Robert Knight

The Titanic went down 100 years ago, on April 15, 1912. It took just two hours and forty minutes for the sea to swallow the ship that “God Himself couldn’t sink.”

It’s taken longer – a few decades – to sink the United States under massive debt, but we’re not at the sea bottom – yet. What happens in November may well determine whether that happens.

Politicians often cloak themselves in the mantle of statesmen from other eras who exemplified virtues that they lack. Barack Obama, like other politicians who sense Americans’ deep appreciation of Ronald Reagan, is now out there invoking the Gipper. It’s like Pee Wee Herman quoting Chuck Norris.

On April 11, Obama invoked Reagan’s statement in 1985 to a high school audience about the injustice of a bus driver paying 10 percent of his income in taxes while a millionaire used loopholes to pay nothing. Of course, under a truly fair tax, the millionaire would pay the same rate, but more dollars. Mr. Reagan did close some loopholes, and lowered tax rates across the board. His reforms were not remotely akin to Obama-style income redistribution.

Mr. Obama tried to make Mr. Reagan the inspiration for “the Buffett rule,” a proposal to soak people making a million or more that is named after investor and tax dodger Warren Buffett. “Some years ago,” Mr. Obama said, “one of my predecessors traveled across the country pushing for the same concept. … That wild-eyed socialist, tax-hiking class warrior was Ronald Reagan. …If it will help convince folks in Congress to make the right choice, we could call it the Reagan Rule instead of the Buffett Rule.”

Mr. Obama ignored the fact that Mr. Reagan cut the top tax rate from 70 percent to 28 percent, and turned around a moribund economy by reversing progressive tax disincentives to investment and job creation.

Unlike Mr. Obama, he did not have an adoring, sycophantic press. In a speech last October at Hillsdale College, historian Andrew Roberts said,

“The defining feature of Ronald Reagan was his moral courage. It takes tremendous moral courage to resist the overwhelming tide of received opinion and so-called expert wisdom and to say and do exactly the opposite.”

When air traffic controllers went on strike in 1981, challenging the new president’s mettle, Reagan fired 11,000 of them. The sky did not fall. Nor did any planes.

Robert Knight

Robert Knight is an author, senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a frequent contributor to Townhall.