5 Reasons Why Ronald Reagan Should Never Be on the $50 Bill

Putting Reagan on the $50
Reagan on the 50: A Tribute to Deficit Spending
For years Republicans have been trying to get former president Ronald Reagan’s face on United States currency. The latest effort is being spearheaded by Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), who has proposed legislation that would replace Grant with Reagan on the $50 bill, but here are five reasons why Ronald Reagan should never be on the fifty or any other United States currency.

In a statement, Rep. McHenry said, “Every generation needs its own heroes. One decade into the 21st century, it’s time to honor the last great president of the 20th and give President Reagan a place beside Presidents Roosevelt and Kennedy. President Reagan was a modern day statesman, whose presidency transformed our nation’s political and economic thinking. Through both his domestic and international policies he renewed America’s self confidence, defeated the Soviets and taught us that each generation must provide opportunity for the next. ”

As you can see, McHenry’s argument is based on the typical Republican deification of Ronald Reagan. The problem is that the myth doesn’t match up with the facts. Here are 5 reasons why Ronald Reagan does not deserve to be on the $50 dollar bill.

1). The size of the federal government exploded under Ronald Reagan

The Republican myth is that Reagan shrunk the size of the federal government, but this is not true. In fact, it is blatantly false. It was reported as early as 1988 that the size of the federal government had grown by 7% under Ronald Reagan. Also, government became a larger percentage of GDP under Reagan than it had previously been. When defense spending is included on the Reagan resume, the size of the federal government grew by 90% during the Reagan years, so much for small government conservatism.

2). Reagan did not end the Cold War

The popular argument for Reagan with Republicans is that Ronnie ended the Cold War, but that is debatable. As David Greenberg wrote in 2003, “Though few Americans realized it, by the mid-1970s the Soviet system was collapsing. Its aggressive acts of that era, like its invasion of Afghanistan, turned out not to be harbingers of a renewed Red menace but the last gasps of a tottering power. Yet Reagan’s coterie of hawkish advisers foresaw only an unending struggle.” Reagan read the Cold War wrong. In his second term, Reagan was pragmatic and tried to negotiate peace and an abolition of nuclear weapons with the Soviet Union. This is a part of his legacy that his worshipers often forget.

3). Budget Deficits

It is in vogue for Republicans to now moan about the Obama administration adding to the budget deficit, but they are ignoring the fact that the most permanent legacy of the Reagan presidency is debt. When Ronald Reagan took office the deficit was $94 billion, and federal debt was $930 billion, in two years he increased the deficit to $208 billion, and by 1988 the deficit was $2.6 trillion. Ronald Reagan’s tax cut and spend policies dug the United States a hole that it may never climb out of.

4). Iran Contra

As a rule of thumb, the presidents immortalized on our currency should not be involved in secret deals to sale arms to Iran in exchange for the release of hostages. It is debatable how much Reagan actually knew about this, or if he was in charge. At worst, Reagan was engaged in criminal activity if he was the head of this illegal activity. At best, Reagan was half out of it due to Alzheimer’s, and spend the second part of his final term as little more than a figurehead. Either way, this was not heroic presidential behavior.

5). Ronald Reagan’s Lasting Legacy

Most great presidents leave a lasting legislative legacy, but Ronald Reagan did not. His legacy was an ideological slashing of social programs that led to a jump in homelessness, and the mentally ill turned out into the streets. Reagan’s presidency was more rhetoric than substance. Reagan opened the door for out of control deficit spending, while overseeing any era where the gap between the have and have not grew. The Reagan presidency was a tribute to the failure of trickledown economics, and people should not confuse the popularity of the man, with the success of his presidency.

17 Replies to “5 Reasons Why Ronald Reagan Should Never Be on the $50 Bill”

  1. They should put Reagan on credit cards instead.

    Or maybe a trillion dollar federal reserve note comemorating his record deficits and depicting Reagan selling US babies into a lifetime of slavery to anational bankers.

  2. How about Reagan’s portrait on that toilet paper that looks like money? After all, he was a $hitty president!

  3. I disagree, he pulled America out of one of the biggest financial crises ever and hugely benefitted the country. I believe he should at least be on some currency.

  4. D.J. , wasn’t Reagan involved with the “Savings and Loan scandal” as an accessory ? Or perhaps it was his main manipulator again , G.H.W. Bush et al .

    Reagan seemed like a likable fellow ,although may have been mentally entrenched in a imaginary good guy / bad guy script that clouded his ability to discern the real world . His proxy involvement in mass murder , torture , death squads , terrror and fostering the incubus of “Iran -Contra” , may delight the likes of Oliver North , his band of cocaine cowboys and gangster spooks … however , shouldn’t the honor of being on our currency be given to some one that doesn’t have the blood of so many innocents on his hands ?

  5. so…what’s the argument against Grant? I agree that Reagan was a terrible president. My childhood was spent watching my family’s socio-economic status decline for the years he was in office. I think that in order to remove someone from our currency there should be good reason. If idiot conservatives want to justify Reagan on the 50, they should have to justify why Grant should not be on it.

  6. Some Southerners think Grant should be removed from the $50 bill because he was directly responsible for their greatest defeat: the (as they call it) War of Northern Aggression. He was a drunken lout, unlike the genteel gentlemen leading the Southern army. Or so some believe– personally, I don’t care how fall-down a drunk he was: he helped win the Civil War. That should be enough.

    Back in late 2003 or early 2004, conservatives wanted to replace President Roosevelt’s head on the dime with President Reagan’s, and Mrs. Reagan put the absolute smack down and helped get that proposal withdrawn. They tried again with the $50 in 2005; it never made it out of committee. This is just the next attempt to continue the conservative attempts at effecting the apotheosis of President Reagan.

  7. @D.J.,

    How about a $3 bill? It’s as bogus as Reagan.

    I don’t see how running up a huge deficit is saving us from a big financial crisis.

  8. Reagan should be on the 10 000 dollar bill.

    That way, the only people that have to see him are the people that actually benefited from his presidency: the ultra-rich, drug dealers, and arms dealers

  9. Revisionist history?
    No other President ran up the dept like RR (Oh wait except Obama)
    Lord Obama says we have to run a deficit to save the economy… (Didn’t RR do that?)
    If you remember (too much weed??) RR inherited years of double digit unemployment and Interest rates for the Great Jimmy Carter. How many people lost their homes when interest rates went up to 15% (and we thought 2-3% increase was bad under Bush) The RR recovery/economic boom went well into the Clinton era; which was good since he was busy with Monica. Oh by the way RR did trigger the end of the cold war…. He didn’t get a Nobel prize for that like Obama did for ……doing NOTHING…
    Also… Wasn’t it during the Clinton era Welfare reform was implemented… damaging the socio-economic status of many people who lived of the government for generations?

  10. I- in no way whatsoever- support the face of Ronald Reagan on any currency except Monopoly money. But, I would not be opposed to replacing the face of Grant either. The man was a drunk, a miserable tactician who only won the Civil War by sending thousands of young men- most fresh immigrants- to their deaths, an anti-semite, and a most crooked politician.

  11. @Timotron, Agreed. Unless there’s a reason that Grant doesn’t deserve his place on the $50 then the idea of replacing him should have never been brought up.

  12. @D.J., in denial, eh?

    Just Google search for historical federal deficits and cash flow from the 70s through the 90s. Guess when the worst financial crisis occurred? 1982 to 1992.

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