Think Progress Spins Revisionist Ronald Reagan History

"If Obama spent like Reagan, the deficit would be much, much higher."

On Ronald Reagan's 103 birthday, Think Progress, the progressive website run by John Podesta's Center For American Progress took a revisionist view of the political positions of the 40th President. In an article called "7 Things Republicans Would Be Shocked To Learn About Ronald Reagan," Think Progress uses half-truths to suggest Reagan was a supporter of many progressive policies ranging from Obamacare to taxing the rich, and lastly big government.

The article claims that Reagan paved the way for Obamacare:

Reagan’s health policy previewed Obamacare in three major ways. First, Reagan signed Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), the law barring hospitals from turning away patients on grounds of their insurance or citizenship — a preview of Obamacare’s ban on insurance discrimination against individuals with preexisting conditions. Second, Reagan doubled the size of Medicaid over the course of his presidency to pay for all of those new uninsured patients — a huge Obamacare-style Medicaid expansion. Third, Reagan pushed something called Diagnosis Related Groups (DRGs), which essentially had the government set the prices Medicare was willing to pay for each Medicare admission rather than pay for reimburse doctors per cost. DRGs cut Medicare costs by $49 billion by 1986, proving a promising trial for the sorts of Medicare payment reform policies you can find in Obamacare.

It is a huge stretch to say barring hospitals from turning away patients on grounds of their insurance or citizenship has anything to do with forcing insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions.

Reagan was not even close to being a supporter of government run heath care. He even created a record album laying out his case against "socialized medicine" (excerpted in the video above).

The article claims that Reagan outspent Obama:

If Obama spent like Reagan, the deficit would be much, much higher.

This one is an outright lie. In his eight years as President, Reagan added almost $1.7 trillion to the deficit. In just his first term Barack Obama has added more than $5.7 trillion to the deficit, more than any other president in history.

Think Progress rightly claims Reagan "Dealt with Russia to build a world free of nuclear weapons," but it leaves out the fact that, unlike Obama, Reagan increased defense spending to the point that the Soviet Union couldn't keep up and that's what drove Gorbachev to the table. Also Reagan refused to give up the "star wars" program, and President Obama conceded it to the Russians without securing a quid pro quo. 

There was one area that Think Progress got 100% correct in that it claims Reagan did support bills that included amnesty for illegal immigrants. In fact, it was that program's failure to stem the tide of Illegal entrance into the United States that motivates the Republican insistence on securing the borders before anything else is done on immigration.