Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz and CBS late-night host Stephen Colbert had a robust, if polite, debate during Colbert’s Sept. 21 show, as the two examined the legacy of President Ronald Reagan on economic growth and taxation.
Colbert asked Cruz whether he could agree with Reagan’s support of "amnesty" for undocumented immigrants and the president’s willingness to raise some taxes amid budget shortfalls.
Cruz said "of course not," before pivoting to Reagan’s biggest conservative accomplishments, one of which was that he "signed the largest tax cut in history" and spurred economic growth.
"When (Ronald) Reagan came in, from 1978 to 1982, economic growth averaged less than 1 percent a year," Cruz said. "There’s only one other four-year period where that’s true. That’s true from 2008 to 2012."
His point was that Reagan rescued the U.S. economy from the ravages it suffered under his Democratic predecessor, President Jimmy Carter, and that the only other equivalent economic distress occurred under Carter’s fellow Democrat, Barack Obama.
Colbert responded, "But when conditions changed in the country, he reversed his world’s ‘largest tax cut’ and raised taxes when revenues did not match the expectations. So it’s a matter of compromising."
PolitiFact checked Cruz on the accuracy of his recapping when the United States had low GDP growth, as well as Colbert’s rejoinder about whether Reagan eventually rolled back his initial tax cuts.