Election of 1980

  • Jimmy Carter ran for Democratic candidate
  • Ronald Reagan ran for the Republican candidate
  • Reagan supported the minorities and condemned federal intervention in local affairs; he also supported “neoconservatives” supporting free-market capitalism and questioning liberal welfare programs
  • Reagan won with 489 electoral votes to Carter’s 49
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Election of 1984

  • Walter Mondale ran for Democratic nomination; he had a woman vice president named Geraldine Ferraro
  • Reagan ran again for Republican nomination and won with 525 electoral votes to Mondale’s 13
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Federal Budget

  • one of Reagan’s main goals was to reduce the size of the government through a reduction in the federal budget and cutting taxes
  • he proposed for cutting the budget by $35 billion
  • August 1981: Congress approved a set of tax reforms that lowered individual tax rates, reduced federal estate taxes, and created tax-free saving methods for small business investors
  • “supply-side” economics would create investments, increase productivity, promote economic growth, and decrease federal deficit
  • the economy began to slip into a recession and income gaps widened between the rich and poor due to various factors including military expenditures and Reagan’s $2 trillion donation to the Pentagon
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Cold War

  • Reagan wanted to expand the presence of the U.S. military
  • March 1983: Reagan announced his plan to promote a high-technology missile-defense system called the Strategic Defensive Initiative (Star Wars)
  • by the end of 1983, all arms-control negotiations were broken
  • Democrats referred to Reagan as the Teflon President (nothing harmful could stick with him)
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Iran-Contra Imbroglio

  • Money that supported Iranian arms was secretly diverted to the contras, violating a congressional ban on military aid to the Nicaraguan rebels
  • November 1968: news of the violations broke out and Reagan claimed he wasn’t aware of the dealings
  • Criminal indictments were brought against Oliver North, John Poindexter, and Caspar Weinberger
  • Congress continually rejected the administration's attempts to aid the contras
  • The Iran-Contra affair established new relationships with the Soviets
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Economic Legacy

  • Supply-side economics had stated that reducing taxes would benefit government revenue
  • the combination of tax reductions and military spending of $200 billion in annual deficits
  • Reagan responded to deficits by promoting practical spending (yuppies represented the values of materialism and pursuit of wealth)
  • early 1990s: median household income declined
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