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Ronald Reagan’s Time
Ronald Reagan is regarded as one of the top reformists among Presidents of the United States of America. The supporters of Reagan’s policies say that he played a critical part in stimulating the economic growth of the U.S., strengthening the national defense of the country, bringing an end to the cold war, and reviving the Republican Party (Tindall and David 1331). He was praised by Political scientists that his wisdom was perhaps comparable to that of Abraham Lincoln. However, his opponents claim that he was not qualified to occupy the Presidency; stating he overstuffed the national defense, significantly reduced the budget for things like social services, and caused significant shortfalls in the American economy (Ronald Reagan). Sound familiar? The same arguments are being said today about President Trump. The following discussion discusses how life in America was during Reagan’s time, the various issues that faced Reagan’s administration, how well he responded to challenges, and whether or not he was a good president.
When Ronald Reagan came into power, he basically inherited a nightmare from President Carter. The economic performance of the United States was declining dramatically. The inflation rate was near an unprecedented 10% with an interest rate doubling that (Ronald Reagan). To combat the failing economy, Ronald’s “Reaganomics” was instituted (Ahmed 62). Reaganomics also referred to as the free- market economy, focused on minimizing State’s spending, downsizing federal income tax, and checking on money supply to the economy (Ahn, Sang Hoon, and Soo 109). The primary objective of Reaganomics was to curb inflation rate in the United States of America. As a result of implementing the Reaganomics policy, the rate of inflation dropped from a two digit to one digit number. Likewise, there was an improvement in the real gross domestic product. It may feel like President Trump is copying Reagan’s plan as he is implementing similar policies to Reagan. Like Reagan he has instituted economic policies that favored defense spending, decreased regulations on business, decreased personal income taxes, and brought down costs on social services (Ronald Reagan). Reagan’s weight on economics was placed in the hope that decreasing taxes would boost economic advance (Ronald Reagan). Reagan utilized legislation and passed several Acts; to include the Economic Recovery Tax Act, the 1982 Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act, and the 1986 Tax Reform Act (Ronald Reagan). These new tax laws led to some of the largest tax cuts in the attempt to stimulate the economy.
As a result of the above policies, the American economy experienced the nastiest recession since the Depression. The Federal Reserve tried to tackle the situation by increasing interest rates to combat the 14% surge in inflation rates. This, in turn, caused the rate of unemployment to rise to over 10% which equates to over 9 million out of work. Consequently, devastation hit thousands of businesses forcing them to close. The most vulnerable citizens of the nation were struck with homelessness and hunger. It certainly was a bleak time which was only getting worse. By 1983, over 11 million people were out of work. The nation needed relief, and Reagan’s administration felt this. His disapproval ratings rose “to above 50%, from 18% in 1981” (Ronald Reagan).
Additionally, Reagan’s passion was not only to fight inflation but to tackle the nation’s drug problem. The president’s “War on Drugs” campaign resulted in a significant decline in casual drugs abuse. Regan’s policies saw a decrease in marijuana and cocaine usage in America over his term (Hawdon 420). He increased “funding for the drug war from $1.5 billion in 1981 to $2.75 billion in 1986” (Ronald Reagan). Reagan also penned many executive orders that were directed to crime and justice. He organized a crime commission to dismantle crime syndicates in America to accomplish this task (Putzel). It may be overwhelming to think about the internal circumstances Reagan faced; however, he had to confront external tribulations also.
