News Release

From Reagan to Now: Assessing Domestic Policies


Author of the book Straight, No Chaser: How I Became a Grown-Up Black Woman, Nelson is critical of “the current orgy of accolades” for Reagan. She said today: “On civil rights Reagan was a complete disaster. He tried to gut the Civil Rights Commission, to stop the extension of the Voting Rights Act in 1982. His administration was relentless in its attacks on affirmative action. Not only did he nominate Robert Bork to the U.S. Supreme Court, but he got an incredible number of white male right-wingers onto the judiciary. He tried to grant tax-exempt status to segregated Bob Jones University; he created the fictional ‘welfare queen’ to attack the poorest and most in need in our society. He was a master at making it seem as though, if he thought something was a certain way, it was that way — and he succeeded in hypnotizing a significant portion of the U.S. public. Much of this laid the groundwork for the right-wing takeover of our government and democracy that we see in the current administration.”

Milano has been living with HIV since 1981 and has been a member of ACT UP/NY since 1988. He said today: “Even though the Centers for Disease Control announced the first AIDS cases six months into Reagan’s term, he never even said the word AIDS publicly until 1987. His inaction and bigotry against gays and drug users led to tens of thousands of deaths — deaths which might have been avoided if he had taken action earlier. The current administration is continuing his awful legacy, de-funding condom education and giving mere lip service to the fight against global AIDS.”
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Co-author of the book Raise The Floor: Wages and Policies That Work For All Of Us and author of the book Washington’s War on Nicaragua, Sklar said today: “Ronald Reagan was a master at the con game George W. Bush calls compassionate conservatism. Reagan gave us big tax cuts for the wealthy, big hikes in military spending and big budget deficits. In the words of Reagan budget director David Stockman, ‘Greed came to the forefront. The hogs were really feeding.’ Reagan’s debts were paid with payroll tax hikes and painful cutbacks in education, healthcare and other crucial programs. Bush wants even bigger millionaire tax cuts and government debt to starve public services now and in the future. Reagan brought us the Iran-contra scandal. Bush is even more reckless than Reagan — from Iraq to civil liberties to the environment.”
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Slaughter authored the book Concessions and How to Beat Them and writes extensively on labor. She said today: “Reagan’s firing of the air traffic controllers set the tone for labor relations for a decade. It signaled to employers that they could aggressively seek concessions from their workforce. Today, we see Bush targeting union membership for government employees and overtime pay for workers.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167