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Ronald Reagan during 1981-1989
Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as the 40th president of the United States on January 20 1981. He assumed office after a landslide victory against then President Jimmy Carter and stayed in office up to January 20, 1989. Regarding the conservative shift in American politics that was a loss of confidence in the liberal policies that had been adopted by the Democratic Party under the presidency of Jimmy Carter (Anderson & Anderson 34). The Reagan administration passed policies to introduce tax cuts and to increase military spending. Additionally, the administration was involved in modifying federal regulations. Supply-side economics affected the economic policies passed by the Reagan administration (Groot 34). As a result of increased spending and reduced tax cuts the United States of America recorded increased budget deficits particularly after the signing of the Tax Reform Act. President Ronald Reagan also signed the Immigration Reform Act into law which affected US immigration law and provided amnesty to more than 3 million illegal immigrants (Groot 96). The president also appointed four Supreme Court justices to become the first president who had appointed the most federal court judges after that time.
Conservative Policies of Ronald Reagan
Granted, Ronald Reagan was renowned for being a leader of the conservative school of thought in politics through the foreign policies and the created domestic policies. One of the reasons why Ronald Reagan was able to establish conservatism was due to the growing public distrust of American leaders. The distrust of American leaders and declining powerful institutions also caused Ronald Reagan to implement conservative policies to win popular support of Americans who preferred a political leader who supported the implementation of conservatism (Groot 67). Liberalism was criticized for having a divisive vie of issues. President Ronald Reagan who had previously served as governor of California lost the presidential primaries in 1976 and was able to use conservative politics as his campaign agenda in the 1980 elections. Notably, the political environment during the campaigns was tense due to the Iran hostage crisis which had significantly affected American politics (Groot 55). In spite of the fact that Ronald Reagan supported tax cuts he increased military spending as part of his policies to defeat the Soviet Union.
An assassination attempt was made against Ronald Reagan On March 1981 a few days into his new administration. His press secretary, a Washington police officer and a secret service agent were caught in gunfire from an assassin. In spite of the attack Ronald Reagan was able to recover and survived an assassination attempt (Anderson & Anderson 27). As a consequence of the failed assassination attempt public support and popularity for the president increased rapidly. This popularity allowed him to pass his agenda within the United States of America.
One of the agendas that the president passed was the Laissez Faire philosophy where he advocated for a free market system. Ronald Reagan also advocated for domestic tax cuts to reduce the rate of inflation. Ronald Reagan also believed that tax reduction could lead to an increment in government revenues. One of the reasons why Ronald Reagan was able to pass his policies because conservative democrats supported some of his policies (Groot 67). Ronald Reagan also made a decision to regularly meet with Southern conservative democrats that controlled the House of Representatives with an intention of winning their support.
In addition to the tax cuts passed by Ronald Reagan he decided to introduce a Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act to deal with the mounting federal debt levels. The argument that was made was that his administration was unable to pass budget cuts without increasing taxes to ensure government operations were successful. The policies of Ronald Reagan to implement tax cuts was based on the argument that reduced revenue levels would result in lower spending levels which were unacceptable. Ronald Reagan also determined that it was necessary to dismantle critical and expensive programs such as the Office of Economic Opportunity as well as Medicaid (Anderson & Anderson 66). As a result, the president reduced spending on the school lunch program and the food stamps program to reduce federal spending on social programs. The administration of Ronald Reagan also introduced comprehensive employment and the training act as well as his eligibility for offering economic benefits (Groot 52). During Ronald Reagan’s presidency the number of foreign federal employees was significantly reduced by 200,000.
Between 1981 and 1989 the national debt tripled between 1980 and 1989. As a consequence, the congress passed automatic spending cuts to reduce the budget deficit. In spite of the budget deficit Reagan was able to positively influence the economy of the United States of America since he took office at a time where the country was going through a period of stagflation. During his presidency, unemployment rates and inflation rates were considerably higher (Groot 85). There was a brief period of economic growth in the first two years of Ronald Reagan’s office. The president sought to reduce inflation by pursuing policies to offset high interest rates to restrict lending and investment (Tucker 49). The intention of these policies was to increase the rate of unemployment and the rate of inflation by reducing economic growth. The country was able to rise from economic recession in 1983 as not all individuals shared in the economic recovery since economic inequality affected most citizens within the United States of America.
During the presidency of Ronald Reagan the employees who were part of labor unions reduced considerably. The government was also engaged in policies to loosen the federal regulations imposed on economic activities. One of the actions taken by the president was the appointment of officials who shared the economic agenda that he propagated. The proposed economic policies also allowed banks to provide adjustable mortgages (Anderson & Anderson 38). Ronald Reagan was also known for radical government policies such as the arbitrary dismissal of employees. Under his presidency, the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency also reduced to allow for surface mining and extensive oil well drilling.
