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Ronald Reagan, former Western movie actor and host of television’s popular “Death Valley Days” is sworn in as the 40th president of the United States.
More than any president since the Texas-born Lyndon Johnson, Ronald Reagan’s public image was closely tied to the American West, although he was raised in the solidly Midwestern state of Illinois. In the 1930s, Reagan moved to California, where he became a moderately successful Hollywood actor. Thereafter, he always considered himself a true westerner in spirit.
Reagan’s image as a westerner was reinforced by his acting career. Although he acted in other genres as well, many of Reagan’s movies were B-grade Westerns like “Law and Order,” in which he played a sheriff who was the only law “from Dodge City to Tombstone!” When his movie career waned, Reagan made the transition to television as a host of the hugely popular showcase for western stories, “Death Valley Days.”
Reagan’s film and TV career not only won him public-name recognition but also helped establish his enduring “good-guy” reputation. A few of Reagan’s roles in non-western movies included men of questionable character, but in Westerns he usually played the brave and wholesome sheriff or cowboy who killed the outlaws, saved the school marm, and brought justice to the Wild West. Though it is difficult to estimate exactly how important such positive roles were for his subsequent political career, surely Reagan’s “white hat” movie image helped win him some confidence and votes.
Reagan’s politics also increasingly reflected the mythic western image of rugged independence and self-reliance. Although he had been a liberal New Deal Democrat as a young man, by the 1950s, Reagan had become a hard-line conservative. As president of the Screen Actor’s Guild (1947-52, 1959-60), he won national attention as an outspoken anticommunist, and he began to view even the mild federal socialism of the New Deal as destructive to individual initiative and freedom. Switching his allegiance to the Republican Party, Reagan won two terms as governor of California (1967-75), where he gained a devoted national following that helped him win the presidency.
During his eight years as president of the United States (1981-89), Reagan redefined the center in American politics, moving it away from the liberal Democrats and towards the conservative Republicans. Though his days as a western movie star were long past by then, Reagan continued to celebrate the mythic independence of the western pioneer as a parallel to modern conservatism. To drive home the point, Reagan made frequent and highly visible retreats to his California ranch, where he rode horses, fixed fences and cut firewood for the TV cameras. This president, Reagan’s actions seemed to say, was a self-reliant cowboy at heart and only a reluctant politician.
After a long struggle with Alzheimers disease, Reagan died on June 5, 2004. He was buried at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.
Ronald Reagan, originally an American actor and politician, became the 40th President of the United States serving from 1981 to 1989. His term saw a restoration of prosperity at home, with the goal of achieving “peace through strength” abroad.
At the end of his two terms in office, Ronald Reagan viewed with satisfaction the achievements of his innovative program known as the Reagan Revolution, which aimed to reinvigorate the American people and reduce their reliance upon Government. He felt he had fulfilled his campaign pledge of 1980 to restore “the great, confident roar of American progress and growth and optimism.”
On February 6, 1911, Ronald Wilson Reagan was born to Nelle and John Reagan in Tampico, Illinois. He attended high school in nearby Dixon and then worked his way through Eureka College. There, he studied economics and sociology, played on the football team, and acted in school plays. Upon graduation, he became a radio sports announcer. A screen test in 1937 won him a contract in Hollywood. During the next two decades he appeared in 53 films.
From his first marriage to actress Jane Wyman, he had two children, Maureen and Michael. Maureen passed away in 2001. In 1952 he married Nancy Davis, who was also an actress, and they had two children, Patricia Ann and Ronald Prescott.
As president of the Screen Actors Guild, Reagan became embroiled in disputes over the issue of Communism in the film industry his political views shifted from liberal to conservative. He toured the country as a television host, becoming a spokesman for conservatism. In 1966 he was elected Governor of California by a margin of a million votes he was re-elected in 1970.
Ronald Reagan won the Republican Presidential nomination in 1980 and chose as his running mate former Texas Congressman and United Nations Ambassador George Bush. Voters troubled by inflation and by the year-long confinement of Americans in Iran swept the Republican ticket into office. Reagan won 489 electoral votes to 49 for President Jimmy Carter.
On January 20, 1981, Reagan took office. Only 69 days later he was shot by a would-be assassin, but quickly recovered and returned to duty. His grace and wit during the dangerous incident caused his popularity to soar.
Dealing skillfully with Congress, Reagan obtained legislation to stimulate economic growth, curb inflation, increase employment, and strengthen national defense. He embarked upon a course of cutting taxes and Government expenditures, refusing to deviate from it when the strengthening of defense forces led to a large deficit.
A renewal of national self-confidence by 1984 helped Reagan and Bush win a second term with an unprecedented number of electoral votes. Their victory turned away Democratic challengers Walter F. Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro.
In 1986 Reagan obtained an overhaul of the income tax code, which eliminated many deductions and exempted millions of people with low incomes. At the end of his administration, the Nation was enjoying its longest recorded period of peacetime prosperity without recession or depression.
In foreign policy, Reagan sought to achieve “peace through strength.” During his two terms he increased defense spending 35 percent, but sought to improve relations with the Soviet Union. In dramatic meetings with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, he negotiated a treaty that would eliminate intermediate-range nuclear missiles. Reagan declared war against international terrorism, sending American bombers against Libya after evidence came out that Libya was involved in an attack on American soldiers in a West Berlin nightclub.
By ordering naval escorts in the Persian Gulf, he maintained the free flow of oil during the Iran-Iraq war. In keeping with the Reagan Doctrine, he gave support to anti-Communist insurgencies in Central America, Asia, and Africa.
Overall, the Reagan years saw a restoration of prosperity, and the goal of peace through strength seemed to be within grasp.
Early life and acting career
Ronald Reagan was the second child of John Edward (“Jack”) Reagan, a struggling shoe salesman, and Nelle Wilson Reagan. Reagan’s nickname, “Dutch,” derived from his father’s habit of referring to his infant son as his “fat little Dutchman.” After several years of moving from town to town—made necessary in part because of Jack Reagan’s alcoholism, which made it difficult for him to hold a job—the family settled in Dixon, Illinois, in 1920. Despite their near poverty and his father’s drinking problem, Reagan later recalled his childhood in Dixon as the happiest period of his life. At Eureka College in Eureka, Illinois, Reagan played gridiron football and was active in the drama society but earned only passing grades. A popular student, he was elected class president in his senior year. Graduating in 1932 with a bachelor’s degree in economics and sociology, he decided to enter radio broadcasting. He landed a job as a sportscaster at station WOC in Davenport, Iowa, by delivering entirely from memory an exciting play-by-play description of a Eureka College football game. Later he moved to station WHO in Des Moines, where, as sportscaster “Dutch Reagan,” he became popular throughout the state for his broadcasts of Chicago Cubs baseball games. Because the station could not afford to send him to Wrigley Field in Chicago, Reagan was forced to improvise a running account of the games based on sketchy details delivered over a teletype machine.
In 1937 Reagan followed the Cubs to their spring training camp in southern California, a trip he undertook partly in order to try his hand at movie acting. After a successful screen test at Warner Brothers, he was soon typecast in a series of mostly B movies as a sincere, wholesome, easygoing “good guy.” (As many observers have noted, the characters that Reagan portrayed in the movies were remarkably like Reagan himself.) During the next 27 years, he appeared in more than 50 films, notably including Knute Rockne—All American (1940), Kings Row (1942), and The Hasty Heart (1950). In 1938, while filming Brother Rat, Reagan became engaged to his costar Jane Wyman, and the couple married in Hollywood two years later. They had a daughter, Maureen, in 1941 and adopted a son, Michael, a few days after his birth in 1945. Their marriage ended in divorce in 1948. Reagan was the first president to have been divorced.
Commissioned a cavalry officer at the outbreak of World War II, Reagan was assigned to an army film unit based in Los Angeles, where he spent the rest of the war making training films. Although he never left the country and never saw combat, he and Wyman cooperated with the efforts of Warner Brothers to portray him as a real soldier to the public, and in newsreels and magazine photos he acted out scenes of “going off to war” and “coming home on leave.” After leaving Hollywood, Reagan became known for occasionally telling stories about his past—including stories about his happiness at “coming back from the war”—that were actually based on fictional episodes in movies. Some of Reagan’s detractors pointed to such lapses to suggest that he lacked a basic interest in the truth and that he had trouble distinguishing between reality and fantasy.
Reagan had absorbed the liberal Democratic opinions of his father and became a great admirer of Franklin Roosevelt after his election in 1932. Reagan’s father eventually found work as an administrator in a New Deal office established in the Dixon area, a fact that Reagan continued to appreciate even after his political opinion of Roosevelt had dramatically changed.
From 1947 to 1952 Reagan served as president of the union of movie actors, the Screen Actors Guild. He fought against communist infiltration in the guild, crossing picket lines to break the sometimes violent strikes. (Such violence and chaos were abhorrent to Reagan, and, when police and students clashed in Berkeley in May 1969, Reagan, as governor of California, called out the National Guard to restore order.) Much to the disgust of union members, he testified as a friendly witness before the House Un-American Activities Committee and cooperated in the blacklisting of actors, directors, and writers suspected of leftist sympathies. Although Reagan was still a Democrat at the time (he campaigned for Harry Truman in the presidential election of 1948), his political opinions were gradually growing more conservative. After initially supporting Democratic senatorial candidate Helen Douglas in 1950, he switched his allegiance to Republican Richard Nixon midway through the campaign. He supported Republican Dwight Eisenhower in the presidential elections of 1952 and 1956, and in 1960 he delivered 200 speeches in support of Nixon’s campaign for president against Democrat John F. Kennedy. He officially changed his party affiliation to Republican in 1962.
Reagan met Nancy Davis (Nancy Reagan), a relatively unknown actress, at a dinner party in 1949, and the two were married in a simple ceremony in 1952, at which actor William Holden was best man. The Reagans appeared together in the war movie Hell Cats of the Navy in 1957. Nancy Reagan’s conservative political views encouraged her husband’s drift to the right.
After his acting career began to decline in the 1950s, Reagan became the host of a television drama series, General Electric Theater, as well as spokesman for the General Electric Company. In the latter capacity he toured GE plants around the country, delivering inspirational speeches with a generally conservative, pro-business message. Eventually, however, his speeches became too controversial for the company’s taste, and he was fired as both spokesman and television host in 1962.
Jelly beans became a permanent part of Ronald Reagan's image
The Jelly Belly beans became a part of Reagan's public image throughout his time in the White House. The candy became a source of questions for reporters. When asked why he liked to have them on the table during meetings, he answered, "You can tell a lot about a fella's character by whether he picks out all of one color or just grabs a handful," the LA Times reported.
After nearly 20 years of his close association with Jelly Belly, Reagan switched his candy alliance to M&Ms toward the end of his administration, according to Atlas Obscura. The company has no hard feelings about the change and still has something of a shrine dedicated to the former president — portraits created out of jelly beans and all. After his death, the company placed black ribbons over those portraits.
Although Reagan enjoyed many of the dozens of Jelly Belly flavors over the years, he had a clear favorite: classic licorice.
History of Reagan’s Presidency
Ronald Wilson Reagan served as the 40th President of the United States from Jan. 20, 1981 to Jan. 19, 1989. He won the Nov. 4, 1980 presidential election, beating Democratic incumbent Jimmy Carter with 50.7% of the votes, and won his second term by a landslide of 58.8% of the votes. 
Reagan’s proponents point to his accomplishments, including stimulating economic growth in the US, strengthening its national defense, revitalizing the Republican Party, and ending the global Cold War, as evidence of his good presidency.
His opponents contend that Reagan’s poor policies, such as bloating the national defense, drastically cutting social services, and making illegal arms-for-hostages deals, led the country into record deficits and global embarrassment.