External threats were a major concern during the Reagan presidency. Reagan, therefore, increased military budget so as to equip the US forces with better weapons, possibly to match the threat of a USSR nuclear attack on the USA (Troy 140). Reagan, unlike his predecessors, wanted to put an end to the cold war which heightened tension between the USSR and the United States. However, Reagan continued the arms race with the USSR. Reagan critics have argued that he feared to engage in war with the USSR, but various historians counter critic the line of thinking by suggesting that Reagan played mental war with the USSR. In fact, there is substantial evidence that Reagan managed to save the world from possible nuclear attack (Krebs 813). He accomplished this by wisely challenging leaders of the Soviet Union to destroy a nuclear launch station in Cuba. In return, Reagan also oversaw the removal of the USA nuclear plants which were fueling suspicion between the two super powers. Reagan’s foreign policy initiatives had both negative and positive implications. Regan ended the 46-year old cold war through a combination of anti-communist and aggressive rhetoric; he also embarked on an immense arm increase that was followed by disarmament and skillful diplomatic negotiations (Ronald Reagan). As a result, the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. Nonetheless, some of Reagan’s foreign policies went against his promises. For instance, Reagan’s administration aided the guerilla fighters in Nicaragua which came to be known as the Iran-Contra scandal (Ronald Reagan). Reagan’s support was manifested in the form of donations to the fighters after the sale of missiles to Iran
Considering the above assertions, Reagan’s character made him both a good president and a bad one. “Reagan’ charm, for example, helped him to connect with both the ordinary citizens and other world leaders” (Ronald Reagan). This quality led to the development of the nickname “The Great Communicator.” The president’s speeches enabled him to regain the trust of his electorate. Nonetheless, Reagan’s detached leadership methods led to the growth of illegitimate undertakings like the “Iran-Contra” scandal. Reagan allowed his Chief of Staff to make most judgments on his behalf; thus, some of the decisions that were made did not favor the American government (Ronald Reagan). As it turns out, his administration gave Iran weapons in return for hostages that Lebanon held (Iran-Contra). This contradicted Reagan’s policy on never giving into terrorist organizations.
In conclusion, the legacy of Regan was his Reagan’s administration led to both the improvement and deterioration of the economy of the U.S. during his time in office. His policies stimulated the economy of the U.S., brought an end to the cold war, and improved the defense of America. However, the same policies had adverse effects on the American economy since they bloated the budgetary allocation for defense, led to significant budget cuts in the social service sector, and resulted in the development of the worst recession since the Depression. In general, history reveals that Reagan’s ability to regain the confidence of both the world leaders and his electorate helped him to come up with some of the most rational policies, as discussed above. When Reagan left office, he was “among the most popular figures in American life” (Longley 3). President Reagan played a critical role in restoring the United States of America as a superpower country. Even after Reagan left office, many people revered him for his exceptional leadership style (Why was). If there was only one reason to remember Reagan it should be; he may have prevented world war 3.
Ahmed, Alouani. “Inflation And Growth In The USA, From Eisenhower To G. W. Bush: A Descriptive Study”. International Journal of Economics, Finance and Management 4.2 (2015): 62. http://www.ejournalofbusiness.org/archive/vol4no2/vol4no2_3.pdf.
Ahn, Sangâ€Hoon, and Sooâ€Wan Kim. “Social Investment, Social Service and the Economic Performance of Welfare States.” International Journal of Social Welfare, vol. 24, no. 2, 2015, pp. 109-119, doi:10.1111/ijsw.12094
Hawdon, James E. “the Role of Presidential Rhetoric in the Creation of a Moral Panic: Reagan, Bush, and the War on Drugs.” Deviant Behavior, vol. 22, no. 5, 2001, pp. 419-445, doi:10.1080/01639620152472813.
“Iran-Contra Affair”. U-s-history.com. N. p., 2017. Web. 28 Feb. 2017. Accessed, http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h1889.html
Krebs, Ronald R. “How Dominant Narratives Rise and Fall: Military Conflict, Politics, and the Cold War Consensus.” International Organization, vol. 69, no. 4, 2015, pp. 809-845, ProQuest Central, https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy1.apus.edu/docview/1724669689?
Longley, Kyle, et al. Deconstructing Reagan: Conservative Mythology and America’s Fortieth President. Routledge Ltd, Armonk, 2007;2006; 2015; doi:10.4324/9781315705231.
Putzel, Michael Associated P. “Reagan Names Commission To Combat Crime.” Boston Globe (pre-1997 Fulltext), Jul 28, 1983, pp. 1, ProQuest Central, https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy2.apus.edu/docview/294149701?accountid=8289
“Ronald Reagan – Procon.Org”. Reagan.procon.org. N. p., 2017. Web. 28 Feb. 2017.Accessed http://reagan.procon.org/#Background
Tindall, George Brown, and David E. Shi. America: A narrative history. New York: WW Norton & Company, 2016. 1423.28,35, https://web.viu.ca/davies/H132/TindallShi.Vol2.pdf
Troy, Gil. Morning in America: how Ronald Reagan invented the 1980’s. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2013. Pup.princeton.edu ISBN: 9780691130606 444.448, http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/i7920.html
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