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A $50 Debate: Grant v. Reagan

Presidents Ulysses S. Grant and Ronald Reagan (AP images)

Ulysses S. Grant fought the Civil War and saved the Union. Ronald Reagan took on the Cold War and brought his “Morning in America.”

Now, a push in Congress would bump Grant off the fifty dollar bill, and put Reagan on. 

“Every generation needs its own heroes,” says the bill’s sponsor, North Carolina Republican Congressman Patrick McHenry. For him, Reagan Airport in Washington is not enough. He wants the fifty for the 4oth president. 

Weighing worthiness for a spot on the currency is tricky business. We give it a try.

This Hour, On Point: Reagan versus Grant, for the fifty dollar bill.


Sean Wilentz, professor of history at Princeton University. Author of “The Age of Reagan: A History, 1974-2008″ and “The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln.” He recently wrote a defense in the New York Times of keeping Ulysses S. Grant on the $50 bill.

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform and author of “Leave Us Alone – Getting the Government’s Hands off Our Money, Our Guns, Our Lives.”

Further thoughts:

On Point’s staff was playing around with what a new Ronald Reagan $50 bill might look like. It’s probably not up to U.S. Mint standards — and maybe an older Reagan would appear – but here’s one take:

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  • 75-cent coin

    OnPoint getting into the counterfeit business. Nice.

  • Brian A. Cobb

    To replace a mensch like Grant with a draft dodger like Reagan would be a travesty.

    Please feel free to contact me at brianallancobb@hotmail.com.

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    It really pissed me off when Washington National Airport was renamed “Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.”

    Reagan was a disaster as a President: Iran-Contra, the S & L crisis, the start of the deregulation that is continuing to cause problems and more. Reagan was the father of the modern “government is bad” movement.

    When Reagan died we got to watch history rewrite itself in real time, it was like none of these things ever happened.

    Next up: George W. Bush will be called “the second great communicator.”

  • Glenn

    Perhaps his picture could appear instead on a Ketchup bottle, to commemorate the declaration of Ketchup as a vegetable when it came to school lunches.

  • Nick

    I can not believe that people think Reagan was one of the ‘great’ presidents. I suppose it is because he was an actor and our TV educated and reared citizens thought he was a president.

    Let me remind those interested of these things that he is known for as a president:

    -Hostile take overs starting the reign of ruining American manufacturing businesses
    -Iran-Contra when we sold the terrorists
    -Saddam Hussein of IRAQ was our friend and we supported
    - S&L Crisis
    - The start of deregulation which continued to today’s economic problems
    -Unbelievable debt (This must be a REPUBLICAN trend)

    Should I go on?

    The only thing that would be positive is that Grant was probably a worse president than Reagan and most likely the worst ever until George W. Bush.


  • Gary

    I guess the criteria for nomination is the cut taxes and print money paradigm, and with the gobs of currency Reagan printed during his presidency he is nominated…and by that measure GWB would stand above them ALL.

  • Pam

    Reagan on a 50 dollar bill??? No, no, no, no, no, NO! I can’t begin to recite enough “no’s” to express my distaste for the whole idea!

    Seriously, this should be one of the signs that the apocalyse is nigh…

  • Gary

    …Whats going to be on the back of the bill? Perhaps a tranquil scene of a smiling Ollie North trading arms for hostages with the Ayatollah Khomeini in downtown Tehran.

  • Alex

    Too soon. He is too controvertial a President and the country is split right down the middle.

    Besides, what is so great about Reagan? He conquered Grenada? To the Republicans, he is a hero. So let them start their own GOP dollars and put his picture on them.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I don’t know what Grant’s role was in the “reconstruction” of the South and how it devolved into Jim Crow and lynching. But I notice a lot of “reconstruction” of his reputation; perhaps we’ll get to hear. I do think of him, by broad impression, as deeply rooted among the people, the reality of the people, alcoholic, in debt, writing his memoirs to keep his family afloat even as he was dying. I think of him as a polar opposite of a president who seems virtually placed by the monied and for the monied, like the movie stars for whom we vote by buying tickets. Hollywood has tried to buy virtue with huge concerts on behalf of one starving population or another, maybe starting with the Beatles going to Buddhist ashrams in order to, um, get right. But Reagan, regardless of penniless Depression-era roots, regardless of speaking of lifting all boats, regardless of seeing crack cocaine as a blight (it is), did not lessen the grip of drugs on certain communities, nor point us toward stability and equality. His career as governor would shed some light on his presidency.

  • Tom in DC

    Absolutely no x20 to putting Reagan on ANY bill. We are suffering the consequences of his legacy right now. I’m not a fan of Grant either, people don’t know much about him anyhow. How about a non-prez for the $50? Do we have an African-American on a bill yet? What about MLK? He was a great American and didn’t ruin us financially using war debt and deregulation.

  • frances

    Yeah! Put MLK on it! I second and third this idea. Let’s look to our history for real heroes, not jerks who had enough money to get elected.

  • Edith

    Oh please no! They can’t be serious! Ronald Reagan the actor’s picture on the fifty dollar bill? It looks like monopoly money.

    I agree with Richard. I too was really angry when they renamed Washington National.

    As for Reagan on the fifty dollar bill, whose idea is that anyway? Could it just be something suggested to stir up controversy for controversy’s sake?

    I never got Reagan. I suppose his appeal was that he made some people feel good with his lovely stories, many times which contrasted with reality. Let’s all go to sleep and pretend it’s the fifties again.

    I questioned his anti-government rhetoric. We went from being a people who could beat fascism, rebuild Europe, form influential international institutions, send people to the moon to a country where now “government can’t do anything”. I think it’s really sad. I would object to Reagan’s picture replacing Grant’s.

  • cory

    We’re just stupid. The Southern republican who proposed this really doesn’t have anything more important to deal with? We’re damned stupid.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I’d like MLK on some currency as well. And then we can let go of another holiday maybe. Sometimes I think we spend more days shopping than working, at least in my state. Hallmark cards, goodbye. And we’d get someone who represents conviction, struggle, bucking the currents, the arm-twisting of the president (in re Vietnam), faith … and by the way, eventual success (in some ways), after death. It would like reinstating a bit of heaven in our idea of life. The idea that our efforts may not be fulfilled nor resonate fully during our life; that’s a terribly poignant and important idea. An Easter idea, so to speak.

  • Josh

    Put him on the penny…

    Would we really pick a new President and completely skip over FDR? An earlier comment raised the idea of making an MLK bill. In all seriousness, why not put a major civil rights leader on one of our bills? Though I’d much rather see somebody like Thurgood Marshall than MLK. Reagan’s view on civil rights was pretty much deplorable (he opposed the voting rights act of 1965, for example, and even spoke against it in 1980 to get votes from southern whites). In addition to all the other “mishaps” mentioned, I see no real justification for this.

  • Tom in Austin

    Reagan? He was an actor. What did he actually DO that was great? He gave us the largest deficits in history (up to that point), the highest national debt, ketchup as a vegetable, untold greed on Wall Street, homelessness and soaring crime rates. Conservatives try to credit him with the fall of the Soviet Empire. The truth is, though, the Soviet Empire was in shambles before he even took office.

  • Todd

    “Ronald Reagan the actor’s picture on the fifty dollar bill? It looks like monopoly money.”
    Posted by Edith

    It may as well be monopoly money; both are merely paper and ink, backed by NOTHING of value.

    NO! to Reagan on the $50 bill. The less I have to see Reagan’s ugly mug the better.

  • Michael

    MLK is an awesome idea.

  • John

    Shouldn’t this have aired last Thursday?

  • jonah

    Let me see if I have this right; replace the dude who had a major responsibility for winning the war that resulted in the end of slavery with the dude who made a point of announcing his run for president in Philedephia, Miss, renowned for its violence towards african-americans during the civil rights struggle.


  • Pete

    Although I think Reagan was a great president, it’s too soon to consider him for placement on any kind of money.
    Despite the comments here, he always does well in polls ranking Presidential greatness (usually falling within the top five to ten). However, there needs to be more distance from the end of his administration for people to be seeing his mug every time they open their wallet. Give it fifty years for some objectivity to seep in and then see how he holds up historically.

    Maybe your guests can comment on the amount of time that has passed before other presidents found their kisser on
    our cash.

  • cory

    I have an idea. Let’s just put the number “50″ on the fifty dollar bill and argue about something else. Let the uber capitalists fund a gigantic statue of Reagan and put it on a piece of private property where it can be worshipped by those so inclined. Let’s not play cult of personality.

  • cory

    History and facts are not on your side if you believe Reagan was responsible for the collapse of the Soviet Union.

  • Kash Hoffa

    How about putting Reagan’s picture on a $50 Debt instrument? Wouldn’t that be more suitable?


  • Kash Hoffa

    How about putting Reagan’s picture on a $50 debt instrument (like a savings bond)? I think his smiling mug would immediately convey a sense of debt to anyone.

  • Joe E.

    Just say no.

  • Sandy Erstwile

    How about using Reagan’s mug on printed debt instruments? His legacy of deficit spending and deregulation in the financial sector should go well with the notion of debt.

