Ronald Wilson Reagan

January 20, 1981 – January 20, 1989

Election of 1980

National Budget

When Reagan took office the economy was one of the double-digit inflation and high interest rates.

  • Reagan's economic policy was "Reaganomics," an attempt, to "balance the federal budget, increase defense spending, and cut income taxes."
  • He promised to protect programs such as Medicare and Social Security
  • Reagan supported "supply side economics," which were tax cuts that encouraged economic expansion, increasing the government's revenue at a lower tax rate
  • During his first year in office, there was $39 billion in budget cuts, and a massive 25% tax cut
  • He was adamant and successful in gaining funding for defense
  • A severe recession set in, with unemployment exceeding 10% in October, 1982 for the first time in forty years
  • There was a modified economic policy that involved selected tax increases and budget cuts to control rising deficits and higher interest rates. After the 1982 downturn, the reduced inflation rate sparked record economic growth, and produced one of the lowest unemployment rates in modern U.S. history
  • As Reagan left office, the nation was experiencing its sixth consecutive year of economic prosperity
  • The budget deficit was exacerbated by a trade deficit
  • Americans continued to buy more foreign goods than they were selling
  • Reagan signed a trade agreement with Canada
  • Also signed trade legislation to open foreign markets to U.S. goods

Iran-Contra Affair

  • Secret arrangement in the 1980s, where US provided funds to the Nicaraguan contra rebels.
  • We provided these funds from profits gained by selling military supplies to Iran.
  • We supported the contras who were forming a guerrilla war against the Sandinista government of Nicaragua, and tried to calm "moderates" within the Iranian government.
  • Trying to secure the safe release of American hostages held by pro-Iranian groups in Lebanon.

Economic Legacy

There is much debate over weather Reagan left a good economic legacy, and produced good economic policies. Despite what many historians and economists believe, Reagan produced a phenomenal legacy that forever changed the terms of economic debate in America.