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The Reagan Years

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Jenna Heinaman

on 3 May 2017

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Transcript of The Reagan Years

The Reagan Years
1981-1989

The Reagan Revolution
By the end of the 1970s, profound discontentment with American life had created the opportunity for a transformative moment in American history.
Thus the timely rise of Ronald Reagan, who preached a hopeful doctrine of conservative values, was the right voice at the right time in America.
A former actor, turned politician, Ronald Reagan would bring strong policies that would change the rather slow pace American politics had taken under Presidents Ford and Carter.
Behind his great communication skills, Reagan championed a return to traditional American values, a reformed economy, and major changes in the Cold War Era
By the time this "Reagan Revolution" was finished America would be changed forever, as a period of conservative domination of American politics and society that would last for a generation.
The Great Communicator
From the time Ronald Reagan first became Governor of California it was obvious that his experience as a professional actor would greatly benefit his career as a politician.
Reagan was renowned for his pleasant and friendly personality that enabled Americans to see his vision, and find hope in his message for the future.
Upon taking office in January 1981, Reagan put these skills to use calling out the direction the American government had taken for the past 2 decades, laying the groundwork for a new course in American politics.
In his inaugural address he stated that “Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem”.
From there, President Reagan did what he could to diminish the power of the federal government in American lives by letting the system constructed by our founding fathers to follow its natural course.
Reagan and the Economy
After the troubled years of Nixon, Ford, and Carter it was obvious that some changes were needed if the economy was going to rebound.
Therefore, one area where President Reagan made his most significant impact was in the area of economics.
Behind his idea that the government should have a smaller role in the lives of Americans, Reagan proposed a 30% tax cut to be phased in over his first term in office (mostly directly at upper class Americans).
In the long run Reagan’s plan was to create one system through which all three economic classes would eventually feel a benefit.
However, Reagan’s plan was not without its critics; and there were struggles in the first two years of the so-called “Reaganomics”, partially because the Federal Reserve Bank increased interest rates resulting in a deep recession.
Nonetheless, across the 8 years Reagan was in office the economy would begin a steady increase as America approached the 1990s.
Foreign Policy of the 1980s
Aside from dealing with the economy- another major issue President Reagan would deal face was foreign policy- both in the Middle East and with the Soviet Union.
In fact, by the time Reagan was inaugurated he was already facing major issues in both Iran- as America tried to negotiate the release of American hostages taken during Carter’s presidency, and Afghanistan- where Soviet troops had invaded a year earlier.
Thankfully on the day of Reagan’s inauguration the hostages in Iran were safely released and returned to the United States, however the Soviet-Afghan War would continue throughout Reagan’s entire presidency.
However, in both nations President Reagan made somewhat controversial decisions to become involved with questionable groups in exchange for the promotion of American ideals.
STAR WARS!!
Alongside the continued tensions with the Soviets during Reagan’s time in office the defense industry would boom throughout the 1980s.
Reagan insisted that the United States was open to a "WINDOW OF VULNERABILITY" if the Soviet Union were to attach nuclear weapons to space based satellites.
As a result, massive government contracts were awarded to defense firms to upgrade the nation's military.
A Road Towards Peace
Instead of following through with the Reagan Administration’s scheme to put anti-nuclear missile missiles on satellites in outer space, by the end of Reagan’s presidency the United States would start down a road to peace with the Soviet Union.
This change in ideology came as a surprise to most Americans as Reagan had referred to the Soviet Union as the “Evil Empire” for decades.- while supporting American involvement to take down communism in both Afghanistan and Grenada.

However, it was a change in Soviet leadership that really influenced Reagan's change in heart- when in 1985 reformer Mikhail Gorbachev took over the Soviet Premiership.
Gorbachev, like many Soviets represented a new generation of communist thinkers that were open-minded to the ideas of the West- and began to meet more freely with Reagan's administration.
In the years that followed the 2 men forged not only a strong working partnership but even a close personal friendship.
At Gorbachev's request, Reagan even gave a lecture on the merits of capitalism at a University in Moscow during a visit in 1988- where the American President was cheered by the Soviet students.
Through his efforts to work alongside Gorbachev, rather than against him, Ronald Reagan helped to strengthen the growing spirit of reform within the Soviet Union.
Although Reagan’s time in office would come to an end in 1989, he is often credited with helping to bring the end of the Cold War- when communism fell in the Soviet Union in 1991.

In the case of Afghanistan, President Reagan armed mujahideen rebels in their fight against the Soviets who featured an up and coming, dynamic leader named Osama Bin Laden.
In both cases many people questioned the safety of each of these decisions, but the full gravity of the situation would not be realized for a decade.
This idea, known as supply-side or trickle-down economics, is supported by the logic that:
If taxes are cut for the wealthy, they will have more money to spend.
If the wealthy has more money to spend, they can invest in more businesses.
Once the wealthy invest in businesses, the businesses will be more successful and they can hire more employees.
In the case of Iran, President Reagan negotiated a deal to sell powerful weapons to the Iranian military who was at war with Iraq.
The problem was that he was already giving weapons to Iraq (an ally), and was using profits from the Iranian deals to fund death squads in Nicaragua.
This debacle became one of the most controversial of his presidency both at home, where it was known as the Iran-Contra Affair, and abroad, where Arab nations were angered by Reagan's manipulation.
Reagan even proposed a space-based missile defense system called the STRATEGIC DEFENSE INITIATIVE (SDI)
However, scientists were concerned about the feasibility of a laser-guided system that could shoot down enemy missiles and critics labeling the plan "STAR WARS."
Fall of the Berlin Wall, 1989.
Rebirth of Russia, 1991.
Full transcript