  • S B

    Aw come on you guys as I wrote on FB
    “Soon a $50 bill will be worth about 50 cents and HIS face will be the perfect reminder when you need 50 bucks to by a bag of flour! (assuming you can find a bag of flour that is…)

  • Larry

    Reagen set out to destroy America for all but the very rich. And started us down that path.

    It’s criminal this is even a thought.

  • miro

    Maybe the picture on the bill could also include Bonzo the chimp.

    Why dignifiy this moronic suggestion with a radio show?

    They should rename the airport Washington National.

  • http://www.startinghome.com Pike

    What we really need is a larger than life statue of Grant erected in Raleigh, NC and every other southern state capital. We should also replace Andrew Jackson with MLK.

  • Larry

    …Whats going to be on the back of the bill? Perhaps a tranquil scene of a smiling Ollie North trading arms for hostages with the Ayatollah Khomeini in downtown Tehran.
    Posted by Gary

    Gary you are a card. But so true. You left out the death squads however. Maybe they should be on the front of the bill with the old gipper.

  • Larry

    What the h*ll has Grover Norquest ever done that we should have to listen to his spew?

  • Terry

    Perhaps if there’s an IOU for $50

  • Justin

    I’m not surprised that a Southern congressman would love to replace Ulysses Grant with Ronald Reagan-it figures!

  • BHA

    There is NO WAY I support replacing Grant with Reagan. Put him on the $3 bill instead.

    As far as I’m concerned, Washington National is still Washington National, the code is still DCA.

  • Mark Engle

    What a crazy idea. The guy most responsible for the economic collapse on the money? Who are you people kidding. The rehab Reagan movement goes too far.

  • Larry

    “Grant was one of the worst presidents in US history.”

    So it’s just an update by putting Reagen on it?

  • Mike G

    I’m OK with putting Reagan on the $50 if we can put Clinton on the $20!

  • alan rastellini

    grover norquist…..an abramoff crimminal who wants to replace the hero of the civil war with a president that ran an illegal war and traded arms/drugs with our enemies in iran. norquist is a liar, crimminal and reprehensible human being whose opinion should not be sought or given over to an npr microphone.

    this is the south still fighting the war until slavery is restored or as the tea baggers say until they get thier country back.

  • http://jims-ramblings.blogspot.com/ James Bullard

    Reagan on money? Let’s follow the British idea of half pennies. That’s where Ron belongs not on a $50 bill.

  • Mr. E

    What about FDR instead? He got us through the depression and WWII and all he got was the dime? Conservative babble aside, Regan was simply not that significant a president. This coming from someone who was a big Regan supporter in his day!

  • John

    We should put Mohamed on it. Imagine the chaos that would stir up.


    I’m curious as to why some of the presidents who were against having a US Central Bank are on Federal Reserve notes/currency.. ex: McKinnley, Jackson, Lincoln (greenbacks, but he should be on money), Jefferson, etc…

  • Patti

    Nixon, Ford and Carter won scant praise for addressing the systemic challenges of America’s oil dependence, environmental degradation, the arms race, and nuclear proliferation – all issues that Reagan essentially ignored and that now threaten America’s future.

    With his superficially sunny disposition – and a ruthless political strategy of exploiting white-male resentments – Reagan convinced millions of Americans that the threats they faced were: African-American welfare queens, Central American leftists, a rapidly expanding Evil Empire based in Moscow, and the do-good federal government.

    When it came to cutting back on America’s energy use, Reagan’s message could be boiled down to the old reggae lyric, “Don’t worry, be happy.” Rather than pressing Detroit to build smaller, fuel-efficient cars, Reagan made clear that the auto industry could manufacture gas-guzzlers without much nagging from Washington. The same with the environment. Reagan intentionally staffed the Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior Department with officials who were hostile toward regulation aimed at protecting the environment. George W. Bush didn’t invent Republican hostility toward scientific warnings of environmental calamities; he was just picking up where Reagan left off.

    If Grant is to be removed from the $50 bill, I think honoring Dr. Martin Luther King would be a much better choice, than Ronald Reagan.

  • Bob Campbell

    In 1980, the US was the leading lender nation. By 1988 we were the leading debtor nation. Putting the face of the man who gave us voodoo economics and uncontrolled deficit spending on the fifty would be ironic in the extreme, if not downright insulting.

  • Larry

    Please remember people it is your duty to teach your children the truth.

    Don’t let the Right rewrite our history.

    Reagon was a buster of unions, enactor of massive tax cuts for the rich, started us on the path of outsourcing, stole our social security money and broke the laws of our land.

  • miro

    Maybe this is simply a transparent ploy for southern conservatives to remove their military nemesis, Ullyses S. Grant, from the currency.

    They are still fighting the Civil War, by other means.

  • http://www.glsweetnam.com G. Leslie Sweetam

    Yankees think the War to Save the Union is over, but Southerners, like the Senator from the Carolinas, fight on. They don’t dare go after Lincoln, but too few know that, without Grant, Lee would have won the war. The man saved our country from the secessionists and the Republicans, ever wooing the South, want to kick him out of sight. Regan’s face is just a way to gather northern allies.

  • Jim

    This seems like an attempt by a Southern senator to diminish the accomplishments of a Union general. Nice try, but it won’t work!

  • Gregg

    It would make more sense to put Reagan on a treasury bond.

  • Erica Blair

    It’s really not surprising that southerners would like replace U.S. Grant from our currency, considering his courage in opposing their ancestors who wanted to continue to sip home brew on their front deck while people taken from their villages in another continent did their work for them.

    President Grant is really not the issue – it is the demise of the fascists who wish to control the government of the people with lies and cash from overpaid financial, insurance, petrochemical, military industrialist executives – the ruling class, the ivory tower hoodlums. They want to point to one of their own as a national savior when not one of them deserves anything more than a long prison term.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Talk about convoluted sentences by a guest. The post-Civil War Johnson was working with the defeated Southern leaders AGAINST the freemen’s rights, but Ulysses Grant worked vigorously to reverse that?
    I think that’s what I heard. But I think I WANTED to hear that. Am I right? Or was the Reconstruction all downhill, including Grant?

  • Larry

    grover norquist…..an abramoff crimminal who wants to replace the hero of the civil war with a president that ran an illegal war and traded arms/drugs with our enemies in iran. norquist is a liar, crimminal and reprehensible human being whose opinion should not be sought or given over to an npr microphone.
    Posted by alan

    These criminals like Norquist and Rove and Cheney and Yoo need to be shouted down with the truth everyone they go in this country and every form they speak on.

    The people of America will not let your lies go unchallenged.

  • Richard Williams


  • Fred

    I find this kind of ironic After the Civil War the Southern call was that they will rise again perhaps Grover Norquist should be a general in that army

    On NPR June 10, 2004 Reagan, the South and Civil Rights
    by Juan Williams
    To many it sounded like code for announcing himself as the candidate for white segregationists. After he defeated President Carter, a native Southerner, Reagan led an administration that seemed to cater to Southerners still angry over the passage of the Civil Rights Act after 16 years. The Reagan team condemned busing for school integration, opposed affirmative action and even threatened to veto a proposed extension of the Voting Rights Act (the sequel to the 1964 Civil Rights Act passed a year later and focused on election participation). President Reagan also tried to allow Bob Jones University, a segregated Southern school, to reclaim federal tax credits that had long been denied to racially discriminatory institutions.

  • Evan

    I’ve recently started reading Grant’s Memoirs and I cant believe that people want to remove a president from currency who did so much for our nation! America hung in the balance during the Civil War and Grant led us to victory! How can we forget about that effort for our country?

  • Newton

    Ronald Reagan nearly quadrupled the national debt, and raised it by a larger percentage than any president since WWII.

    He transformed America from the world’s largest creditor nation to the world’s largest debtor nation.

    Put him on the fifty, are you crazy? He did more thn enough harm to America’s economy.

  • BHA

    Why don’t we just skip over Reagan and put George W. Bush’s puss on the $50. He did a wonderful job of continuing Reagan’s “make the rich richer at the expense of the poor and middle class” trickle down economics. Add ratcheting up the national debt with huge deficit spending and ‘hiding’ the hit to the annual deficit caused by the the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by not putting them in the budget.


    notice how grover takes the op to attack obama. he is a gop hack and a crimminal.

  • Larry

    This hour is so funny.

    The US is going to have to reissue our currency soon anyhow and I’ll bet Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan Chase and Citigroup and UnitedHealth Group and Aetna and Halliburton and Boeing and Northrop Grumman will be on the currency since they are the ones that really run this country.

  • Brian

    Why do Republicans love the Confederacy so much?

  • Larry

    The Soviet Union went bankrupt fighting a war in Afghanistan Grover.

    Sound familiar?

  • Susan Harrison

    So many people have already commented, and I can only second the majority of opinion that I have read – Deregulation, Iran-Contra, and so much more – Regan was a horrible president, who has had lasting impact – that does not make a great president, and he certainly should not be honored. This should not even be newsworthy.

    If someone in the “news” would truly look back at his press conferences, they would see that he obviously had Alzheimer’s disease, while in office. He was an actor who could learn lines, but he was incapable of independent and spontaneous answers.

