Key Period 9

1980 - Present

Victories for Conservatives

Tax cuts under Reagan

One of President Reagan’s goals was to improve income equality to facilitate economic growth. believing that the government was an obstacle to its success. To achieve his economic objective, his administration instituted a set of policies, commonly known as Reaganomics, to increase the supply of goods. It followed the theory of supply-side economics, which asserted investment in productive enterprises-this meant reducing taxes paid by corporations and wealthy Americans because their additional funds could be used to expand production; as a result, government revenues would increase and the loss tax dollars would be compensated by consumer demands. In 1981, Reagan won approval of the Economic Recovery Tax Act (ERTA), reducing income tax rates by 23% over three years, as well as cutting estate taxes to prevent huge fortunes from being inherited generation to generation. Furthermore, it reduced the taxes paid by business corporations by $15o billion over five years. As a result, by 1986, the annual revenue of the federal government had been cut by $200 billion (Pages 982-983).

Tax cuts under Bush

In 2001, President Bush passed the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Act. It reduced income tax rates, extended the earned income credit for the poor, and planned to discontinue the estate tax by 2010. In 2003, he made tax cuts again, this time targeting dividend income and capital gains. These cuts favored big estates and affluent owners of stocks and bonds, altering the distribution of tax benefits upward (Table 31.1). Compared to Reagan and any other postwar president, Bush had slashed the most federal taxes. As a result, the massive tax cuts plunged the federal government into debt with Medicare and Medicaid-health care for the elderly and the poor-as the main culprit due to increases in healthcare costs. During Bush's second term, the national debt was over $8 trillion, a burden passed onto future generations (Page 1026).

"Contract with America"

During the midterm election of 1994, Clinton's presidency confirmed that Republicans were still the working majority; with a well-organized campaign, Republicans had gained fifty-two seats in the House of Representatives. Leading the Republicans was Representative Newt Gingrich, who revived calls for significant tax cuts, reductions in welfare programs, anticrime initiatives, and cutbacks in federal regulations under what he called a "Contract with America." Similar to the Reagan Revolution of the 1980s,the "Contract with America" held conservative values, something Gingrich believed that President H. W. Bush had not emphasized them enough (Pages 1021-1022)

Setback for Conservatives

  • Planned Parenthood v. Casey: this was a court case in which the prohibition of banned abortions affirmed. in addition, 4 out of 5 conditions of abortions were regulated:

    • 24 hr waiting period

    • Informed consent

    • Parental consent for minors

    • Imposition of certain reporting information from facilities

  • Essentially, the states that initially prohibited abortions were deemed unconstitutional

  • Planned Parenthood v. Casey served as continuation of the basic ruling under the Roe v. Wade case (1973)

  • After Roe v. Wade, social and political unrest occurred as some states went against roe by prohibiting abortions while others were in support of abortions. thus when the court ruling for Planned Parenthood v. Casey occurred, conservative it was in support of the conservatives

  • Conservative republicans during this time period supported abortion while liberals were pro-life
  • (Page 1020)

Size and Scope of the government GREW under conservative despite denouncing “Big Government"

One of the failures of the conservative movements was the growth of government even though conservatives denounced a "big government". Ronald Reagan said "Government is not the solution to your problem, Government is the problem" during his inaugural speech. But instead of a decreasing size of the government, it grew under Reagan's term possibly due to Reaganomics and the theory underlying supply-side economics.

Bellicose Rhetoric

Bellicose Rhetoric can be referred as effective speech or writing to demonstrate aggression and willingness to fight. Bellicose Rhetoric was involved with Reagan and the Soviet Union by the so called "Star Wars." ("Star Wars" consisted of the Soviet Union sending a a satellite into space and the US shooting it down with a laser, but this never happened.) During Reagan's first term he referred the Soviet Union as the "Evil Empire", as that heated up tensions between the US and the Soviet Union. However, Reagan goes back to detente, pulls weapons, and improves relations between Gorbachev.

North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

NAFTA, ratified by Congress in 1993, eliminated all trade barriers and tariffs among the UNited States, Canada, and Mexico. NAFTA was the subject of much controversy. free trade proponents promised global prosperity as more nations participated in the global economy; while opponents were worried that free trade would prevent nations from being able to implement environmental regulations, ensure worker rights, or protect fledgling industries from foreign competition. President Clinton’s embrace of NAFTA represents not only a conscious decision to move the Democratic party into a more moderate direction but is was also a part of a greater, broader push toward the complete removal of trade barriers (AKA Globalization) (Page 1010).

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

The armed forces of the united States have historically discriminated against gays serving in the military. In 1982, the Department of Defense issued a policy that stated, “Homosexuality is incompatible with military service”. In response, gay and lesbian members of the military began a campaign to change the military’s policy. Finally, in 1994, the military implemented a policy that allowed gays and lesbian members of the military to serve, as long as they remained “closeted”, keeping their sexual identity hidden from public view. Advocates for gays and lesbians insisted that the policy, called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, was discriminatory and that it limited the freedom of speech and expression of gay and lesbian members of the military. The policy has since been repealed by an act of Congress, signed by President Obama in 2011 (Page 1017).


The Reagan Revolution: Crash Course US History #43
The Clinton Years, or the 1990s: Crash Course US History #45
Terrorism, War, and Bush 43: Crash Course US History #46
Globalization I - The Upside: Crash Course World History #41
CNN: 1994, Gingrich's 'Contract with America'
APUSH Review: Period 9 In 10 Minutes! (1980 - Present)