President Ronald Reagan also passed laws to support immigration. As a matter of fact, the 1980s was a period that recorded the highest rates of immigration in the United States of America. The foreign-born population reached high levels since Ronald Reagan did not make immigration a primary point of focus. However, the president passed the immigration reform and control act in 1986 which made it illegal for one to hire illegal immigrants (Tucker 54). The passed legislation also required employers to guarantee that the immigration of immigration status of their staff members was a legitimate. The signing of the law also granted amnesty to 3 million illegal immigrants who entered into the United States of America before 1992. The bill was also passed to increase the level of security in the border between the United States of America and Mexico (Tucker 233).The intention of the act was to improve the quality of lives of immigrants to ensure that they were able to access the benefits of citizens in the United States of America. In spite of the promise of the bill to successfully prevent illegal immigration it was unsuccessful as the level of illegal immigrants increased from 5 million to 11.1 million.
Drug and Crime Policies
Granted, the Reagan administration also passed drug and crime policies. Ronald Reagan also declared a war on drugs and promised a campaign against drug with a view of reducing drug use among adolescents. During the 1980s there was a high proportion of people who were addicted to cocaine and were involved in numerous murders. The first lady’s drug awareness campaign prioritized the issue of drug abuse (Broussard et al. 56). Increased cases of drug use prompted the congress to pass critical legislations such as the anti-drugs abuse act and the comprehensive crime control act to reduce the level of drug use in the country. The president also funded the drug war to a tune of $1.7 billion dollars to fight drugs and to increase criminal penalties for drug use. However, critics of this policy argued that the decision by president of the United States of America was associated with high human costs and high financial costs on the citizens of the United States.
Ronald Reagan also entered office with the promise of implementing a social agenda. The president made a promise to ban abortions and to end segregation in buses. The social policies of the presidency also included social policy regulations and the appointment of Supreme Court judges (Anderson & Anderson 44). The president was also compelled by congress to accept affirmative action programs and the establishment of Martin Luther King as a public holiday. During the Reagan administration many policymakers were opposed to the existence of the gay community as religious leaders were against gay rights in the country. The Supreme Court also emphasized on laws which criminalized homosexuality.
National Security Policies
Under the Reagan administration National security was a key priority. As such, the president ordered for mass surveillance of US citizens as well as temporary residents in the country. Intelligence and counterintelligence capabilities were proposed to broaden the power of the intelligence community. The executive order issued by the president gave security agencies the power to spy on citizens of United States of America and permanent residents (Broussard et al. 89). The national security policies of Ronald Reagan were also connected to the cold war. Reagan escalated the cold war as he feared that the Soviet Union was gaining traction and increasing military spending in the United States of America (Tucker 35). Ronald Reagan therefore increased the spending of the military to ensure that the soviet economy was weakened and that the United States of America exercised military superiority.
As a matter of fact, Ronald Reagan ordered the build-up of the armed forces of the United States of America. In spite of his rhetoric to resolve the cold war the president considered it necessary to fortify military operations in the country to ensure that the Soviet Union could not use nuclear arsenal on the country. Ronald Reagan also introduced strategic defense initiatives that allowed for space and ground-based systems to be created to protect the United States of America from attacks (Tucker 21). Ronald Reagan also believed that it was necessary for the Native Americans to have defense system to make a nuclear war impossible. Though the project was criticized for being costly and technologicallly inappropriate Ronald Reagan continued funding the project.
Foreign Affairs Policies
The foreign affairs policy of President Ronald Regan was regarded to as the Reagan doctrine. The Reagan doctrine was characterized by the decision of the administration to establish an anti-communist resistance movement. As a consequence, the government of the United States of America funded anti-communist movements in Latin America, Africa, and Asia and in Eastern Europe (Broussard et al. 21). The role of intelligence agents was instrumental in communist resistant operations by providing support to anticommunist groups. The Central Intelligence Agency was also involved in operations within Pakistan and Afghanistan as they equipped and trained mujahedeen forces against soviet armies in the soviet afghan war.
The foreign policy position of Ronald Reagan was anti-communist. Ronald’s Reagan’s policies were designed to reduce the global influence of the Soviet Union to increase the influence of the United States in efforts to end the cold war. As such, the administration rapidly increased spending on the military and also increased expenditure on missile defense systems which used new technologies. In 1983 President Reagan ordered an invasion into Grenada as a way of swaying major political blocs to support America. The United States and the presidency of Ronald Reagan was also known for financing paramilitary forces to overthrow leftist and communist governments. Some of the parliamentary forces operated in Afghanistan and Central America. The rebels were fighting to overthrow the socialist government in Nicaragua. In the second term of the Reagan presidency he forged a close relationship with Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev to end the cold war. By the time Ronald Reagan left office he was the most popular president with an approval rating of 68%.
- Anderson, Martin, and Anderson Annelise. Ronald Reagan. Hoover Institution Press, 2015.
- Broussard, James H. Ronald Reagan: Champion of Conservative America. New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2015.
- Groot G. J. Selling Ronald Reagan: The Emergence of a President. London: I.B. Tauris, 2015.
- Tucker, Rosalyn. Ronald Reagan. North Mankato, Minnesota: Capstone Press, a Capstone imprint, 2014.
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