Ronald Reagan

Reagan was not the "hero" soundbite Republicans portray him as. In truth he was a second string Hollywood actor who parlayed his testimony (naming names) to the 1950s McCarthy communist witch hunt  into a political career.   Amid the "red scare" in the late 1940s, Reagan provided the FBI with names of actors whom he believed to be communist sympathizers within the motion picture industry.  Reagan testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee on the subject as well.  His made up denunciations of his peers to the infamous McCarthy commission destroyed many lives. His military service was a mere continuation of his acting career.

As to his supposed crushing of  Soviet communism by means of the arms race, their economic demise was well underway before he began his presidency.  It was Mikael Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin that deserve the credit for responding to the will of the Russian people.  All Reagan's unparalleled defense build up did (40% increase) was line the pockets of his military industrial complex cronies.

The Reagan policies were labeled "trickle down economics".  Supposedly the combination of significant tax cuts for corporations and a massive increase in Cold War related defense spending and large budget deficits would create jobs and increase tax revenues.   In order to cover new federal budget deficits, the United States borrowed heavily both domestically and abroad, raising the national debt from $997 billion to $2.85 trillion, and the United States moved from being the world's largest international creditor to the world's largest debtor nation.  The unemployment rate did not improve thanks to the new trend of "outsourcing".

Besides his off the charts increases in defense spending and tripling the national debt, to the direct benefit of his Richy Rich Republican benefactors, he also took it upon himself with a Republican majority congress to decrease taxes almost entirely for the upper brackets.  Any decreases for average Americans were offset by limitations on itemized deductions and tax credits.  Why would tax decreases for corporations and the wealthiest be in order with an unprecedented increase in the national debt?  Because the unstated secret (wink wink) agenda of Republicans is to cripple the Federal government and devolve unfettered power to the  corporate elite. 

As part of this agenda he began the assault on unions (Unions - The best thing that ever happened for average Americans.) by using his executive powers to crush a strike by Air Traffic Controllers, firing them all, and replacing them with trainees, with no care for passenger safety.

Get the whole story from Wikipedia and more at Salon & The Onion.