Ronald Wilson Reagan was born on Feb. 6, 1911 in Tampico, Illinois. He graduated in 1932 from Eureka College with a BA in social sciences and economics and moved to Iowa to become a radio sports announcer. A screen test in 1937 won him a contract in Hollywood and, over two decades, he appeared in 53 films. In 1949 Ronald Reagan divorced his first wife, Jane Wyman, and married Nancy Davis in 1952. He was the only president to have been divorced (as of Oct. 11, 2010). After six years as president of the Screen Actors Guild, serving intermittently between 1947 and 1960, Reagan was elected Governor of California on Nov. 5, 1966 and reelected on Nov. 5, 1970. 
At the age of 69 in 1981 and 73 in 1985, Reagan was the oldest man ever elected President (as of Oct. 11, 2010). President Reagan waves to onlookers just before attempted assassination.
Source: “Reagan Assassination Attempt,” statemaster.com (accessed Sep. 9, 2010)
On Mar. 30, 1981, 69 days after Reagan’s inauguration on Jan. 20, John Hinckley, Jr. attempted to assassinate the President outside the Washington Hilton hotel. Reagan was shot under the left arm, the bullet lodged in his lung, and missed his heart by less than an inch. 
When Ronald Reagan took office the US economy had 9% inflation with 20% interest rates.  To combat these effects Reagan established what came to be known as “Reaganomics,” economic policies that included increased defense spending, lower personal income taxes, reduced spending on social services, and decreased business regulation. 
The President and his cabinet emphasized supply-side economics, believing that slashing taxes will stimulate economic growth. They passed legislation such as the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981, which included the largest tax cuts in the postwar period, the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982, and the Tax Reform Act of 1986. As a result, the top marginal tax rate on individual income was reduced from 70% to 28% and the overall tax code was restructured.  
13,000 members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) walked off the job in a nationwide strike on Aug. 3, 1981. Two days later, Reagan announced that they were in violation of legislation prohibiting strikes by government employees because of public safety and, if they did not report to work within 48 hours, their jobs would be terminated. Only 1,300 returned to their jobs.  It was an event that changed the landscape of US labor relations – major strikes plummeted from an average of 300 each year in the decades before to fewer than 30 in 2006. 
On Aug. 19, 1981, Ronald Reagan fulfilled his campaign pledge to appoint the first woman to the Supreme Court by nominating Sandra Day O’Connor to replace Justice Potter Stewart. Congress confirmed O’Connor’s appointment on Sep. 21, 1981 by a vote of 99-0. 
In the fall of 1981, the US economy took a turn for the worse, experiencing its worst recession since the Depression. The Federal Reserve increased interest rates to combat the 14% inflation rate. By Nov. 1982, unemployment reached 10.8%, thousands of businesses failed, farmers lost their land, and many sick, elderly, and poor became homeless.  The official unemployment rate reached 11.5 million in Jan. 1983, and Reagan’s disapproval rating rose to 50%, from a low of 18% in early 1981. Artist’s rendering of the proposed Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), aka “Star Wars.”
Source: “Rush to Failure,” harvardmagazine.com, May-June 2000
On Mar. 8, 1983, Reagan gave what came to be known as his “Evil Empire Speech,” that warned against ignoring “the aggressive impulses of an evil empire,” the USSR.  That same month, on Mar. 23, President Reagan announced the creation of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), nicknamed “Star Wars,” a space-based defense system intended to deter an attack on the US by intercepting Soviet nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). 
In Beirut, Lebanon on Oct. 23, 1983, a suicide bomber drove his truck into a US Marine barracks, killing 241 Marines. This tragedy caused the US to reconsider Reagan’s placement of the Marines as peacekeepers of a cease-fire during the Lebanese civil war. US troops left Lebanon in Feb. 1984.  In that same month, on Oct. 25, 1,900 US Marines invaded the small island nation of Grenada. The invasion was partly over safety concerns for American medical students in the country and partly to weaken a recent Marxist coup it emphasized Reagan’s drive to undermine any spread of communism. The move was both denounced by the United Nations and supported by many Americans.  The US accomplished its military objectives in Grenada: the students came home unharmed and the Marxist government was deposed. Map of the 1984 US presidential election results.
Source: “Ronald Reagan,” newworldencyclopedia.org (accessed Sep. 17, 2010)
Reagan won a second term in 1984 by a landslide, receiving 58.8% of the popular vote. He also won a record 525 of a possible 538 electoral college votes, the highest in US history (as of Oct. 11, 2010). Reagan won every state but Minnesota, the home state of his opponent Walter Mondale. 
Between Nov. 19, 1985 and Dec. 8, 1987, President Reagan met with Mikhail Gorbachev, Secretary General of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, at four summits to discuss their countries’ bilateral arms race. The meetings culminated in their Dec. 8, 1987 signing of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, a bilateral treaty which required the elimination of all intermediate range ground-launched missiles. 
On Nov. 25, 1986, Attorney General Edwin Meese publicly confirmed that $10-$30 million of profits from the sale of US arms to Iran had been diverted to the anti-communist guerrilla Nicaraguan Contras. National Security Adviser John Poindexter resigned and National Security Aide Col. Oliver North was fired, both for their involvement in what came to be known as the “Iran-Contra” affair. President Reagan claimed that he did not learn of the Iran-Contra diversion until Meese told him about it on Nov. 24, 1986.  The Feb. 26, 1987 Tower Commission’s Report, a study by an independent commission appointed by Reagan, found no evidence linking Reagan to the fund diversion. However, the report did determine that Reagan’s disengagement from the management of the White House led to the actions of his administration. Click for an Encyclopaedia Britannica video showing Reagan speaking at the Berlin Wall on June 12, 2987.
On June 12, 1987, Reagan delivered a famous address in West Berlin at the Brandenburg Gate which had separated communist East Berlin from democratic West Berlin since 1961. In his speech, the president questioned whether reforms in the Soviet Union were profound or “token gestures,” and challenged Gorbachev to prove his efforts at openness: “General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” 
In his two terms in office, Reagan continually tried to balance the budget by cutting federal spending. He cut the budgets of many federal departments, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development (by 40%), the Department of Transportation (by 18%), the Department of Education (by 19%), the Department of Commerce (by 32%), and the Department of Agriculture (by 24%). Reagan never cut the budgets for the Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, Justice, or State. 
President Reagan also presided over the biggest peacetime defense buildup in history. Reagan expanded defense spending from $178 billion in 1981 to $283 billion by 1988, an increase of 58.9%. 
During Reagan’s presidency, total national debt increased from $994 billion in 1981 to $2.9 trillion in 1988.  The deficit grew from $74 billion in 1980 to $155 billion in 1988, and unemployment was at a 14-year low, 5.5%, by mid-1988.   On Jan. 20, 1989, Ronald Reagan left the White House with the highest approval rating, 68%, of any president since Franklin D. Roosevelt. 
In 1993, Reagan experienced recurring episodes of confusion and forgetfulness and was diagnosed as having Alzheimer’s Disease. He disclosed his condition in a Nov. 5, 1994 letter to the American people hoping to “promote greater awareness of this condition.”  Ronald Reagan died in California on June 5, 2004 at the age of 93. 
Even prior to becoming president, Reagan was the leader of a dramatic conservative shift that undercut many of the domestic and foreign policies that had dominated the national agenda for decades.   A major factor in the rise of conservatism was the growing distrust of government in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal. While distrust of high officials had been an American characteristic for two centuries, Watergate engendered heightened levels of suspicion and encouraged the media to engage in a vigorous search for scandals.  An unexpected new factor was the emergence of the religious right as a cohesive political force that gave strong support to conservatism.  
Other factors in the rise of the conservative movement were the emergence of a "culture war" as a triangular battle among conservatives, traditional liberals, and the New Left, involving such issues as individual freedom, divorce, sexual freedom, abortion, and homosexuality.  A mass movement of population from the cities to the suburbs led to the creation of a new group of voters less attached to New Deal economic policies and machine politics.  Meanwhile, it became socially acceptable for conservative Southern whites, especially well educated suburbanites, to vote Republican. Though the civil rights legislation of the 1960s had been a triumphal issue for liberalism and had created a new, pro-Democratic black electorate, it had also destroyed the argument that whites had to vote Democratic to protect segregation in the South.  Responding to these various trends, Reagan and other conservatives successfully presented conservative ideas as an alternative to a public that had grown disillusioned with New Deal liberalism and the Democratic Party.  Reagan's charisma and speaking skills helped him frame conservatism as an optimistic, forward-looking vision for the country. 
Reagan, who had served as Governor of California from 1967 to 1975, narrowly lost the 1976 Republican presidential primaries to incumbent President Gerald Ford. With the defeat of Ford by Democrat Jimmy Carter in the 1976 election, Reagan immediately became the front-runner for the 1980 Republican presidential nomination.  A darling of the conservative movement, Reagan faced more moderate Republicans such as George H. W. Bush, Howard Baker, and Bob Dole in the 1980 Republican presidential primaries. After Bush won the Iowa caucuses, he became Reagan's primary challenger, but Reagan won the New Hampshire primary and most of the following primaries, gaining an insurmountable delegate lead by the end of March 1980. Ford was Reagan's first choice for his running mate, but Reagan backed away from the idea out of the fear of a "copresidency" in which Ford would exercise an unusual degree of power. Reagan instead chose Bush, and the Reagan-Bush ticket was nominated at the 1980 Republican National Convention. Meanwhile, Carter won the Democratic nomination, defeating a primary challenge by Senator Ted Kennedy. Polls taken after the party conventions showed a tied race between Reagan and Carter, while independent candidate John B. Anderson had the support of many moderates. 
The 1980 general campaign between Reagan and Carter was conducted amid a multitude of domestic concerns and the ongoing Iran hostage crisis. After winning the Republican nomination, Reagan pivoted to the center. Though he continued to champion a major tax cut, Reagan backed off of his support for free trade and the privatization of Social Security, and promised to consider arms control treaties with the Soviet Union. He instead sought to focus the race on Carter's handling of the economy. Mired with an approval rating in the low 30s, Carter also waged a negative campaign, focusing on the supposed risk of war if Reagan took office. 
Reagan and Carter met in one presidential debate, held just one week before election day. Reagan delivered an effective performance, asking voters, "Are you better off than you were four years ago. Is America as respected throughout the world as it was?" Though the race had been widely regarded as a close contest, Reagan won over the large majority of undecided voters.  Reagan took 50.7% of the popular vote and 489 of the 538 electoral votes. Carter won 41% of the popular vote and 49 electoral votes, while Anderson won 6.6% of the popular vote. In the concurrent congressional elections, Republicans took control of the Senate for the first time since the 1950s, while Democrats retained control of the House of Representatives. 
|The Reagan Cabinet|
|Vice President||George H. W. Bush||1981–1989|
|Secretary of State||Alexander Haig||1981–1982|
|Secretary of the Treasury||Donald Regan||1981–1985|
|Nicholas F. Brady||1988–1989|
|Secretary of Defense||Caspar Weinberger||1981–1987|
|Attorney General||William French Smith||1981–1985|
|Secretary of the Interior||James G. Watt||1981–1983|
|William P. Clark Jr.||1983–1985|
|Donald P. Hodel||1985–1989|
|Secretary of Agriculture||John Rusling Block||1981–1986|
|Richard Edmund Lyng||1986–1989|
|Secretary of Commerce||Malcolm Baldrige Jr.||1981–1987|
|William Verity Jr.||1987–1989|
|Secretary of Labor||Raymond J. Donovan||1981–1985|
|Ann Dore McLaughlin||1987–1989|
|Secretary of Health and|
|Secretary of Housing and|
|Secretary of Transportation||Andrew L. Lewis Jr.||1981–1983|
|James H. Burnley IV||1987–1989|
|Secretary of Energy||James B. Edwards||1981–1982|
|Donald P. Hodel||1982–1985|
|John S. Herrington||1985–1989|
|Secretary of Education||Terrel Bell||1981–1984|
|Director of the Office of|
Management and Budget
|James C. Miller III||1985–1988|
|Joseph Robert Wright Jr.||1988–1989|
|Director of Central Intelligence||William J. Casey||1981–1987|
|William H. Webster||1987–1989|
|United States Trade Representative||Bill Brock||1981–1985|
|Ambassador to the United Nations||Jeane Kirkpatrick||1981–1985|
|Vernon A. Walters||1985–1989|
|Counselor to the President||Edwin Meese||1981–1985|
Reagan tapped James Baker, who had run Bush's 1980 campaign, as his first chief of staff. Baker, Deputy Chief of Staff Michael Deaver, and Counselor Edwin Meese formed the "troika," the key White House staffers early in Reagan's presidency.  Baker quickly established himself as the most powerful member of the troika and the overseer of day-to-day operations, while Meese had nominal leadership of policy development and Deaver orchestrated Reagan's public appearances.  Aside from the troika, other important White House staffers included Richard Darman and David Gergen. 
