The Los Angeles Times' George Skelton writes that we should celebrate not the Ronald Reagan of conservative mythology, but the real politician who knew how to cut a deal and work pragmatically to solve problems.
Reagan knew it was his duty as chief executive to conserve the institution of government, even as he constantly talked about shrinking it but never could.
Sacramento definitely could benefit today from Reagan's pragmatism and politics. He'd solve the $25-billion budget deficit and not lose a minute's sleep. He would cut spending, but also raise taxes without hesitation.
That's what he did his first year as governor in 1967. Faced with red ink left by Democratic Gov. Pat Brown, Reagan raised taxes by nearly $1 billion, equal to roughly 30% of the state general fund, still a modern record.
During Reagan's tour in Sacramento, the maximum income tax rate increased from 7% to 11% and more people were shoved into higher brackets. Corporation taxes nearly doubled. The sales tax climbed. So did the tax on banks. Some of this paid for property tax relief.
Ronald Reagan raised taxes when necessary: both in Sacramento and in Washington, D.C. This Ronald Reagan would not be lionized by his party. He would undoubtedly face a primary challenge from the right.
That is how radical conservatives have become. Their Ronaldus Magnus would not be welcomed into their ever smaller tent.