Balance - New England

A blog devoted, in part, to pointing out pieces of truth, injustice and those little-known stories that don't necessarily make the headlines, but demand our attention nevertheless.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Reagan's Lies Will Live On, Too

The following are excerpts from an article written by George Hesselberg which I think presents an interesting perspective on the 40th President of the United States:

"Ronald Reagan, with his twinkling eyes and rouged cheeks, had a way of making people feel good, though there were often some hidden costs involved.

The exaggerations continue, even after his death."

"Besides spawning a couple of generations of right-wingers whose idea of public service was to find a way to cut benefits to poor people, Reagan gave astrologers some short-term credibility and was the best speech-giver the White House has ever seen.

(And while he was a hero to some of the elderly, he also, in 1983, signed into law a bill taxing Social Security benefits and increasing the retirement age.)"

"It [a list of Reagan's lies] was included in the September 2003 Washington Monthly, which printed a few of Reagan's doozies: His 1980 statement that "trees cause more pollution than automobiles do," his claim that he had served as a photographer in a U.S. Army unit assigned to film Nazi death camps (he never left Hollywood), and his claim in 1986 that "we did not, repeat, did not, trade weapons or anything else for hostages, nor will we."

But the whopper that became legend, and was used to usher in welfare policy changes, is the story of the "welfare queen" living a life of lavish leisure while collecting welfare.

Reagan frequently told a version of the story in speeches, beginning in 1976, of the "Chicago welfare queen" who had 80 names, 30 addresses, 12 Social Security cards, and collected benefits for "four nonexisting husbands," bilking the government out of "over $150,000."

Suddenly, the enduring image of a person on welfare became a black woman in a mink coat driving a Cadillac to pick up her welfare checks.

The real "Chicago welfare queen" used two aliases to collect $8,000 and didn't get away with it."

"The media tried to debunk it [Reagan's "welfare queen" lie], but it had mutated into common knowledge by the time a newspaper reporter, David Zucchino, of the Philadelphia Inquirer, spent a year with two welfare mothers in that city. The result in 1996 was a highly praised book, "The Myth of the Welfare Queen."

Click HERE to read the article in full.