    Please stop elevating him to a place he does not belong! It is pure spin.

  • Michael

    Those who would honor Ronnie Raygun should start a movement for another bit of currency–I suggest the $3 bill. Yeah, I recall the item about catsup being called a ‘vegetable’ in school lunches and an Esquire cover around 1982 with Reagan in a cowboy getup with the caption, “We Warned You About Him.” Many marines will never forget Oct 1983 when their barracks at the Beirut Airport was blown up, killing over 250 marines. The Sec of State Schultz overrode the USMC Commandant and the marine general in the area about the danger of putting marines on low ground. Reagan bowed to Schultz and the result was a massacre.

  • Jim Sommers

    Leave Grant on the $50. Create a trillion dollar bill and put Reagan’s picture on that. He is the first to lead the public debt over a trillion with his contribution being
    1,604,482,712,041.16 (Bureau of Public Debt)

  • Glenn

    I would not want Reagan on the $50.
    However, I would support putting George W. Bush on the I.O.U.

  • Steve T

    Just plain stupid! Now we know what congress is doing.

    With the problems facing America, they have time to actually debate this or even giving it consideration is totally mind boggling.

    Keep your hands off the money, and get back to work, getting America back to work, so we can actually have some in our pockets.

    Ronald Regan was a joke, and the joke was on us.

  • Newton

    Tom, I love your show, but you have two men on who both think Reagan was “uncontestably one of the great modern presidents”.

    Where’s the balance? Where’s Will Bunch, who wrote “Tear Down This Myth”.

    Norquist has a vested financial interest in cutting taxes for himself and his cronies. The Reagan Legacy Project is designed to mythologize Reagan in order to further cut taxes on the rich so that Norquist and his cronies can benefit and help elect more republicans.

  • Marty Finkelstein

    The libs and dems who listen to Onpoint must be going nuts today. To have to listen to the two guests praise Reagan must be unbearable for them. What a terrific show Tom is hosting today. Notice how the facts do not convince the dems and libs of anything. That shows you how biased and prejudiced and intolerant they are. The bigoted dems and libs are just wonderful. Continue your insanity. It is a delight to see.

    My opinion: leave the coin and currency just the way it is. Mint a commemorative coin instead.

  • miro

    I can’t believe this program — you’ve got two Reagan apologists, and that radical right extremist GROVER NORQUIST on the show, without any counterbalancing critical perspective.

    This is really outrageous.

  • Larry

    Create a trillion dollar bill and put Reagan’s picture on that. He is the first to lead the public debt over a trillion with his contribution being
    1,604,482,712,041.16 (Bureau of Public Debt)
    Posted by Jim

    Brilliant Jim. But the truth never wins out in America.

    Just listen to the Republican hack Norquist spewing his Reagen lies.

  • Kevin

    I disagree with both of your guests – in this sense. Reagan was a “consequential” president. That doesn’t mean he was a “great” president. There’s a difference.

    After the devastation to the nation’s economy, it’s amazing that anyone would want to put Reagan’s name on anything.

    One last point: Grant, for all his faults as president, honestly tried to make Reconstruction & black equality work.

    Reagan opened his 1980 campaign with a “states’ rights” speech in Philadelphia, Mississippi.

  • dan

    TOO SOON! reagan is still too much of a political talking point in the unbearable partisan bickering in todays politics. the impact of his accomplisments/damaging policies are still too contested. whether it’s fair or not, this move just wreaks of politics.

  • Steve

    Reagan, as stated many times here, might have started the economic ruin of the USA.

    I think we should prohibit the recognition of a political figure with such accolades for 50 years after their death. This would help inhibit political idolatry.

  • John

    “unlike Jefferson and others who were there getting shot at” Grover Nordquist, why not compare Reagan’s service making training films during WWII?

  • Gary

    This has been the funnest On-Point program ever! It’s leaving the The Onion in its shadow.

  • pete

    Iran Contra!

  • Maxine Blank

    I am really tired of hearing that Reagan was responsible for the fall of the Soviet Union. I was earning a degree in Soviet Studies when all this was happening. Do some research and look deeper at the Russian people themselves and some brave media who were willing to broadcast the will of those people. And Gorbachev (and glasnost and perestroika) for not coming down on them with bloodshed.

  • John

    Jack Beatty, please call in!

  • Mark

    I’d love to hear your guests comment on Reagan’s terrible inaction on the AIDS crisis. He teamed up with Jerry Falwell and Pat Buchanan, who both said that AIDS was divine retribution against gays.

    We will never know how many lives were lost because of Reagan’s inaction.

  • Larry

    Norquist is beginning to make me change my mind.

    Reagen is a perfect symbol for America.

    A criminal fake who did what the rich told him to do who ruined a once great country.

  • Ed Ashley

    Reagan on our currency! What a joke! Grant was a drunkard, but at least didn’t sleep through his staff mtgs. Reagan dismantled regulation at every turn, causing the destruction of the greatest, most reliable telephone system on the planet. He began deregulation of the banking system setting us up for the disastrous banking calamity of 2008. He consistently ignored environmental problems defaulting to industry interests instead. He deregulated the airline industry causing the airlines to sink into the mess they are today under severe financial pressure, unable to adequately maintain aircraft, and pay adequately to attract quality staff. He believed markets are always right and, as we have seen repeatedly that is just plain wrong. He was for big business: MCI, ENRON, AIG, GM, Chrysler, etc, etc. All of which have gone in the ditch and taken all of us with them. As for winning the cold war, it was already ready to collapse on its own and his role in that is greatly overstated.

    We have enough places named after Reagan to make me gag, already. Enough!!!!
    A Retired Cold Warrior who saw it from the inside.

  • RBP

    If the front of the new $50 bill has Reagan’s picture on it, then the back should have a picture of a homeless person sleeping on a subway grating!

  • Larry

    This has been the funnest On-Point program ever! It’s leaving the The Onion in its shadow.
    Posted by Gary

    So right Gary if it weren’t so tragic.

  • Bob Sauter

    Lets get Barack Obama on a bill now!

  • John

    between 1977-1989 three fourths of the gain in pretax, real income of all american families went to the wealthiest 660,000 families, sounds like familar trickle down,-NAYLOR(1994)

  • David Wright

    I’d like a minute-and-a-half of airtime on how all these guys got picked. The actual process. Salmon P. Chase??

    And where’s Eleanor Roosevelt?

  • Jon

    We should not let Grover Norquist continue to change history and them blame actual historians for not conforming to his fantasy about what this country suffered (and continues to suffer!) due to Ronald Reagan

  • John Carlton-Foss

    In your caption before the newsbreak, you seemed to join so many others in somewhat exaggerating credit to Ronald Reagan for bringing down the Soviets. He and his administration did do an excellent job of executing the policies and confrontations that made this a reality. However, there was an article in Science Magazine in the early 1980s that presented the American budget on one whole page, the Soviet budget on another whole page. The authors pointed out in that article that the Soviets had too small an economy to sustain as large a military budget as they had. They did not present any conclusions about policy, strategy or tactics for bringing down the Soviets, although the implications were quite clear. That is where the acumen of the Reagan administration came in to play. So the academics should be given proper credit for recognizing and framing the opportunity, Reagan for execution.

    Of course, if we today look at the longer arc of history, we may question whether the “communist” system was actually brought down, or if it had a severe multi-year depression. Many of us who invested some time to study the Russian language and learn about the realities of the Soviet system recognized that it was not really “communist,” but instead more of a continuation of the Czarist system in a modified form. One might also ask whether the oligopoly of the late Soviet system is all that different from the oligopoly that has emerged into today’s world. If we look at the role of the Russian state in international diplomacy today, we do not see the disintegrated state of myth. We see a more humble state, but one that plays its own strong role in the world. Sometimes we even see hints of the old times, for example, in its involvement with Ukrainian elections and its cutting off gas supply to Europe.

  • Mary in Boston

    Enough of this Reagan Legacy Project! These people really need to find another outlet for their energy. Ronald Reagan was a terrible president and I’m sick of people rewriting history to reflect otherwise.

    I refuse to fly in or out of ‘National’ Airport — and never refer to it by it’s new name. They should quit while ahead.

    But if, unfortunately, they do prevail……the reverse should have pictures and statistics about homelessness and something about the Iran-Contra mess — that’s the real Reagan legacy!


    Last call for alcohol.
    Last call for your freedom of speech.
    Drink up. Happy hour is now enforced by law.
    Don’t forget our house special, it’s called a Trickie Dickie Screwdriver.
    It’s got one part Jack Daniels, two parts purple Kool-Aid,
    and a jigger of formaldehyde
    from the jar with Hitler’s brain in it we got in the back storeroom.
    Happy trails to you. Happy trails to you.

