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Reagan cited often in debt debate by -- Dems!

Ronald Reagan has come up many times during the ongoing debate over cutting the budget and raising the debt limit.

But the people bringing him up may be a bit surprising, reports CBS News Senior White House Correspondent Bill Plante.

It's been - Democrats who keep invoking the name of the conservative Republican hero.

Special Section: America's debt battle

Reagan's strong right-leaning stands didn't stop him from compromising with Democrats who controlled Congress, Plante observes. And that's why today's Democrats are pointing to him during the current debate.

President Obama has said, "Ronald Reagan worked with (then House Speaker) Tip O'Neill and Democrats to cut spending, raise revenues."

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D, Md.) has noted, "Ronald Reagan said that there were important times for compromise for the good of the country."

And White House Press Secretary Jay Carney has said, "Ronald Reagan successfully reached agreements with the Democratic speaker of the House."

The debt ceiling was raised 18 times during Reagan's eight years in office.

In 1983, he wrote the Republican Senate majority leader asking for an increase so the U.S. wouldn't "be forced to default on its obligations for the first time in its history."

Historian David Brinkley says it shows Reagan was a pragmatic conservative.

"He knew," says Brinkley, "we couldn't be perceived globally as reneging, because it very well might send the world economy spiraling in ugly directions. So, Reagan is the exact guy the Democrats should be quoting over the summer, and they're doing it."

But Reagan's last chief of staff, Ken Duberstein, says, not so fast.

"He would have said, 'Fight for the principle of no-new-taxes, if you're going to raise the debt limit. It's the responsible thing to do, but do it along with massive spending cuts, because the country needs it desperately in order to get our economy going."'

And yes, Reagan was willing to compromise, says Duberstein -- but President Obama hasn't built the consensus needed to do the same thing.

"The trouble," says Duberstein, "is (that), for the first two years, he didn't develop the levels of trust and confidence, and people would say, 'O.K. We'll give him the benefit of the doubt.' Nor has he sold to the American people as effectively as Ronald did."