Ted Kleine, reviewing the Ronald Reagan biography, Dutch [October 29], claims that Reagan charmed America into accepting Reaganomics, which Kleine characterized as "the ludicrous theory that cutting taxes would increase revenues to the treasury."
I know that bashing Reagan is a favorite sport in many circles, so I apologize in advance for introducing the following uncomfortable facts. In fiscal 1981, federal budget receipts totaled $599.3 billion. In 1989, federal budget receipts totaled $991.2 billion. That's amounts to an increase of $391.9 billion, or about 65 percent. (Figures courtesy of the Congressional Budget Office's Web site.) Ludicrous, ain't it?
Nicholas J. Kaster
Ted Kleine replies:
Mr. Kaster's figures are correct, though it should be noted that federal revenues have increased every year since 1959, with the exception of one year: 1983. What I should have called ludicrous was Reagan's contention that the government could cut taxes and increase defense spending without creating a budget deficit. The deficit increased from $78.9 billion to $153 billion during Reagan's presidency, while the national debt swelled from $997 billion to $2.8 trillion. Generations of Americans will be working to pay back the money Reagan borrowed to fatten the wallets of defense contractors.