    I am Emperor Ronald Reagan
    Born again with fascist cravings
    Still, you made me president

    Human rights will soon go ‘way
    I am now your Shah today
    Now I command all of you
    Now you’re going to pray in school
    I’ll make sure they’re Christian too

    California Uber alles
    Uber alles California

    Ku Klux Klan will control you
    Still you think it’s natural
    Nigger knockin’ for the master race
    Still you wear the happy face

    You closed your eyes, can’t happen here
    Alexander Haig is near
    Vietnam won’t come back you say
    Join the army or you will pay

    California Uber alles
    Uber alles California

    Yeah, that’s it. Just relax.
    Have another drink, few more pretzels, little more MSG.
    Turn on those Dallas Cowboys on your TV.
    Lock your doors. Close your mind.
    It’s time for the two-minute warning.

    Welcome to 1984
    Are you ready for the third world war?!?
    You too will meet the secret police
    They’ll draft you and they’ll jail your niece

    You’ll go quitely to boot camp
    They’ll shoot you dead, make you a man
    Don’t you worry, it’s for a cause
    Feeding global corporations’ claws

    Die on our brand new poison gas
    El Salvador or Afghanistan
    Making money for President Reagan
    And all the friends of President Reagan

    California Uber alles
    Uber alles California

  • Larry

    Grover save your Reagen lies for Sean Hannity who himself is a liar of the first magnitude. (and a cheat who flies around in private jets and promotes himself while claiming he is raising money for kids of veterans he himself is responsible for getting killed and maimed with his helping Bush lie us into a war of choice)

  • P Uncorrect

    This fuss over a picture on a currency? What a boondoggle!

  • Jon

    “How is that hope and change working for you?
    Posted by Bob Beasley”

    Well, since most of the new debt was incurred due to the Bush administration’s tragic failures, I am enjoying the hope and change we have now.

  • BHA

    Tom, how about a quick comment on the write in comments being about 95% AGAINST this idea? That is a clear ‘mandate from the people’ to shut down this movement.

    Spend the next 15 minutes on some other story.

  • jane lesley

    Is it possible that the proponents of this change are being somewhat disingenuous? I am not a fan of conspiracy theory but think the argument provides a “win-win” situation for the Republican party. If the change is not in the “Reagan camp’s” favor there is an ideal argument by which to (in the future) turn down the first Black president as a symbol on currency. If the lobbying is successfu” a way to laud the “great” president during this historic time of real social change.

  • Ruth

    As Eastern European who witnessed the events of 1989, I’m always surprised to learn that Americans believe it was Reagan who brought about change!

  • Newton

    With its lack of balance and unquestioning praise for Reagan, this program reminds me of a Stephen Colbert skit: “George W, Bush: a great president, or THE GREATEST president?”

  • Mick Lance

    Here’s an idea” Put Reagan on the $1000 bill. That way only the people who benefited from Reagan’s economic policies would have to look at him. As a member of the middle class, it’s clear I’LL never see a $1000 bill.

  • cam khoury

    Ludicrous! Reagan was a man who began an era of American pessimism. Because of Reagan, we now believe that the American government is THE problem with America. He disconnected the belief of an America that IS us. In addition, he is the first in a line of presidential demagoguery from the right which preached fiscal restraint and yet never, ever submitted or fought for a balanced budget. The Reagan administration never submitted a balanced budget and, in fact, drove the deficit to unheard of heights. He began the rights constant jabbering of fiscal responsibility while uncorking deficits. The only administration to submit a balanced budget since Reagan took office was a Democrat!

    I find it ironic that the right would put the president with the least amount of faith in government and unending fiscal irresponsibility on a government document that represents the fiscal strength of America. Don’t even get started on the secret wars he fought.

  • Fletcher Moore

    Man oh man does it boil my blood to have to sit here and listen to Grover Norquist harp on about the miraculous job growth of the Reagan administration. How’s about a little reality check:

    Job Growth Per Year Under Most Recent Presidents (source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)

    Johnson 3.8%
    Carter 3.1
    Clinton 2.4
    Kennedy 2.3
    Nixon 2.3
    Reagan 2.1
    Bush 0.6

    Why not put Carter on the bill?

    Unemployment Rate (Ibid)

    1976 7.7
    1977 7.1
    1978 6.1
    1979 5.9
    1980 7.2
    1981 7.6
    1982 9.7
    1983 9.6
    1984 7.5
    1985 7.2
    1986 7.0
    1987 6.2
    1988 5.5

    It took Reagan eight years to get the unemployment rate back down to where Carter had it in 1979. Of course, to hear Norquist talk, Carter was responsible for the problems of the 80s, while Reagan was responsible for everything good that happened between him taking the oath of office and today.

    What a charlatan. Why give this goof airtime?

  • http://www.buddhaspillow.blogspot.com Paul Creeden

    As a gay man of 60, who has survived the AIDS epidemic and as a nurse, who worked in health care during his time in office, I think memorializing is an offense to the memory of the thousands of gay men who died needlessly because of the Reagan administration’s intentional withholding of government support for early AIDS research. His was overtly homophobic. His narcissism was greater than any of his accomplishments. He stayed in office when he knew he had Alzheimer’s. Is this the behavior of a hero of The People? No. Mr. Norquist’s adoration of Reagan, in my opinion, is simply a ruse to cover his desire to propagandize the Neo-Con agenda to dismante the social support networks in this country for Big Business.

  • Andy Hard

    After comments were made about inflation causing us to carry large denomination bills, or potentially creating a new dollar value bill, it seems trivial to debate about whose picture should be on them if I have to take $600 to the supermarket.

  • chaski

    Here’s a compromise:

    Let’s put him on a bill that will be used by his biggest supporters! A new $10,000 bill.

    Since his policies were so helpful for the rich, they could use this all day. The rest of us could use the regular old twenties and fifties.

  • Joel Zimet

    Regan hurt the state and local budgets by cutting Federal aid to them so he could look good by being the one handing out money to the voters, a cheap Rebuplican ploy. Our schools took a slide. Our bridges decayed. He signifies the selfish myopia of today’s Republicans. It was all about My class, My gender, My generation and let everyone else be damned.

  • Larry

    Hey Grover, looks like no one believes your lies about Reagen being a great president.

    Just because a paid shill says so doesn’t make it true.

  • Max in West Newton

    At the beginning of the program I did a double take and had to make sure that it wasn’t April 1 . . . all over again.

    I think we should create a 2-cent coin for Ronny – about what the dollar is worth after his Reaganomics policy!

    Max in West Newton

  • Jay Greg

    Reaganism is the conservative movement’s effort at resurgence. In addition to the negative remarks above, I would like point out that while condemning big government, government grew dramatically after he came into office. While this was happening he began the program of starving government with his tax cuts benefiting primarily the wealthy and large corporations. This was the beginning of a large wave of deficits, corrected temporarily by the Clinton administration and federal surplus.

    If these anti middle class conservatives want to put Reagan on our currency, I’d say put him on a Three Dollar Bill.

  • John

    is it possible that the supporters of the South lack respect for a former President due to his accomplishments in the Civil War? Would you be forced to call current supporters of this bill in the congress racists? Just a question not an opinion.

  • Don

    What ever happened to President Dwight Eisenhower who led us to victory in Europe, retired as a five-star general, became president of Columbia University and ended the K O R E AN W A R? Are the Republicans suffering from amnesia about this man’s greatness?

  • David Lipton

    This another effort to degrade the importance of the Union. It is time to recognize that those who led the secession of the southern states from the Union were and remain traitors, who then became oppressors of African Americans and succeeded in extending slavery, in a de facto manner, through Jim Crow legislation and the terrorism of lynching and other forms of violence. We continue to suffer from this legacy as shown by the racist basis of a great deal of the opposition to Presidnet Obama.

  • Ben

    Ronald Reagan basically destroyed the clean energy movement in the United States. Remember how he famously removed the solar array from the White House? The United States was well on the way to dramatically reducing energy consumption and developing alternatives, but Reagan intentionally set that back 30 years. The damage from this to the US economy, to peoples around the world, and to the environment, are incomprehensible.

  • Neil Vigliotta

    Hi! Although Reagan might have been a good President (and this is highly arguable), the Great Communicator can not stand next to U.S. Grant. The Civil War might have gone so much longer had not Grant stepped in by declaring he would step down as Major General of the Union when President Johnson started to work in retaliation of the south by attempting to bring Lee to trial. The flames of war were hardly contained by Grant, Lee and Lincoln, but they were contained. If not for Grant, guerrilla war was a distinct possibility. Then as noted by your speakers, Grant had made such an impact on the stability of the Union after he became President, without which, there might not be a union.

  • http://NA Elizabeth Barger

    RR was an evil and not terribly smart puppet of the wealthy who brought death and destruction to South and Central America, started the economic policies that have brought us to our present situation and attacked middle class working America. We hardly have a middle class anymore and too many working people are in or near poverty. Norquist is a perfect pusher for the myth of Reagan. It is time to realize that we are the government and to quit buying the ‘government is bad’ screed that Ronnie propaganda so effectively promoted. We can do something about bad government by getting together and civilly doing our civic duty.

  • Jon D. Mills

    The 3-dollar bill would be perfect for Ronny Reagan. He was phony and an air head. He is the guy who, in cynical double speak, said big government was bad so vote for him to lead it. He is also the guy who equated national health insurance with loss of freedom and those who disagreed with him as communists. This is just the beginning, and there is much more about why Reagan wasn’t worth spit.

