When former Congressman Dan Rostenkowski (D-IL) passed away this week, Fox Chicago News's political editor Mike Flannery described the late Ways and Means committee chairman as 'a giant of Chicago politics, remembered and beloved for negotiating legislation that helped create projects all over the state." Rostenkowski did indeed bring home the pork. But Flannery also writes that the congressman "was as responsible as anyone but Ronald Reagan for the 'Reagan tax cuts' of (the) early '80s."
In an accompanying video on Fox Chicago's Web site, Flannery recalls (at about 4:30) speaking to Rostenkowski and House Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill (D-MA) in the first days of Reagan's presidency. They said that Reagan had been elected and "we're going to give him what he wants. He told us the number one thing is this tax deal and they said we're going to work with him."
Rostenkowski and O'Neill vigorously worked against President Reagan's plans. Neither of them joined the 48 Democrats who voted in July, 1981 for tax reduction. The day after the tax cuts passed in the House, David Rogers of the Boston Globe reported:
"Mr. President, you're tough," Ways and Means Committee chairman Dan Rostenkowski told Reagan in a telephone call after the House vote, and for the Chicago Democrat and his friend Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill Jr., the defeat was a bitter end to a raw partisan fight which the leadership had hoped would give it a much-needed victory over the President.
Rowland Evans and Robert Novak wrote:
Nevertheless, in his gracious speech to the House Wednesday, Rostenkowski pledged to campaign against the right through steeper graduation of taxes "as long as I'm chairman."
In his considerably-less-than-gracious speech closing Wednesday's debate, Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill showed he had learned nothing. Beginning by calling this "a great day for the aristocracy," he claimed the nation's big corporations had artificially stimulated that flow of telephone calls to congressional offices. To the very end, Tip O'Neill could not believe that the people really prefer lower taxes to bigger government.
Dan Rostenkowski was as responsible as anyone but Ronald Reagan for the "Reagan tax cuts" of the early '80s? Only in the rewritten history books of the mainstream media.