Reagan Domestic Policy and Developments
Colin Nardella Mr. Conroy AP U. S. History Ronald Wilson Reagan was born on February 6, 1911 in Tampico, Illinois to Nelle and John Reagan. Reagan graduated from Eureka College and studied economics and sociology during his four years there. Eureka College, located in Illinois, was founded by abolitionists who belonged to the Christian Church religious movement (Eureka College). Reagan, a member of the Christian Church himself, based many of his political stances on the values he took from his religion and the college he attended.
Before entering into politics, Reagan started out as a radio sports announcer and later became a prominent actor and a television host. During Reagan’s acting career, he became president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1947-1952, which was dealing with suspicions of communist infiltration at the time. After his acting career, he hosted the popular television show, General Electric Theater (“American President Ronald Reagan”). From Reagan’s time in public service, he was able to gain fame in his acting career.
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Reagan is most known for surviving an assassination that was attempted by John Hinckley, a mentally disturbed young man from Colorado. What’s extremely disturbing was the reasoning behind his assassination. Hinckley attempted to murder the president not for a political agenda or because he was a part of another party, but mainly for the attention of the actress Jodi Foster. On March 30 1981, after being gunned down, Reagan was rushed to the local emergency room, and while facing death Reagan still kept his character and jokingly asked the surgeons in the emergency room if they were republicans.
As a result of his recovery from the traumatic event, Reagan not only pulled through quickly, his popularity among the American people highly increased as he returned to work at the White House (“American President Ronald Reagan”). Yet with the good comes the bad, Reagan’s popularity rate wouldn’t stay high for a long period of time due to the decisions that would have a major negative impact on the nation economically, as well as socially. A few months after coming back to office Reagan, was confronted with a major crisis. In the month of August in 1981, the U. S. ir controllers went on strike because they felt they served a substantial amount to their government. Therefore, they felt they deserved to be on U. S. government pay-roll, even though at the moment, they were on a pay-roll through a different union. One would think that Reagan would see where the air controllers’ frustrations resulted from, and yet instead of coming to agreement Reagan pulled something extremely dramatic. He came to the decision to fire each air controller that went on strike. Reagan then replaced these skilled gentlemen with individuals who were nowhere near qualified and labeled as “scabs”.
As a result of his negative actions, the commercial flight industry would soon face even more hardships (“American President Ronald Reagan”). This was just the tip of the iceberg that lowered his popularity rate. Reagan continued with actions that just kept disappointing the American people each and every time his actions did not meet his domestic policy goals. What Reagan failed to address, was not the economic issues in the United States, but the fact that his actions were negatively affecting the social issues in the country as well (“The Reagan Administration”).
When it came to the major AIDS crisis in the United States and the controversial drug issue in the United States, Reagan refused to accept that these two topics were deemed to be critical issues among the people. What’s highly disturbing is the fact that while the AIDS epidemic was hitting the country at full force, the United States’ own president was denying the fact that it was an epidemic even with all the facts in front of him (“American President Ronald Reagan”). President Reagan looked at the AIDS epidemic extremely casually. In fact, he felt that it wasn’t a social issue, but instead more of a “moral issue”.
Reagan believed that while America was on a moral decline, the AIDS virus was spreading like wildfire. In short, he felt the younger generation lacked the morals that would prevent selfish sexual behavior. So when people of the young generation were diagnosed with the horrid virus, the president looked down on them with disdain. As a result of this theory, Reagan lost a lot of support from the young voters. In this case, the president showed his very conservative beliefs, especially his lack of understanding. Reagan’s conservativeness is evident in his dislike of abortion and homosexuality.
Reagan used the Moral Majority as a driving force in his administration. The Moral Majority was a new political movement created by Reverend Jerry Falwell, who said, “Americans are sick and tired of the way the amoral liberals are trying to corrupt our nation,” in 1979. This movement was also against drugs, the coddling of criminals, and communism (The American Nation). Reagan realized that the United States was in an economic crisis, and figured the best way for the United States to save billions, was to cut the funding of several programs.
