President Reagan

Election of 1980

  • Slogan: "It's morning in America"
  • Republican candidate
  • It was a conservative age: much of the population was older
  • Reagan seemed suited to carry on the age of conservatism
  • Denounced the activist government in both social and economic areas
  • Promoted "common man"
  • Condemned the big government
  • Populist, political government = no federal intervention in common affairs, favoritism to minorities! and elitism of bureaucrats
  • Wanted to win over Democratic working class as well as the lower-middle-class
  • Not an intellectual but got knowledge from neoconservatists
  • Former actor
  • Promotion of the conservative cause attracted rich businessmen from California = kick started his political career
  • Carter = unable to control inflation = made unpopular
  • Liberal part of the Democratic Party nominated Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts
  • Carter is left as the Democratic candidate after a car accident causes suspicion on Kennedy
  • Reagan uses acting skills to have televised debates
  • Also attacks Carter for the poor economy
  • Carter in return claims that Reagan might push America into a nuclear war
  • Reagan gets 51% of the popular vote
  • Carter gets 41% of the popular vote
  • Reagan gets 489 of the electoral votes while Carter only gets 49
  • Republicans finally gain power over the Senate

Election of 1984

  • Republican Candidate
  • Democratic Nominee: Walter Mondale - became famous when he dictated that Congresswoman Geraldine Ferrar would be his vice-presidential nominee
  • she was the first woman to come on a major-party presidential ticket
  • Mondale was hurt : vice president during the Carter administration
  • Reagan had gotten 525 electoral votes and 52,609,797 popular votes
  • Mondale had only gotten 13 electoral votes and 36,450,613 popular votes
  • Reagan won all states except Minnesota and District of Columbia
  • = easily won
  • foreign policies was issue of second term
  • for example: Gorbachev, Soviet leader, introduced Glasnost, free speech, and Perestroika, help the economy

Problems with the National Budget

  • Reagan: proposes an expenditure of $695 billion
  • the future deficit= $38 billion
  • this led to many social reforms
  • other part of his economic program = tax cuts for about a 25% reduction
  • July 1981: Reagan uses his acting skills on national television as he tried to convince the Congress to pass this tax reform bill
  • August 1981: Congress approves a new tax program that lowered tax rates, federal estate taxes, and implanted new tax-free savings plans for investors
  • = his plan of Supply-side Economics or Reganomics
  • his advisors told him that budget discipline as well as tax reduction = get more investment, productivity, economic growth, but decrease the deficit
  • this theory seemed beneficial at first by by the 1930's, the economy was in its deepest recession
  • 1982: Unemployment was 11%
  • many bank failures
  • for example the automobile industry did very poorly as well
  • lost money due to Japanese imports
  • Democrats got mad at Reagan and accused him to make America carry so much of the economic burden
  • in reality: the tight money policies that gave way to the recession were enacted by the FED
  • Reagan and his followers just simply wait for the storm to pass = on 1983: process of economic recovery starts
  • 1980's: heightened gaps between the rich and poor
  • poor get poorer and watch the rich get richer
  • rise of "yuppies": young, urban professionals
  • the symbolized materialism and pursuit of wealth
  • some believe the prosperity of the 1980's: due to military expenditures not Reagan's reforms
  • = 2 trillion dollars to army
  • 1982: deficit = $100 trillion
  • a lot of borrowing = interest rates were kept high
  • hurt the exports as the value of the dollar skyrocketed
  • 1987: $152 billion in deficits
  • became one of the strongest borrowers by the 1980's

Cold War

  • claimed Soviets were "prepared to commit any crime, to lie, to cheat"
  • did not believe in bettering their relationship with the Soviet Union
  • Soviet Union: "focus of evil in the modern world"
  • thought there was a point in negotiating with the Soviet Union
  • believed if he strengthened the U.S. army = he could terrorize Soviet Union with a renewed arms race
  • America was in a better economical position to carry out this
  • risky = defense budgets would be directed to promoting an arms race that might not even work
  • March 1983: Strategic Defense Initiative - or Star Wars = his want to create a high-technology missile-defense system
  • also called for sending battle stations into space that could use lasers to wipe out missiles
  • felt that this would protect America from the threat of nuclear power
  • changed decades of thinking about the nuclear race as Star Wars dealt with offensive rather than defensive
  • these doubts coupled with scientific doubts = hurt the growth of SDI
  • 1981: Poland organizes into an union = "Solidarity"
  • U.S. = economic sanctions on Poland USSR
  • 1982-1985: oligarchs of Soviet Union die
  • September 1983: blast a Korean passenger airliner
  • 1983: arms-control negotiations between the United States and USSR - end
  • 1984: in response of American boycott of Olympics in Moscow, USSR and Soviet-bloc athletes boycott the Los Angeles Olympic Games

Iran-Contra Imbroglio

  • Reagan faced two daunting problems:
  • = many American hostages in Lebanon who were taken by Muslim extremist groups
  • = power of the left-wing Sandinista government in Nicaragua
  • wanted Congress to give military aid to the rebel fighting against the Sandinista government
  • Congress = no!
  • administration= trying to find ways to help
  • some officials saw a link between the hostage crisis in Lebanon and the government in Nicaragua
  • 1985: diplomats secretly authorized to give weapons to the Iranians in return of aid for releasing the American hostages
  • distribution of arms = against congressional ban on military help to the rebels in Nicaragua
  • also against Reagan's word that he will not negotiate with terrorists
  • 1986: secret dealings become public = much controversy
  • Reagan claims he has no idea of this
  • =Iran-Contra Scandal/Affair
  • some found guilty like Oliver North and John Poindexter
  • hurt Reagan's reputation concerning foreign trade

Economic Legacy

  • helped regulatory rules and pushed for tax reform bills through Congress 1982-1986
  • no balance budget as he had promised
  • Supply-side : claimed that lower taxes would lead to higher government revenue
  • reality: tax reduction and military financing = $200 billion in deficits
  • during his 8 years Reagan gave $2 trillion to the national debt
  • debt was financed by foreigners like Japan
  • economic failure
  • political triumph
  • political goals: slow down the growth of the government as well as stop the social programs of Johnson's Great Society
  • the social spending allowed Reagan to achieve his highest goal: containment of a welfare state
  • was able to maintain his political ideals for awhile even though his economic policies failed
  • 1980's: an equal distribution of income and the rise of the middle class