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Ronald Reagan: Biography

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Reagan a man whose goal for this country was to restore "the great, confident roar of American progress and growth and optimism, (White House 1)" he made it a mission to eliminate the high rate of unemployment, crack down on the Soviet Union and to restore a sense of American pride here at home. He unleashed in this country the first conservative referendum in over fifty years. He implemented restrictions on big business and issued tax cuts he showed the people the evils of communism and its leader Mikhail Gorbachev. He strengthened the military and supported the MX missile system (Reagan Presidency 1).

On January 20th, 1981 Ronald Reagan was sworn in as the fortieth president of the United States. His wife Nancy stood by his side while he took oath of office and asked Americans to, "begin an era of national renewal (Reagan Presidency 1)." Reagan made his first official act as president by making the 29th a day of Thanksgiving to Honor the returned hostages from the Tehran Embassy who had been held for 444 days by Iran extremists (American Experience 1).

Reagan unveils a new economic policy to congress calling for $41.4 million in budget cuts from the Carter Administration (American Experience 1). These new policies were referred to as "Reagonomics" in an attempt to balance federal spending and cut taxes. He protected programs entitling people to income or medicinal care such as Medicare and Social Security but cut funding from programs such as welfare which allowed "waste, fraud and abuse". Reagan promoted 25% tax cuts over a three year period for individuals and faster write offs for business (Reagan Presidency 1). Senator Pete Domenici starts a movement to freeze Social Security costs of living. David Stockman, Director of Budgets, holds out hoping for over $44 million in cuts from Social Security. Reagan is convinced by Stockman and his aids not to accept Domenici's proposal and vetoes it on the grounds that he had promised not to touch Social Security (American Experience 1). The White House directs a lobbying effort to gain votes for Reagan's new policies. They assumed all republicans would vote for it and still needed 26 votes to pass. Reagan spent the first 100 days in office meeting with 467 legislators and having phone conferences with dozens more (American Experience 1). Inflation dropped from 13.5% in 1980 to 5.1% in 1982 causing a severe recession and a sudden rise in unemployment, exceeding 10%. In 1982 the reduced inflation rate of fewer than 5% and the increased selected taxes led to record economic growth. In 1989 when Reagan left office our nation was entering its sixth year of continuing economic prosperity (Reagan Presidency 1). Regan was also shocked to discover levels of waste at the capital itself after looking into accounting records such as costs of $100-$140 to process a veteran's medical request claim, military spending to issue paychecks ($4.20 versus $1.00 for private businesses, excessive benefits to civil service jobs (as much as 76% better than those in private groups) ands fraud committed by government entitlement programs (food stamps alone having over$1 billion in fraudulent claims) (Reagan 339-340).

The economic gains came at a cost of record annual deficits in the Federal budget and increasing national debt. These deficits were increased by trade deficits, that had been occurring since Europe and Japan had recovered from WWII, Reagan maintained his belief in free trade with other nations and signed an agreement with Canada to open United States markets to the imports of foreign goods (Reagan Presidency 1). Reagan attended eight conferences on free trade with the basic principle, "For free market to work everyone has to compete on an equal footing." The basis is that there will be winners and losers but people will have the right to choose, therefore balancing the market. In 1986, a free trade organization for agriculture was begun, that would eliminate subsidies during a ten year period but would watch the farmers it would help or hinder, and it became known as GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (Reagan 355)

After only 69 days in office, Reagan is shot by John Hinckley Jr. outside of a Washington Hotel. Hinckley claims he was trying to win the affections of Actress Jodie Foster. Press Secretary James Brady was also hit and suffered brain damage. Reagan was more seriously injured. The bullet missing his heart by less than an inch and caused his lung to collapse (American Experience 1). It was later said to Reagan that by his personal physician that his Secret service agent Tim McCarthy and a Washington policeman had also been shot. Reagan then said, his eyes filling with tears, "Oh Damn, oh damn! We must pray. That means four bullets hit. Good Lord." It was later discovered that Hinckley had just arrived on a greyhound bus hoping to see Miss Foster a student at Yale. He saw the president's schedule in a local newspaper and wrote her a letter saying he would kill the president as a declaration of his love (Reeves 46-47). Twenty-eight days later Reagan appears before congress to a hero's welcome. After seeing how quickly the president was back into action after such a harrowing experience his approval ratings only climbed higher (American Experience 1-2).

Reagan followed up the biggest tax cut in history (Reagan Presidency 2) with the Tax Reform of 1986. On October 22, Reagan signed into effect the 879 page bill that gave individuals tax rates of 15 and 28% and a single corporate rate of 34%. On the same day the Treasury Department announced a national deficit of $220.7 billion (Reeves 359).

Reagan also appointed the Chief Justice William Rehnquist and three justices to the bench: Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy and the first female justice Sandra Day O'Connor (Reagan Presidency 2) O'Connor was appointed in order to improve Reagan's standing with women voters. O'Connor herself was a likable person from the Arizona Court of Appeals who left a changing atmosphere on the United States Supreme Court (Reeves insert). In all his appointments Reagan chose individuals he felt would exercise "judicial restraint" (Reagan Presidency 2).

Rock Hudson, a personal friend of the Reagan family, dies of AIDS. AIDS or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome is a virus first identified in 1993. Reagan's personal physician Dr. Hood leads the way in funding research and educational prevention. After the death of Rock Hudson, Reagan vows to increase research and education on the virus and to raise national awareness. Reagan was at first discouraged by his cabinet because it was seen as a disease for homosexuals and the promiscuous (Dutch 457-458).

Consistently throughout his presidency Reagan maintained high approval ratings, and was endorsed by PATCO (Professional

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