During an online discussion today, Washington Post reporter Perry Bacon touted "the Reagan years" as an example of "low spending by the government":
Indianapolis, Ind.: Is the GOP message of no spending by the federal government, which to some extent rests on the idea that the last eight years didn't happen, working. It would seem to me to be a tough sell, no matter who was the Democratic president.
Perry Bacon Jr.: I think Republicans like that message, and Jindal and others want to make sure base Republicans are fired up. The last eight years weren't a great test of low spending by the government; Republicans would argue the Reagan years were a better example and more politically successful.
This is complete bunk. Federal government spending increased under Ronald Reagan. Increased significantly more than it did under, for example, Bill Clinton.
It's obvious why conservatives tell fairy tales in which the wise and noble Ronald Reagan kept government spending in check: they think it helps their political and ideological fortunes. It's less apparent why reporters like Perry Bacon repeat these myths.