  • Bob Clarke

    How about putting him on a new two-cent piece in line with his trickle down philosophy. That’s what I’d give you for the economic philosophy.

  • Daniel Mac Alpine

    First, the national debt skyrocketed under Reagan. In 1980 the debt was 33.4 percent of GDP and by 1990 national debt was 55.9 percent of GDP. So, Reagan cut taxes and built an economic engine on credit.

    Second, for Reagan to be on the $20 one must consider other 20th-century presidents. Did he do more than Franklin Roosevelt? Certainly, the Great Depression was far worse than the economy Reagan faced, forgetting about WWII. And what about Eisenhower?

    How about a commemorative half dollar?

  • Dave Wasser


    The discussion about all these historical figures really points up the fluidity of our understanding and our views of history. The nuances are always shifting. In light of that, I think it should be a very conservative process by which we put people on our currency. I agree with those who say give it time–perhaps 50 or 100 years–before deciding to put someone on a bill.

    My personal opinion is that economic policy alone should not make a president worthy of this honor. Reagan’s accomplishments do not have the historic significance that Grant’s do.

    Great show!

  • Christine Hickey

    With all the urgent issues our representatives should discuss, such as healthcare, security, education, and the economy, why on Earth are they wasting time with changing pictures on our money? How about working on real problems in the United States?

  • David Holzman

    The notion that Reagan brought the Soviet Union to it’s knees is nonsense. Communism did that without any help from Reagan. Central planning works extremely poorly, and Soviet products were very shoddy.

  • Jane Bergstralh

    If they are going to name anything after Ronald Reagan, it ought to be the national debt!

  • Linda Gray

    Dear Tom and guests,
    What historic woman is on a US coin or dollar bill?
    Why are we discussing another man on a bill?

    Linda Gray

  • Judy

    RR on our $$$…NO, NO,NO, NO. A man that stood for our financial demise, the dumbing of America due to his policy re: education…student loans, etc, Iran Contra, etc., etc, etc….I would not beable to tolerate carrying his picture in my wallet….on second thought….maybe it would stimulate spending!!!:)

  • http://totalwasteacademy.tumblr.com Asher Woodworth

    If we are going to change any of our currency, I say lets diversify out of rich white men and into some of our other wonderful and COLORFUL cultural icons. Speaking of civil rights, why not MLK jr? Every other country in the world has more diverse, colorful and far sighted currency than we do. Lets get with the program. This debate over who is higher on the rich white man hierarchy is profoundly silly… and old school.

  • Eric Holloway

    Just make another denomination or rotate Presidents on it like the quarter.

  • Larry




    Posted by BRUCE

    Hey Bruce glad to see you thrive on hate and lies. Not a new concept though, we’ve known for a long time that is what the Right thrives on.

  • Allan Stern

    A failed president whose corrupt minions are struggling to make his wrongs seem right. They won’t stop. Click on this link to see how far they’ll go with this lunacy:


  • Larry

    Allan, I saw Mt Rushmore once, and if that ever comes to past won’t ever go see it again.

    And will tell my children how that is the face of the beginning of the end of this great country.

  • Todd

    “Dear Tom and guests,
    What historic woman is on a US coin or dollar bill?
    Why are we discussing another man on a bill?

    Linda Gray
    Posted by Linda Gray

    @ Linda Gray:
    Not so. Both Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea have appeared on the face of U.S. dollar coins.

  • Joseph Rice

    Aside from any political feelings pro or con, the fact that this is sponsored by the Reagan Legacy Project is my primary reason for opposition. This group wants Reagan acknowledged not just in each of the 50 states, but in each COUNTY of the United States. This has gone past honoring; this is a sick obsession.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I think Reagan’s “trickle-down” economics actually came from his budget director (David Stockman? I think), who I have heard speaking lately with an updated tune. But in many ways Obama has approached the current crash the way Reagan approached the one circa 1980. I see a lot of similarities. Boost hope and enthusiasm; get money circulating, especially among anyone likely to create private jobs.
    But what happened? The looseness of money got jacked up by subsequent Congresses bowing to banks, and the enterprise of creating jobs morphed into globalization, first with NAFTA and then China and onwards. The jobs were created but exported; the goods were imported. I don’t blame Reagan for globalization, though perhaps I should. I believe the banks still don’t know how to reel money out of serious investment in American enterprise but instead spin hay into gold (Rumpelskin) or look overseas. Apparently the USA is not adequately hospitable to enterprise, even in spite of everything. Or what? Squads of builders building more and costlier dwellings than we can afford to dwell in is not a valid strategy, just a lost cause. A home is not a source of jobs, is not a factory.
    The banks are pounding the pavement looking for factories — or so I understand. That is not Reaganomics; that is us.
    If Reagan was solving a recession problem, his economic approach might have been good. But as an economic theory, which according to one caller today led to 30 years of prosperity, it turned out badly, though we strung it out as long as possible. Our prosperity had plenty of elements of the balloon to it.

  • Alex

    “As Eastern European who witnessed the events of 1989, I’m always surprised to learn that Americans believe it was Reagan who brought about change!”

    I grew up in the Soviet Union. I was 15 when Gorbachev came to power and 19 when the dominos started to fall. My impression is that the Empire fell because

    1. it consisted of too many nationalites and ethnic minorities who often hated each other and collectively hated the Russians. When the iron fist started to loosen up a little it all blew up; Many nationalities were immediately at each other’s throats (most notably in the Caucasus region, but also elsewhere).

    2. oil prices plummeted in mid-80s, which dealt a severe blow to the ability of the Country to finance the weak centrally planned economy with all its grand projects, such as social programs, space exploration and huge military in the arms race with the U.S.;

    3. Gorbachev was too liberal (relatively speaking). Look at the Russian history and you will see that a liberal ruler is not a good idea there;

    4. Inflow of information from the West and relaxing of travel restrictions. People were able to see for themselves that a lot of the information they had been told was simply a lie. It gave people a sense of a goal that the country needs to achieve.

    5. War in Afghanistan did not help. Of course, the U.S. financing of the mujahadeen was a major factor in the Soviet failure there.

    6. USSR was involved in an unwinnable competition with the USA in all areas of the economy and military might. The USA as a country contributed in a major way to the downfall of the USSR. I would not give credit to any single President for it.

  • AbeR

    RR’s failed ideas came to frusition during the W presidency. The implementation of deregulation, selfish notions of “individual responsibility”, and a distain for the government have led to the near collapse of this nation and fuels a retro philosophy that is toxic. He should have been impeached for Iran/Contra, not idolized for. The legacy of “Limited Government” has led to crumbling infrastructure and selfish short sightness.

    Grover Norquest lives in a fantacy world, working hard to rewrite history. Please let’s nip this in the bud (and lets rename National Airport while we’re at it!)

  • JP

    Put Reagan on the penny to commemorate how much actually “tickled down” to the middle class during the Republican era.

    … put Obama on the $50 bill if Grant is going to be replaced at all.

  • BHA

    “Allan, I saw Mt Rushmore once, and if that ever comes to pass won’t ever go see it again.”

    Can’t we just show a picture of the “The Old Man of the Mountain” in New Hampshire and say it was renamed to
    “Ronald Reagan of the Mountain”? It is gone, but so is he so they at least have that in common.

  • Robert Hunter

    Honors like this should true contributions to America. Thus Ronald Reagan deserves a place on US currency: the $3 bill…..

  • George V.

    If you want to see why it would be a joke to put Reagan on the $50, have a look and laugh at Kirk Anderson’s brilliant cartoon:


  • LinP

    Who picked this topic for an hour long show? SO WHAT? It’s good for 10 minutes in the weekly round table–at best.

  • Walter Fox

    It is ironic that certain Repubicans want to replace a Republican President on currency with another Republican. It is also interesting that there was a group that was trying to replace Franklin Roosevelt on the dime with Reagan…I haven’t seen that proposal lately, thank goodness.

  • Shane Williams

    I think that Reagan’s image could only be correctly placed on unemployment checks. He gutted the the middle-class and lead us on a path that looks more like a banana republic than a vital, equitable “first” world country. Also, ten dollar a barrel oil prices had more to do with the Soviet Union’s collapse than any policy of Reagan.

  • Tim

    When I heard the topic of this show I came straight inside to this website. I couldn’t believe this was seriously being considered. After reading the comments posted so far, it seems most people share my views of the Reagan era. Ludicrous that a president who did so much harm would be considered for the $50 or any circulating currency. Please list Reagan’s real accomplishments, so I can gain a balanced perspective.

  • Bruce Ramsay

    Phoey on both of these guys, Reagan especially for his fiasco called the “W. R. Grace Commission.”

    I nominate, “The Buck Stops Here” Harry S Truman. (We know the S was an initial for NMI.)

  • Tom

    It was Reagan, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Bush senior who supported Saddam Hussein against Iran in one of the worst bloddy long wars in recent memory, and guess where Saddam bought his WMD’s at that time (which were found later as ineffective, depleted, and rotting in the sand by the current US invasion.)
    Saddam was almost certainly likely supplied WMD’s by Reagan et al in the 1980′s

    It was under Reagan that a lot of the current fundamentalism in politics began, and the current economic crisis unfolded because he let the financiers run riot, and shoot up the town.