Reagan chose Alexander Haig, a former general who had served as chief of staff to Richard Nixon, as his first secretary of state. Other major Cabinet appointees included Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, a former Nixon cabinet official who would preside over an increase in defense spending, and Secretary of the Treasury Donald Regan, a bank executive. Reagan selected David Stockman, a young congressman from Michigan, as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.  CIA director William J. Casey emerged as an important figure in the administration, as the CIA would figure prominently into Reagan's Cold War initiatives. Reagan downgraded the importance of the national security advisor, and six different individuals held that position during Reagan's presidency. 
Haig left the cabinet in 1982 after clashing with other members of the Reagan administration, and was replaced by another former Nixon administration official, George P. Shultz.  By 1982, National Security Advisor William P. Clark Jr., Ambassador to the United Nations Jeane Kirkpatrick, and CIA Director Casey had established themselves as the major figures in the formulation of the administration's foreign policy.  Shultz eventually emerged as the administration's most influential foreign policy figure, moving the administration towards a less confrontational policy with the Soviet Union. 
Baker and Treasury Secretary Regan switched positions at the beginning of Reagan's second term.  Regan centralized power within his office, and he took on the responsibilities that had been held by Baker, Deaver, and Meese, the latter of whom succeeded William French Smith as attorney general in 1985.  Regan frequently clashed with First Lady Nancy Reagan, and he left the administration in the wake of the Iran–Contra affair and Republican losses in the 1986 mid-term elections. Regan was replaced by former Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker. 
Reagan made four successful appointments to the Supreme Court during his eight years in office. In 1981, he successfully nominated Sandra Day O'Connor to succeed Associate Justice Potter Stewart, fulfilling a campaign promise to name the first woman to the Supreme Court. Democrats, who had planned to vigorously oppose Reagan's nominations to the Supreme Court, approved of the nomination of O'Connor. However, the Christian right was astonished and dismayed with O’Connor, whom they feared would not overturn the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade, which had established the constitutional right to have an abortion without undue government interference.   O'Connor served on the Supreme Court until 2006, and was generally considered to be a centrist conservative. 
In 1986, Reagan elevated Associate Justice William Rehnquist to the position of Chief Justice of the United States after Warren Burger chose to retire.  Rehnquist, a member of the conservative wing of the Court,  was the third sitting associate justice to be elevated to chief justice, after Edward Douglass White and Harlan F. Stone. Reagan successfully nominated Antonin Scalia to fill Rehnquist's position as an associate justice of the Supreme Court.  Scalia became a member of the Court's conservative wing. 
Reagan faced greater difficulties in filling the final Supreme Court vacancy, which arose due to the retirement of Lewis F. Powell Jr. Reagan nominated Robert Bork in July 1987, but the nomination was rejected by the Senate in October 1987.  Later that month, Reagan announced the nomination of Douglas H. Ginsburg, but Ginsburg withdrew from consideration in November 1987. Finally, Reagan nominated Anthony Kennedy, who won Senate confirmation in February 1988.  Along with O'Connor, Kennedy served as the key swing vote on the Supreme Court in the decades after Reagan left office. 
Reagan appointed a combined total of 368 judges to the United States courts of appeals and the United States district courts, more than any other president. The vast majority of his judicial appointees were conservative white men,  and many of the appointees were affiliated with the conservative Federalist Society.  Partly because Congress passed a law creating new federal judicial positions in 1984, Reagan had appointed nearly half of the federal judiciary by the time he left office in 1989. 
On March 30, 1981, only 69 days into the new administration, Reagan, his press secretary James Brady, Washington police officer Thomas Delahanty, and Secret Service agent Tim McCarthy were struck by gunfire from would-be assassin John Hinckley Jr. outside the Washington Hilton Hotel. Although Reagan was initially reported to be "close to death",  he recovered and was released from the hospital on April 11, becoming the first serving president to survive being wounded in an assassination attempt.  The failed assassination attempt had great influence on Reagan's popularity polls indicated his approval rating to be around 73%.   Many pundits and journalists later described the failed assassination as a critical moment in Reagan's presidency, as his newfound popularity provided critical momentum in passing his domestic agenda. 
"Reaganomics" and taxation Edit
Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981 Edit
Reagan implemented economic policies based on supply-side economics, advocating a laissez-faire philosophy and free-market fiscal policy.  Reagan's taxation policies resembled those instituted by President Calvin Coolidge and Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon in the 1920s, but Reagan was also strongly influenced by contemporary economists such as Arthur Laffer, who rejected the then-dominant views of Keynesian economists.  Reagan relied on Laffer and other economists to argue that tax cuts would reduce inflation, which went against the prevailing Keynesian view.  Supply-side advocates also asserted that cutting taxes would ultimately lead to higher government revenue due to economic growth, a proposition that was challenged by many economists. 
Republican Congressman Jack Kemp and Republican Senator William Roth had nearly won passage of a major tax cut during Carter's presidency, but Carter had prevented passage of the bill due to concerns about the deficit.  Reagan made the passage of Kemp-Roth bill his top domestic priority upon taking office. As Democrats controlled the House of Representatives, passage of any bill would require the support of some House Democrats in addition to the support of congressional Republicans.  Reagan's victory in the 1980 presidential campaign had united Republicans around his leadership, while conservative Democrats like Phil Gramm of Texas (who would later switch parties) were eager to back some of Reagan's conservative policies.  Throughout 1981, Reagan frequently met with members of Congress, focusing especially on winning support from conservative Southern Democrats. 
In July 1981, the Senate voted 89–11 in favor of the tax cut bill favored by Reagan, and the House subsequently approved the bill in a 238–195 vote.  The Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981 cut the top marginal tax rate from 70% to 50%, lowered the capital gains tax from 28% to 20%, more than tripled the amount of inherited money exempt from the estate tax, and cut the corporate tax.   Reagan's success in passing a major tax bill and cutting the federal budget was hailed as the "Reagan Revolution" by some reporters one columnist wrote that the Reagan's legislative success represented the "most formidable domestic initiative any president has driven through since the Hundred Days of Franklin Roosevelt." 
Later tax acts Edit
Faced with concerns about the mounting federal debt, Reagan agreed to raise taxes, signing the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 (TEFRA).  Many of Reagan's conservative supporters condemned TEFRA, but Reagan argued that his administration would be unable to win further budget cuts without the tax hike.  Among other provisions, TEFRA doubled the federal cigarette tax and rescinded a portion of the corporate tax cuts from the 1981 tax bill.  By 1983, the amount of federal tax had fallen for all or almost all American taxpayers, but most strongly affected the wealthy the proportion of income paid in taxes by the richest one percent fell from 29.8 percent to 24.8 percent.  Partly due to the poor economy, Reagan's legislative momentum dissipated after his first year in office, and his party lost several seats in the House in the 1982 congressional elections.  Compared to other midterm elections, the losses were relatively small for the party holding the presidency, but conservative Democrats were less open to Reagan's initiatives after 1982.  As deficits continued to be an issue, Reagan signed another bill that raised taxes, the Deficit Reduction Act of 1984. 
With Donald Regan taking over as Chief of Staff in 1985, the Reagan administration made simplification of the tax code the central focus of its second term domestic agenda.  Working with Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill, a Democrat who also favored tax reform, Reagan overcame significant opposition from members of Congress in both parties to pass the Tax Reform Act of 1986.  The act simplified the tax code by reducing the number of tax brackets to four and slashing a number of tax breaks. The top rate was dropped to 28%, but capital gains taxes were increased on those with the highest incomes from 20% to 28%. The increase of the lowest tax bracket from 11% to 15% was more than offset by expansion of the personal exemption, standard deduction, and earned income tax credit. The net result was the removal of six million poor Americans from the income tax roll and a reduction of income tax liability at all income levels.   The net effect of Reagan's tax bills was that overall tax burden held steady at roughly 19 percent of gross national product. 
Government spending Edit
|GDP||Debt as a %|
of GDP 
Reagan prioritized tax cuts over spending cuts, arguing that lower revenue would eventually require lower spending.  Nonetheless, Reagan was determined to decrease government spending and roll back or dismantle Great Society programs such as Medicaid and the Office of Economic Opportunity.  In August 1981, Reagan signed the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981, which cut federal funding for social programs like food stamps, school lunch programs, and Medicaid.  The Comprehensive Employment and Training Act, which had provided for the employment of 300,000 workers in 1980, was also repealed,  and the administration tightened eligibility for unemployment benefits.  Notably absent from the budget cuts was the Department of Defense, which saw its budget bolstered. 
Reagan experienced several legislative successes in his first year in office, but his attempts to cut federal domestic spending after 1981 met increasing congressional resistance.  Spending on programs like Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid, the earned income tax credit, and Aid to Families with Dependent Children all increased after 1982. The number of federal civilian employees rose during Reagan's tenure, from 2.9 million to 3.1 million.  Reagan's policy of New Federalism, which sought to shift the responsibility for most social programs to state governments, found little support in Congress. 
In 1981, OMB Director David Stockman won Reagan's approval to seek cuts to Social Security in 1981, but this plan was poorly-received in Congress.  In 1982, Reagan established the bipartisan National Commission on Social Security Reform to make recommendations to secure the long-term integrity of Social Security. The commission rejected Social Security privatization and other major changes to the program, but recommended expanding the Social Security base (by including exempt federal and nonprofit employees), raising Social Security taxes, and reducing some payments. These recommendations were enacted in the Social Security Amendments of 1983, which received bipartisan support.  While Reagan avoided cuts to Social Security and Medicare for most individuals,  his administration attempted to purge many people from the Social Security disability rolls.  Reagan's inability to implement major cuts to Social Security solidified its status as the "third rail" of U.S. politics, and future administrations would be reluctant to propose cuts to the popular program. 
As Reagan was unwilling to match his tax cuts with cuts to defense spending or Social Security, rising deficits became an issue.  These deficits were exacerbated by the early 1980s recession, which cut into federal revenue.  Unable to win further domestic spending cuts, and pressured to address the deficit, Reagan was forced to raise taxes after 1981.  Nonetheless, the national debt more than tripled between fiscal year 1980 and fiscal year 1989, going from $914 billion to $2.7 trillion, while national debt as a percentage of GDP rose from 33 percent in 1981 to 53 percent in 1989. Reagan never submitted a balanced budget during his time in office. 
In an effort to lower the national debt, Congress passed the Gramm–Rudman–Hollings Balanced Budget Act, which called for automatic spending cuts if Congress was unable to eliminate deficits through the regular budget-making process.  However, Congress found ways around the automatic cuts and deficits continued to rise, ultimately leading to the passage of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990. 
