Reagan’s tax reform did not make much sense at the time. Most of the tax favors in his tax plans would help out the well-off. He argued that he was defending the tax payer from what Barry Goldwater would call the Leviathan of government. Perlstein writes in The Invisible Bridge of Reagan’s response:
Are we automatically destined to tax and spend, spend and tax indefinitely, until the people have nothing left of their earnings for themselves? Have we abandoned or forgotten the interests and well-being of the taxpayer whose toil makes government possible in the first place? Or is he to become a pawn in a deadly game of government monopoly whose only purpose is to serve the confiscatory appetites of runaway government spending?
California had a budget surplus at the time so it didn’t quite make sense.
During the 1973 energy crisis, there was some concern of various states running short of energy and having to go through drastic measures to keep it going. Reagan would not have anything to do with it. Reagan decided to blame environmentalists for preventing California from building nuclear power plants. Besides, he argued, the state wouldn’t be able to do a lot in the event of a fuel shortage.That was news to the head of the state government’s resources agency, Perlstein writes, the nuclear facilities weren’t being built because “their sites were on earthquake faults.”