Celebrating the Reagan Legacy

By Kristen Johnson

Today California celebrates Ronald Reagan Day. I grew up under Reagan’s Presidency, but I was too little to remember much. As a Liberal, I’m unimpressed by what history has to say about his legacy on things like economics, healthcare (particularly mental health cuts), reaction (or lack thereof) to the AIDS crisis, tax reductions and ensuing economic damage, etc. But, a little digging and we can find a few policies and actions from the Reagan years to love:


  • When Reagan was Governor of California, he created the air resources board, and he protected California’s wilderness from dams and highways. (The Guardian).
  • He signed the Montreal Protocol that clamped down on pollution worldwide that was tearing a hole in the ozone layer. (Think Progress.)


  • Reagan paved the way for Obamacare by signing into law a policy that would no longer allow hospitals to turn away patients on grounds of their insurance or citizenship.
  • He doubled the size of Medicaid. (Think Progress).

Social programs:

  • He built up taxes to fund social security and he funded the newly created Department of Veteran Affairs. (Think Progress).

Human Rights and other Interesting Factoids:

  • He increased the federal workforce by 324,000 people.
  • He provided amnesty for almost 3 million undocumented people.
  • He signed the Brady gun law.
  • He signed on to collective bargaining for local government workers. (The Guardian).
  • He appointed the first female Supreme Court Justice. (UCSB).

(Reagan): “Rather than making them, of talking about putting up a fence, why don’t we work out some recognition of our mutual problems, make it possible for them to come here legally with a work permit, and then, while they’re working and earning here, they pay taxes here. And when they want to go back they can go back, and cross. And open the border both ways, by understanding their problems. This is the only safety valve they have right now, with that unemployment, that probably keeps the lid from blowing off…And I think we could have a fine relationship.” (Esquire).

Happy Ronald Reagan Day. 

Luke 3:11 (NRSV): In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.”

Serve all with love.

Photo courtesy of: stocksnap.io


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