Reagan took office in the midst of poor economic conditions, as the country experienced stagflation, a phenomenon in which both inflation and unemployment were high.  The economy experienced a brief period of growth early in Reagan's first year in office, but plunged into a recession in July 1981.  As the recession continued in the first two years of Reagan's presidency, many within Reagan's administration blamed the policies of Paul Volcker, the Chair of the Federal Reserve. But Reagan himself never criticized Volcker.  Volcker sought to fight inflation by pursuing a policy of "tight money" in which interest rates were set a high level.  High interest rates would restrict lending and investment, which would in turn lower inflation, raise unemployment and, at least in the short term, reduce economic growth.  Unemployment reached a high of nearly 11% in 1982,  poverty rate rose from 11.7 percent to 15 percent.  The country emerged from recession in 1983,  but not all shared equally in the economic recovery, and economic inequality and the number of homeless individuals both increased during the 1980s.   Fearful of damaging confidence in the economic recovery, Reagan nominated Volcker to a second term in 1983, and Volcker remained in office until 1987.  Inflation dropped to approximately 3.5% in 1985, while the unemployment rate fell to about 5% in 1988.  In 1987, Reagan appointed conservative economist Alan Greenspan to succeed Volcker, and Greenspan would lead the Federal Reserve until 2006. Greenspan raised interest rates in another attempt to curb inflation, setting off a stock market crash in October 1987 known as "Black Monday," but the markets stabilized and recovered in the following weeks. 
In August 1981, the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO), which consisted of federal employees, voted to go on a labor strike in hopes of receiving better pay and benefits. After the vote, Reagan announced that the strikers would be fired if they did not return to work within forty-eight hours. After the deadline passed, Reagan fired over 10,000 air traffic controllers, while approximately 40 percent of the union members returned to work. Reagan's handling of the strike was strongly criticized by union leaders, but it won the approval of his conservative base of voters and others in the public.   The breaking of the PATCO strike demoralized organized labor, and the number of strikes fell dramatically in the 1980s.  Many of the strikes that did occur, including the Arizona copper mine strike of 1983, the 1983 Greyhound bus driver strike, and the 1985–86 Hormel strike, ended with dismissal of the strikers. With the assent of Reagan's sympathetic National Labor Relations Board appointees, many companies also won wage and benefit cutbacks from unions, especially in the manufacturing sector.  During Reagan's time in office, the share of employees who were part of a labor union dropped from approximately one-fourth of the total workforce to approximately one-sixth of the total workforce. 
Reagan sought to loosen federal regulation of economic activities, and he appointed key officials who shared this agenda. According to historian William Leuchtenburg, by 1986, the Reagan administration eliminated almost half of the federal regulations that had existed in 1981.  The Federal Communications Commission aggressively deregulated the broadcasting industry, eliminating the Fairness Doctrine and other restrictions.  The 1982 Garn–St. Germain Depository Institutions Act deregulated savings and loan associations and allowed banks to provide adjustable-rate mortgages. Reagan also eliminated numerous government positions and dismissed numerous federal employees, including the entire staff of the Employment and Training Administration. Secretary of the Interior James G. Watt implemented policies designed to open up federal territories to oil drilling and surface mining. Under EPA Director Anne Gorsuch, the EPA's budget was dramatically reduced and the EPA loosely enforced environmental regulations. 
Savings and loan crisis Edit
After the passage of the Garn–St. Germain Depository Institutions Act, savings and loans associations engaged in riskier activities, and the leaders of some institutions embezzled funds.  In what became known as the Savings and loan crisis, a total of 747 financial institutions failed and needed to be rescued with $160 billion in taxpayer dollars.  As an indication of this scandal's size, Martin Mayer wrote at the time, "The theft from the taxpayer by the community that fattened on the growth of the savings and loan (S&L) industry in the 1980s is the worst public scandal in American history. Measuring by money, [or] by the misallocation of national resources. the S&L outrage makes Teapot Dome and Credit Mobilier seem minor episodes." 
The 1980s saw the highest rate of immigration to the United States since the 1910s, and the proportion of the foreign-born population reached its highest level since the 1940s.  Reagan did not make immigration a focus of his administration, but he came to support a package of reforms sponsored by Republican Senator Alan Simpson and Democratic Congressman Romano Mazzoli, which he signed into law as the Immigration Reform and Control Act in November 1986.  The act made it illegal to knowingly hire or recruit illegal immigrants, required employers to attest to their employees' immigration status, and granted amnesty to approximately three million illegal immigrants who had entered the United States before January 1, 1982, and had lived in the country continuously. The bill was also contained provisions designed to enhance security measures at the Mexico–United States border.  Upon signing the act at a ceremony held beside the newly refurbished Statue of Liberty, Reagan said, "The legalization provisions in this act will go far to improve the lives of a class of individuals who now must hide in the shadows, without access to many of the benefits of a free and open society. Very soon many of these men and women will be able to step into the sunlight and, ultimately, if they choose, they may become Americans."  The bill was largely unsuccessful at halting illegal immigration, and the population of illegal immigrants rose from 5 million in 1986 to 11.1 million in 2013. 
Criminal and anti-drug policy Edit
Not long after being sworn into office, Reagan declared more militant policies in the "War on Drugs".   He promised a "planned, concerted campaign" against all drugs,  in hopes of decreasing drug use, particularly among adolescents.   The "crack epidemic," which saw a large number of individuals become addicted to crack cocaine and may have played a role in numerous murders, emerged as a major area of public concern.  First Lady Nancy Reagan made the War on Drugs her main cause as First Lady, founding the "Just Say No" drug awareness campaign. 
Concerns about drug use prompted Congress to pass legislation such as the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984  and the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, the latter of which granted $1.7 billion to fight drugs and established a mandatory minimum penalties for drug offenses.  Reagan also signed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, which further increased criminal penalties for drug use and established the Office of National Drug Control Policy.  Critics charged that Reagan's policies promoted significant racial disparities in the prison population,  were ineffective in reducing the availability of drugs or crime on the street, and came at a great financial and human cost for American society.  Supporters argued that the numbers for adolescent drug users declined during Reagan's years in office. 
Social policies and civil rights Edit
Reagan was largely unable to enact his ambitious social policy agenda, which included a federal ban on abortions and an end to desegregation busing.  With Reagan's support, conservative Republican Senator Jesse Helms led an effort to prevent the Supreme Court from reviewing state and local laws mandating school prayer, but Republican senators like Lowell Weicker and Barry Goldwater blocked passage of Helms' bill.  Despite the lack of major social policy legislation, Reagan was able to influence social policy through regulations and the appointment of conservative Supreme Court Justices. 
In 1982, Reagan signed a bill extending the Voting Rights Act for 25 years after a grass-roots lobbying and legislative campaign forced him to abandon his plan to ease that law's restrictions.  He also reluctantly accepted the continuation of affirmative action programs  and the establishment of Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a federal holiday.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Justice Department both prosecuted far fewer civil rights cases per year than they had under Carter.  In 1988, Reagan vetoed the Civil Rights Restoration Act, but his veto was overridden by Congress. Reagan had argued that the legislation infringed on states' rights and the rights of churches and business owners. 
No civil rights legislation for gay individuals passed during Reagan's tenure. Many in the Reagan administration, including Communications Director Pat Buchanan, were hostile to the gay community, as were many religious leaders who were important allies to the administration.  Gay rights and the growing HIV/AIDS emerged as an important matter of public concern in 1985 after it was disclosed that actor Rock Hudson, a personal friend of President Reagan, was receiving treatment for AIDS. As public anxiety over AIDS rose, the Supreme Court upheld a state law that criminalized homosexuality in the case of Bowers v. Hardwick.  Though Surgeon General C. Everett Koop advocated for a public health campaign designed to reduce the spread of AIDS by raising awareness and promoting the use of condoms, Reagan rejected Koop's proposals in favor of abstinence-only sex education.  By 1989, approximately 60,000 Americans had died of AIDS, and liberals strongly criticized Reagan's response to the HIV/AIDS crisis.  On the 1980 campaign trail, Reagan spoke of the gay rights movement:
My criticism is that [the gay movement] isn't just asking for civil rights it's asking for recognition and acceptance of an alternative lifestyle which I do not believe society can condone, nor can I. 
Environmental policy Edit
Reagan's strong preferences for limited federal involvement and deregulation extended to the environment. His main goal was to lessen the burden of regulation on businesses to promote more economic activity in the United States. Because of this policy, Reagan refused to renew the Clean Air Act during his administration.  Reagan lessened existing regulations on pollution, cut funding to government environmental agencies, and appointed known anti-environmentalist individuals to key positions presiding over these organizations. 
When Reagan took office in 1981, he "attempted to reduce" money that was directed towards studying the burgeoning field of global warming and human-driven climate change.  In the early 1980s, the study of the intersection between human activity and climate change was still in its infancy and scientists were far from a consensus on the topic. 
In 1987, the Reagan administration signed the Montreal Protocol in an effort to reduce emissions that damage the ozone layer. 
Mass surveillance Edit
Citing national security concerns, the president's national security team pressed for more surveillance power early during Reagan's first term. Their recommendations were based upon the premise that the federal government's intelligence and counterintelligence capabilities had been weakened by presidents Carter and Ford.  On December 4, 1981, Reagan signed Executive Order 12333. This presidential directive broadened the power of the government's intelligence community mandated rules for spying on United States citizens, permanent residents, and on anyone within the United States and also directed the Attorney General and others to create further policies and procedures for what information intelligence agencies can collect, retain, and share. 
Escalation of the Cold War Edit
Reagan escalated the Cold War, accelerating a reversal from the policy of détente which had begun in 1979 after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.  Reagan feared that the Soviet Union had gained a military advantage over the United States, and the Reagan administration hoped that heightened military spending would grant the U.S. military superiority and weaken the Soviet economy.  Reagan ordered a massive buildup of the United States Armed Forces, directing funding to the B-1 Lancer bomber, the B-2 Spirit bomber, cruise missiles, the MX missile, and the 600-ship Navy.  In response to Soviet deployment of the SS-20, Reagan oversaw NATO's deployment of the Pershing missile in West Germany.  The president also strongly denounced the Soviet Union and Communism in moral terms,  describing the Soviet Union an "evil empire."  Despite this heavy rhetoric,  the Reagan administration continued arms control talks with the Soviet Union in the form of "START." Unlike the "SALT" treaties of the 1970s, which set upper limits on the size of nuclear arsenals, the proposed START treaty would require both sides to reduce their existing nuclear arsenals. 
In March 1983, Reagan introduced the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), a defense project that would have used ground- and space-based systems to protect the United States from attack by strategic nuclear ballistic missiles. Reagan believed that this defense shield could make nuclear war impossible.  Many scientists and national security experts criticized the project as costly and technologically infeasible, and critics dubbed SDI as "Star Wars" in reference to a popular film series of the same name.  Ultimately, the SDI would be canceled in 1993 due to concerns about its cost and effectiveness as well as a changing international situation.  However, the Soviets became concerned about the possible effects SDI would have and viewed its development as a violation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.  In protest of SDI, the Soviet Union broke off arms control talks, and U.S.-Soviet relations descended to their lowest point since the early 1960s.  The Cold War tensions influenced works of popular culture such as the films The Day After and WarGames (both 1983), and the song "99 Luftballons" (1983) by Nena, each of which exhibited the rising public anxiety for the possibility of a nuclear war. 
Reagan Doctrine Edit
Under a policy that came to be known as the Reagan Doctrine, the Reagan administration provided overt and covert aid to anti-communist resistance movements in an effort to "rollback" Soviet-backed communist governments in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.  In Eastern Europe, the CIA provided support to the Polish opposition group, Solidarity, ensuring that it stayed afloat during a period of martial law.  Reagan deployed the CIA's Special Activities Division to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the CIA was instrumental in training, equipping, and leading Mujahideen forces against the Soviet Army in the Soviet–Afghan War.   By 1987, the United States was sending over $600 million a year, as well as weapons, intelligence, and combat expertise to Afghanistan. The Soviet Union announced it would withdraw from Afghanistan in 1987, but the U.S. was subjected to blowback in the form of the Taliban and al-Qaeda, two groups that arose out of the Mujahideen and that would oppose the United States in future conflicts. 