Reagan’s domestic policy placed a heavy emphasis on cutting taxes, balancing the actual US spending budget, and worse, taking support away from social welfare programs that many lower class Americans needed on a daily basis to survive. Although Reagan promised to cut the budget, his presidency resulted in a national debt, mainly from his military and defense spending. President Reagan supported taking away from programs that helped out the minorities of the United States. Even worse, Reagan took away from programs that assisted single mothers and children with no guilt what so ever (“The Reagan Administration”).
During his presidency, he continued to take away from the social programs, in hopes that the US government would be able to save billions. Eventually the United States government minimized welfare program spending by over $20 billion. Reagan also succeeded in slashing taxes to a point where the government was barely collecting any income revenue. Now even though the Americans loved the tax cuts, they failed to realize that tax cuts aren’t always the best solution, especially in an economic crisis.
The American people and the Reagan Administration failed to realize that without revenues from taxes, the government was unable to pay for the services it provided. To add fuel to the fire Reagan not only dramatically reduced tax rates, but worse increased total government spending, particularly in the areas of defense. Reagan also reduced federal aid to education, federal contributions to state governments, and placed new restrictions on Aid to Families with Dependent Children. Surprisingly enough, Reagan supported government aid to private schools run by church groups, even with the constitutional principle that separates church and tate (The American Nation). This support showed yet another example of the Moral Majority playing a significant role in Reagan’s domestic policy. Yet unfortunately, the Reagan Administration was unable to control the increasing government spending rate (“The Reagan Administration”). The United States government was spending billions within their own military, mainly because Reagan believed the U. S. armed forces had been deteriorating and needed to undergo a re-building process, especially with the imminent fear of Soviet attack. As a result of this spending policy, the U. S government increased their military budget by about 35 percent.
This military spending budget also included the War on Drugs. In 1987, Reagan signed a drug enforcement bill that granted $1. 7 billion to fight drugs. Furthermore, Reagan increased the space program budget. During his presidency, the manned space shuttle Columbia, which was launched by rocket power, orbited the Earth for several days and was used for the transportation of satellites into space. Another space shuttle called Challenger, which was launched in 1986, is infamously known for its explosion after takeoff, causing the death of all its seven astronauts (The American Nation).
The Reagan administration did not have easy terms in office, in regard to the nation’s domestic situation. The administration was forced to deal with a major economic recession, a year after his election. President Reagan believed that his system of “Reaganomics,” could get his country out of an economic crisis and turn it in to “booming” economy. Reagan asked Congress to lower taxes by 30 percent, which he reasoned would leave people with more money that they could use to invest. Reagan believed that these investments would stimulate the economy by generating more goods and more jobs (The American Nation).
But what Reagan and his administration failed to realize, is that while they did make the American people happy with the tax cuts, they also increased the national debt because their spending did not make up for the loss of profit. Also, the administration didn’t keep in mind the social well-being of some people when they cut spending from multiple welfare programs and educational programs. Reagan showed a greater interest for military programs in his spending then social programs. Also, it is important to note that Reagan nominated the first female justice to the Supreme Court, when he chose Sandra Day O’Connor.
The Reagan administration’s accomplishments and mistakes will be permanently remembered in our nation’s history for decades to come; hopefully one generation’s mistakes can help the future generation avoid issues within our economy, and government as a whole. Bibliography “American President Ronald Reagan (1911–2004). ” Millercenter. org. Ed. Lou Cannon. University of Virginia. Web. 11 Dec. 2011. <http://millercenter. org/president/reagan>. Carnes, Mark C. , and John A. Garraty. “Chapter 31. ” The American Nation : a History of the United States. 13th ed.
New York: Pearson/Longman, 2008. Print. “Eureka College History. ” Eureka. edu. Eureka College, 2007-2009. Web. 11 Dec. 2011. <http://www. eureka. edu/discover/historicec. htm>. “The Reagan Administration. ” HowStuffWorks “Learn How Everything Works! ” Discovery Communications. Web. 11 Dec. 2011. <http://history. howstuffworks. com/american-history/the-reagan-administration. htm>. “Ronald Reagan. ” Whitehouse. gov. The White House. Web. 11 Dec. 2011. <http://www. whitehouse. gov/about/presidents/ronaldreagan>. Reagan Domestic Policy And Developments By: Colin Nardella