Reagan's Home Gives Up On Reaganomics

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Reagan's Home Gives Up On Reaganomics

Isn't it ironic:

In the gift shop of the Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home is a T-shirt bearing one of the 40th president’s best-known sayings: “Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem.” Since opening to the public in 1984, the home, run by a nonprofit foundation, has lived by that principle, rejecting public money and staying proudly independent. Its website declares, “The Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home does not receive State or Federal Funding.”


One of the main reasons the boyhood home foundation could maintain the Reaganite principle of independence from government for so long was Norm Wymbs, a Florida grocery store magnate who knew Reagan personally and was the home’s biggest benefactor—a “sugar daddy,” in the words of staffers and board members. Wymbs idolized Reagan—he even wrote a book about the president’s years in Dixon—and spent $5 million to restore the house to its 1920s look and build a visitor center. Shortly before his death, he deeded a home he owned in Dixon to the foundation, which sold it in 2013 to a private buyer for $270,000 (the source of the $172,000 profit cited in Coburn’s 2013 report, according to a foundation board member).

That money was used to purchase four small houses near the boyhood home as part of a since-abandoned expansion plan. Wymbs—who called Hastert’s 2002 allocation of $420,000 to buy the home “insulting,” because it didn’t approach his investment over the years—died in 2016, leaving the Reagan home to support itself.

As Reagan has receded into history, attendance has fallen to 5,000 visitors per year. In 2016, finding the home in a state of decrepitude, Gorman took out a $100,000 line of credit. A retired nuclear power plant mechanic, Gorman went a year without taking a salary, but the home was still losing $20,000 to $25,000 annually. Although a pair of $25,000 donations from a local charity will help pay off the line of credit, no one has stepped forward to replace the home’s sugar daddy. Last year, Reagan’s post-presidential secretary, Peggy Grande, came to Dixon for a fundraiser; it netted only $7,500.

When Gorman told the board of directors that he was seeking a Park Service takeover, this time, there was no pushback. Everyone realized the home could no longer raise enough money to remain open.

voice of the damned

They should have foreseen that eventually this would go the way of Grant's Tomb(can anyone even name the city hosting that?), and not made such a big deal about refusing government support. Parks funding for the boyhood home of a popular president can easily be justified without prompting someone to yell "Hypocrites!"

alan smithee alan smithee's picture

Hopefully we are wiutnessing the brutal and violent murder of Reaganomics. After this orange fascist is given the boot next year, maybe a real wave of populism will kick in and they start taxing the rich their share to the economy. Or they can simply move out of here. Good riddance.

By the way, this story reminds me of Ayn Rand that spent her old age collecting Social Security and living in a rent controlled building (or was it City housing? Not sure)

The hypocrisy on the Right is a real laugh riot.