Central America and the Caribbean Edit
The Reagan administration placed a high priority on the Central America and the Caribbean Sea, which it saw as a key front in the Cold War. Reagan and his foreign policy team were particularly concerned about the potential influence of Cuba on countries such as Grenada, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. To counter the influence of Cuba and the Soviet Union, Reagan launched the Caribbean Basin Initiative, an economic program designed to aid countries opposed to Communism. He also authorized covert measures, such as the arming of Nicaragua's Contras, to minimize Cuban and Soviet influence in the region.  The administration provided support to right-wing governments throughout Latin America, disregarding humans rights abuses in countries like Argentina and El Salvador. 
In 1983, pro-Communist forces led a coup in the Caribbean island of Grenada. After learning that Cuban construction workers were building an airfield on Grenada, Reagan dispatched approximately 5,000 U.S. soldiers to invade Grenada. After two days of fighting that resulted in the deaths of nineteen Americans, forty-five Grenadans, and fifty-nine Cubans, the left-wing government of Grenada was overthrown.  While the invasion enjoyed public support in the United States and Grenada   it was criticized by the United Kingdom, Canada and the United Nations General Assembly as "a flagrant violation of international law". 
Iran–Contra affair Edit
In 1979, a group of left-wing rebels in Nicaragua known as the Sandinistas overthrew the president of Nicaragua and installed Daniel Ortega as the country's leader.  Fearing that Communists would take over Nicaragua if it remained under the leadership of the Sandinistas, the Reagan administration authorized CIA Director William J. Casey to arm the right-wing Contras. Congress, which favored negotiations between the Contras and Sandinista, passed the 1982 Boland Amendment, prohibiting the CIA and Defense Department from using their budgets to provide aid to the Contras. Still intent on supporting the Contras, the Reagan administration raised funds for the Contras from private donors and foreign governments.  When Congress learned that the CIA had secretly placed naval mines in Nicaraguan harbors, Congress passed a second Boland Amendment that barred granting any assistance to the Contras. 
During his second term, Reagan sought to find a way procure the release of seven American hostages held by Hezbollah, a Lebanese paramilitary group supported by Iran. The Reagan administration decided to sell American arms to Iran, then engaged in the Iran–Iraq War, in hopes that Iran would pressure Hezbollah to release the hostages.  Secretary of Defense Weinberger and Secretary of State Shultz both opposed the arrangement, so it was handled by National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane and McFarlane's successor, John Poindexter.  The Reagan administration sold over 2000 missiles to Iran without informing Congress Hezbollah released four hostages but captured an additional six Americans. On the initiative of Oliver North, an aide on the National Security Council, the Reagan administration redirected the proceeds from the missile sales to the Contras.  The transactions became public knowledge by early November 1986. Reagan initially denied any wrongdoing, but on November 25 he announced that Poindexter and North had left the administration and that he would form the Tower Commission to investigate the transactions. A few weeks later, Reagan asked a panel of federal judges to appoint a special prosecutor who would conduct a separate investigation, and the panel chose Lawrence Walsh. 
The Tower Commission, chaired by former Republican Senator John Tower, released a report in February 1987 that confirmed that the administration had traded arms for hostages and sent the proceeds of the weapons sales to the Contras. The report laid most of the blame for the operation on North, Poindexter, and McFarlane, but it was also critical of Regan and other White House staffers.  In response to the Tower Commission report, Reagan stated, "Its findings are honest, convincing and highly critical. As angry as I may be about activities undertaken without my knowledge, I am still accountable for those activities."  The Iran–Contra scandal, as it became known, did serious damage to the Reagan presidency, raising questions about Reagan's competency and the wisdom of conservative policies.  A poll taken in March 1987 showed that 85 percent of respondents believed that the Reagan administration had engaged in an organized cover-up, and half of the respondents believed that Reagan had been personally involved. The administration's credibility was also badly damaged on the international stage, as it had violated its own arms embargo on Iran.  Congressional Democrats considered impeaching, but decided that it would be an unwise use of political capital against a weakened president Democrats were also somewhat mollified by Reagan's decision to replace Chief of Staff Regan with Howard Baker. 
The investigations into the Iran–Contra scandal continued after Reagan left office, but were effectively halted when President George H. W. Bush pardoned Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger before his trial began.  Investigators did not find conclusive proof that Reagan had known about the aid provided to the Contras, but Walsh's report noted that Reagan had "created the conditions which made possible the crimes committed by others" and had "knowingly participated or acquiesced in covering up the scandal." 
End of the Cold War Edit
Three different Soviet leaders died between 1982 and 1985, leaving the Soviets with an unstable leadership until Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in 1985.  Although the Soviet Union had not accelerated military spending during Reagan's military buildup,  their large military expenses, in combination with collectivized agriculture and inefficient planned manufacturing, were a heavy burden for the Soviet economy.  Gorbachev was less ideologically rigid than his predecessors, and he believed that the Soviet Union urgently needed economic and political reforms.  In 1986, he introduced his twin reforms of perestroika and glasnost, which would change the political and economic conditions of the Soviet Union.  Seeking to reduce military expenditures and minimize the possibility of nuclear war, he also sought to re-open negotiations with the United States over arms control. 
As his influence on domestic affairs waned during his second term, Reagan increasingly focused on relations with the Soviet Union.  Reagan recognized the change in the direction of the Soviet leadership under Gorbachev, and shifted to diplomacy, with a view to encourage the Soviet leader to pursue substantial arms agreements. Reagan's personal mission was to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons, which according to Jack F. Matlock Jr., Reagan's ambassador to Moscow, he regarded as "totally irrational, totally inhumane, good for nothing but killing, possibly destructive of life on earth and civilization."  Gorbachev and Reagan agreed to meet at the 1985 Geneva Summit, where they issued a joint statement indicating that neither the U.S. nor the Soviet Union would "seek to achieve military superiority."  The two leaders began a private correspondence after the summit, and each became increasingly optimistic about arms control negotiations.  Reagan's willingness to negotiate with the Soviets was opposed by many conservatives, including Weinberger conservative columnist George Will wrote that Reagan was "elevating wishful thinking to the status of a political philosophy." 
Various issues, including intelligence operations performed by both countries and tensions in Germany and Afghanistan, threatened to forestall the possibility of an agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union. Nonetheless, both Gorbachev and Reagan agreed to continue arms control negotiations at the October 1986 Reykjavík Summit.  At the summit, Gorbachev and Reagan closed in on an agreement to greatly reduce or eliminate the nuclear stockpiles of both the U.S. and the Soviet Union over a ten-year period, but the deal collapsed due to disagreements regarding SDI development.  Reagan attacked Gorbachev in a 1987 speech delivered in West Berlin, but negotiations continued.  Gorbachev and Reagan broke the impasse by agreeing to negotiate separate treaties on intermediate nuclear forces (such as intermediate-range ballistic missiles) and strategic arms (such as intercontinental ballistic missiles). 
With the framework for an agreement in place, Reagan and Gorbachev met at the 1987 Washington Summit.  They signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty), which committed both signatories to the total abolition of their respective short-range and medium-range missile stockpiles.  The agreement marked the first time that the United States and the Soviet Union had committed to the elimination of a type of nuclear weapon, though it provided for the dismantlement of only about one-twentieth of the worldwide nuclear weapon arsenal. The treaty also established an inspections regime designed to ensure that both parties honored the agreement.  In addition to the INF Treaty, Reagan and Gorbachev discussed a potential strategic arms treaty, known as START, but SDI continued to be a major point of contention.  In May 1988, the Senate voted 93-to-5 in favor of ratifying the INF Treaty. 
Though it was attacked by conservatives like Jesse Helms, the INF Treaty provided a major boost to Reagan's popularity in the aftermath of the Iran–Contra Affair. A new era of trade and openness between the two powers commenced, and the U.S. and the Soviet Union cooperated on international issues such as the Iran–Iraq War.  When Reagan visited Moscow for a fourth summit with Gorbachev in 1988, he was viewed as a celebrity by the Soviets. A journalist asked the president if he still considered the Soviet Union the evil empire. "No," he replied, "I was talking about another time, another era."  At Gorbachev's request, Reagan gave a speech on free markets at the Moscow State University.  In December 1988, Gorbachev effectively renounced the Brezhnev Doctrine, paving the way for democratization in Eastern Europe.  In November 1989, ten months after Reagan left office, the Berlin Wall fell. The Cold War was unofficially declared over at the Malta Summit the following month. 
Honoring German war dead at Bitburg, Germany Edit
Reagan came under much criticism in 1985 when he was accused of honoring Nazi war criminals at a cemetery in West Germany.  In February 1985, the administration accepted an invitation for Reagan to visit a German military cemetery in Bitburg and to place a wreath alongside West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. Deaver was given assurances by a German head of protocol that no war criminals were buried there. It was later determined that the cemetery held the graves of 49 members of the Waffen-SS. What neither Deaver nor other administration officials initially realized was that many Germans distinguished the regular SS, who typically were composed of Nazi true believers, and the Waffen-SS which were attached to military units and composed of conscripted soldiers. 
As the controversy brewed in April 1985, Reagan issued a statement that called the Nazi soldiers buried in that cemetery as themselves "victims," a designation which ignited a stir over whether Reagan had equated the SS men to victims of the Holocaust.  Pat Buchanan, Reagan's Director of Communications, argued that the president did not equate the SS members with the actual Holocaust, but as victims of the ideology of Nazism.  Now strongly urged to cancel the visit,  the president responded that it would be wrong to back down on a promise he had made to Chancellor Kohl. On May 5, 1985, President Reagan and Chancellor Kohl first visited the site of the former Nazi Bergen-Belsen concentration camp and then the Bitburg cemetery where, along with two military generals, they did place a wreath.  
Middle East Edit
A civil war had broken out in Lebanon in 1975, and both Israel and Syria undertook military action within Lebanon in 1982.  After Israel invaded Southern Lebanon, Reagan faced domestic and international pressure to oppose the Israeli invasion, but Reagan was reluctant to openly break Israel. Reagan sympathized with Israeli's desire to defeat PLO forces that had struck Israel from Lebanon, but he pressured Israel to end its invasion as casualties mounted and Israeli forces approached the Lebanese capital of Beirut.  American diplomat Philip Habib arranged a cease-fire in which Israel, Syria, and the PLO, all agreed to evacuate their forces from Lebanon. As Israel delayed a full withdrawal and violence continued in Lebanon, Reagan arranged for a multinational force, including U.S. Marines, to serve as peacekeepers in Lebanon.  In October 1983, two nearly-simultaneous bombings in Beirut killed 241 American soldiers and 58 French soldiers.  The international peacekeeping force was withdrawn from Lebanon in 1984. In reaction to the role Israel and the United States played in the Lebanese Civil War, a Shia militant group known as Hezbollah began to take American hostages, holding eight Americans by the middle of 1985.  The Reagan administration's attempts to release these hostages would be a major component of the Iran-Contra Scandal. In response to the U.S. intervention in Lebanon, the Defense Department developed the "Powell Doctrine," which stated that the U.S. should intervene militarily as a last resort and should set clear and limited goals in such interventions.  Though termed the Powell doctrine, the policy was originally developed by Secretary of Defense Weinberger, who was influenced not only by Lebanon but also by the experience of the Vietnam War. 
Libya bombing Edit
Relations between Libya and the United States under President Reagan were continually contentious, beginning with the Gulf of Sidra incident in 1981 by 1982, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was considered by the CIA to be, along with USSR leader Leonid Brezhnev and Cuban leader Fidel Castro, part of a group known as the "unholy trinity" and was also labeled as "our international public enemy number one" by a CIA official.  These tensions were later revived in early April 1986, when a bomb exploded in a West Berlin discothèque, resulting in the injury of 63 American military personnel and death of one serviceman. Stating that there was "irrefutable proof" that Libya had directed the "terrorist bombing," Reagan authorized the use of force against the country. In the late evening of April 15, 1986, the United States launched a series of airstrikes on ground targets in Libya.  
