Events and Issues: 1990-2000

Entering Into A New Millenium

GEORGE H.W. BUSH

After two terms as president, Reagan left office in 1989, his Vice President George H.W. Bush succeeded him. Bush was in office when the Berlin Wall came down and when the Soviet Union finally collapsed in the early 1990's.

THE PERSIAN GULF WAR

Bush acted as commander in chief over the nation’s military during the Persian Gulf War. Iraq’s leader Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. Due to the reliance of oil from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, Saddam’s actions concerned the U.S. Saddam was forced to withdraw back and after 41 days the war was over and Kuwait was liberated.

FOREIGN OIL

Events like the OPEC oil embargo of the 1970's and the Persian Gulf War in the 1990's showed the growing concern in the U.S. dependence on foreign oil. Many U.S. citizens believed that the nation should not rely so heavily on foreign oil supplies especially from nations that did not maintain good relations with the U.S. Some called for more oil drilling at home, others emphasized the need to pursue alternative sources of fuel.

THE ECONOMY AND THE ELECTION OF 1992

The Presidential election of 1992 was one of the most memorable in history. Bush represented the Republicans and Arkansas governor Bill Clinton represented the Democrats.


Clinton understood how democrats were perceived as being tax and spend liberals who would raise taxes to fund big government. Clinton successfully portrayed himself as a “New Democrat” who was (in between conservative and liberal) rather than liberal.

THE CLINTON PRESIDENCY

The economy saw an uprising during the Clinton presidency. The nation went from a massive budget deficit (spending more money) to a budget surplus (spending less money).


The U.S. also ratified NAFTA. NAFTA promoted free trade between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Clinton sought to improve the U.S. healthcare system.


Clinton who was disturbed that nearly 40 million citizens had no insurance appointed his wife Hillary to head the task force. Clinton ended up presenting a plan to fix the healthcare but Congress rejected it.

THE “CONTRACT WITH AMERICA” AND THE 1994 ELECTION

The Clinton administration faced a setback in 1994 when the Republicans won control of both the House and Senate. The contract was a pledge by conservatives to scale back the role of the government, cut taxes, and balance the budget.


A huge showdown occurred and the government was forced to temporarily shut down. This became known as the budget battle. In August of 1996, Clinton signed into law a sweeping welfare reform. Clinton placed restrictions on entitlements. The policy boosted Clinton’s popularity just before the election. He easily won the election.

SCANDAL AND IMPEACHMENT

Bill Clinton is believed by many to be a brilliant politician but his legacy is forever attached to a series of scandals. The final scandal was by far the biggest; a young woman named Paula Jones accused Clinton of sexual harassment.


Clinton was also asked about the nature of his relationship with a White House intern named Monica Lewinsky. Under oath Clinton denied any misconduct but as more evidence came to life it was determined that he had lied. On December 19, 1998 the House voted to impeach President Clinton, but the Senate voted to acquit him.

THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION OF 2000

Decided by a mere 537 votes, in the state of Florida, the election of 2000 is the closest election in U.S. history. The Democratic candidate was Al Gore and the Republican candidate was George W. Bush.


On election night it was determined that Florida would decide the outcome with their 25 electoral votes. Early on it was announced that al Gore had won Florida, but these predictions had been made before voting in the panhandle (the western part of Florida that sits in the central time zone) As the evening wore on and the panhandle votes were counted the media changed to Bush had won Florida.