The Conservative Counterrevolution in the Era of Reagan and Bush
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The Conservative Counterrevolution in the Era of Reagan and Bush and The Policy Uncertainty of the Clinton Administration. Text: The Reluctant Welfare State By: Bruce Jansson Reporters: Chic Gunderson Loida ruane. Reagan Administration:1980-1988. Ascendancy of conservatism

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The Conservative Counterrevolution in the Era of Reagan and BushandThe Policy Uncertainty of the Clinton Administration

Text: The Reluctant Welfare State

By: Bruce Jansson

Reporters: Chic Gunderson

Loida ruane


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Reagan Administration:1980-1988 Bush

  • Ascendancy of conservatism

    • Promoted the concept that social programs had not solved poverty

    • Did not favor social programs to aid the poor

    • Social spending was incompatible with economic growth

    • Did not support federal civil rights


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Factors That Contributed to the Ascendancy of Conservatism Bush

  • Declines strengths of Democrats

  • White backlash led to widespread opposition to affirmative action

  • Continuing shift of population to the suburbs

  • Maturing of war-baby generation


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Legitimation of Conservatism Bush

  • Conservative ideology emerged

  • Conservative think-tank established

  • National TV show: ”Firing Line” presented conservative views

  • Top positions in government given to conservatives

  • Criticism of intellectuals to Democratic Party and Great Society reform

  • Grassroots following within fundamentalist religious groups

  • Formation of New Religious-Political Right (NRPR)


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The Triumph of Conservatism Bush

  • Three themes of obsession of Reagan

    1. Lower Taxes

    2. Increase Defense

    3. Social Spending Reduction


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Lower Taxes Bush

  • 1981: Economic Recovery Tax Act (ERTA)

    - Reduced personal and corporate taxes

  • Tax reform in 1986

    - Drastically reduced the tax rate of

    affluent Americans

    - Encourage economic activity

    *Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) of 1981

    - Deep tax cuts in social spending and increase in military spending.


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Increase Defense Bush

  • “We’re not building missiles to fight a war. We’re building missiles to preserve peace.” – Reagan

    OBRA of 1981

    Defense budget: 1980 - $142B

    1986 - $ 368b


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Social Spending Reduction Bush

  • Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) 1981

    - Eliminated 57 social programs and folding them into 7 block grants

    - 1983: Social Security amendments increase retirement age and reduce some benefits

    - Steward Mckinney Homeless Assistance Act of 1987: focus was on construction of shelters


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Maintained defense a priority. Bush

Modest tax increase in 1990

Minimal increase in social spending

Civil Rights Act of 1991: Anti-discrimination Act

Rodney King case: forced Bush to provide allocation for inner-city programs

Bush Administration: 1988 - 1992


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Legacy of Reagan and Bush Bush

  • $4.5 trillion federal debt

  • Deficit: Reagan $50B/yr while Bush had $352 B in 1992

  • Economic situation of the poor worsened

  • Erosion of real value of paycheck

  • Over-all tax rates of the poor and working person increased

  • Many affluent Americans increased their wealth

  • Labor force was gender segregated.


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Social Problems Bush

  • Lack of medical insurance

  • Homelessness

  • AIDS

  • Growing economic inequality

  • Poor schools

  • Poverty in the inner cities

  • Family violence

  • Feminization of poverty

  • Gang warfare


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Outgroups Bush

  • People of Color

  • Immigrants

  • Gay men and lesbians

  • People with disabilities

  • Women

  • Children

  • Aging Americans

  • Homeless


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Social Work Profession Bush

  • Private practice

  • Advocacy


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Clinton Administration: 1992 – 2000 Bush

  • The Clinton Presidency: The first two years

  • 1992: Clinton won the election without a mandate

    - 3-way race, Perot siphoned votes

    - Tried to institute liberal policies.

    - Social investments

    - Health reforms and others

    - Resurgent Republican minority

    - Aligned with moderate and conservative Democrats

    - Americans tired of government gridlock

    - Made many errors in this period


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1993 Bush

  • Clinton announces tax increases and spending cuts

  • Places Hillary in charge of task force to develop health reform proposal

  • Family and Medical Leave Act enacted

  • Signs the Omnibus Reconciliation Bill, which cuts the deficit, raises taxes, and increases the EICT

  • Clinton presents ambitious plan to reform health care

  • North America Free Trade Agreement enacted

  • Federal policy on gays in the military is modified


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1994 Bush

  • Congress enacts legislation that makes it a federal crime to intimidate abortion clinic workers and clients by force or threat of force

  • Crime Bill enacted

  • Some republican leaders issue contract with America

  • Republicans obtain control of both Houses of Congress


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The Third Year: The Newt Gingrich Era Bush

  • 1994: victories of both Houses by conservative Republicans and their “Contract with America”

  • Clinton gave in to most of Republican budget demands

  • Spending cuts analogous to Reagan only Congress not President

  • Clinton successful in slowing down Newt’s agenda


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1995 Bush

  • Congress enacts Omnibus Reconciliation Act which seeks to eliminate the entitlement status of AFDC, Medicaid, and Food Stamps

  • Clinton vetoes Omnibus Reconciliation Act as well as specific appropriation bills

  • Government shuts down

  • Citizens blame Congress not President


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1996 Bush

  • Clinton wins reelection landslide over Dole

  • Budget stalemate between Clinton and Congress continues

  • Enactment of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunities act

  • Domestic discretionary spending remained capped

  • Reelection helps Democrat regain seats

  • Welfare reform predicted to cause millions of children to fall deeper into poverty


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1997 Bush

  • Balanced Budget Act enacted with extension of caps on discretionary spending

  • Impeachment of Bill Clinton


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1998 Bush

  • Emergence of federal budget surpluses

  • Resignation of Newt Gingrich announced


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Outgroups Bush

  • Affirmative action

  • Immigrants

  • Children

  • Women

  • Gays and lesbians


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