Britain's prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, allowed the U.S. Air Force to use Britain's air bases to launch the attack, on the justification that the UK was supporting America's right to self-defense under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.  The attack was designed to halt Gaddafi's "ability to export terrorism," offering him "incentives and reasons to alter his criminal behavior."  The president addressed the nation from the Oval Office after the attacks had commenced, stating, "When our citizens are attacked or abused anywhere in the world on the direct orders of hostile regimes, we will respond so long as I'm in this office."  The attack was condemned by many countries. By a vote of 79 in favor to 28 against with 33 abstentions, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 41/38 which "condemns the military attack perpetrated against the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya on April 15, 1986, which constitutes a violation of the Charter of the United Nations and of international law." 
South Africa Edit
During Ronald Reagan's presidency South Africa continued to use a non-democratic system of government based on racial discrimination, known as apartheid, in which the minority of white South Africans exerted nearly complete legal control over the lives of the non-white majority of the citizens. In the early 1980s the issue had moved to the center of international attention as a result of events in the townships and outcry at the death of Stephen Biko. Reagan administration policy called for "constructive engagement" with the apartheid government of South Africa. In opposition to the condemnations issued by the U.S. Congress and public demands for diplomatic or economic sanctions, Reagan made relatively minor criticisms of the regime, which was otherwise internationally isolated, and the U.S. granted recognition to the government. South Africa's military was then engaged in an occupation of Namibia and proxy wars in several neighboring countries, in alliance with Savimbi's UNITA. Reagan administration officials saw the apartheid government as a key anti-communist ally. 
Finding the Reagan Administration unresponsive to its calls for more stringent economic sanctions, anti-apartheid activists undertook a divestment campaign, aimed at moving individuals and institutions to sell their holdings in companies doing business in South Africa. By late 1985, facing escalating public and congressional opposition to his administration's tolerant attitude toward the South African government's policy of apartheid, Reagan made an "abrupt reversal" on the issue and proposed sanctions on the South African government, including an arms embargo.  However, these sanctions were seen as weak by anti-apartheid activists,  and as insufficient by the president's opponents in Congress, including 81 House Republicans. In August 1986, Congress approved the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act, which included tougher sanctions. Reagan vetoed the act, but this was overridden by a bipartisan effort in Congress.  By 1990, under Reagan's successor George H. W. Bush, the new South African government of F. W. de Klerk was introducing widespread reforms, though the Bush administration argued that this was not a result of the tougher sanctions. 
Free trade Edit
During his 1980 presidential campaign, Reagan proposed the creation of a common market in North America. Once in office, Reagan signed the Trade and Tariff Act of 1984, which granted the president "fast track" authority in negotiating free trade agreements.  In 1985, Reagan signed the Israel–United States Free Trade Agreement, the first bilateral free trade agreement in U.S. history.  In 1988, Reagan and Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney signed the Canada–United States Free Trade Agreement, which greatly reduced trade barriers between the United States and Canada. This trade pact would serve as the foundation for the North American Free Trade Agreement among the United States, Canada, and Mexico. 
International travel Edit
Reagan made 25 international trips to 26 different countries on four continents—Europe, Asia, North America, and South America—during his presidency.  He made seven trips to continental Europe, three to Asia and one to South America. He is perhaps best remembered for his speeches at the 40th anniversary of the Normandy landings, for his impassioned speech at the Berlin Wall, his summit meetings with Mikhail Gorbachev, and riding horses with Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Park. [ citation needed ]
At the time of his inauguration, Reagan was the oldest person to be inaugurated as President (age 69).  Having reached the age of 77 when his second term ended, he was the oldest person to have held the office—until Joe Biden's inauguration in 2021.   Reagan's health became a concern [ to whom? ] at times during his presidency. [ citation needed ] Former White House correspondent Lesley Stahl later wrote that she and other reporters noticed what might have been early symptoms of Reagan's later Alzheimer's disease.  She said that on her last day on the beat, Reagan spoke to her for a few moments and did not seem to know who she was before returning to his normal behavior.  [ dead link ] However, Reagan's primary physician, Dr. John Hutton, has said that Reagan "absolutely" did not "show any signs of dementia or Alzheimer's" during his presidency.  His doctors have noted that he began exhibiting Alzheimer's symptoms only after he left the White House. 
On July 13, 1985, Reagan underwent surgery to remove polyps from his colon,  causing the first-ever invocation of the Acting President clause of the 25th Amendment.  On January 5, 1987, Reagan underwent surgery for prostate cancer which caused further worries about his health, but which significantly raised public awareness of this "silent killer". [ citation needed ]
1982 mid-term elections Edit
In the 1982 mid-term elections, Democrats retained a majority of the House while Republicans retained control of the Senate.
1984 re-election campaign Edit
Reagan's approval ratings fell after his first year in office, but they bounced back when the United States began to emerge from recession in 1983.  The leading candidates in the 1984 Democratic presidential primaries were former Vice President Walter Mondale, Senator Gary Hart of Colorado, and African-American civil rights activist Jesse Jackson. Though Hart won several primaries, Mondale ultimately won the nomination. Down in the polls, Mondale selected Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate in hopes of galvanizing support for his campaign, thus making Ferraro the first female major party vice presidential nominee in U.S. history.  In accepting the Democratic nomination, Mondale attacked Reagan's policies regarding the environment, Social Security, nuclear arms, civil rights, and other issues, stating that the Reagan administration was "of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich."  He also criticized the federal debt accumulated under Reagan, stating, ". The budget will be squeezed. Taxes will go up. And anyone who says they won't is not telling the truth to the American people." 
Reagan, meanwhile, generally declined to offer new legislative proposals for his re-election campaign, instead focusing on events like the U.S.-hosted 1984 Summer Olympics and the 40th anniversary of the Normandy landings.  Reagan's ability to perform the duties of president for another term was questioned by some observers, especially after a weak performance in the first presidential debate. His apparent confused and forgetful behavior was evident to his supporters they had previously known him clever and witty. Rumors began to circulate that he had Alzheimer's disease.   Reagan rebounded in the second debate, and confronted questions about his age, quipping, "I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience," which generated applause and laughter, even from Mondale himself. 
Public opinion polling consistently showed a Reagan lead in the 1984 campaign, and Mondale was unable to shake up the race.  In the end, Reagan won re-election, winning 49 of 50 states.  Mondale carried only his home state of Minnesota and the District of Columbia. Reagan won a record 525 electoral votes,  and received 59% of the popular vote to Mondale's 41%.  Compared to 1980, Reagan's strongest gains came among white Southern voters, and he also performed particularly well among Catholic voters, voters between the ages of eighteen and twenty-nine, and voters over the age of sixty.  In the concurrent congressional elections, Republicans retained control of the Senate and Democrats retained control of the House. 
1986 mid-term elections Edit
In the 1986 mid-term elections, Democrats retained a majority of the House and won control of the Senate for the first time since the 1980 elections. Reagan campaigned hard for congressional Republicans, and an October 1986 New York Times/CBS News Poll had found that Reagan had a 67 percent approval rating. However, Senate Republicans faced a difficult map that year, as they had to defend 22 of the 34 seats up for election. Republican losses in the Senate were concentrated in the South and in the farm states.  The Republican loss of the Senate precluded the possibility of further major conservative legislation during the Reagan administration. 
1988 presidential election Edit
Reagan remained publicly neutral in the 1988 Republican presidential primaries, but privately supported Vice President Bush over Senator Bob Dole. The 1988 Republican National Convention, which nominated Bush for president, also acted as a celebration of Reagan's presidency.  Democrats nominated Michael Dukakis, the liberal Governor of Massachusetts. Following the 1988 Democratic National Convention, Dukakis led the polls by seventeen points, but Bush, aided by the INF Treaty and the strong economy, closed the gap as the election neared. Democrats tried to link Bush to the Iran-Contra Scandal, but Bush claimed that he had not been involved. The GOP effectively cast Dukakis as "soft" on crime and foreign policy issues, seizing on Dukakis's pardon of Willie Horton and his dispassionate response to a question regarding the death penalty. In the 1988 presidential election, Bush soundly defeated Dukakis, taking 53.4 percent of the popular vote and 426 electoral votes.  The election saw the lowest turnout of eligible voters in any presidential election since the 1948 presidential election.  In the concurrent congressional elections, Democrats retained control of the House and the Senate.  In large part due to his handling of relations with the Soviet Union, Reagan left office with an approval rating of sixty-eight percent. 
Since Reagan left office in 1989, substantial debate has occurred among scholars, historians, and the general public surrounding his legacy.  Supporters have pointed to a more efficient and prosperous economy as a result of Reagan's economic policies,  foreign policy triumphs including a peaceful end to the Cold War,  and a restoration of American pride and morale.  Proponents also argue Reagan restored faith in the American Dream  after a decline in American confidence and self-respect under Jimmy Carter's perceived weak leadership, particularly during the Iran hostage crisis.  Reagan remains an important symbol of American conservatism, much in the same way that Franklin Roosevelt continued to serve as a symbol of liberalism long after his own death. 
Critics contend that Reagan's economic policies resulted in rising budget deficits,  a wider gap in wealth, and an increase in homelessness.  Liberals especially disapproved of Reagan's simultaneous tax cuts for the wealthy and benefit cuts for the poor.  Some critics assert that the Iran–Contra affair lowered American credibility.  In his popular book, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, historian Paul Kennedy argued that Reagan's high level of defense would eventually lead to the decline of the United States as a great power.  Reagan's leadership and understanding of issues has also been questioned, and even some members of the administration criticized Reagan's passive demeanor during meetings with staff and cabinet members.  Richard Pipes, a member of the National Security Council, criticized Reagan as "really lost, out of his depth, uncomfortable" at NSC meetings.  Another NSC member, Colin Powell, criticized Reagan's "passive management style [that] placed a tremendous burden on us." 
Despite the continuing debate surrounding his legacy, many conservative and liberal scholars agree that Reagan has been one of the most influential presidents since Franklin Roosevelt, leaving his imprint on American politics, diplomacy, culture, and economics through his effective communication, dedicated patriotism and pragmatic compromising.  Since he left office, historians have reached a consensus,  as summarized by British historian M. J. Heale, who finds that scholars now concur that Reagan rehabilitated conservatism, turned the nation to the right, practiced a considerably pragmatic conservatism that balanced ideology and the constraints of politics, revived faith in the presidency and in American exceptionalism, and contributed to victory in the Cold War.  Hugh Heclo argues that Reagan himself failed to roll back the welfare state, but that he contributed to a shift in attitudes that led to the defeat of efforts to further expand the welfare state.  Heclo further argues that Reagan's presidency made American voters and political leaders more tolerant of deficits and more opposed to taxation.  In 2017, a C-SPAN survey of scholars ranked Reagan as the ninth greatest president.   A 2018 poll of the American Political Science Association’s presidents and Executive Politics section also ranked Reagan as the ninth greatest president.  A 2006 poll of historians ranked the Iran-Contra affair as the ninth-worst mistake made by a sitting American president. 
Ronald Reagan Event Timeline
Election Day . Reagan wins 91% of the Electoral College and 51% of the popular vote.
Address to Joint Session of Congress proposing a program for economic recovery.
In Remarks to the National Press Club , discloses that he has sent a handwritten letter to Russian President Brezhnev of Russia in hopes for better relations , affirms his commitment to the Atlantic Alliance. Announces proposed mutual reduction of convention intermediate-range nuclear and strategic forces.
By Executive Order 12335, Creates National Commission on Social Security reform
Addresses Nation welcomes Christmas season and warns Polish government against “waging war on its own people.”
Imposes sanctions on Poland and the USSR . Says blame lies heavily with Soviet Union.
Signs 25-Year Extension of the 1965 Voting Rights Act
Signs Gas Tax Bill, the first increase in federal gasoline taxes in 23 years, in order to improve the nation’s infrastructure
In Proclamation 5030 establishes the Exclusive Economic Zone (extending to a distance of 200 nautical miles) of the United States.
Signs Social Security Amendments of 1983 raising the age of retirement and the payroll tax.
Signs the Central Intelligence Agency Information Act , which allows the public to view declassified documents.