    He wouldn’t even make a good Sheriff (just a bad actor of one.)

    The answer is NO, don’t put this ignorant man on the bill.

  • BHA

    “5. War in Afghanistan did not help. Of course, the U.S. financing of the mujahadeen was a major factor in the Soviet failure there. ”

    And our policy of “The enemy of our enemy is our friend” bites us in the butt AGAIN and as usual. When will we learn that anyone will take our money to fund their cause, but that doesn’t mean they consider us friends for the long term.

    We don’t like Iran after they tossed the Shah and then the hostage taking in 1979. Saddam Hussein doesn’t like Iran either so he becomes our BFF and we back him in his war with Iran. This, of course, makes us even more unpopular with Iran, a state that persists decades later.

    Meanwhile, we (still) don’t like the “Evil Empire” so we back the Muhadjadeen in Afghanistan. After the Russians pull out, all the warring muhajadeen groups make a mess of Afghanistan. (more to come)

    Hussein then invades Kuwait so he isn’t our BFF anymore and we start a war to push him out.

    One of the factions we funded in the Russian/Afghan war was the Taliban who eventually become a coherent politico-military faction that takes over Afghanistan with brutal Sharia law. They then give safe harbor to anti-US Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden and their terrorist training camps, training the 9/11/2001 terrorists so we invade Afghanistan then kind of ignore that when:

    Hussein bluffs, letting the world think he MIGHT be developing WMDs and now he REALLY isn’t our BFF anymore and we start a war to dislodge him. We are now trying to get out of Iraq and have gone back to fixing the mess in Afghanistan.

  • http://ravenatyournextevent.com Greg L

    Why don’t we just wait until hyperstagflation hits and then we can put Reagan on the new million dollar bills.

  • Sam E.

    Reagan for better or for worse is a substantial part of our history and I see no reason why that shouldn’t be reflected in our currency. Though it is interesting to note that if this happened he would be Kennedy onto a bill.

  • Gary

    I printed out the bill that is posted above to tack to my wall of oddities. I expect it will give me and my guests years of laughter.

  • Brianne

    No Reagan, on any currency, at anytime.

    The 80′s were a travesty for milllions around the world due to the Reagan Administration.

  • David


    You right wing tea baggers priorities are SOOOO out of wack. Idiots.


  • stef

    Are the Chinese responsible for this idea ?
    After all,thanks to the Great C.(you fill the rest here),
    the pocket of China is full now.

  • jeffe

    I will go for this only if the chimp is included in the portrait. The one from that great American classic film “Bed Time for Bonzo”.

    Seriously what a complete waste of time, don’t these people have something better to do?

    Reagan should not be on any currency.

    Grant was a good general and his victories and willingness to take risks won over Lincoln.

    He issued this little chestnut during the Civil War.

    General Order No. 11 (1862)

    Allegations of antisemitism — “a blot on Grant’s reputation” [75] — arose in the wake of the infamous General Order No. 11, issued by Grant in Oxford, Mississippi, on December 17, 1862, during the Vicksburg Campaign. The order stated in part:

    The Jews, as a class, violating every regulation of trade established by the Treasury Department, and also Department orders, are hereby expelled from the Department (comprising areas of Tennessee, Mississippi, and Kentucky).

    By the way Grant was a lousy president and presided over the Panic of 1873.


  • Michael

    Talk about messiah complex by republicans, good lord, it seems every time Reagan is mention our conservative friends get a sniffy, Grant wins the Civil War, Reagan???

  • John

    I say put Reagan on a $3 bill!


  • Mike

    Maybe Reagan’s face should be on Treasury Note since it was Reagan’s morning in America that resulted in America’s red dawn. A sea of red ink caused by massive budget deficits not yet under control.

  • Bush’s fault

    Reagan on the currency is fine with me; he helped bring down the soviets, created millions of jobs, and stood up to the Iranians when Carter was too incompetent and afraid, AND he punished a union that violated its contract…good stuff. Who cares if he appears on the currency? (BTW, Barney Frank has a lock on the $3 bill) One question: what’s so funny about Clinton on the $20 bill? Was that the price of a hummer in DC when he was in office?

  • Mark

    Everyone’s so off topic.

    The real issue is whether Reagan is too recent and too controversial to be put on our currency. It’s too soon. We don’t have the emotional distance and objectivity that historians will have in another 60 years.

    The same is true of MLK. Putting MLK on the currency is politicizing our currency just as much as Reagan would. It’s not reasonable to advocate using someone you like. This has to be looked at objectively.

  • http://www.mikeszine.com Michael Long

    I think that Reagan has turned into something he never really was. Reagan was known for lowering taxes but Carter has a ridiculous 70% tax rate for the upper class. Reagan then raised taxes as the deficit spun out of control. That act that would make him a Democrat today.

    He took a hard line with the Soviets but used a softer stance when they started to bend toward reform. I can imagine few Republicans that would allow for any kind of diplomacy with a sworn enemy.

    Reagan made some very big mistakes but he was more of a pragmatist than anyone in the Republican party today. Why don’t we give Reagan and Clinton bills. That would appease both sides.

  • Richard

    Ronald Reagan on the fitty dolla bill?! I am having a bad dream…..right?1

  • Joseph Scott

    Damn, I can’t believe after all these years and a chance to gain a historical perspective there are still enough people out there with some much fairie dust in their eyes that this could even be under consideration. If Reagan must be put on any paper bill my suggestion would be on the three dollar bill. His supply side economics and trickle down theory earn him that I will admit.

  • Bush’s fault

    Dolla Bill! I get it…instead of a presidential portrait, we should have a representation of a refrigerator with *freezer* on the Dolla Bill…

  • John

    I was a Reagan Republican! I too once believed in Reagan’s rhetoric. However, in retrospect, I can not help but feel betrayed.

    The ‘deficits’ he glossed over which his policies of BIG government (i.e. military) spending and no taxes created, have ballooned into an enormous National Debt (and all that this entails e.g. inflation, collapsing dollar, etc.). Military spending (aka upper middle-class welfare) has sky-rocketed at the expense of the infrastructure and other domestic priorities(e.g. education, healthcare, etc.) Reagan’s so-called “free trade” has enabled the multi-nationals to outsource decent jobs overseas (and unlike after previous cyclical recessions these jobs aren’t ever coming back). Even with the dollar in the crapper we’re losing market share to more ‘protectionist’ nations. Sure we get the stuff they send us and they only get the greenbacks which soon might not be worth the paper they’re printed on. But we lose forever the manufacturing base. The militarism he espoused has led us into a disastrous, profitless, pointless war in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have squandered the world’s goodwill and besmirched our good name.

    I now live in exile in “socialist” Europe because I can’t afford health care in the US. Even if I could I’m not sure I’d want to. Crime, low levels of literacy, overzealous police, high levels of incarceration, a crumbling infrastructure all discourage me.

    Perhaps America will be able to turn itself around and recover from the depredations Reagan’s policies encouraged. But I doubt it!

  • Brett

    We should seek out a form of currency befitting of Reagan’s legacy…I was thinking maybe a coupon with his portrait on it that comes in the Sunday paper insert; it could be redeemed for ketchup. Perhaps the coupon could be a two for one deal to commemorate his two terms that should have really been one term…

  • http://?npr.org Ellie Egan

    I wish you’d had a guest on today’s show to address the Republican party’s Soviet style revision of history, in this case, the presidency of Ronald Reagan, and question Grover Norquist’s true motives. Those of us who were there (and had nothing to gain financially)remember the Reagan years as a bonanza for the rich, which has contributed to our current financial disaster. I listened with a combination of disgust and wonder as I heard Republicans liken themselves to JFK and elevate Reagan to the status of a demi-god in the last campaign. This is another example of the Republican party’s practice of convincing people that things are true because they so. Ronald Reagan was an actor, not Grandpa. Aside from this obvious propaganda ploy, I wonder whether we should be spending the money on changing the currency, or addressing such an insignificant issue when the country is foundering.

    I hear that Texas is trying to write Jefferson out of the history books and wonder who the American people are these days.

  • Bill Smith

    Tom and staff, thanks for yet another great topic. Perhaps a bit silly on the face of it, but it makes us all think about the commonplace and certainly gives your base yet another opportunity to rage. Also the forum provides yet another solution for those who may have made poor education and career choices and are unable to afford health care in the US.

  • Joe Kesselman

    If you’re going to honor a more recent Republican president, Reagan is the wrong one. He was a good man, and a good speechmaker, but really not a good president. He really can’t be credited with most of the successes on his watch. He watched the Soviet Union melt down; I don’t believe he had any meaningful effect upon that process or any great success in setting the future direction.

    Much as I hate to say this, I would be happier seeing Nixon on a bill. Tricky Dickie was NOT a good man, and gods know he deserves the opprobrium he earned — but he really was a better president than is generally admitted. “Only Nixon could go to China”, and that sort of active policy involvement and success deserves some recognition.

