in return.
(I take that back: We got a stained blue dress for the Smithsonian. So, an OK trade.)
On the campaign trail, Bill Clinton taunted Bush for breaking his tax pledge, saying, "He promised 15 million new jobs, no new taxes, the environmental president, an education presidency. It was a wonderful speech. But now we don't have to read his lips; we can read his record."
Apparently, Republicans can read the Democrats' record, too. They know that Democrats will promise to cut spending in exchange for tax increases and then screw Republicans on the spending cuts.
It's been 20 years since they pulled that scam, so Democrats figure it's time to make Republicans break a tax pledge again. As long as no one knows the history of these "deals," the media can carry on, blithely portraying Republicans as obstructionist nuts for refusing the third kick of a mule.