Election Day , Reagan wins 59% of the popular vote and 98% of the electoral vote. Defeats former Vice-President Walter Mondale.
Second Inaugural Address Delivered from the Rotunda of the Capitol. Inaugural parade cancelled due to bitterly cold weather in Washington, D.C.
Remarks to the Conservative Political Action Committee . Famous line: “. . . the freedom fighters of Nicaragua. You know the truth about them. You know who they're fighting and why. They are the moral equal of our Founding Fathers and the brave men and women of the French Resistance. We cannot turn away from them, for the struggle here is not right versus left it is right versus wrong.”
Gorbachev becomes General Secretary of Soviet Communist Party , giving Americans hope for successful negotiations with a younger leader.
Attends Bonn Economic Summit timed to coincide with 40 th Anniversary of the end of World War II.
Remarks at Bitburg Air Base, Germany . Followed a visit to the military cemetery with German war dead including members of the SS. His remarks included this passage: “Well, today freedom-loving people around the world must say: I am a Berliner. I am a Jew in a world still threatened by anti-Semitism. I am an Afghan, and I am a prisoner of the Gulag. I am a refugee in a crowded boat foundering off the coast of Vietnam. I am a Laotian, a Cambodian, a Cuban, and a Miskito Indian in Nicaragua. I, too, am a potential victim of totalitarianism.”
Cancerous polyp is removed at Bethesda Naval Hospital during the procedure, George H. W. Bush is acting president .
In a news conference , in his first public reference to the AIDS Epidemic, Reagan says he has been supporting research on AIDS for more than four years.
Reagan and Gorbachev Meet At the Geneva Summit . This was the first of several summits between the leaders the first US/USSR summit since 1979. This session was at the Chateau Fleur d’Eau which featured a very large fireplace. The two leaders were photographed in affable conversation in large easy chairs in front of the fireplace—thus, “the fireside summit.”
Signs the Gramm Rudman Hollings Balanced Budget Act , requires automatic spending cuts if federal agencies exceed their budget.
Report to Congress on 04/14/1986 Air Strike Against Libya , responding to their government sponsorship of terrorist activities.
Signs Firearm Owner Protection Act which asserted a Second Amendment right to personal firearm ownership prohibited the sale or possession of a “machinegun.”
Signs the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986 passed over his veto. “Our administration will, nevertheless, implement the law. It must be recognized, however, that this will not solve the serious problems that plague that country.”
Reagan and Gorbachev Meet at the Reykjavik Summit in Iceland . Talks failed when Reagan refused to compromise on the Strategic Defense Initiative.
Signs Appropriations Act authorizing aid for the Contras (a rebel guerilla group opposing the Sandinista government of Nicaragua ) under certain conditions not to include military advice or training.
Signs Memorandum certifying that the Contras meet the conditions for aid.
Signs Tax Reform Act of 1986 , lowering the highest tax rate from 50 to 28 percent. “ Fair and simpler for most Americans, this is a tax code designed to take us into a future of technological invention and economic achievement, one that will keep America competitive and growing into the 21st century.”
Midterm Elections : Democrats gain majority in the Senate.
Signs the Immigration Reform Control Act of 1986 , which helped immigrant workers achieve legal status.
Address to the Nation on Iran Arms and Contra Aid controversy . “We did not—repeat—did not trade weapons or anything else for hostages, nor will we.”
Presidential news conference substantially focused on Iran-Contra.
Announces Review of National Security Council’s role in Iran-Contra Affair . “This report led me to conclude that I was not fully informed on the nature of one of the activities undertaken in connection with this initiative.”
Address to the Nation on the Investigation of Iran-Contra . Requests appointment of an independent counsel. “If illegal acts were undertaken, those who did so will be brought to justice.”
State of the Union Address to Joint Session of Congress.
Water Quality Control Act Passes Over Reagan’s Veto. Reagan had vetoed the bill on 01/30/1987 saying that “the real issue is the Federal deficit.”
Don Regan resigns as Chief of Staff Senator Howard Baker named as replacement.
Address to the Nation on Iran-Contra . “ A few months ago I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that's true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not.”
USS Stark attacked in Persian Gulf (later attributed to Iraq).
Attends G7 Summit in Venice. A series of statements were released on East-West Relations , Terrorism , and the Persian Gulf .
Visits West Berlin . In speaking at the wall, Reagan says “ Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
Address to the Nation on the Venice Economic Summit.
Nominates Robert Bork to the Supreme Court to fill the seat of Louis Powell who had resigned 6/26/1987.
Announces America’s Economic Bill of Rights , financial initiatives styled after the Bill of Rights.
Why Was Ronald Reagan A Good President ?
Ronald Reagan was the 40th president of the United States. He was also the oldest president to take office, and he served two terms, from 1981 to 1989. No matter what his domestic or foreign policies were, Ronald Reagan will always be considered as a good president.
The reason for this is that Ronald Reagan had a character. He had courage to stand up to what he believed in. He believed that communism was a system that had to be dismantled. And, he went all out to ensure that he would be instrumental in that dismantling process. He strengthened the military might of the US, and as a result his courageousness was contagious. Even the people of America started believing that there was a future and a bright one.
Ronald Reagan had a vision for the future. He wanted to the people to believe and be optimistic and that is exactly what happened. When Reagan took over the reins of the presidency, the country was heading into recession. Instead of bemoaning, he took action by cutting taxes, devaluating the dollar and reducing the exchange rate. While he was criticized a lot for this, inflation reduced and so did the unemployed. Suddenly the economy was booming, and this growth continued right till Reagan left office. So, people were happy and because they believed in him and saw the results he got, they loved him.
Reagan managed to restore people's faith in the White House which was tarnished by scandals of the previous administration.
All these reasons show us why Ronald Reagan was a good president.
During Ronald Reagan's presidency, there were many scandals which result in a fair number of administrative staff being criminally convicted. Of course, the most famous scandal during Ronald Reagan's presidency was Iran-Contra affair. In this, weapons where sold to Iran, who was waging war with Iraq, to free some American hostages, and some of profits from this sale were then given to Nicaraguan Contras which not only a violation of US laws but also international laws. More..
Why Did President Ronald Reagan Join The Republican Party ?
Why Did President Ronald Reagan Join The Republican Party ?
There are number of reasons why a politician or an elected politician suddenly decides to switch parties. However, the main reason is often that the person feels that his views are no longer the same that the party's views. Sometimes, the switch is done to gain power. This brings us to why did Ronald Reagan join the Republican Party after being a Democrat for so many years.
Reagan started out as a Democrat. While he was a registered Democrat, he admired Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal program. However, sometime around the 1950s, he started changing his views. He became more conservative. This resulted in Reagan endorsing Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956, and then Richard Nixon in 1960 even though he was still a Democrat. Then came his job at General Electric where he was required to tour the different plants across the country and give speeches to the employees. However, his speeches started becoming more and more conservative and controversial leading GE to fire him in 1962.
Then, Ronald Reagan officially became a Republican in 1962 by changing his registration. The reason that Reagan gave was that his views and the party's views were no longer aligned. He found that the Democratic Party was concentrating more on individual rights rather than a collective philosophy. He always maintained that he did not leave the Democratic Party, the party left him.
However, this transition from being a Democrat to Republican was not instant. It took Ronald Reagan 17 years to develop his own political philosophy which was more or less in line with the philosophy of the Republican Party. Hence, his reason for joining the party.
Ronald Reagan was the 40th president of the United States. He was also the oldest president to take office, and he served two terms, from 1981 to 1989. No matter what his domestic or foreign policies were, Ronald Reagan will always be considered as a good president. More..
Oliver Penn - 5/3/2007
As an American businessman who lived through the 1980s while Ronald Reagan was President, I see his terms a little different.
20 million new jobs? This was widely dicussed during the 80a and in the early 90s when Bill Clinton was running for Commander and Chief. It was pointed out that under Reagan and Bush, there was tremendous economic failures. Thee was, and I remember this, tremendous downsizing and catastrophic unemployment. For ten years, we watch massive unemployment, soup kitchens that were created in cities that had never had them before, thousands of homeless people nation-wide and thousands of people dying from a new plague called AIDS. When gay men were mysteriously dying of this disease, there was not ONE word or speech from the White House. It was not until 1987 when Rock Hudson became infected, did Reagan speak the word "AIDS." By then, thousands of young men had died and the hetero community began to be significantly affected.
I owned an emplyment agency during Reagonomics and 35% of all agencies, nation-wide went out of business because of the poor economy.
Yes, rich people had a field day after the tax cuts for the wealthy, but the "trickle down" effect did NOT work. As Mr. Clinton describe those GOP dominated years: "they drove the economy into the ditch."
I want to forget the Reagan years, I remember them as HARD TIMES and broken lives. I couldn't WAIT until the republicans were voted out of office.
Ronald Reagan becomes president - HISTORY
R onald Reagan’s role as one of the luminaries of the 20 th century was secured by his success in putting policies in place that shaped the new millennium. Born on February 6, 1911, he died at the age of 93 on June 5, 2004. Between those historical bookends, Ronald Reagan would become a radio announcer, actor, president of the Screen Actors Guild, Governor of the most populous state in the Union, fortieth President of the United States, and, finally, a champion by example for bringing national attention to Alzheimer’s disease. After switching political parties in 1962, Reagan became the most effective spokesperson for political conservatism in 20 th -century America. Since his passing, most Republican seekers of the Oval Office pay homage to Reagan by claiming to be his—and only his—heir.
Who was Ronald Reagan, and how did he accomplish so much? In Reagan: The Life, H.W. Brands takes on this assignment by chronicling the varied aspects of the life of a man often described as an enigma. William E. Pemberton begins Exit with Honor: The Life and Presidency of Ronald Reagan by quoting John Updike’s Rabbit at Rest: “Reagan . . . had that distant dream the powerful thing about him as President was that you never knew how much he knew, nothing or everything, he was like God that way, you had to do a lot of it yourself.”
Deciphering the enigmatic Ronald Reagan is difficult because of the prodigious written record surrounding him. Presidents such as Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and John Kennedy, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush kept diaries, were prolific letter writers, and authored many speeches and other writings. Along with other scholars, my co-authors and I have established that Reagan, too, was a prolific author of letters, speeches, radio commentaries, and a wide variety of political tracts. 1 What distinguishes him from his predecessors and successors, however, is that his personal writings are joined by the voluminous paper trail he produced in real time and at a rapid rate during his 16 years of state and Federal government service. Combining these personal and official documents, including records created during his six political campaigns, yields many millions of pages that reveal the man and his policies. Moreover, the U.S. system of declassifying documents (a characteristic of a mature democracy) and growing social pressure for increased transparency have made these documents available to the public as expeditiously as possible.
H.W. Brands is the first scholar to write a major Reagan biography that captures the arc of Reagan’s life from childhood to his post-presidential years. This impressive work could have been undertaken only by a scholar who is deeply knowledgeable about American history. Yet Brands did not grapple in a complete way with the extensive Reagan paper trail. Reagan: The Life does not appear to be based on many of the recently declassified national-security documents of the Reagan era. While it makes use of the private papers of some of Reagan’s cabinet members, the papers of other cabinet members and close advisers in Sacramento and Washington are not cited. It is difficult to know if Brands used the voluminous secondary literature on Reagan written by former aides, journalists, and scholars because he only cites what he quotes, and his book otherwise lacks a bibliography. In his section on sources, Brands refers to the importance of Reagan, In His Own Hand and Reagan, A Life in Letters, my co-edited books of Reagan’s writings Reagan’s two biographies his presidential diaries, edited by Douglas Brinkley and two of Lou Cannon’s books on Reagan, among other works. Brands cites these volumes and the memoirs of Reagan’s closest advisers throughout his book.
Reagan, In His Own Hand drew enormous attention when it was published because it revealed that, after being a two-term California Governor and as he pondered his presidential bids in 1976 and 1980, Reagan wrote hundreds of commentaries for his nationally syndicated radio program, in which he addressed most major policy issues of the day.