    But mostly, I agree with whoever it was that suggested we wait until there is someone who CLEARLY deserves this kind of recognition, by having achieved something that creates an overwhelming wave of support for such an honor.

    I would also suggest that rather than gratuitously redesigning an existing bill, we do what’s been overdue for the past decade and introduce a $2 coin — which will be a necessary step in making the $1 coin succeed. (Look at Canada’s experience; the Loonie didn’t really take off until the Twonie was also in circulation.) That would also dodge the debate about replacing an existing figure. I could _tolerate_ Reagan on a $2 coin, though I still think he’s a poor choice except as a symbol of inflation.

  • Ishmael

    Reagan? I thought it was going to be Bernie Madoff.

  • Reagan follower

    I think we should make a three dollar bill with Reagan’s face. Then those of us who remember him from both being California Governor and as President can finally equate to the phrase we’ve heard growing up.
    He “got rid of entitlements” by putting tuition into colleges, cut professor’s salaries to save money, raised taxes in California so that he could lower it again during election year, all with the Aw gee 2 mule-team Borax actor’s skills. He was the start of the loss in competitiveness of the US.

  • CheerfulCurmudgeon

    When Bob Barr, formerly of the Seventh Georgia District was running loose in DC naming everything he could after Ronnie, I sent him a letter telling him how inspired I was by his efforts. I had named a porcelain necessity after him and asked if his adulation for Ronnie bordered on idolatry, which might be in conflict with his publically professed beliefs. I never heard back from him. I see that the idolatry continues apace and I am thoroughly baffled.

    Before Ronnie ran for Governor, he had a few minutes on the radio to discuss whatever flitted through his mind. “Trees cause smog.” “Seen one sequoia, you’ve seen them all.” “Welfare queens deliberately get pregnant so they can collect all that money.”

    When he finally became Governor, one of the first changes he made was to modify the requirements for applying for public assistance. What had been a four-page form became 12. Where Social Workers could explain what a question meant to someone with inadequate schooling, they were now forbidden to provide any assistance. The University of California and California State University systems have never fully recovered from his influence. What had been a State with surpluses was turned into one with deficits.

    I won’t tell you where I would like to see his face, but it isn’t on any bill of tender or on a stamp no matter how inconsequential the denomination.

    His one talent was to make other people feel good as he turned their brains off. Somehow, a $50 bill just doesn’t seem the right place. Where is a P.T. Barnum or a H.L. Menken when we need him/her/it/them?

  • Julie Boyden

    It would be a nightmare if Reagan replaced Grant. My first real experience with cognizant dissonance began when I heard Reagan speak. He left a treacherous legacy of big business, big banks, an created a social divide that is continuing to polarize this nation.

  • John

    Here’s a far more appropriate pic for a Reagan $50!


    Or maybe this?


    Just ridiculous!

  • Frank the Underemployed Professional

    If Grant is to be replaced, surely there must be better candidates. How about FDR? He fought WWII. JFK? He dealt with the Cuban Missile Crisis.

    I find it a little unseemly that they want to canonize a president who held office not too long ago. I suspect that it’s really just an attempt to engage in political grandstanding by the Republicans.

    Frank the Underemployed Professional

  • joshua

    Reagan was a disaster–he never had America in his heart-he like Cheney and The Bush crime family used the office to line their own pockets in treasonous ways lying to the American people. He was a terrorist and its is a disgusting tragedy that this is even being mentioned. Reagan’s term opened the door wide for fascism in this country. One more thing that makes me repulsed by contemporary America. Americans are so lost and brainwashed!

  • joshua

    Why don’t we put common people on our money–why do we treat our presidents like something special, like monarchs–its our fascist nature. These men are puppets, and they really haven’t done anything. if anything they slow progress. The founders never meant for us to glorify the executive branch. We are disgrace to our founders, esp. Jefferson- We should put martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Tesla–scientist, other great scientists, poets and writers–artists–Walt Whitman, Henry d. Thoreau, Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis, etc….though most of these people would find it ironical being that the Federal Reserve and the banks represent everything wrong with this narcotic country.

    Your guest is not very smart–a fool! We need to stop giving over the airwaves to fascists and fascist apologists!

  • joshua

    I will burn money with Reagen terrorist head on it! This is shocking and absolutely repulsive! Reagan did Nothing except harm this country! Stop saying this nonsense!

  • joshua

    So–according to your guests–Russian empire evil–American empire of abu graid and Guantanamo is righteous! What the ….is this nonsense! Fascists!

  • Luigi

    Love you Tom but Norquist?? What a loser.

  • joshua

    Its no wonder a southern caller would support it. I feel sick. Everything your southern civil war patriot said is wrong.

    Its no wonder your guest is against Jackson-Jackson was against powerful banks and fought against them–knowing it would be the end of democracy, and he was right. Reagen lover=fascist! Or ignorant fool–you decide.

    NPR–national propaganda radio

  • joshua

    Reagen used propaganda to say that health-care would lead to Stalinist drone style communism–absolutely absurd. So here you have it. Reagen hated Americans–he wanted you to die–Reagen did not want you to have health care. He was a patriot huh–Iran Contra come to mind? Patriotism is the virtue of the viscous.

    many southern people–esp. southern leaders are still KKK members and sympathizers some cloaked in the NRA–no wonder they don’t like Grant.

  • joshua

    now he admits Reagen was racist-saying king was a communist and being a know member of racist segregationist group–the Jim crow hill-bullys, advocating racism–this is disgusting!

    Anti-union, anti-earth, anti-health-anti-people–an American terrorist–why does tom cut off a speaker against Reagen who starts to bring up Reagen/American terrorist activity abroad?!

  • anne

    I cannot believe NPR just aired this incredibly biased program. You had two guests: a Princeton history professor who wrote an admiring book about Reagan, and Grover Norquist (!) — a right-wing, anti-government, Reagan-worshipping nut-case.

    You couldn’t find one guest who dislikes Reagan? Every intelligent person I know agrees that Reagan was the worst president we ever had and that he destroyed the middle class. We are still suffering economically from what he did to this country — his “trickle-down economics” was a massive failure that only benefited the wealthy. And Reagan should have been impeached for disregarding the Boland Amendment prohibiting U.S. government funding of the Nicaraguan Contras.

    I will not contribute to my local NPR station if more nonsense like this show is aired. If I wanted an unfair and unbalanced presentation of issues, I would listen to the mainstream news media.

  • nick

    Reagon was a buster of unions, enactor of massive tax cuts for the rich, started us on the path of outsourcing which continues today and with our tax dollars, stole our social security money and broke the laws of our land.

    On our $50.00 ???? No Way !


  • Janet

    RR was a good President and certainly much better than obama. I don’t think he should replace President Grant.

  • Mark

    Posted by RW: After reading the hateful, vitriolic blogs, it’s obvious that liberals are consumed with hate. What else would would you expect from the left and democrats but hate and vitriol?

    We’re not hateful, but we call BS when we see it. As a member of the American middle class who feels the impact of voodoo economics each day, yes, I’m a little ticked off at RR, but not hateful.

    This is only being proposed to “rile the base.” There’s no merit to RR being added to currency.

    Besides, liberals will never own “hate and vitriol” as long as minorities, immigrants and gays share the country with conservatives. You own that, not us.

  • Miles Manchester

    Grover Norquist is a “cheer leader” for the “Deification” of Ronald Reagan. This isn’t just about Reagan, it’s about creating a “mythology” so support a political ideology.
    I’m disappointed that “On Point” gave Norquist so much air time without a “countervailing” point of view.
    Check out the “Reagan Legacy Project” and who pays for it. Also, “Tear Down This Myth” by Will Bunch and “October Surprise” by Barbara Honegger.

  • Thomas B Reitano

    President Grant fought to free the slaves,preserve the union and uphold the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

    Reagan subverted the Constitution, smashed 50 years of tax policy that created the middle class, squashed labor, working Americans and the poor and lied to the American people about what he knew and when he knew it.

    Unlike Reagan, President Grant was also against Imperialism.

  • Michael Kelly

    Both pretty much stunk as presidents. The Genral may have had more corrupt associates but he took Richmond!!!!!!

  • Brett

    Perhaps a Reagan commemorative jelly bean, maybe aspic flavor?

  • David

    President Reagan did an outstanding job and we had a great economy for years due to his tax cuts. He ended the Cold War and restored our image in the world.

  • RW

    Excellent blog David. Reagan was a great President.

  • TBone

    Seriously? Reagan was a disaster, and the right-wing fruitcakes that worship his memory are living in a dreamworld.
    And the silly people who have been writing here to say that “libs are boiling over with hate and vitriol and blah blah blah” make me laugh…keep up the comedy routine, nutjobs!

  • RW

    Hey TBoner, all the statues that are being built for the marxist Obama, are going to torn down, just like all the statues for the first marxist, Vladimir Lenin, were torn down.

