Capitol throng ponders “What Would Reagan Do?”
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Published: 07-Feb-2012

The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs today (Tuesday, February 7) hosted a state Capitol event posing the question, “What Would Reagan Do?” The group’s president, Michael Carnuccio, hosted a ceremony near a large poster board on which people posted “sticky notes” answer the question.

The rhetorical question drew varied hopeful responses throughout the day from politicians, legislative staffers, and curious citizens who mixed their answers with words of admiration for the late president.

There was a state income tax cut “theme” to many of the postings, and to conversations about the man who fashioned a three-year phased-in reduction of federal income taxes and shepherded it through Congress in the early 1980s. 

Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, designated the state’s Small Business Advocate, noted Reagan’s admiration for the nation’s small-scale entrepreneurs, who then (and now) are the engine of most new job creation.

Senate President Pro Temp Brian Bingman noted Reagan’s “bold leadership” and said those in public life should “seize every opportunity to advance liberty.” He said Reagan’s legacy was a permanent shift in discussion of the role of government. Bingman praised Reagan for restoring an understanding that “innovative and creative individuals drive our economy.” 

Speaker of the House Kris Steele said Oklahoma is “on the path to greatness.” He noted that Reagan often reflected that “no government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size.” Steee remembered, as well, a memorable Reagan quip that government programs were “the closest thing to eternal life on this earth.” 

The Shawnee Republican pledged he would work to end ineffective tax credits, aiming for “net benefit, not net cost” to taxpayers. Saying the Legislature would enact tax reform this year, Steele said Reagan “was always about the taxpayer. I renew my commitment to keeping the taxpayer front and center in this session.” 

R. Marc Nuttle of Norman, a consultant and analyst, addressed the crowd and described his joy at having served Reagan in four eras of the 40th president’s career. Nuttle said Reagan’s leadership reminded him of both Martin Luther and Martin Luther King, Jr. Each of these men, Nuttle said, “changed history, and changed in their lifetimes the relationship between citizens and government.”

Nuttle said that before Reagan, Americans had stopped questioning the power of government over the economy. After him, they’ve never stopped questioning it, and “we are still debating the role of government in our lives. Reagan affirmed our God-given right of freedom from government.” 

In America, “the circumstance of one’s birth is not destiny.” Nuttle said Oklahoma, and the nation, is “in a time for choosing. Oklahoma must set the example.”

In addition to the speakers, the event drew diverse attendees. One was Commissioner of Labor Mark Costello, who told CapitolBeatOK, “Listening to some of these speakers gave me goose bumps. Ronald Reagan is the greatest president of my lifetime and, I think, the greatest president of the Twentieth Century. He understood the tyranny of too much government. We are still looking for the new Reagan. Until we find him or her, the old Reagan’s words still inspire us every time we hear them.”

Another attendee was Brenda Jones, a public relations specialist who served in the administration of the man often dubbed “The Great Communicator.” She served Reagan both at the White House and in agency work. Jones said Reagan’s model of strength in purpose and civility toward others remains an inspiration to her. She recalled words from one of his last speeches, in which Reagan said he was “not a great communicator. I just talked about great ideas.”

When it came time for her own message post, Governor Mary Fallin wrote:

“Oklahoma is poised to carry out the great legacy of President Reagan to preserve economic freedom for all Oklahomans through limited government, lower taxes and personal responsibility. God bless Oklahoma.”

OCPA circulated “10 Reagan rules to govern by.” They were:

1.     Be courageous. Be bold.

2.     Don’t take yourself too seriously.

3.     Government is not the solution.

4.     Take a no-nonsense approach to dealing with unions and Special Interests.

5.     Promote free enterprise and freedom, and defend them against any foe – anywhere.

6.     Be cheerful and be conservative.

7.     Choose fiscal restrains. Choose responsibly.

8.     Be tough on crime, but be smart on crime.

9.     Promote private sector money for worthy causes.

10. Tear down the “status quo” in Oklahoma politics.The event was held the day after what would have been Reagan’s 101st birthday. ON that day, Fallin delivered the annual State of the State address to the Legislature, calling for the largest tax cut in state history.

Note: CapitolBeatOK Editor Patrick B. McGuigan discussed the Reagan legacy and political model with Alex Cameron during News9’s Capitol Report last Saturday. The segment can be viewed here

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