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
Roland 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
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.