  • Andrew

    Doc Brown and Marty McFly might have something to say about this…

  • Michael

    The whole notion of Reagan on the $50 note illustrates the degree in which congress, particularly the Republican congress, is off queue. I echo most of the comments before mine. Reagan, by no means, deserves being honored on an American bill. His presidency did much to divide America than bringing it together, a legacy we must all contend with currently. Though, symbolically it make sense putting Reagan’s face on money, he was the President that brought about the great divide where the rich got richer and poor got poorer. With all the pressing issues now facing the nation Republican Congressman Patrick McHenry could do better serving his constituents. Seeing how Republicans are behaving lately, I would not be surprised they use this issue to further divide the nation, truly in the Reagan spirit.

  • Wilson

    The left still can’t get over President Reagan. They have nothing but hate for anyone that does not roll over and play dead for their failed ideas.

  • jeffe

    The left still can’t get over President Reagan. They have nothing but hate for anyone that does not roll over and play dead for their failed ideas.

    What do you call the mess we are in now?
    Granted the Democrats have not proven to me to be much better than the Republicans, but as far as failed ideas go I would say Reagan’s ideas are pretty well proven to have failed.

    The majority of of the ideas for a free market unregulated economy was based on Reagan’s economic ideology. It was reinforced by the likes Rob Rubin, Greenspan and Summers who were in Clinton’s administration. The Norquist idea of making government so small that you can drown it in a bath tube is also an ideology that we saw played out during Bush’s two terms. The culmination of that folly was seen in the federal response to Katrina and the huge deficit that Bush left along with the economic mess that Obama now owns. I forgot to mention the two wars that have proven so far to have added billions to the deficit. Something Republicans do not seem to even discuss. I leave out conservatives because I have heard people of this ilk talk about this especially Libertarians.

  • sempdog

    Tom, TBoner has it right. Ronnie raised taxes,increased the size of government,and ballooned the deficit. Yet neo-con men like anti tax lobbiest, Grover never quits, Norquist, still are delusional about RR’s importance.

    After this disaster of a topic, you redeemed my faith, with your excellent segment on Van Morrison.


  • Millard Fillmore

    Popularity doesn’t make a president entitled to be on a form of our currency.

    First, no president should go on a bill until at least two generations after he/she has stepped down. There is too much ‘emotional’ baggage attached.

    Anyway, how can we take our currency seriously when we have the author of the Declaration of Independence and eminace grise behind the Constitution put on the $2 bill???

    Ans then what about me?? I was president of these United States and what do I have to show for it? A 13 cent stamp and my name co-opted by a talentless cartoonist!

  • Algonquin J. Calhoun Esq.

    “‘Every generation needs its own heroes,” says the bill’s sponsor, North Carolina Republican Congressman Patrick McHenry. For him, Reagan Airport in Washington is not enough. He wants the fifty for the 4oth president.”

    Anyone who lives, works or travels to Washington DC via air, (unless dyed-in-the wool conservatives) never refer to the airport as the “Reagan” it continues to be referred to as ‘National” years after being “re-christened” after the Gipper.

  • Ulysses S. Grant

    I find it interesting when country-loving southern politicians refer to the worst terrorisim in our country’s history (The Civil War) as the War of Northern Aggression.

    So the Aggressors in the mind of these meally-mouthed ‘patriots’ were those who so loved the Union that they were willing to shed blood to prevent its disintegration.

    Up is down and patriot and unpatriotic are easily confused in Dixie while the Confederate battleflag is still on the state flags of Georgia and South Carolina.

  • Brett

    Millard Fillmore–good points, but let’s face it, you may have been president, but you were no James K. Polk! ;-)

    Ulysses S. Grant–thanks for correctly identifying the Confederate flag that flies in SC and Georgia (the one with all of the controversy, the “Southern Cross”) as the “battle flag”! It was used only as Rebels went into battle to distinguish the Confederate soldiers from the Union ones (both the Union and Confederate flags looked similar and were confusing in battle situations). I live in the south, and so many people have the “Confederate Flag” on their bumper stickers, or towels, flags, coffee mugs, or whatever they choose, as a way to, they say, “celebrate their heritage”…they say it has not any potential to offend anyone, and that those who are offended are ignorant of history. Actually, what is considered the “Confederate Flag” is a 20th Century construct that combines the “Southern Cross,” the flag of the “Rebel Yell,” as it were, and the dimension of a modern flag (a rectangular shape). The Battle flag was square. So, what people put on their pick-up trucks is neither the official flag of the Confederacy, nor historically accurate.

  • Steve

    I’ve really not got anything against Reagan. I’m sure his missteps and Grant’s during his presidency cancel each other out. The difference I think, that cannot be overlooked, is Grant’s service to his country during the Civil War. He followed a long line of Union Generals who were not getting the job done. His positive outlook and leadership during the war, at some of what would seem, the most hopeless moments, was inspiring. He belongs in that group of people in the history of the U.S. that you look back at and wonder to yourself, What would have happened to this country if this man had not come along at that time?

  • Michael
  • Tim

    Nice diverse group here. I’m 47 and hands down Ronald Reagan was the most successful president of my lifetime………Anybody with some common sense who lived in the 70s and 80s could tell the difference.

    You people drank the Kool Aid long ago, if you think the exact opposite – that he was horrible. I can see being indifferent, but is ridiculous.

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    Thanks to stereotypes, many people see feminism as something that angry women like to scream about. While there are certainly plenty of extreme feminists, the ideology behind the feminist movement is simply that the female genitalia do not render a human inferior to a human with male genitalia. Women have worked for centuries to have the same rights and opportunities as men—this is the heart of the feminist movement: equality under the law. Feminism is not about keeping men down, it is about promoting women and their right to equality.

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  • jm313

    How did Reagan fail?

    Reagan started one of the best economic expansions in the 80′s and it continued into the 90′s under Clinton!

    Deregulation clearly does boost the economy. It just went way too far. Clinton kept deregulating in the 90′s and he deregulated some important things that should have not been touched.

    The financial crisis was not just the Republicans fault. It was several people from both parties!

    And how did Bush make government smaller during his two terms?

  • jm313

    How did he divide America?

    From what I have heard from tons of people both Dems and Repubs is he brought America back. He restored American Pride and started one of the largest eocnomic expansions!

    Median household income went from around $17,000 up to $27,000 during Reagan’s 8 years. The rich are not the only one’s who made money.

    You Liberals just never look at the official economic stats during the Reagan years because you cannot face the truth! JUST ADMIT IT!

  • jm313

    You Liberals just can’t admit the truth. I bet you can’t even look st the economic statistics. Well here they are. The fact is Reagan started one of the best economic expansions.

    Reagan’s key economic statistics from start of presidency to end:

    -AVERAGE ANNUAL GDP RATE: 3.4% – Ranked in the top 5 among all Presidents

    -HIGHEST ANNUAL GDP RATE: 7.2% in 1984 – We have not had a rate this high since

    -TOTAL JOBS CREATED: 16 Million – 2nd most out of all Presidents

    -MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME: $17,923 to $27,388 – Clearly its not just the rich gaining money with trickle down economics

    -UNEMPLOYMENT RATE: At 7.5% when he took office in Jan. 81′. Shot up to 10.8% by Dec. 82′ due to bad recession and from there on went down and was at 5.4% when he left office

    -INFLATION RATE: 11.8% to 4.4%

    -OIL PRICES: $37.05 per barrel to $14.56


    -STOCK MARKET (DOW): Up +130%

    -POVERTY RATE: At 14% when he took office. Shot up to 15.2% due to recession in his first 2 years. Was at 13% when he left office.

    -TOTAL DEBT ADDED: $1.8 Trillion

    The only negative stat is the debt he added which Reagan admitted was the “greatest disappointment” of his presidency

    Source of statistics:
    U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
    U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis
    U.S. Census Bureau

  • jm313

    You can’t blame the recent financial crisis all on Reagan! Yes he did start the deregulation BUT Clinton also continued deregulation and deregulated a couple pretty important things. And G.W. Bush was just stupid.

    Reagan started one of the best economic expansions in the 80′s and it continued into the 90′s.

    Reagan’s key economic statistics from start of presidency to end:

    -AVERAGE ANNUAL GDP RATE: 3.4% – Ranked in the top 5 among all Presidents

    -HIGHEST ANNUAL GDP RATE: 7.2% in 1984 – We have not had a rate this high since

    -TOTAL JOBS CREATED: 16 Million – 2nd most out of all Presidents

    -MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME: $17,923 to $27,388 – Clearly its not just the rich gaining money with trickle down economics

    -UNEMPLOYMENT RATE: At 7.5% when he took office in Jan. 81′. Shot up
    to 10.8% by Dec. 82′ due to bad recession and from there on went down
    and was at 5.4% when he left office

    -INFLATION RATE: 11.8% to 4.4%

    -OIL PRICES: $37.05 per barrel to $14.56


    -STOCK MARKET (DOW): Up +130%

    -POVERTY RATE: At 14% when he took office. Shot up to 15.2% due to
    recession in his first 2 years. Was at 13% when he left office.

    -TOTAL DEBT ADDED: $1.8 Trillion

    The only negative stat is the debt he added which Reagan admitted was the “greatest disappointment” of his presidency

    Source of statistics:
    U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
    U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis
    U.S. Census Bureau

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