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Reagan’s administration was based by a political philosophy that saw the greatness of America in its people and families, churches, neighborhoods and communities (Reagan, 1983). Ronald Reagan voiced his hope to restore an era of small government, traditional cultural values and an economy controlled by market forces, working on the roll back or restrain in many New Deal and Great Society programs (Schaller, 1024). Reagan’s success at communicating his faith in America gave the impression that optimism, tax cuts, business deregulation, and enhanced military power had vanquished the problems of the nation, but he continued ignoring housing, health care and environment problems, insisting that free market would solve them (Schaller, 1024).
Reagan focused on lower taxes and boost defense spending, where Congress approved the cut of taxes by about 25% (Schaller 1025). The tax reform of 1986 reduced the number of tax brackets, but closed loopholes and tax shelters that it actually raised taxes on the rich and corporations who had benefited from tax cuts years before (Schaller, 1025)
The promotion of his anticommunist agenda was reflected when he continued the long-standing practice for giving preferential treatment to anyone fleeing Cuba or other communist countries (Schaller, 1026). Tensions in the country eased when in 1986 Reagan allow to some of the Central Americans apply for citizenship and allowed others to live in the United States until violence in their home countries subsided (Schaller, 1026).
“Reagan condemned “big spenders” in Congress for “mortgaging our future” and pledged to halt the practice of “living beyond our means” (Schaller, 1026). He is remembered for his strong advocacy of lower taxes, smaller government and reduced spending and debt (Schaller 1026). Also, Reagan pushed the largest ever peacetime increase in military spending that rose from $157 billion to $304 billion per year (Schaller, 1031).
Reagan, Ronald. (March 1983). Remarks at the Annual Convention of the National Association of
Evangelicals. Orland, Florida [pdf]. Primary Source.
Schaller, M. (2015). American horizons: U.S. history in a global context. New York: Oxford.
President Reagans economic policy may not be given complete credit for restoring the nations economic growth. During the 1980s he did adopt harsher sentence laws against crims and the war on drugs. In the Reagan Doctrine, he pledged to restore American military superiority and to support anticommunist movements around the globe (Schaller 1031).
Reagan blamed Congress for “mortgaging our future” and promised to stop the practice of living beyond our means. Unfortunately, the key factors in stimulating recovery had nothing to do with Reagan. The inflation rate decrease was due to a Carter appointee. Oil prices declined for the most part during the 1980s spurring economic growth.
During the 1980s Congress and state legislatures passed harsh laws for repeat felons and drug users. The three strikes policy and mandatory sentencing laws were put in place and continued for over 30 years (Schaller 1028). With the “just say no” slogan in place the war on drugs increased. This also increased money spent on efforts to end drug use and incarcerate small-time users and major dealers.
Under the Reagan Doctrine, the U.S. provided overt and covert aid to anticommunist regions. This has credited Reagan with winning the Cold War, by pledging to restore military superiority and to support anticommunist movements around the world. This could have been his most notable and anticommunist policy. Reagan then pushed through Congress an increase in military spending. $304 billion per year was used primarily to buy new wartime equipment to close a window of vulnerability (Schaller 1032). Reagan felt a strong need to re-arm America and to roll back Soviet influence in the third world. (Source 29.3).
It seems as though Reagans primary notable political policy was to restore an era of small governments and to diminish Soviet influence.
Schaller, Michael, et al. “A New Industrial and Labor Order. ” American Horizons: U.S. History in a Global Context since 1865, Oxford University Press, 2017, pp. 1028-1035.
AP Photo/Scott Stewart; MAI/Landov.
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