This week's blog will cover, "Is Reagan a Conservative?" Later on this week I will cover the "Bush Tax Cuts."
Right off the bat I can say a big fat "NO" for the Obama part of the question.
As for Reagan...
This link was posted as a citation for, "Debt grew at a faster rate under Reagan than under any president in history," which is not true. As we can see, the debt under the Reagan administration grew from $907 billion (in today's dollars) to $2.6 trillion when he left office 8 years later. During those 8 years, liberals controlled the House for all 8 years, and the Senate for the last two. Why this is important, I will explain later.
Under the Obama administration with a liberal-controlled Congress, our debt increased from $10 trillion when he took office to $13.5 trillion just two years later. That's an increase of $3.5 trillion over two years, as compared to an increase of $1.6 trillion over the whole 8 years of Reagan's term.
To compare budget deficits, Reagan had an average of $186 billion a year, while the current administration has had an average of $1.3 trillion a year.
I noted above that it was important to remember who controlled Congress during Reagan's administration. Congress controls the budget. They decide what the tax rates are and they decide how much is spent and where. Like any other law, the most Reagan or any president can do is veto it.
Luckily for Reagan, he wasn't stuck with a veto-proof Congress like so many Rhode Island governors have been stuck with for the past 80 years. He had some leeway and could negotiate and compromise with them (namely with Tip O'Neil, the Speaker at the time).
None the less, Reagan was able to cut taxes significantly over the course of his administration. As you can see in the citation, effective tax rates went from 15 percent to 10 percent for the bottom tier and 70 percent to 28 percent for the top tier. He also rewrote the tax code so that it was indexed for inflation, which would sometimes push people into a higher tax bracket even though they did not actually make more money.
Because the tax rate fell so quickly, Reagan advocated a closing of loopholes. Shri compared it to Obama's call and stated it showed "Class Warfare." The difference between the two are astronomical. While Obama wants to not only raise taxes and close the loopholes, Reagan would only close certain loopholes after the tax rate fell dramatically, since some of them were unnecessary once that occurred.
To get the above tax cut, and other items of importance to him (increased Defense spending, for instance) Reagan would agree to different tax and spending increases that the liberal-controlled House wanted. For instance, in 1986 he agreed to raising the national fuel tax from 4 to 9 cents. He also agreed to start taxing cigarettes during his administration.
As you can see from the above citation, Reagan only raised taxes once, in 1982. He was promised by Tip O'Neil that for every $1 in tax increases, $3 would be cut in spending. Reagan agreed to the compromise, but guess what? One week later, over Reagan's veto, they passed the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 1982, which effectively erased any spending cuts (it in fact, increased spending)... which means Reagan received nothing in return for his agreeing to raise taxes.
To see Reagan's fiscal policy fully, you should read his platform for 1984. In it, you see much of the same conservative thinking that dominates our ideology today.
Shri also asked about some foreign policy decisions. Of course he concentrated on the failures, but what he didn't concentrate on were the successes.
Reagan believed in the simple adage, "Peace through Strength." He modernized and built up our military strength, knowing that if the USSR were to try to match it, it would cause them to collapse (which it did).
Should Reagan have ever traded arms for hostages? No. Should he have pulled out of Lebanon after the bombing? No. These are mistakes, no doubt, and they do not reflect today's conservative ideology.
So while there are exceptions, some of which are noted in Shri's post, some of which I noted above, Reagan rarely swayed from a conservative line of thinking. Because of this my answer is Yes, Reagan is a Conservative.
Expect the next blog to be published on either Friday or Saturday when I will cover Larry Welsh's question on the Bush Tax Cuts.