Dems embrace (and GOP rejects) Reagan

The House Democratic Caucus unveiled a new video this morning about the need for Congress to do the right thing on the debt ceiling. The clip isn’t exactly what I would have expected.

For those who can’t watch online, the video features a weekly radio address from President Reagan, during his presidency, delivered in September 1987. Reagan was apparently growing tired of the very possibility that lawmakers would balk at their responsibilities.

“Congress consistently brings the Government to the edge of default before facing its responsibility,” he told the nation. “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 last part should resonate with those who care about “American exceptionalism” — exceptional countries pay their bills.

The point of the video, of course, is to drive home the point that this is no longer the party of Reagan. Indeed, Republicans in 2011 recognize the Reagan legacy and deliberately reject it. These are folks who claim to have a religious-like reverence for “Ronaldus Magnus,” but have no use for his style of governance.

Just two weeks ago, a House Republican went so far as to dismiss Reagan as a “moderate, former liberal” who “would never be elected today.”

I continue to be fascinated by this, in large part because the GOP, almost literally, worships Reagan, and yet, has no use for his beliefs or the way in which he approached his responsibilities.

The video from the House Democratic Caucus seems to be an effort to needle Republicans over this. It won’t work, of course, but I’d be delighted if it at least led to some questions for GOP lawmakers, asking them to explain why they’re right to pursue default while Reagan was wrong.