Brands writes that “few of his radio speeches [throughout his political career] survive in audio form.” It should be noted, however, that in 2001, the same year that Reagan, In His Own Hand was published, Reagan, In His Own Voice, also was published. This audio book contains several CDs of Reagan’s original radio broadcasts with commentary and additional contributions by Annelise Anderson, Martin Anderson, and me. Commentary also was provided by Nancy Reagan, Richard V. Allen, Judge William Clark, Michael Deaver, Peter Hannaford, Edwin Meese III, Harry O’Connor, the producer of Reagan’s radio commentaries, and George P. Shultz.
Brands’s major contribution is his synthetic analysis of the trajectory of Reagan’s life. Most of his historical narrative is accurate, but because of the longevity of Reagan’s political relevancy, certain episodes are not included in this book of nearly a thousand pages. As the first author to put Reagan’s entire life into biographical form, Brands reminds readers about how much material there is to cover. He adds to the literature by vividly recounting many of the episodes in Reagan’s life that, with the passage of time, often seem remote, especially to younger readers. This is particularly true of his compelling chapters on Reagan’s early years and his post-presidential activities.
The complicated nature of some of the stories, though, reveals that Brands has selected facts and situations to fit his narrative, and the story thus told is incomplete—sometimes glaringly so.
For example, Brands writes that:
To Baker as chief of staff fell the initiative in determining whether to invoke the Twenty-Fifth Amendment, which provides for a transfer of authority to the vice president in case of presidential incapacity. By the time he had sufficient facts to make a reasoned decision, the doctors had stabilized Reagan. The only question was whether his sedation during surgery would constitute sufficient incapacity to warrant invoking the amendment. He decided it did not.
To be sure, the deliberations about the Twenty-Fifth Amendment following the shooting of President Reagan included Baker, whose role in the Reagan presidency is sometimes not fully appreciated. However, Richard V. Allen, Alexander Haig, Edwin Meese III, Michael Deaver, Caspar Weinberger, and many others took part in deliberations about the constitutional line of succession in case the president was seriously incapacitated, to whom National Command Authority power devolved in a presidential crisis, as well as the whereabouts of the nuclear football after Reagan arrived at the hospital. Most of these dynamics are not explored. 2
But it almost has to be this way in a single-volume biography. Nevertheless, Reagan: The Life holds together because it contributes to the revisionist argument that Reagan’s ideas were indeed his own and often drove policy even when he was not in control of the incessant politicking among his aides. This is not a new argument. Annelise Anderson and Martin Anderson joined me in making this case in five books of Reagan’s writings. Others such as Steven Hayward, Paul Kengor, and Craig Shirley have also extensively researched President Reagan’s rise to power and his White House years and have come to similar conclusions. The collective impact of the burgeoning scholarship on Reagan is that the revised assessment of the man and his presidency is now widely accepted. Few today would disagree with the view that Reagan wrote, defined, and owned his policies. He alone was the principal author of the Reagan revolution. Paul Kengor’s meticulous research reveals that the numerous national security decision directives of the Reagan years not only had the president’s deep intellectual imprint on them but also outlined an unprecedented Cold War strategy to take down the Soviet political system and make possible political pluralism for people living under communism. 3
Brands finds his challenge in the daunting task of showing in sharp detail how much of what Reagan believed and wrote about in his early years influenced the policies of his presidency. For example, in writing about President Reagan’s decision to undertake the Strategic Defense Initiative, which became known for better or for worse as “Star Wars,” Brands states that “the idea had been percolating in Reagan’s mind for years.” In the chapter on the Ford-Reagan battle for the Republican presidential nomination in 1976, Brands reports that President Ford invited the Governor he had defeated at the Kansas City convention to join him on stage for the celebration. Describing the scene that night, he writes: “Reagan’s supporters demanded a speech from their man his remarks caused their hearts to flutter anew and some to consider demanding a recount.” Yet he omits Reagan’s urgent message to the delegates: “We live in a world in which the great powers have aimed and poised at each other horrible missiles of destruction, nuclear weapons that can in a matter of minutes arrive at each other’s country and destroy virtually the civilized world.”
In his remarks at the 1976 Republican National Convention, Reagan then spoke about a letter he had been asked to write for a time capsule: “And suddenly it dawned on me those who would read this letter a hundred years from now will know whether those missiles were fired. They will know whether we meet our challenge.”
The Governor’s brief remarks prefigured his missile-defense policies as President.
In a commentary Reagan wrote for his nationally syndicated radio program in the spring of 1977, he remarked that the Soviets “apparently are engaged in a crash program to develop an effective anti-ballistic missile system.” Signed by President Richard Nixon and Soviet General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev in May 1972, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty placed restrictions on the number of missile sites the two superpowers could construct, and a 1974 protocol enjoined further restrictions. Reagan told his radio listeners: “You’ll remember we bargained away our right to have such a weapon for the protection of our cities. That was one of the contributions of détente.” 4
In a letter written in the wake of his November 13, 1979 announcement that he would seek the Republican presidential nomination, Reagan stated that the campaign was not the time for “real specifics” on policy, but he said, “I am making my position perfectly clear in regard to the need for our country to be number one in defensive capability.” 5 Months earlier, Reagan learned first-hand about the vulnerability of US missiles when he visited the North American Aerospace Defense Command with Doug Morrow, a movie producer, and Martin Anderson, a long-time adviser. 6
Brands makes reference to many radio commentaries and letters throughout the book, but he does not present this type of evidence on Reagan’s pre-presidential ruminations on missile defense. This information is essential, however, if one is to understand how and why President Reagan undertook a policy of missile defense in 1983. The reality is that there is simply too much to tell for a book that seeks to address the full range of Reagan’s life.
A nother matter from 1983, which stands in seeming contrast to defense, was not covered by Brands but is essential to connecting the ideas and policies that constituted Reagan’s grand strategy. In addition to his other accomplishments, Reagan was a human rights President.
The plight of two Pentecostal families in Moscow was the subject of a radio commentary Reagan taped on October 2, 1979. A year earlier, the Siberian Seven, as they became known, darted past guards at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow in pursuit of exit visas so that they could practice their religion in a free society. In March 1983, President Reagan gave his “evil empire” speech, in which he derided Soviet communism as an historical anachronism, and his speech on missile defense. In the background, President Reagan and Secretary of State George Shultz quietly negotiated the release of the Pentecostals. This was accomplished through a deal in which the President promised Soviet leaders that he would not crow about it. By the summer of 1983, the Pentecostals were allowed to leave the Soviet Union for the West. Reflecting on the matter in his memoir, Reagan wrote, “In the overall scheme of U.S.-Soviet relations, allowing a handful of Christian believers to leave the Soviet Union was a small event. But in the context of the times I thought it was a hope-giving development, the first time the Soviets responded to us with a deed instead of words.” 7
The President also worked tirelessly for the release of Soviet Jews, and he was successful. He had advocated for some of them, including Ida Nudel, in a radio commentary on November 30, 1976. As President, Reagan he continued to campaign on her behalf. In the fall of 1987, Nudel was granted an exit visa. She has credited President Reagan and Secretary Shultz for helping her realize her long journey toward freedom. 8
On two far ends of the policy spectrum, defense and human rights, Reagan had a unifying way of assessing what was at stake. For him, the challenge was to defend and preserve freedom, which he saw as the moral basis of his foreign policy. One cannot understand why the release of the Pentecostals, as Secretary of State George P. Shultz has written, “was the first successful negotiation with the Soviets in the Reagan Administration” without realizing how the President’s pre-White House thinking and writing influenced presidential policy. 9
N or can one have real insight into how Reagan governed without understanding how he campaigned. Brands writes about Reagan’s gubernatorial and presidential campaigns but does not cite some of the most important literature on these subjects. There is virtually no mention of some of the key political actors in California and beyond who helped make Reagan’s political career possible. Books on Reagan’s gubernatorial and presidential campaigns by Matthew Dallek, Peter Hannaford, Thomas C. Reed, Craig Shirley, F. Clifton White, and the volume I co-wrote with Serhiy Kudelia, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, and Condoleezza Rice are important secondary sources. They portray the political advocacy of a long list of unsung heroes, like Reed, who helped create the machinery for Reagan’s political rise, especially in California during the 1960s. 10
In describing the speech Reagan gave on behalf of Barry Goldwater’s presidential campaign on October 27, 1964, Brands clearly understands how the future President began to distinguish himself from other conservatives and craft a message that broadened his coalition while staying true to the political principles he embraced. But here again he breezes over some of the transformational moments in Reagan’s gubernatorial campaigns (1966 and 1970) and presidential campaigns (1968, 1976, 1980, and 1984).
One such moment occurred shortly before Governor Jimmy Carter was sworn in as President. In a January 15, 1977 speech in Washington, Reagan boldly proposed rethinking the Republican brand. He declared that “the New Republican Party I envision is still going to be the party of Lincoln and that means we are going to have to come to grips with what I consider to be a major failing of the party: its failure to attract the majority of black voters.” The former California Governor called upon his Republican colleagues to join him in assuring black Americans of their commitment to “treating all Americans as individuals and not as stereotypes.” He added that we need to “create a situation in which no black vote can be taken for granted.” 11
In that pivotal speech, Reagan also talked about bringing the social conservatives in the Democratic Party into a coalition with the economic conservatives in the Republican Party. This was not exactly a new idea others, like William Rusher, had made this case. But Reagan was the politician who saw a pathway forward. His 1980 campaign was all about building this coalition by emphasizing shared values on the economy and defense. Investigating these aspects of Reagan’s political maneuvering in the years he was planning to run could yield a key to his enigmatic character.
These are just a few of the Reagan stories that Brands could have told with deeper historical analysis. The challenge in writing about Reagan is that fundamental elements of his character can be missed if essential facts and events are omitted. Brands has done serious work that tells important truths about Ronald Reagan to new generations as well as to those who were adults during the Reagan presidency. In writing about the negotiations between and Reagan and his Soviet counterparts, Brands reminds us of the persistence of nuclear and other geopolitical dilemmas. But there is much more to be done no one can do justice to a genuine enigma in a single book, even a very long one.
1 See in particular, Kiron K. Skinner, Annelise Anderson, and Martin Anderson, eds., Reagan, In His Own Hand: The Writings of Ronald Reagan That Reveal His Revolutionary Vision for America (Free Press, 2001) Kiron K. Skinner, Annelise Anderson, and Martin Anderson, eds., Reagan: A Life in Letters (Free Press, 2003) and Ronald Reagan (edited by Douglas Brinkley), The Reagan Diaries (HarperCollins, 2007).
2 The dramatic first-hand account of the White House deliberations in the wake of the shooting of President Reagan is found in Richard V. Allen, “The Day Reagan Was Shot,” the Atlantic, February 4, 2011.
3 Paul Kengor, The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (HarperPerennial, 2007).
4 Skinner, Anderson, and Anderson, eds., Reagan, In His Own Hand, p. 119.
5 Skinner, Anderson, and Anderson, eds., Reagan: A Life in Letters, p. 231.
6 Martin Anderson, Revolution (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988), pp. 80–4.
7 Ronald Reagan, An American Life (Simon and Schuster, 1990), pp. 572–3.
8 George P. Shultz, Turmoil and Triumph: My Years as Secretary of State (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1993), p. 990.
9 Shultz, Turmoil and Triumph: My Years as Secretary of State, p. 171.
10 See Thomas C. Reed, The Reagan Enigma: 1964-1980 (Figueroa Press, 2014).
11 Parts of Ronald Reagan’s January 15, 1977 speech in Washington, DC, are quoted in Kiron K. Skinner, Serhiy Kudelia, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, and Condoleezza Rice, Strategy of Campaigning: Lessons from Ronald Reagan and Boris Yeltsin (The University of Michigan Press, 2007), pp. 133–4. For the entire speech, see Ronald Reagan Subject Collection, Box 3, Folder RR Speeches—1977, Hoover Institution Archives, Stanford, California.