MORGAN HOOVER, NEWS-PRESS CORRESPONDENT
August 14, 2009 7:04 AM
While debate over federal spending rages throughout the country, the policies of the Reagan administration were remembered nostalgically by conservative activists Thursday afternoon at the former president's Santa Ynez Valley ranch.
The Young America's Foundation held its annual celebration for the anniversary of the Economic Recovery Tax Act with guest speaker David Kim, CEO of Baja Fresh, Cinnabon and La Salsa.
Sitting on the shaded lawn, audience members ate lunch and then listened to a formal presentation, filled with rhetoric celebrating both capitalism and former President Ronald Reagan before entering the house to take a look around.
Andrew Coffin, the director of the ranch, induced audience laughter when he said, "I believe this is the only place in the country where this anniversary is being celebrated."
Conservative Kate Obenshaim spoke next to introduce Mr. Kim, who was born in North Korea and moved to the United States as a child.
Ms. Obenshaim said she was glad to be at the ranch because as a conservative, she finds Washington D.C. right now to be "depressing and demoralizing."
"North Korea is an example of how damaging socialism can be," she said. "David Kim ... is the American dream."
Mr. Kim told attendees that he will always be grateful to President Reagan for teaching him "what it means to be an American."
He then responded to Ms. Obenshaim's statement about Washington D.C. with a joke.
"I do love going to Washington," he said. "After all, that's where all my money is."
Mr. Kim then spoke seriously about the cuts of the Economic Recovery Tax Act, signed by President Reagan 28 years ago.
"It's no mistake that he ... chose this beloved ranch" to sign the bill, he said. "To him, this ranch represented freedom; it's easy to see why."
Mr. Kim said President Reagan "returned over $750 billion to the American people."
"Let's try to understand how much a billion would be," he said. "If you sat down and counted to a billion without stopping, you would be counting for 95 years."
Mr. Kim told the audience about his experience involving the move from North Korea to the United States.
"Capitalism is ... the fastest path to human freedom," he said. "The start of communism is a process of socialism. A government powerful enough to give you everything you want is also powerful enough to take away everything you have."
Mr. Kim asserted that President Reagan would disagree with the economic approach taken by the current administration.
"He would say, 'Stop punishing our hard work,'" said Mr. Kim, who is also the author of "Ignite!: The 11 Values that Fuel Billionaire Success."
Referring to his earliest years in the country, Mr. Kim said he remembered admiring President Reagan.
"Here was a leader who believed in letting me climb as high as my ambitions would take me," he said. "He never stopped teaching Americans that the class warfare rhetoric was a way to get votes."
For more information on the Economic Recovery Tax Act, visit reaganranch.org.