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History of American presidents Part I

Updated on June 18, 2013

The Presidency of Ronald Reagan

Reagan assumed office when the United States was facing several problems such as slow growth of the economy, rates of inflation and unemployment were high, and the Soviet Union’s communist ideologies were spreading quickly in South America, Asia and Africa. At this time also, there was the energy crisis overseas.

While in office, he positively influenced many people in the United States with his ideologies and stepped down in 1989 after being president for two terms since 1981. He was the 40th president of the United States, and in his time as president, he survived an assassination attempt from a mentally challenged person.

He obtained legislation to improve growth of the economy, lower inflation, increase jobs as well as stabilize the country’s defense after having to deal with the congress in an intelligent manner. Reagan began to reduce taxes and government expenditures and stuck to this path even when the strengthening of the military led to a huge budget deficit. He got an overhaul of the income tax code that removed several deductions and exempted many low income earners.

During his tenure as the United States president, Ronald Reagan enabled the country to prosper and thrive economically as a result of his policies. However, the realization of peace by means of strength, like he had for a long time wanted did not happen. His conservative vision for the United States helped bring back the confidence of people in themselves as well as to their country. This led to a long time of economic growth amid peaceful coexistence and an end to the cold war without military means. He was a man of optimism, intellect and committed to what he believed in.

Miller Centre (n.d) indicate that Reagan’s idea of reducing tax rates for rich to make them invest more and enable the economy to grow did not work as he had anticipated. Reagan also did not make serious economic decisions, and this led to an increase in the federal government expenditure on matters that were not very critical to the country’s economy, such as defense. His view on reducing the budget for social welfare programs such as payment to low income earners was not popular among American citizens. This is because such programs helped to supplement the little incomes of these poor people. The good thing is, the congress did not support him on this and the program therefore remained.

Ronald Reagan as much as his economic policies were not very good in some areas, they also had some positive impacts on the American economy that should be acknowledged by his critics. For instance, the income tax cuts were responsible for the country’s consistent and uninterrupted growth in the economy for six months in a row, since 1854. This led to massive job creation as businesses thrived in the country. Although he had vowed to reduce spending on social welfare programs, that did not take place since the congress could not support it. On the contrary, expenditure on this program went up during Reagan’s presidency as Erwin (2001) observed.


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